“I never wrote a book,” Chiara Lubich said in 1995 when she received the Author of the Year Award from the Catholic Publishers and Booksellers Union (UELCI), “even though many books bear my name.”
There are many ways to write a book, and the way Chiara did it is truly a literary event. Her Italian biography lists 58 titles. Others appear only in non-Italian editions. Hundreds of articles and thousands of letters, along with documentary material have been collected by the Chiara Lubich Centre, which was established after her death to keep her memory alive. The writings scan her entire life, from 1920 in Trent where she was born, to Rocca di Papa where she died in 2008. Her first book, Meditations, has 27 Italian editions, 28 translations and a million printed copies. Meditations was the book that gave a start to Città Nuova Publishers in Rome, Italy (1959).
The director of the Works of Chiara Lubich Series, Donato Falmi, commented: “In order to overcome the episodic manner in which Chiara’s writings were presented by Città nuova, a systematic publication project was begun in 2012,” which will not produce an opera omnia, but will classify the writings according to literary genres, which are organized in three blocks: the woman (the autobiographical element recovered not only in diaries and letters, but also in mystical writings); her spiritual path (found especially in texts of meditations, in the Words of Life, in texts where here spiritual, theological and cultural thought is developed); and the Work (the speeches in civil and ecclesiastical contexts, The Statutes and the Rules).
Fourteen volumes are planned, each with its own large introduction that will provide a key to understanding the complexity of writings that the Focolare foundress left to us as her spiritual legacy.
“It is quite a timely message,” commented Piero Coda, Rector of Sophia University Institute and member of the series’ scientific committee: There is no aspect of human life, or country where the leaven of this charism has not fermented. And yet,” he notes, “Chiara Lubich is still a widely unknown woman,” to discover and appreciate, even though her story and spirituality have anticipated many cultural paradigms that later materialized. “I was also in New York, with her, at the Malcolm X Mosque when she met with Imam W.D. Mohammed. There was a rabbi sitting beside me and it all seemed impossible to him. But she made it happen.”
The literary production contained in the first volume is rather special. Compiled by Dr Fabio Ciardi, professor of Theology of Consecrated Life at the Claretianum Rome, her words are within the grasp of everyone, at times comments on sentences taken from the Gospels to be put into practice. These were first printed on handwritten leaflets, then mimeographed and, finally, printed in an ever growing number of copies. The Words of Life, with their simplicity and directness, have brought about a rediscovery of God’s Word in the twentieth century. In the experience of Chiara Lubich and her first companions, the Scriptures returned to being accessible to all, the humble and the simple, the educated and important, the children and the adults, the laity as well as to the consecrated. One can also discern prophetic signs in this of the universal call to holiness that was proclaimed many years later by the Second Vatican Council.
The present edition, compiled by Fabio Ciardi, spans the period between 1943 and 2006.
See video on Rome Reports (Vatican news agency)