As usual, the meeting began with three days of spiritual retreat, focused on the Word of God, one of the points of Chiara Lubich’s spirituality which will characterize the life of the Movement’s members during the coming year. They also reflected on the New Evangelization, in view of the 2012 Synod of Bishops which will be held between 7 and 28 October.
Topics were examined in the light of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini of Benedict XVI and in the wake of the Lineamenta for the 2012 Synod. Some meditations of Chiara Lubich were also presented, which retraced her discovery of the Word during the Second World War, the way in which it is lived by the Movement today, and its effects: changing mentalities; making the life shine; making people free; giving joy; bringing about vocations; creating community. All of this was accompanied by personal testimonies of living the Word in very diverse settings – at times adverse settings – and by moments of sharing among the participants in small group meetings which characterize the Focolare.
- Visits to: (Spain, the Holy Land, Canada, USA, Santo Domingo, Russia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and England), in which the beauty of each people was highlighted and each people’s contribution to the project of a united world, together with the vast theme of inculturation.
- Dialogue. There has been more development in this area. It has changed and extended to include non-Catholics, non-Christians, and non-religious persons, who yet belong to the “family” of the Focolare.
- Prospects and Priorities: The priority of priorities is the life, illuminated by the Word of God.
New Evangelisation. Chiara Lubich had spoken on this to a group of Bishops, taking her cue from something Pope John Paul II said regarding the Movements as being particularly suited for bringing the New Evangelisation ahead. This evangelisation is called “new” because of the new zeal, new method and new expressions it will involve. The first proclamation should be: God loves you. The New Evangelisation must create mature Christian communities. While taking embracing the entire Gospel, the word that must be underscored is: love. This means incarnating the new commandment of Jesus “in an ever more radical and authentic way.”
The world is present. Each geographical zone had an opportunity to share the situation in which Focolare members live in various regions of the world. Particular attention was given to the Middle East, through a sharing on the experience of dialogue of the focolarini of these lands, a dialogue which grew precisely out of the need to find together a way of facing the new challenges of that troubled land, in which dialogue between diverse cultures seems to be blocked by insurmountable barriers. Vincenzo Buonomo, professor of International Law, then offered an in-depth look at the Middle East situation and the development of the Arab world. Then there was the African continent. The focolarini who live there presented the religious and socio-cultural history of the continent, describing each stage of the spreading of the spirituality of unity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Young people and Adults. One of the characteristics of this meeting was the presence of the youth, who helped to enrich the programme at various moments: on the afternoon dedicated to the Genfest (Budapest, 31 August – 2 September 2012); presenting a formation course based on YouCat; and with the presentation of a documentary entitled: “Together We Can: In the Footsteps of Carlo and Alberto” based on the lives of two Gen for whom the process of beatification has already begun.
On Saturday, 8 October, the evening before the meeting’s final conclusion, Maria Voce was linked up via internet with thousands of people around the world, for some concluding remarks, in which she also shared one of her dreams: “If each of us begins now to live the Word of God with the intensity with which the first focolarine lived it with Chiara, we will truly be able to think of many lights being kindled, and rays of light filling the streets of the world.” And she added: “How can we not hope for everything and more? How can we doubt that these lights will not be bright enough to illuminate all the dark corners of this cellar that the world has become? I wish you a splendid and luminous year of light – yes – Chiara’s spiritual last testament: “Leave behind only the Gospel. . .”.