After her second trip to Fontem (Cameroon) in 1969, Chiara Lubich met with the young focolarini of the international school of formation in Loppiano, on May 15, 1970. On that occasion, she answered a question on the difficulties that the young people encountered in living together, since they came from different environments, cultures and mentalities, and even different continents, in particular the youth of Asia, Africa and America, as compared to the European focolarini.
We who come from Western countries are absolutely behind the times
and no longer adept at living in today’s world
unless we put aside our Western mentality,
because it is only a half, a third, a fourth of the mentality of the rest of the world.
In Africa, for example, there is such a unique, such a splendid, such a profound culture!
We need to reach an encounter of cultures.
We are not complete if we are not “humanity.”
We are “humanity” if “we have within us” all cultures.
How? Chiara Lubich spoke about inculturation a number of years later, in 1992, on the occasion of another one of her trips to the African continent, in Nairobi:
First of all, the powerful “weapon” is to “make yourselves one.”
Do you know what it means to “make yourselves one”?
It means to approach the other person completely empty of ourselves,
so as to enter into the other person’s culture and to understand him/her, to allow him/her to express him/herself,
to the point of taking him or her within yourself and
when you have taken him or her within yourself, then you will be able to begin to dialogue….
In this passage Chiara looks more closely at inculturating the Gospel in other cultures:
Then yes, you will be able to begin a dialogue with the other person and also pass on the Gospel message through the riches that he or she already possesses.
Making ourselves one, which requires inculturation, means entering into the soul,
entering into the culture, entering into the mentality, the tradition, the customs of other peoples in order to understand them and to draw out the seeds of the Word.”