Focolare Movement » Wellbeing & Ecology http://www.focolare.org/en Official International Website Sun, 21 Dec 2014 06:35:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Sierra Leone: assisting the Ebola victimshttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/12/19/sierra-leone-accanto-ai-malati-di-ebola/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/12/19/sierra-leone-accanto-ai-malati-di-ebola/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 05:00:04 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=116203

http://vimeo.com/114682168

The serious Ebola outbreak spread particularly in Guinea Conakry, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with immense losses among the local population, as was communicated by the press. AMU, the NGO related to the Focolare Movement, is intensely involved in fighting the virus in various ways. We have asked Stefano Comazzi, one of the leaders, to tell us about this.

«In reality the situation seems to be much more dramatic than what is generally relayed, since the epidemic breakout is still beyond control. This goes to impact greatly on the lives of millions of people, due to travel restrictions and reduced business with the consequent scarcity of food, and impediments in schooling and work… not to mention the mourning in families hit by the virus, and who often lack the means to support the weaker members.»

Outbreak figures «As of today–Stefano affirms – the figures are imprecise since many cases are not recorded, and also because the epidemic outbreak in the rural zones has reached the big cities, where the dense population and the miserable living conditions strongly enhance the diffusion of the virus.»

Dramatic situations. As is known, «the healthcare operators are among the first to pay in person since in trying to limit the infection, they were in turn infected, often with deadly outcomes, thus weakening the health organisations that already had limited resources, and today are no long able to face this calamity. Furthermore, the lack of means and suitable medical equipment and material had forced many health centres to close since instead of being barriers to the spreading, ironically they became a means of spreading the outbreak»

Sierra Leone. A similar situation occurred also in the Catholic “Holy Spirit” diocesan hospital of Makeni in Sierra Leone, the locality where Fr. Carlo Di Sopra, a Xaverian priest and pioneer of the spirituality of unity in Africa is stationed and where there is a dynamic Focolare community.

Fr. Carlo, with the other religious of his congregation and the entire diocese of Makeni, is all committed to starting up again the activities of the hospital. «At the moment – he said – our structure manages to offer only limited first-aid services. We are, however, doing our best to carry out the urgent renovation works that will make the structure suitable to new challenges, especially regarding the purchase and installation in the new facilities, of a specialised medical laboratory for infectious diseases. With the hope that this Ebola emergency comes to an end, this laboratory will, however, continue to serve the local population in the prevention and care of other locally diffused infectious diseases (AIDS, hepatitis C, malaria, etc.)».

Project. This action is part of a more extensive project coordinated by Caritas and with the support of other associations in an integrated project of active assistance, not only in Sierra Leone but also in Guinea Conakry and Liberia.

The youth in the front line. «There are other immediate and concrete activities which the Focolare Movement supports, for the sick and their families – Stefano Comazzi concluded – in particular for those in quarantine and who will receive support with the contributions collected for this emergency.»

Those who wish to give their contribution may do so through the following account at Banca Popolare Etica – Rome Branch:

code IBAN: IT16 G050 1803 2000 0000 0120 434

code SWIFT/BIC: CCRTIT2184D

registered in the name of Associazione Azione per un Mondo Unito Onlus

Reason: Emergency Ebola

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The spiritual journey of a familyhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/12/18/in-volo-storia-di-una-famiglia/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/12/18/in-volo-storia-di-una-famiglia/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:00:49 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=116208

2014FamLamagna1

Salvatore vividly recalls, “When I was not even fourteen, I had my first encounter with Jesus. I remember it as if it happened yesterday. I had met the Focolare - people who had found fulfillment, and who were able to enchant a boy. I was attracted to them and with my brother, found that every excuse was a good reason to go to their place. It was the presence of Jesus among them that attracted me. The fruit of that period? The desire to meet Jesus in the Eucharist every day.»

When he was 20 he fell in love with Adriana. «I decided to declare my feelings, certain that it would be reciprocated.

Instead … it was not so. It was a harsh disappointment. I could not imagine my future without her. I was tempted to withdraw into myself. But I learnt not to stop, and to have an open mind and heart. This was something I had not stopped doing. After a few years, I found myself with Adriana at my side, and it was then that our lifelong adventure began.»

After some years of marriage and with three adolescent kids, Adriana and Salvatore were immersed in a busy life, amid family, their jobs, and volunteer work. Above all, a difficult period began for Adriana. «Slowly and silently, a sense of aridity was growing in me, characterised by a lack of self-confidence. I experienced bitterness in losing people I loved, and at a certain point, wished at times, to stop existing. But somehow, all around me was pushing me to move on: working for hours behind a teller’s window with a throng of people in line, and trying to love each one, after which I was at home, cooking, cleaning, staying with my kids, and helping them out. My relationship with God was reduced to a bleak light which seemed to fade in the distance. One day I took stock of this absence of God in me, and I was overcome by fear which shook me deeply. I prayed to ask Him to reveal himself! It was almost as if I was challenging him. And I found him, as a faithful Love in a stronger relationship, during the early morning walks I would take, and which helped me to reestablish an interior balance.»

And the kids? An experience of detachment. Salvatore recounts the experience with his firstborn. «Ever since he was an adolescent he wanted to be a musician. He learned to play the guitar and though he never wanted to go to the conservatory, he got involved in our city – Naples – with musical groups, activities, and musicians of a certain level, and frequently too, even if he was only 20. The prospects, however, were scarce. At 24, he decided to give his life a new turn and left for London. What a damper. He did not speak a word of English, and was going to such a huge and unknown city, without knowing where to stay and how to make a living. The day of his departure, I accompanied him to the airport, and watched him disappear at the departure gate. My heart was a tumble of contrasting sensations. I felt fear for his life, pain for the detachment, and awareness in having to respect his choices in life. That image of the plane taking off seemed to summarise what God was asking of me: let go of the flesh of your flesh, and let him be distinct from you and take flight. Before he became your son, he was MY son, and do you think I will not take care of his wellbeing?»

The boy now lives in London, working as a musician. «Two years ago, we went to see him; the occasion to go and visit him was to see a concert in the theatre which is considered the temple of modern dance, filled to the brim by 2,000 people, where he was performing with his group, and with which he was able to tour the world. »

And at what stage are we in now? They wondered. «It is a newly found freedom, even in the choice of leaving our city and transferring to another place, at the service of the Focolare Movement in the world. »

(A. and S. L. – Italy)

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Get married? Why?http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/12/09/sposarsi-perche/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/12/09/sposarsi-perche/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 05:00:49 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=115342 2014FidanzatiIs he or she the right person? Does the precariousness of one’s situation make a long-term programme possible? Why does marriage seem so frightening? Whoever is thinking about building a future together today often find themselves having to face choices, difficulties, doubts. A journey of growth and the sharing with other couples can help in living one’s own choice with responsibility.

There are many young people who feel the need for a preparation. Ines a young Spanish girl, works in the field of fashion, although she has just been recently lais off; she and Alejandro, a business consultant, are planning to get married next July. They are from Madrid and came to know about the coursefrom others who have already attended it: “To invest in our future is what counts the most, and so we did all we could to be here”. A couple from Brazil, because of the high cost of the airfare, requested that it be their advanced wedding gift.

They were days of reflection and discussion on the various topics through experiences, reports of experts, workshops that were about life as a couple and family life, from budgeting to work, simplicity and moderation, communication, feelings and emotions and being parents. “Ideas such as these form us as a future family – continued Ines – and help us to ge to know each other more. Is “this” really what we want?”

 

More that 200 engaged couples met at Castelgandolfo (20-23 Novembre 2014), with simultaneous translation in ten languages, during the annual course of the New Families,, which is bringing ahead the formation of engaged couples also on the local and regional levels.

2014Fidanzati2Modern culture which is centered on personal well-being, does not encourage marriage which implies a bond sworn to before society and which requires a committment and also some sacrifices. But the social and family network give solidity to the relationship and in the communion among families, each family unit is a resource for the others.

“For me the legal recognition is important”, said Adolfo who has been with Antonella for ten years, and they have been living together for five years: in April they will get married in a mixed rite ceremony since he is a non-believer and she is Catholic. “I asked myself whether this difference in our convictions would have brought with it some problems among us, but then in learning to accept each other, the diversity of the other has served as a stimulus. Last year I got sick – she continued. This trial strengthened our relationship and guided us in the step towards marriage”.

“From a financial point of view, our situation is quite uncertain because I have an employment contract only up to February, then I don’t know what happens next – Ana of Belgrade explains – while Alexander, her fiancee, plays the violin in an orchestra. “We understood that there may be small financial solutions and we have to see what is really necessary”. From Serbia, also 3 other mixed couples came together with them, one of the two is Catholic and the other is Orthodox. “Our desire is to understand together how to live better the differences among us so that they become an enrichment and not an obstacle”.

This “forever can also be frightening – said one of the families of the staff organizing the Convention – “but this is not synonymous to perfection. Rather, perfection consists in this starting again everytime that there is a setback or a difficulty in the relationship”. “A marriage is not successful just because it lasts, but what is important is its quality. Staying together and knowing how to love one another forever is the challenge that Christian spouses face” Pope Francis said to the engaged couples on the occasion of the celebration of Valentine’s Day 2014”.

“In marriage, the spouses don’t give each other anything, but they give themselves in a continuous game of unity and distinction – said Chiara Lubich in Lucerne in 1999 - and their future is enclosed within this dynamics, a future that will bring them beyond themselves, and in particular through the generating of new life; and from this wider communion the family becomes the generator of sociality”.

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Teens for Unity: the greatest goalhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/12/03/ragazzi-per-lunita-il-piu-grande-goal/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/12/03/ragazzi-per-lunita-il-piu-grande-goal/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 05:00:37 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=114950 20141203-01A soccer tournament where the winner is not one team but two and from different parts of the planet sometimes very far from each other? Where Art Play is practiced and awarded? Where the sponsors are willing to donate an amount for every goal as a contribution to finance scholarships for teens from disadvantaged countries? Many initiatives and projects of solidarity? A “third playing time”…?

«This and many other things were part of the Super Soccer World 2014 – Federico Rovea, one of the organizers of the event shared with us. This sporting event was promoted by the “Teens for Unity” of the Focolare Movment and involved 56 soccer teams from various cities in the world».

Two teams win. Characteristic of the tournament is that the winners are the two teams of the twinned cities, which symbolically play together at a distance, giving the competition a planetary dimension.

Among the 14 twinnings: the teens of Bečej, a small city of Serbia, twinned with Tlencem in Algeria; those of Loppiano (Italy) with the teens of Florianópolis in Brazil, the Italian city of Rieti played simultaneously with Buenos Aires (Argentina).

This last twinning, just like all the others, was not just “ideal”. In fact during the tournament it was possible to have a telephone link-up with Argentina to share with the participating South Americans the same spirit of friendship and fraternity. The teens of Rieti shared – aside from the experience of the day – that also some projects of solidarity were born thanks to Super Soccer. And this was: the organization of a sports activity for disabled teens and fund-raising for those in need, through the sale of sweets. The parents present were also very much involved and enthusiastic about the initiative.

Art Play. On the sports fields, the teens put into practice – aside from their passion for the sport – also the spirit of Art Play. This meant four fundamental rules:

• Respect for the others

• Cooperation

• Responsibility

• Relationship

True cornerstones of the tournament that contributed to the points of the teams just as much as the goals scored. The referees watched out, therefore, not only for the respect of the rules of the game but also for the spirit which animated the players, giving a positive point to whoever distinguished himself in living it. «The teens were attentive to these rules just as much as they were to scoring goals. According to me, this rule must be inserted among the rules of the World Cup tournaments », affirmed one of the gymnastics professors involved in the organization of the event.

20141203-02Scholarships. Linked to the tournament was also the project “Schoolmates”, with the proposal of finding a sponsor which, in every city, would be willing to donate an amount for every goal scored, as a financial contribution for the scholarships for teens coming from disadvantaged countries. The 367 goals scored gained € 2,370, for a total of 22 scholarships.

The “third playing time”. A moment of celebration shared with the participants to the sporting event and with the palyers, which contributed to bringing the spirit of the sports competition also outsied the playing field.

Super Soccer World, more of a celebration rather than a tournament, characterized by its being worldwide and by sharing, by solidarity and the respect for the other, that the teens had the possibility of experiencing within, and above all, outside of the soccer playing field. We’ll see each other again next year!

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Josef Lux, a peacemaker politicianhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/11/21/josef-lux-un-politico-costruttore-di-pace/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/11/21/josef-lux-un-politico-costruttore-di-pace/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 05:00:24 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=114779

Josef Lux 1“I’ll never forget his smile when he would greet me as he returned home tired from work. . . Even though he would never get more than only a few hours of sleep, he never missed the early morning Mass. . . He never brought political problems into our focolare, although there were times when he would ask for our opinions. Actually, he had to go against the current quite often, but I never saw in him any hatred towards his opponents.” As he went off to work each morning, he would tell us goodbye saying: ‘Always, immediately, with joy!'” It was a way of telling us he was prepared to accept any situation, even the difficult ones that the day would be holding in store for him. This attitude was probably the secret behind his life, which made dialogue possible with everyone, often in very difficult situations.” This is how the two focolarini who lived in the same focolare as Josef Lux remember him.

Born on February 1, 1956, in the late 1970s he became acquainted with the spirituality of Chiara Lubich, in Cocen, Eastern Bohemia where he worked as a zoo technician in an agricultural cooperative. In 1986 he married Vera and felt the call to follow Jesus in the focolare. Chiara assigned him a sentence from the Gospel that gave direction to his life: “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Mt 22: 21).

Josef Lux con moglie Vera
Josef Lux with his wife Vera

The events of November 1989, followed by the fall of Communism, changed his life. Right from the start of the political changes he was among the main organisers of the demonstrations in the square, and in 1990 he was elected to the National Parliament for the People’s Party. His decision to enter into politics was the result of deep reflection. He was strongly convinced that politics could be purified by people who were ready to make the personal sacrifice. He enthroned a large portrait of Jesus on the Cross, on the wall of his study. He wanted to have Him always in front of him, especially during the intense negotiations, and in the demanding work.

In September 1990, after a brilliant speech in front of the People’s Party convention, he was elected president. He worked for the transformation of this political group into a modern party with a Christian orientation.

In 1992 he was re-elected to Parliament and became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture of the Czech Government until 1998. For many people he was a sign of contradiction: esteemed by the people who shared his choices and rejected by political opponents.

Vera and his six children were of great support to him.

Josef Lux con Vaclav Havel
Josepf Lex with Vaclav Havel

In 1998 he was informed that he had a serious illness: leukaemia. That news gave rise to a chain of support: many Czech citizens as well as many others, offered bone marrow transplants. Although it was proving difficult to find the right fit, Josef was still pleased because that allowed the data base of possible donors to expand. Finally, an anonymous donor was found in Italy and the decision was made to have the surgery in Seattle, USA. The surgery went well, but during his recovery he developed an infection that worsened.

His children arrived in Seattle, accompanied by a focolarino priest who celebrated Mass in his hospital room. Josef continued to repeat that he offered his pain for the spreading of God’s Kingdom and for young people. Chiara Lubich followed him closely, assuring him of her daily prayers.

Vera and the children held hands as they sang Josef’s favourite psalm: “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust” (Ps 91:2). Well aware of the gravity of his condition, he was serene and continued to ask for prayers. Then he said some words that have become his testament: “Smile, don’t cry.”

In announcing his death on November 21, 1999, Chiara asked that Josef Lux be the protector of the Movement for Unity in Politics along with Igino Giordani.

His first little “miracle” following his death was a day of unity for the whole nation, a unity never seen since before the Velvet Revolution: on the radio, in newspapers, on television – everyone including his political opponents openly expressed their esteem for him and for the values he defended and spread during his time in public office. Many said they found in him not only a “statesman” but also a Christian who drew from his faith in God the strength and the courage to work in favour of his country.

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Families: opening up to adoptionhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/10/25/famiglie-aprirsi-alle-adozioni/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/10/25/famiglie-aprirsi-alle-adozioni/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:00:25 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=112586 20141025-01“When we got married we had many projects. And one of these was the great desire to have a child. It was a great disappointment to discover that there were problems hindering this conception. It was hard to accept and I was convinced that there had to be a medical solution, which made us hope for the best. I was 22 and therefore, they did not immediately suggest in vitro fertilization techniques (FIVET), but started with less invasive treatments.

In the meantime, while waiting for something to happen, I turned to a priest of my parish for help and advice, and he encouraged me to consider the true value of life, the precious gift that God has entrusted to the responsibility of man. The suffering I was undergoing was caused by my strong desire for motherhood, to be achieved as soon as possible. I was torn  as to the path to follow. Some doctors proposed the FIVET as the right solution. The other path was to put our trust in God. So, with great difficulty we decided to stop and not do anything anymore. It appeared to us that assisted conception itself refutes some important aspects of man. We believe that life is a gift of God and not a “product” to be manufactured in a laboratory, without the donation of love between spouses. In fact, with this technique the child is not conceived in their flesh but in a test tube.

I had always considered adoption as a beautiful thing, a great act of love, but my desire to bear a child led me not to take this path into consideration. Our suffering had opened my eyes to go further and realise, as St. John Paul II said in his  Familiaris Consortio, that “ married life does not lose its value but can be fertile beyond one’s capacity to procreate, and that fatherhood and motherhood can be fulfilled in a marvellous way in the many forms of relationships and solidarity towards those in need.”

And so I started to consider the possibility of adopting a child, and when my husband listened to my wish and agreed too, it was then that we “conceived” in an emotional bond, the child that God wanted to give us. In the autumn of 2004 we submitted to the Court for minors, our declaration of willingness for a national and international adoption.  So we waited. Our child still had not been born but was already in our hearts and thoughts. He still did not exist but we were already praying for him.

Samuel was born in Vietnam and on 19 April 2007, the association we had addressed told us that a child had been assigned to us. It was the start of great, indescribable emotions. We shared this joy with our relatives and friends; we were so happy we wanted to shout it out to the whole world. We only had a photo which for us, adoptive parents, is like the first scan in which you see your son but still cannot cuddle him.

After having undertaken a journey within the world of our emotions, we now had to take a real journey, get on a plane that would take us to the other end of the world to reach our son. On 29 May 2007 we held him in our arms for the first time, and it was an overflowing joy. Each year, we shall always remember this day as a second birthday because God has blessed our family with the gift of Samuel. We want to thank the Lord for all the gifts he has given us:  Dorotea, adopted in 2012, and Michele, who was entrusted to our care.” (G. and G. – Italy)

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Family, an endless resourcehttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/09/25/famiglia-una-risorsa-inesauribile/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/09/25/famiglia-una-risorsa-inesauribile/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 05:06:45 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=111601 20140925-01Speaking before Bishop Maradiaga, President of Caritas internationalis, Bishop Paglia of the Pontifical Council for Families, and the 150 participants of the seminar (Rome, 18 September 2014) from various parts of the world, this family from Maddaloni (Caserta – Italy), a town defined as “at risk” – struck by the painful experience of the loss of their three-month old son – was asked to give their testimonial on how one can rebuild hope and solidarity in families today.

Their third son, Giuseppe, in fact, died following the complications of a banal flu at the age of only three months. «When I got the news I thought I was dreaming, and then came a piercing pain and the certainty that we had to live this situation in unity, first of all between Gino and me. In those moments I felt the strong presence of God who, though permitting this suffering, was taking me in his arms. A family with which we were sharing a spiritual journey of faith suggested we spend a period of time in Loppiano, a citadel of the Focolari close to Florence.» For Gino it was different. When Giuseppe died, I felt defrauded not only as a father but also as a doctor whose profession is to heal sick people, whereas I was unable to do anything for my son! There was darkness and pain. But I let Elisa guide me and I accompanied her willingly.»

Immersed in the life of the citadel, «we felt an inner strength growing in us, and which transformed our pain into Love.» Then two other children were born: «If we didn’t have the strong certainty that all that had happened, even the loss of Giuseppe, was part of the divine plan of God who loves us, we wouldn’t have had the strength to beget other children.»

With a group of relatives and friends they decided to create a Foundation named after Giuseppe, the aim of which is to develop the culture of family custody «to respond to the appeal of Chiara Lubich, who invited families to empty out the orphanages and give a family to every child.» It «was not created in remembrance of our son but from the wish to continue living that love we could no longer give him. We wanted the “culture of giving” to be the Foundation’s drive engine.»

Custody consists in the temporary custody of a child in one’s own family, for as long as the problems of the child’s original family have not been resolved. In the mid-1990s when the project was launched, it was an avant-garde concept in Italy. It started with the education of the family custodians, (presently about a hundred) giving them the psychological and material support, until the formation of a family-home for children who were abandoned. It was among the first structures of the Campania Region. Since then we operate in cooperation with the local administrations and religious institutions, asking each member of the Foundation for the spirit of custody and service.

«We still remember the first time we were entrusted with a child - the Ferraro couple confided – a nine-month-old baby, Adjaratu. The words of the social service director at that time still resound in our hearts, “You can’t imagine what a dangerous road you are opening!” To tell the truth, we did not encounter any real danger. But there were difficulties and efforts, and every time these were overcome in the attempt to live evangelical love in a radical way, which had pushed us to operate and  become more visible in these 20 years, with incredible events to confirm our efforts.

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Living the Gospel: overcoming distrusthttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/09/01/vangelo-vissuto-vincere-la-sfiducia/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/09/01/vangelo-vissuto-vincere-la-sfiducia/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:00:07 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=110059 20140831-aI work as a guard in a Church in Montevideo, and sometime ago, upon opening the door every morning I would always find a boy dressed in rags, who would enter the church with the typical beverage we drink here.

My first reaction was one of suspicion and distrust, due to his appearance. I thought: “I hope he is not here to steal!” After some time, however, I remembered the Word of Life … so I started to greet him and speak to him.

He told me that he was homeless. One morning, seeing that he was all neat and dressed with new clothes, I asked him if he had found a place to stay. “No,” he answered, “I wash myself in the square with soap the Ministry for Social Development distributes. I don’t like to be dirty.” Then he recounted that he was a Catholic and went to Church ”to speak with God.” He had received his First Communion as a child. So I said, “Why don’t you come to Mass and then speak to the priest.” From then on he started attending Mass every day.

Since I had gained a bit of weight, I had many clothes that no longer fitted me. “Perhaps they would fit him” I thought. So I filled a bag and brought it to him. “Oh no, that’s too much!”he exclaimed on seeing the bag. “I need so little, since I live on the streets.”
From then on also other people of the community started to help him, convinced that every man is “Christ in person.” It was then that this man, who was now a friend, managed to find a good job (he works really hard) and rent a room.”

J. B. (Montevideo – Uruguay)

«A few days ago, on my way to the market, I saw a woman rummaging through the garbage bins and selecting the things inside. I stopped for a moment to look at her. She then said “The rich people throw away so much… but these things are still useful.” She simultaneously showed me a pan, saying: “This is made of good material.” “You’re right!” – I answered, really surprised at what she had found. It was a good pan, you could see that it had been used, but it’s one of those things that last forever. So we continued our conversation. “… this could serve to make pudding, and that other thing to drain…” and we went on and on.
She then showed me a holy picture of Our Lady which she had found in the garbage, together with a statue of Our Lady of the Valley, one of those tiny and really old lead statues of Our Lady.  “Do you know what this means for me?” – I said – “It means Our Lady is with you.”  “Yes!” she said. “God and Our Lady are always with me. They are always by my side.”

Then on seeing that among the objects, there were plants that I liked, she shared them with me and asked me to choose a branch, and still another… On arriving home I put them in water so they would germinate and be transplanted. In my heart I prayed:  “Thank you Jesus for allowing me to meet you out in the streets. Thank you for coming to see me. Please do not tire of looking for me, if I do not search for You in the outskirts of life.” T.S. (Cordoba – Argentina)

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Works of mercy, hearts in actionhttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/06/29/le-opere-di-misericordia-un-cuore-in-azione/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/06/29/le-opere-di-misericordia-un-cuore-in-azione/#comments Sun, 29 Jun 2014 05:00:12 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=107528 IginoGiordani_01You love God, the Father, also by giving food to you brother who is hungry. The whole development of literature on this issue, especially the great patristic literature, is a struggle against the selfishness of those that cause the misery of others, a kind of  reconstitution of violated and degraded humanity, starting from the principle: nourish the stomach, to replenish the physical body which is also part of the Mystical Body: it too is a presence of the living Christ [...].

Not everyone can work miracles, wrote St. Augustine,  but everyone can feed the poor. “You cannot say to the paralytic, Arise and walk! But you can say: While we are waiting for you to get up, have something to eat…”.

Anyone who would be able to feed the undernourished, the malnourished and the hungry and does not help them, is, according to a thought of the Fathers of the Church, a murderer, even a God-killer. He makes Christ die.

Those who, during the years of war, condemned prisoners to die of hunger from the point of view of the Gospel have replicated the crucifixion. They have been, so to speak,  murderers of God. The hordes of deportees, in the snow and blazing sun, in covered lorries or isolated ships, whose monotony was broken only by the collapse of the hungry, mark the line of practical atheism, even if perpetrated in the name of God

For this reason, St. Vincent de Paul went out into the galleons of the most Christian kings, where the convicts fell exhausted.

This is why works of mercy, by restoring justice, are not merely administration of food or of money to buy it. “Works of mercy are worth nothing without love,” says St. Augustine. And St. Paul says, “And even if I gave away all that I have to the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, if I have not charity, it is worth nothing” (1 Cor. 13, 3). Social works add little to the effects of religious life if those who carry them out do not bring that divine ingredient,  that ardour of the Holy Spirit, which is charity [...].

Works of mercy are a moral and material duty: by nourishing those in agony, I nourish myself: because his hunger is mine and of the whole social body, of which they are an organic part. “Though we are many, we are one body”, and you cannot injure one organ to benefit another. And if you do, you pay: with revolution and unrest and epidemics here, and then  hell in the next life.

It is tempting to think that this precept has become quite unnecessary in an era in which workers are reaching a certain comfort. Whereas it has never been so present and extended so vastly as in the era of rationing, of concentration camps, of deportations and unemployment, of war and the  post-war period (…). A civilization that tolerates hunger alongside opulence is a civilization in a state of  mortal sin (…). If someone does not have a ration, it means that someone else has two [...].

Works of mercy are justified by the reality of human nature and perform the miracle of circulating love by circulating bread. The miracle is that the gift of bread becomes a kind of social sacrament, through which with love, we communicate God and through nourishing our body, we nourish our soul.”

(from Igino Giordani, The Brother, Città Nuova, 2011, pp. 64-67)

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Families today: accepting the difficultieshttp://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/06/28/famiglia-oggi-accogliere-le-difficolta/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2014/06/28/famiglia-oggi-accogliere-le-difficolta/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 05:00:27 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=107730 20140628-02The image of the Church that, with its pastoral choices, the next Synod is called to show, is that of “a mother committed to generate, support and sustain all the children of God, without exception.” This was underlined by Archbishop Bruno Forte, special secretary of the next Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which was desired by Pope Francis. The occasion was the presentation  of the Working Document of the Synod Assembly to the Press. The synod, which will take place next October, will be dedicated to the theme “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the context of evangelization. ”

Anna Friso, who with her husband Alberto is responsible for the ‘New Families‘ section of the Focolare Movement, said, “The family has become a symbol of the difficulties and sufferings of society, so knowing that the Church has this attitude of acceptance and closeness is tremendous.”

The document is based on the results of the survey carried out last November through a questionnaire of 39 questions, which had a positive reception and a large response. Anna Friso said, “I think it was the right idea. Begin from the people, from the concrete facts of how we live”.  Alberto Friso continued, ” This attention to such complex and diverse situations of many families in trouble means giving value to these sufferings in order to draw out a light. Suffering is a value, a very important factor. If the Church understands this, families will find inner resources to find ways of reconciliation. ”

Alberto went on to say: “It’s definitely an opening of the heart and soul of the church in welcome and acceptance. But it is not just a way to enlighten the difficult situations, but also the whole general context of the family, because the family is born from God’s for humanity, and in this love it finds its meaning.”

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Alberto and Anna Friso

A large part of the document is devoted to difficult pastoral situations such as cohabitation, de facto unions, separations, divorces and unions between persons of the same sex. “We have to understand”, said Anna Friso, “that the real issue is not to remove the speck from the other’s eye but help them grow in the knowledge that God loves us all immensely. And it’s an announcement aimed at everyone, not just at those who are not in irregular situations. ”

“There is no question about the doctrine of the Church”, Mgr. Forte explained at the Press Conference, but its application, its proposals, the accompaniment of its reception and practice.
Anna Friso commented, “In the doctrine of the Church there is a truth of beauty, joy, possibility of fulfilment. And in the end no one wants a disposable love or considers children an option.  So the Church tells us exactly what is written in our hearts. However, it’s about presenting this primarily through witness”.  And Alberto added, “Our hope is that the Synod increases the awareness of all families, not just the Christian ones. I think it’s an historical act of love that the Church fulfils in a time when individualism dominates, a great message of confidence and hope not only for Christian anthropology.”

http:it.radiovaticana.va/news

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