Dec. 7, 2003 marks 60 years since the Focolare Movement began in Trent. On that famous day, December 7, 1943, Chiara – then in her early 20’s – was all alone as she said her “yes forever” to God. Never could she have imagined the fruits that would bear. Today there are thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds, languages, races and creeds, in 182 nations worldwide who live to create portions of brotherhood, as a way of contributing to the unity of the human family, that today more than ever yearns for peace.
Chiara writes for the newspaper “Vita Trentina”:
“What do I feel? What is in the depths of my heart on this particular occasion?
A wave of emotion, even just at the thought of what I see in front of me – a new people born from the Gospel, spread all over the world; an immense work which no human force could have made. It is, in fact, “a work of God,” for which I was chosen as the first instrument, “useless and unfaithful” though I may be.
Then a hymn of thanksgiving to God for all that I – with all my brothers and sisters – was able to see, experience, build and lead onwards, with God’s help, up to this point.
A deep, heartfelt gratitude for everything, my God!
Thank you, first of all, for letting me be born in your Church, making me a child of God;
for having nourished me day after day with the Eucharist;
for having lit up my life, since childhood, with signs of the divine charism you would have put within me for the good of so many others;
for having made me experience the truths of the Gospel and its ever-faithful promises;
for having given me the joy of the “hundredfold” in all senses;
for having revealed to me the secret of unity in your Son, Crucified and Forsaken;
for having permitted sufferings which always led to a deeper union with you;
for having gifted me with an entirely new spirituality, which is both personal and communitarian;
for having broadened my view, and that of all those who stand with me, onto the whole of humanity, including Christians of other traditions, faithful of other religions, people who are not yet your own and yet are full of good will;
for the fatherly love of your Vicars on earth, especially Paul VI and John Paul II, and for their blessings on the Work of Mary over the years;
for having blessed me with a long life;
for having forgiven my sins.
Thank you for allowing me – through my specific mission – to work with the Church for the fulfilment of your Son’s priestly prayer: ‘That all may be one,’ and to prepare for you large groups of people intent on living universal brotherhood.
Thank you, thank you. To you be praise and glory.”
This is how Chiara recalled some years ago that December 7, 1943:
“I woke up that morning at around 5. I put on my best dress, plain though it might be, and I crossed the whole city on foot to reach a small college. A storm was raging, and I had to push my way ahead with my umbrella. This fact was not without meaning. It seemed to tell me that the step I was about to take would comport obstacles.
When I got to the College, there was a sudden change of scene. The huge doors opened wide by themselves it seemed, giving me a sense of relief and welcome, almost as if they were the open arms of God who was awaiting me. The church was decorated beautifully. In the background stood a statue of the Blessed Virgin. Beyond the railing, in front of the altar, a kneeler had been prepared.
Just before the moment of Communion, I realized in a flash what I was about to do: I had crossed a bridge, and with this total gift of myself to God, that bridge would have collapsed behind me. I would never be able to go back to the world. This realization struck me with such an impact that a tear fell on my missal. Then I felt profound joy. I was getting married. I was marrying God.
I went back home running, I think. I only stopped to buy three red carnations to put in front of the Crucifix in my room. They were the signs of our celebration – His and mine. I had married God. From Him, I could expect just anything.”