December 7, 1943: the beginning of an experience scripted on High


First Archbishop Rylko read the Holy Father’s message to Chiara Lubich for the 60th anniversary of the Focolare Movement. This was followed by a long applause. Then the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity developed some of John Paul II’s ideas, in particular, the reason why he was giving thanks to God “for this enormous gift called a ‘charism’.”

He defined charism as “the most precious thing ever entrusted to you [Focolare members] through the foundress of the Movement, Chiara.” “To the Lord,” therefore, our gratitude “for all that he has done with you during these 60 years, for God’s wondrous deeds,” together with a sense of responsibility which the gift demands: faithfulness and total acceptance, “with complete openness to God by allowing ourselves to be guided by the grace of the charism, by continually deepening this gift in order to make it bear fruit in our personal lives, in the life of the Church and of the world.”

Archbishop Rylko noted that “a charism is already complete from the beginning, but the founder does not know the details. If you ask Chiara whether or not she wanted to found a Movement on that 7th of December 1943, she would answer: absolutely not!” That date – Archbishop Rylko recalled – “was the beginning of an adventure which was wholly planned by Someone Else. It is the same Holy Spirit who, little by little, reveals the immense richness that a charism contains.” “The guarantee of a charism’s youthfulness and perennial freshness,” he specified, “ lies in the fact that it always amazes us by the new things it unveils before our eyes,” for “when the Holy Spirit intervenes, he always stupefies.”

Archbishop Rylko went on to underscore the importance of remembering “the initial events” from which the Movement arose. He concluded by saying that “in this kind of memory you will find the strength and light to move forward, certain that the Lord is with us.” Archbishop Rylko wished Chiara “much strength to last for many years.”

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