If the spirituality of the Focolare, which is centered on love for one’s brother or sister, is an expression of the Gospel, then also “perfection in virtues”, as it is referred to in the Christian tradition, must be achievable in  relationships with others. This is the conviction that Chiara Lubich explains in the following text.

Many of us are familiar with the Imitation of Christ, a book of prayer and meditation that is rich in spirituality.  In order to transform our life into a Holy Journey, and reach the goal that the book puts before us, it says that we need some attributes that are very compelling: complete contempt for the world, an ardent desire to progress in virtue, love for sacrifice, and the fervor of penance, self-denial, and knowing how to bear every adver­sity….

They are attributes that are necessary for all of us to possess. However, we must ask ourselves: how can we acquire them in accordance with our own spirituality?

The answer is clear and certain: we have not been called by God to accomplish all this through a monastic style of life separated from the world. We are called to remain in the midst of the world and to go to God through our neighbor, which means through love for our neighbor and through reci­procal love. It is through committing ourselves to undertake this unique and evangelical path that we will discover, as if by enchant­ment, that we have acquired these virtues in our soul. We need to have contempt for the world. Then, there is no better contempt for something than complete disregard, forgetfulness and indifference toward its existence. If we are fully projected toward thinking of the others, toward loving the others, we no longer have concern for the world, we forget about it; therefore, we have contempt for it, even though this does not free us from doing our part in pushing aside its suggestions when they assail us.

We must progress in virtue. But we can do this if we have love. Isn’t it written: “I will run the way of your commands when you give me a docile heart [a heart full of love]” (Psalm 119:32)?

If in loving our neighbor we run the path of fulfilling God’s commands, it means that we are making progress. We need to love sacrifice. To love the others precisely means to sacrifice oneself in order to be dedicated to the service of others. Christian love, even though it is a source of great joy, is synonymous with sacrifice.

We need the fervor of penance. It is through a life of love that we will find the greatest and principal penance to perform. We need self-denial. Love for our neighbors always implies self-denial. Finally, we need to know how to bear all adversity. Are not many sufferings in the world caused by living alongside others? We must know how to bear everyone, and to love him or her out of love for Jesus Forsaken. By doing this we will overcome many obstacles in life.

Yes, in loving our neighbor we find an excellent possibility to transform our life into a “holy journey”. […]

Chiara Lubich

(From a telephone conference call, Rocca di Papa, 27 November 1986)

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