Wednesday 3 August. On a limpidly clear day, Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti visited the historical center of Ljubljana and the Parliament Building, and greeted the Vice President Vasja Klavora, remembering the visit of Chiara Lubich in 1999. He welcomed them with exquisite hospitality , visiting with them the Halls of the Senate and of the Chamber. It gave them a glimpse into the past and present future of Slovenia. Then Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti visited with the Evangelical Pastor, Geza Filo. He expressed his gratitude for the contribution of the Focolare to the ecumenical cause in his land and, in the name of his bishop, he described Chiara Lubich as a person “sent by God”.
A very significant moment was the gathering which took place in the Sports Stadium in Medvode, a few kilometres from the capital, with some 1200 people from different parts of the country, which demonstrates the spread and vitality of the many local communities of the Movement in this land. Many young married couples were there, and swarms of lively children.
It was a composed and orderly assembly that welcomed Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti with songs and stories about the Focolare in Slovenia. It was a luminous story, not without its moments of suffering. Nothing was superfluous or overdone in the testimonies that were offered in representation of the different generations, within the warmth of a family feast that’s been long looked forward to.
Then Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti were given an opportunity to have an open dialogue with those present, through a series of questions which were put to them by teenagers, children, priests, and married couples. Their answers were rich in wisdom and experience. “Courage!” exclaimed Maria Voce, using the Slovenian word. And the answers she offered were all permeated with this encouragement. Perhaps it will be the countries of Eastern Europe, she went on,“that have experienced a type of unity that contains certain values, but crumbled because it was not founded in God. . .”
It is precisely these countries of the East, as they are now confronted by the aggressive materialism of the West who should “bring the others of Europe to discover that true unity cannot be constructed unless it rests on God.” Then she added: “You, with your experience, can say that the only positive and frutiful revolution is that of the Gospel.” Herein lies the need to “live and to speak”, “to improve” in witnessing with our life and with our word to the radicalness of the Gospel – without fear.
It was a real consignment that Maria Voce was handing over to the people of Slovenia, in this land in which she encountered so much harmony. “This life of communion,” she concluded, “that we felt from the first moment we arrived here, and which has characterized this visit, a fruit of mutual love, must become total for all of us and for each one of us. And let us bring it to the whole world.”
On the following day, 4 August, the Focolare president visited Archbishop Anton Stress of Ljublajna, President of the Slovenian Bishops Conference. Then she met with the priests of the Movement and the consecrated religious who live the spirituality of unity. Everything concluded with a Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Brezje, fifty kilometres from the capital.
Goodbye Slovenia! This trip has taught us to “live the Gospel message with the radicalness of the early days of our Movement, and to make it known to all.” What an exciting mandate for this small but courageous people!
By Mario Dal Bello