USA OFFICIAL USA WEBSITE Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:20:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Seeds of Peace: US Buddhists and Christians come together in spirit of dialogue Mon, 06 Jul 2015 21:11:40 +0000 US buddhists and Christians 2Buddhists and Catholics from the United States are holding an interreligious dialogue meeting for the first time near Rome this week, focused on the themes of ‘Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity’. The five day meeting, which opened on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Focolare Movement in Castelgandolfo, Italy, includes 46 Buddhist and Catholic participants from New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

In an opening address to the group, which will meet with Pope Francis on Wednesday, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran said “in a world where diversity is seen as a threat”, the encounter is “a sign of our openness towards one another and our commitment to human fraternity”. “We are all pilgrims”, he stressed, adding that the dialogue between Buddhists and Catholics is part of “our ongoing quest to grasp the mystery of our lives and the ultimate Truth”.

To find out more about this dialogue, jointly sponsored by the PCID and the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Philippa Hitchen spoke to one of the Catholic participants, Fr Leo Lefebure, a theology professor at the Jesuit Georgetown University.

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Buddhists and Catholics from the United States are taking part in a meeting for the first time this week, focused on the themes of ‘Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity’. The five day event, which opened today (Tuesday) at the headquarters of the Focolare movement in Castelgandolfo, includes 46 Buddhist and Catholic participants from New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington DC.

In his opening address to the group, which will meet with Pope Francis on Wednesday, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran said: “in a world where diversity is seen as a threat”, the encounter is “a sign of our openness towards one another and our commitment to human fraternity.”

“We are all pilgrims”, he stressed, adding that the dialogue between Buddhists and Catholics is part of “our ongoing quest to grasp the mystery of our lives and the ultimate Truth”.

The meeting is jointly sponsored by the PCID and the US Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. In an interview with Philippa Hitchens on Vatican Radio, one of the participants, Fr Leo Lefebure SJ, a theology professor at Georgetown University said the PCID asked the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to begin a new series of conversations focused on the theme of ‘Be friends and help the world’ so the dialogue will explore beliefs and ideas that “resonate across both traditions”, especially the concepts of ‘suffering and the end of suffering’.

He noted that the basic values and virtues of Buddhists and Catholics “converge to a great degree” and there is a long history in the United States of leaders of both traditions coming together to oppose violence and work towards peaceful transformation of conflict.US buddhists and Christians 1

Fr Leo says that every major urban area in the US has large immigrant populations from Asia, so part of the Buddhist population is made up of these people. Another part includes people who have converted from other faiths, especially from Judaism and Christianity. What is sometimes controversial, he notes, is that some see themselves as ‘practitioners of both their religion of origin and some form of Buddhist tradition’.

But many Catholics, he says, find their faith much enhanced by practices such as meditation – in a survey of Christians in the US who engage in some form of meditation, he says most found their own faith experience ‘profoundly deepened’ by these practices…

Fr Leo says it was very significant that this meeting is taking place in the year that we mark the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the document that for the first time described Buddhism and said the Catholic Church “rejects nothing of what is true and holy” in these traditions, “implying there are things we can learn from them.”

Source Vatican Radio

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Focolare Word of Life-July 2015 Thu, 02 Jul 2015 02:34:41 +0000

These words conclude Jesus’s ‘Farewell Discourse’ to his disciples at the last supper, on the eve of his being handed over to those who were to put him to death. They had had an intense conversation in which Jesus had revealed the inner truth about his relationship with the Father and the mission the Father had entrusted to him.

Jesus is about to leave the earth and return to the Father, while his disciples will remain in the world to carry on his work. They too, like him, will be hated, persecuted, even put to death (see Jn 15:18, 20; 16:2). Theirs will be a difficult mission just as his had been. Jesus is well aware of the difficulties and the trials his friends will have to face. He had just told them: ‘In the world you will face persecution’ (Jn 16:33).

Jesus is speaking to the apostles gathered around him for the last supper, but he is thinking of all the generations of disciples who would follow him throughout the centuries, including us.

It’s so true! Even while joy is spread all along the path we follow, there is no lack of ‘persecution’ and sufferings. We experience uncertainty about the future, job insecurity, poverty and sickness, suffering as a result of natural disasters and wars, violence at home and among nations. There are in addition the persecutions that come as a result of being Christians: the daily struggle to be faithful to the Gospel, the feeling of impotence before a society that seems indifferent to the message of God, mockery, scorn and sometimes open persecution by those who do not understand or oppose the Church.

Jesus knows about ‘persecutions’ having experienced them at first hand.

‘Take courage; I have conquered the world!’

This statement, which is so decisive and confident, looks like a contradiction. How can Jesus say that he has conquered the world when a few minutes later he is going to be imprisoned, whipped, condemned, killed in the cruellest and most shameful manner? More than having conquered, it looks as if he was betrayed, denied, reduced to nothing, and so defeated – utterly.

What is the nature of his victory? It came about, certainly, in the resurrection. Death cannot hold him. His victory is so powerful that he makes us share in it too. He makes himself present among us and he takes us with him to full life, the new creation.

But even before that, his victory was the very act of his greatest love in giving his life for us. He, in defeat, triumphed fully. Penetrating every corner of death, he freed us from all that oppresses us, and he transformed all that is negative in us, our every darkness and pain, into a meeting with him, with God, Love, fullness.

Paul, whenever he thought of Jesus’s victory, seemed to go mad with joy. If Jesus, he would affirm, had faced every setback, including even the supreme challenge of his death, and he had won, then we too, with him and in him, can overcome every difficulty, and indeed, thanks to his love, we are ‘more than conquerors’: ‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom 8:38-39; see 1 Cor 15:57).

We are invited by Jesus, therefore, to fear nothing anymore:

‘Take courage; I have conquered the world!’

These words of Jesus, which we will keep in mind for the whole of this month, can fill us with trust and hope. However tough and hard may be our circumstances, we have the certainty that Jesus has already made them his own and overcome them.

Even if we do not have his inner strength, we have him himself who lives and struggles in us. We can say to him when we feel crushed by difficulties, trials or temptations, ‘If you have overcome the world, you will know how to overcome this “persecution” I am going through. To me, to my family, to my colleagues at work what is happening seems like an impossible hurdle. It feels to us as if we can’t make it. But with you among us, we will find the courage and the strength to face it, until we come to be “more than conquerors”.’

It is not a matter of having a triumphalist vision of Christian life, as if it were easy and everything had been sorted out. Jesus is victorious precisely in the moment that he lives his drama of suffering, injustice, forsakenness and death.

Perhaps we too, at times, like Jesus and the martyrs, will have to wait for Heaven’s response before we see a full victory over evil. Often we are scared of speaking about Paradise, almost as if the thought of it were a drug stopping us facing the difficulties with courage, an anaesthetic to lessen the pain, an excuse not to have to fight against injustice. The hope of Heaven and faith in the resurrection are instead a powerful spur to look squarely at every problem, to support others in their trials, to believe that the final word belongs to love that conquers hate, of life that defeats death.

So every time we come across a difficulty of any sort – be it personal, or of the people around us, or of those we hear about in different parts of the world – let’s renew our trust in Jesus, present in us and among us, who has overcome the world, who makes us share in his own victory, who opens up Paradise where he has gone to prepare a place for us. In this way we will find the courage to face every trial. We can overcome everything in he who gives us the strength.

Fabio Ciard

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Children’s Word of Life | July 2015 Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:40:25 +0000 Children's Word of Life July 2015

« Take courage; I have conquered the world! »

(Jn 16:33)

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Teens Word of Life | July 2015 Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:36:52 +0000 2015-05-wol-teens-featured

« Take courage; I have conquered the world. »

(Jn 16: 33)

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Thank you Fr Foresi Wed, 17 Jun 2015 01:34:01 +0000 Pasquale Foresi with Chiara Lubich
Pasquale Foresi with Chiara Lubich

In recent years he lived quietly in his focolare at Rocca di Papa, together with other first focolarini: Marco Tecilla, Bruni Venturini and Giorgio Marchetti, who had been his travelling companions for a long time.

He was a key figure in the history of the Focolare. He was only 20 years old in 1949 when Chiara Lubich asked him to share the responsibility of the new Movement with her. In fact Chiara always saw Pasquale Foresi as someone with a unique design in the development of the Focolare Movement, the design of incarnating the charism of unity in concrete ways. For this reason she considered him, together with Igino Giordani, a co-founder of the Movement.

In 1949, when he met Chiara and the Movement, Pasquale Foresi was a young man looking for his path in life. He felt called to the priesthood and studied at a seminary in Pistoia, Italy, and the Almo Collegio Capranica in Rome. He recalled: “I was happy and content with my choice, but at a certain point I had second thoughts. It was then that I got to know the Focolare Movement. In the members of the Movement I found an absolute faith in the Catholic Church and, at the same time, a radical gospel life. So I understood that my place was there, and soon the idea of the priesthood returned.”

Villa Eletto 2<img class=”wp-image-125750 size-full alignright” src=”” alt=”Villa Eletto 2″ width=”350″ height=”263″ />He was the first focolarino to be ordained to the priesthood, followed by others who also felt called to serve the Movement in this way.

Pasquale saw in what was being done by Chiara Lubich and the first group of people around her “a spring of gospel life gushing forth in the Church” and he began an association with them that would lead him to make a fundamental contribution to the Movement’s development, as one of Chiara Lubich’s closest collaborators.

Referring to his main tasks in the Movement, he wrote: “As a priest I was responsible for our first contacts with the Holy See. Another particular task, over the years, was following the Movement’s growth and development throughout the world and working with Chiara on writing the various Statutes. I also helped start up and follow some of the Movement’s centres and works, such as the ‘Mariapolis Centre’ at Rocca di Papa which runs courses for the members; the little town of witness at Loppiano in Italy; the Citta Nuova publishing house in Rome, and other works that developed in different parts of the world over time.”

But there is one area of Fr Foresi’s life alongside Chiara that perhaps represents his specific contribution to the development of the Movement better than others. He explained: “It’s in the logic of things that every new spiritual current, every great charism, has an effect on culture at all levels. If you look at history you see that this has always been the case, influencing architecture, the arts, ecclesial and social structures, the various fields of human knowledge and especially theology.”

In fact he spoke frequently and published numerous articles and books on the theology of Chiara’s charism and on its social and spiritual dimensions, authoritatively highlighting its newness in the context of both life and thought. His words contain “keen analysis, breadth of vision and optimism for the future made possible by the wisdom that derives from a strong and new charismatic experience, as well by the depths of light and love, humility and faithfulness that only God can achieve in a person’s life”. (Taken from the Preface to “Conversations” questions and answers on the spirituality of unity).

The Focolare Movement throughout the world remembers him with immense gratitude.

See also: Press release

Live streaming:

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3rd Annual “Let’s Color Our City” Service Retreat Thu, 04 Jun 2015 22:45:42 +0000 Service Retreat]]> Service Retreat]]> 0 Focolare Word of Life – June 2015 Wed, 03 Jun 2015 06:46:27 +0000
Focolare Word of Life Logo
Focolare Word of Life Logo

We can become slaves to what we do, getting all ‘hot and bothered’. Jesus invites us to focus on the only thing that matters: living his word as we live for him. This makes our work a creative act of love.

There is much affection in repeating this name: “Martha, Martha”! The house in Bethany, near Jerusalem, was a place Jesus would stop and rest with his disciples. In the city, he was drawn into debates; he found antagonism and rejection. In Bethany, instead, he felt welcome and found peace.

Martha was enterprising and active. She showed it later when her brother died and she engaged Jesus in a lengthy conversation, questioning him energetically. She was a strong woman who showed great faith. When “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe’” (Jn 11:25–27). She answered without any hesitation.

At this point she was extremely busy, organizing a special welcome for the master and his disciples. She was the mistress of the house (as her name suggests: Martha means “mistress”), and so she felt responsible. She was probably preparing the evening meal for her important guest. Her sister Mary had left her all alone to do the work. Contrary to the traditions of the East, Mary did not go to the kitchen but remained with the men to listen to Jesus, sitting at his feet, just like the perfect disciple. This gave rise to the rather resentful comment by Martha:

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me” (Lk 10:40).

And Jesus’ affectionate, yet firm reply was:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.”

Was Jesus not happy with the enterprising and generous service of Martha? Didn’t he appreciate her concrete and practical way of welcoming him, and wouldn’t he be happy to eat the food that was being prepared? Shortly after this episode, in his parables he will praise the administrators, businesspeople and employees who know how to use their talents creatively and do business with their goods (see Lk 12:42; 19:12–26). He even praises shrewdness (see Lk 16:1–8). He could not but rejoice at seeing a woman so full of initiative and capable of giving a warm and abundant welcome.

What Jesus calls attention to is the state she was in, how bothered and worried she was about her work. Martha is agitated, “distracted by her many tasks” (Lk 10:40); she has lost her calm. It is no longer she who controls her work, but it is her work that has taken control and tyrannizes her. She is no longer free; she has become a slave to what she does.

Doesn’t it happen also to us at times that we get lost in the thousands of things to do? We are drawn to and distracted by the internet, by messaging, by useless posts. Even when we have serious commitments to occupy us, they can make us forget to be attentive to others, to listen to people right next to us. Above all, the danger is that we lose sight of why and who we are working for. Our work and other concerns become ends in themselves.

Or else we are overcome by anxiety and agitation when we face difficult situations and problems with our family, money matters, career, school and the future of our children —to such an extent that we forget the words of Jesus: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Mt 6:31–32). We too deserve Jesus’ criticism:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.”

What is the only thing needed? To hear and live the words of Jesus. Before these words and before he who speaks them, we cannot put anything at all. The true way of welcoming the Lord, of making him feel at home, is to welcome what he says. This is what Mary did: forgetting everything else, she put herself at his feet and did not miss a single word.
If we do that we will be guided not by our desire to be noticed or to have the first place, but only by pleasing him, by being at the service of his kingdom.

Like Martha, we too are called to do “many things” for the good of others. Jesus has taught us that the Father is happy when we bear “much fruit” (see John 15:8) and that we will even do greater things than he did (see Jn 14:12). He looks therefore at our dedication, our passion in doing the work he has given us to do, our imagination, courage and resourcefulness. He wants us to do many things without getting bothered and agitated, but keeping the peace that comes from knowing we are doing God’s will.

The only thing that matters therefore is to become Jesus’ disciples, letting him live in us, being attentive to what he suggests with his gentle voice that prompts us moment by moment. In this way he will be the one who guides us in every act.

In doing “many things” we will not be distracted and side-tracked, because by following Jesus’ words we will be moved by love alone. In all we do, we will always do only one thing: love.

Fabio Ciardi *

*Fr Fabio Ciardi, OMI is a theologian and close collaborator of Chiara Lubich

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Teens Word of Life | June 2015 Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:54:24 +0000 2015-05-wol-teens-featured

« Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. »

(Lk 10: 41-42)

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Children’s Word of Life | June 2015 Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:36:44 +0000 Children's Word of Life May 2015

« Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. »

(Lk 10, 41-42)

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Run4Unity on the West Coast Fri, 15 May 2015 17:17:39 +0000 The Teens for Unity on US West Coast joined the worldwide relay race for peace that took place on May 3, 2015.  The Run4Unity is an annual sporting event for teens all over the world who want to express their desire for peace and solidarity for their peers in countries battered by war.


“Discovering Universal Brotherhood” was the title of this year’s Run4Unity. The Teens from Los Angeles, California, decided to organize a hike through the Hollywood Mountains. The teens invited other youth and families who wanted to join them for the “Hike for Peace.”   Each of the participants were invited to bring a donation for Syrian refugees residing in Jordan.

First thing in the morning, the Teens for Unity explained the history and goals of the Run4Unity project and their desire of doing it as a symbolic step towards peace and unity. During the day they touched base by phone with Teens in other cities having similar events: El Paso, TX; Madera, CA; and, for the first time, Honolulu, HI. It was a wonderful moment to share their experiences and encourage each other in this event for peace.

17153252107_54d573c8cd_zAll these events around the world had a common thread, a moment of prayer called the “Time Out” which is done every day at noon in the different time zones. When the clock ticked to 12:00 sharp!, all the hikers were invited to stop for a minute of silence in which everyone prayed for peace in the world.

Almost 24 hours after the first Run4Unity event started in Wellington, New Zealand, Honolulu was the city in which this worldwide relay finished. In this way, the race around the earth was completed, bringing joy and hope to those in hundreds of places all over the world.

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