USA OFFICIAL USA WEBSITE Sat, 01 Aug 2015 04:12:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Word of Life – August 2015 Sat, 01 Aug 2015 04:08:05 +0000 Love is the fulfilment of our life, the one secure guiding principle we can follow.

The whole of Christian ethics is contained in these words. Human behaviour, if it wishes to be according to what God thought when he created us, and so genuinely human, must be animated by love. If our ‘walk’ (which stands for our life) is to reach its objective, it must be guided by love, the summary of the entire law.
The apostle Paul is speaking to the Christians in Ephesus when he makes this exhortation. It is the conclusion and summary of what he has just written to them about the Christian way of life: going from the old self to the new self, being true and sincere with one another, not stealing, knowing that we are forgiven, doing what is good, in a word ‘walking in love’.
It would be useful to read the couple of sentences that give us these incisive words which will be with us throughout the month: ‘Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.’

Paul is convinced that our every move must be modelled on God’s way of behaving. If love is God’s distinguishing feature, it must be also for his children. They must imitate him in this.
But how can we know God’s love? For Paul it is extremely clear. God’s love is revealed in Jesus, who shows how and how much God loves. The apostle experienced it at first hand: Christ ‘loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal. 2:20), and now Paul reveals this to everybody so that it may become the experience of the whole community.

‘Walk in love’

What is the measure of Jesus’s love which should be the model for our love?
It, we know, has no limits, no exceptions, no partiality. Jesus died for all, even his enemies, those who were crucifying him, just as the Father in his universal love makes his sun shine and his rain fall upon all, good and bad, sinners and righteous alike. He knew how to care above all for the little ones and the poor, the sick and the excluded. He loved his friends with intensity. He was particularly close to his disciples… His love spared nothing and went to the extreme of his giving his life.
And now he calls all to share in his same love, to love as he has loved.

This call could scare us, because it demands too much. How can we be imitators of God, who loves everyone, always, taking the initiative? How can we love with the measure of Jesus’s love? How can we live ‘in love’, as this Word of Life asks of us?
It is possible only if we ourselves have first had the experience of being loved. In the expression ‘walk in love, as Christ loved us’, the word ‘as’ can also be translated ‘because’.

‘Walk in love’

Walking means acting, behaving, which means to say that everything we do must be inspired and moved by love. But perhaps it is not by chance that Paul uses this dynamic word to remind us that we learn by loving, that there is a whole road to go before reaching the wideness of God’s heart. He uses other images to point out the need for constant progress, such as the growth of infants to adulthood (see 1 Cor. 3:1-2) or races in the stadium to win a prize (see 1 Cor. 9:24).

We are always a work in progress. Time and constancy are required to reach our goal, without giving up in the face of difficulties, without ever letting ourselves be discouraged by failures and mistakes, ready always to start again, without giving in to mediocrity.
Augustine of Hippo, perhaps thinking of his own painful journey, wrote: ‘You always dislike what you are, if you want to reach what you are not yet. In fact where you feel at ease, you stop, and you say, “That’s enough,” and like that you sink. Build up continuously, walk ahead always, go forward without ceasing; do not pause long on the way, do not look behind, do not leave the track. The one who goes not ahead, stays behind.’

Walk in love’

How can we walk most swiftly upon the way of love?
Since the invitation is given to the whole community (the word ‘walk’ is in plural form), it is a good idea to help one another. Indeed, it is sad and tough to go on a journey alone.
We could start by finding the opportunity to declare to one another again (with our friends, families, the members of the same Christian community) our will to walk together.
We could share our positive experiences about how we have loved, so as to learn from one another.
We could share with someone able to understand us the mistakes we have made and our slips along the way, so as to be corrected.
Prayer together too can give us light and strength to go ahead.
United among us and with Jesus (who called himself the Way!) in our midst we will be able to travel along the whole of our ‘Holy Journey’. We will sow love around us and we will reach the goal: Love.
Fabio Ciardi

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Word of life – August 2015 Sat, 01 Aug 2015 04:03:32 +0000 "Walk in love (Eph. 5:2)"]]> "Walk in love (Eph. 5:2)"]]> 0 Solar Power Cookers For Haiti Sun, 26 Jul 2015 14:25:55 +0000 haiti_poor_int“Haiti, once one of the most prosperous French colonies, Pearl of the Antilles, today is amongst the poorest countries in the world, devastated by a serious ecological catastrophe,” says Ronald La Rêche, ex-deputy and candidate for the senate of Mont Organizé. Thousands of people live without access to traditional forms of energy such as electricity and gas. The constant recourse to firewood has led to to deforestation, which has a direct negative impact on climate change, causing desertification and progressive diminishment of the water supply. This led to the idea of supporting the Haitian population with the help of renewable energy, especially solar energy.     

The “Cucine solari per Mont-Organizé Project was conceived  by the AFN, an association inspired by Focolare values – in collaboration with PACNE (Action contre la Pauvreté du Nord Est), the NationalMicrocredit Entity, the Agriculture Department of the Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II” , Tesla I.A. Ltd., and the SIOI (Società Italiana per l’Organizzazione Internazionale). Its goal is to introduce solar power cookers in the centres that are supported by AFN in the Mont-Organisé Haiti territory of Mont-Organisé.

The solar cooker uses very simple technology, easy maintenance and installation, and it is possible to learn how to assemble it on site, favoring its dissemination amongst the community. It consists of a device based on a system of solar concentration. Through a lens, solar energy is transformed into thermal energy which is then stored in a battery.

The project was presented on July 4, 2015 at the “Cucine Solari, una risposta alle problematiche dei Paesi in via di sviluppo,” of EXPO di Milano 2015 in the Cascina Triulza-Civil Society Pavillion. President of the AFN, Andrea Turatti, explains: “The process we propose would use the solar cooker in schools, with the help of the AFN in Mont- Organizé, a rural area in the borough of Ouanaminthe, North-East Haiti. The next steps will be to train the teachers who, in turn, will train families and involve the local population in microcredit projects.”

haiti_expo_intAttention to green technologies and overall sustainability were among the innovation cited by Luigino Bruni, professor of Economics at the University of Rome (LUMSA), and coordinator of the Economy of Communion. Then there is “the exploitation of local resources (such as the sun), the materials at the site, and the involvement of the population.” The economist said: “This is where the true success of the project is played out. It will work to the extent in which it is seen as a true opportunity by the local population.”

Focolare president, Maria Voce, wrote: “The Cucine solari” project is in sync with the teachings of Pope Francis who has focused attention on the environment, making integral ecology the main focus of his encyclical letter Laudato si’, that is, the relationship beteen nature and the people who live in it. [. . .] This project that is founded on care for the environment and sustainable development from within the communities that benefit, can offer valid answers to the urgent problems of the country. The project seeks a resolution to the environmental crisis, health, nutrition, and  energy supply with an eye toward the basic needs of the most weakest and most vulnerable. It utilises solar energy, while being mindful and respectful of the local culture, offering opportunity for development and social inclusion of the most disadvantaged, such as the children who receive support and education in Focolare schools.

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Pig Roast Extravaganza Tue, 21 Jul 2015 22:30:41 +0000 At Mariapolis Luminosa]]> At Mariapolis Luminosa]]> 0 People and Planet First Sun, 19 Jul 2015 22:02:46 +0000 LornaGold_MaryRobinson180 people from over 40 nations: activists, NGOs, social movements, scientists, religious congregations, activists from the Catholic world and beyond, together to discover concrete ways of responding to Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’.

Environmental experts Lorna Gold from Ireland and John Mundell from the United States attended as representatives of the Focolare Movement and Eco-One. For over 13 years Lorna Gold has worked in the field of the environment at Trocaire-Overseas Development Agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland. John Mundell is president of an environmental consultant agency in Indianapolis, Mundell & Associates, Inc., which adheres to the Economy of Communion.

“The most important thing about this conference is the diversity among the people, organisers and ethnic groups that came together to give an immediate response to the Pope’s Encyclical,” Lorna Gold says. “We’ve come here from the whole world and in the name of civil society. There are activists like Naomi Klein, a world-renowned writer on the topics concerning ecology and economy in an age of globalisation; there are people from ecological movements like the head of Greenpeace, Kumi Naido; there is the entire network of the CIDSE-NGO, Catholics who work for social and global justice.”

The three-day meeting gave the sense of a movement in the act of helping to incarnate the ideals of the Si’ Encyclical. Among the examples that were presented there was also the The Earth Cube™, created by Eco-One, a network of professionals from the field of the environment who are inspired by the spirituality of unity.

The difficulties and the complexities of the environmental problem were on the minds of all: a problem not only for science and of the earth, but also for the economy and politics. Often the choices in these environments go directly against nature and generate more poverty but, according to Naomi Klein, something can still be done: “We could prevent so much suffering. We can’t justify doing nothing, because it’s difficult. Don’t let perfect win good. We need difficult, but possible, instead of easy yet reprehensible. Stop making the difficult a limit for possible, and let possible be real.”

The reverse route is possible if there is enough strength to face the problem. The presence of so many people directly involved on many different fronts gives much hope, and it made everyone experience what Pope Francis says in the Encyclical: the whole is more than the sum of its parts. John Mundell highlighted another novelty at the meeting: “The role of women as protagonists in the discussion and debate on climate change. In this summit we almost saw a vision of the future of the Church: open, in dialogue with the world, seeking relations with all people of good will, to bring ahead a more united world, more in contact with the planet.”

Laudato Si’ invites us to rethink our lifestyle. As Naomi Klein said: “This is not only a teaching for the Catholic world, and as a secular Jewish feminist, I can say I felt this Encyclical also talking to me.”  


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NCP New Release Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:29:33 +0000 Moments to Remember]]>


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Art Builds Peace Thu, 09 Jul 2015 22:15:18 +0000 The Other Another Me 2An art exhibit with the theme “The other, Another Me – Breaking Down The Walls of Indifference” took place in Dallas, Texas last May.  It was a collaboration of 12 artists who donated their art to raise funds to help families in countries of war. There was a wide variety of lifestyles and beliefs among the artists, and at the same time the desire of each one to be part of something in the service of humanity.

“I wanted to give the possibility for people to take home something that would remind them that we are all connected,” said Joelma Regis, the artist behind the creation. “‘We live our happy lives here and don’t think that there are other human beings suffering somewhere else’’.

Regis believes that to help those suffering across the world, change needs to first begin in the heart. “Many times we act in a superficial way. We might be polite but without really caring what is going on with the other person. This is on a small scale, but indifference leads to bigger issues.”

The Other Another Me 1One of the artists, a photojournalist, lived in Iraq for a year during the war in 2003 and was amazed to see that “this exhibition brought out the widest possible variety of people – which is not usual for this university…” He said that such an initiative “is very important for artists and for humans to participate in”, stressing that he had tried to do this in his work place with Iraqi people.

Collaborating with 11 other local artists who made their own contributions, Regis pointed out the beauty of the team effort. “We were a group of very different backgrounds  and beliefs. “It was inspiring to see those people doing something for the  same cause.”

Brett Dyer, a professor of art at North Lake  College,  helped  devise  ideas with Regis on how to implement both art and humanitarian work together. “Joelma’s exhibit  title, ‘The Other Another Me,’ reminds us we are all  spiritual beings, and what we do and don’t do affects all of us. I think seeing past borders, languages, religions, cultures and our physical bodies are the biggest challenge or test given to us by the higher powers at hands.’’

The Other Another Me 3

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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.

Listen to audio recording

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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