This year too, the anniversary of the Servant of God Renata Borlone (Civitavecchia 30/5/1930 – Loppiano 27/2/1990) was a moment of reflection on the life of a Christian and the enthusiasm for bringing the peace and joy of Christ everywhere.
The main appointment, the Holy Mass celebrated in the Sanctuary of Maria Theotókos, in Loppiano (Italy).
“The joy of the Gospel – as Pope Francis affrimed in the Evangelii gaudium – fills the heart and the entire life of those who meet Jesus”, and this was the experience of Renata.
A joy that springs forth from a soul who since adolescence had searched for God and for the beauty of His creation and who, having come to know the Focolare Movement, didn’t spare her energies and enthusiasm in bearing witness daily to love and in contributing to build that unity of the human family that Jesus had asked the Father in his prayer before the passion.
“The joy – Renata wrote in her diary – coincides with God… to possess it always means to possess God”; and still: “Joy in living for the others”, a joy that “cannot be conditioned by anything, by anyone” because “God loves me, even if I am incapable, even if I have made a mess in my life and I continue to do so”, but also that joy which, paradoxically, is “squeezed from suffering” and “drawn out from pain”.
In the twenty three years that she was co-responsible of the Little City of Loppiano that now bears her name, Renata Borlone bore witness with coherence and humility, in front of thousands of people who spent time there for their formation or even for just short periods, of the joy of the life of the Gospel, giving her essential contribution to the new sociality that the Little City is committed to generating, by being always at the service of others and living with exceptional faith the serious illness that would lead to her death. “I am happy, too happy – she would repeat in the final instances of her earthly existence. I would like to bear witness that death is Life”.
And continuing to intertwine the words of the Pope and Renata, one is impressed by how much joy can be not only a fruit but may also cause change in the world and in overcoming difficulties. Pope Francis recently said in a homily at Saint Martha: “You cannot walk without joy, even in the midst of problems, even in difficulties, even in one’s own mistakes and sins there is the joy of Jesus who always forgives and helps”
And Renata wrote: “If I had to say something, I would emphasize that the joy that there is in Loppiano is born from the decision that each one makes to want to die to him or herself. I would say that also in this way the unity of peoples is already done, because the the oil that comes from squeezed olives is oil, and you can no longer distinguish one olive from another…”
Suffering and joy, therefore, challenge and conquest always to be renewed and never closed up within oneself: “May the others be happy, so that our Heaven here on earth may bring joy to the others”, “I did not give myself to Jesus so as to be happy, but so that my giving would find its meaning in the joy, in the happiness of others, of all those whom God will put beside me”.