The founder of the Focolare Movement died at Rocca di Papa on the 14th March 2008 at the age of 88 after a long illness. In the telegram of condolence sent by Pope Benedict XVI, he mentioned “her constant commitment for communion in the Church for ecumenical dialogue and brotherhood among all peoples”. He also thanked the Lord “for the witness of a life spent hearing the needs of people today” and expressed the wish “that all those who knew her and follow in her footsteps should keep the flame of the charism alive”. Chiara Lubich’s charism focuses on unity in the human family. It would be a dream if it were not founded on firm faith in the love of God the Father for his children, and on the words of Jesus, “May they all be one”. This charism has much to say to the world today as Maria Voce said to Adriana Masotti.
A. – Yes, indeed. It almost has more to say today than when Chiara first proclaimed it. At the time, there was of course the tragedy of war and many painful situations, but there was not the disunity that seems to be spreading so much in the world today. This disunity cries out for the lifestyle brought by the charism of unity God gave to Chiara. We are discovering its relevance more and more.
Q. – One of the definitions made of Chiara Lubich was a “woman of dialogue” and dialogue is a subject talked much about in many places today. However, often it does not happen or people do not know how to do it. What did dialogue mean to Chiara and how does the Focolare Movement practice this dialogue?
A. – Dialogue was a lifestyle for Chiara, which meant considering every person she met as a brother or sister. Chiara did not want to dialogue; she wanted to love people who were her brothers and sisters; and that is why she was so happy to meet people. She shared what was in her soul and then these brothers and sisters spontaneously responded with the same openness. That is how dialogue began. It is the same for us today; we try to have this attitude towards whomever we meet. We try to do as Chiara did, to be always open, without looking at differences and distinctiveness of any kind except as a way to create an enriching encounter, because it is a meeting with a brother or sister who has something to give us, whatever their ethnicity or religious faith, whatever their social background or age.
Q. – So the Movement is convinced that dialogue is the best tool to resolve the many conflicts in the world today.
A. – Of course! There is no other way. Why? Because dialogue is love, and if dialogue is love it can truly change the state of the world. It can bring peace to places at war.
D. – At the beginning of her spiritual experience, Chiara was strongly aware of humanity’s cry of suffering and she decided to take on and bear this suffering herself. What does the Movement Chiara founded do with regard to the many divisions the world is experiencing at present?
R. – The Movement wants to have the same faith as Chiara, a faith based on the cry of Jesus forsaken. Chiara certainly understood that cry as the moment when the Son of God suffered the most, but it was also when He loved us the most. Precisely because he loved us the most, in that moment he re-established the unity that was broken between God and humankind and among people. Therefore, there is no other way of reaching unity than by passing through suffering. However, this suffering is filled with love because it is part of giving one’s life for others. So, considering all the sufferings of the world today, whether at a personal level or at the level of society, peoples or nations, the Movement tries to recognize His countenance in these, to see in them a God who died. But He is also a God who rose again and who can therefore rise above all these sufferings.
D. – This translates into many practical activities …
R. – Precisely. Perhaps they start with a simple act of love by a family who saw that another family was experiencing a similar difficult situation, and who took upon themselves the difficulties of another family with a disabled child. This created a network of solidarity among many families and involved the local town council. They realized that by loving the countenance of Jesus forsaken in that suffering, something changed. This is what we see. Wherever we are, in places where there is war, our people try to love enemies as well as friends. Goods are shared among all the families without looking to see which ethnic group or religion they belong to… We see this continually in many relationships that change and we see new communities building up that are connected among themselves and spreading more and more.
Source: Vatican Radio