The Focolare Movement has a universal charism therefore it is committed to social action in every place and environment.
Back in 1940 Trent, during the Second World War, Chiara Lubich and her first companions helped heal both physical and moral wounds, gave goods to the poor, supported families resolving difficulties and welcomed those who were at the margins of society through talking and sharing with them.
In 1962 Chiara Lubich explained where the idea for that ‘social revolution’ came from: “The gospel says that whoever wants to follow Jesus must leave everything they have and give it to the poor… It’s the first step to take in order to follow Jesus”. They acted on this literally loving God through practical actions for those around them.
At the beginning of the Movement one of the first spiritual intuitions Chiara Lubich had was the understanding of God as Love. She recalls the experience when in 1979 she wrote: “You can only respond to Love with love, love for God, as a response to His Love for us and you do this by immediately doing something out of love for your neighbour. Whoever we met in our life was given our full attention, our care, our kindness.”
They were intense years during which the first focolarine dashed untiringly from one part of the city to another to bring help to whoever needed it. In those days their seating plan at the dinner table was “a poor person then a focolarina, a poor person and then a focolarina”.
The first target for help from these young girls were the poorest. They were sure that behind the sad and troubled faces of these people there hid the face of Jesus. As the community around them grew they were more able to give help to whoever needed it. They did this for several months. It was natural in this small and yet great revolution of social care to help not just the poor but all of humanity: “There were those who needed feeding, dressing, something to drink and also those who needed teaching, advising, supporting and those who needed prayers”. And so they became aware of the power that the charism of unity brought with it, seeing the effect it had in the world.
This life, made up of social action and contemplation, attracted people from all walks of life: among them was Igino Giordani, a very well known Italian journalist, politician and writer who is now considered a co-founder of the Movement.
Giordani was the first to intuit the impact the charism would have on the various sectors of society: he and many others since as well as thousands today have realised the possibility of putting evangelical love into practical actions in all social circumstance: homes, hospitals, schools, offices, factories, clubs, volunteering politics, economy and theatre.
The same strategy is used everywhere: to bring fraternal love is the aim and also the action mode; the method, fraternal love remains the doctrine used to value the skills and competence of each person so forming a network of sharing for the common good.
So a community, which is a “people of God” was born, and through Him immersed in everyone’s problems that wounds can be healed in every city.
A common bond has developed between people of goodwill who share a vision of a more just society enriched by diversity. Sharing together can lead to new practical solutions to problems, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.