Continuation of the : The Adventure of Unity: The beginnings /2
“The young women who lived in the first focolare and the people around them who came and went noticed a qualitative leap in their life during those early months. They had the impression that Jesus was fulfilling his promise in their very midst: “Where two or more are united in my name, I am there with them” (Mt 18:20). They didn’t want to lose his presence and did everything to ensure that he would never vanish from their midst. “Later, much later,” Chiara Lubich specifies, “we would realize: ‘Look! Why, it’s a small reproduction of the house of Nazareth: a small community of virgins (and very soon of married people) with Jesus among them.” It’s the “hearth”, the “focolare” where the fire of love warms hearts and satisfies the mind.” “But to have him among us” Chiara explained to her first companions, “we need to be disposed to give our lives for each other. Jesus is spiritually and fully present among us when we are united like that. He had said: ‘may they also be one in us, so that the world may believe’ (see Jn 17:21).”
Those who gathered around Chiara and the other young women in that first focolare began to share their project of unity which seemed so new. There were all kinds of conversions. Vocations were salvaged and new ones born. Quite soon, young men also followed in their footsteps. They crowded into Massaia Hall for Saturday afternoon meetings. There Chiara would share experiences of a living Gospel and her first discoveries concerning what would later become the “spirituality of unity.”Their fervor spread and by 1945 there were some 500 people of all ages – men, women, children, people of every calling and social background – all wanting to share the ideal of those young women of the focolare. They held everything in common just as the first Christian communities had done.
They read the Gospel’s words: “give and it will be given to you” (Lk 6:38), and those words came to life daily. They gave and received. There was only one egg left in the house. They gave it away to a poor person who came to their door. On the same morning, someone left an entire package of eggs at their door. The Gospel also says: “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Mt 7:7). They prayed for their neighbours’ every need and, in the midst of a war, witnessed the arrival of sacks of flour, boxes of milk, jars of jam, bundles of wood, articles of clothing. It was common in that first focolare to find the table set with the best table cloth, and sitting around that table a focolarina and a poor person, a focolarina and a poor person . . .
The life of the young women of the “little house” astounded everyone who met them. On the feast of Christ the King, 1945, Chiara and her friends were praying at an altar after Mass. They turned towards Jesus with the simplicity of those who know what it means to be God’s children. Then they addressed this prayer to him: “You know how unity can be realized, that ut omnes unum sint (that all may be one). Well, here we are. If you want, use us.” Some words of that day’s liturgy had fascinated them: “Ask of me, and i will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (Ps 2:8). And so in their Gospel simplicity they asked for nothing less than the “ends of the earth”. For them, God was omnipotent.
All of this could not go unnoticed in a city of only a few thousand people, nor by the Church of Trent. Archbishop Carlo De Ferrari understood Chiara and her new adventure, and he gave his blessing. His blessing and approval stayed with the Movement until his death. From that moment, almost imperceptibly, they began to cross boarders to other regions, and were invited to Sicily, Rome and Milan. Soon communities like the one in Trent began appearing everywhere.