The Adventure of Unity / Openness

In the Focolare Movement dialogue is not a matter of personal opinion.Even a brief glimpse at the stages of its development (see timeline) would show that the Movement was not born at a planning table but by an inspiration, through a charism that the Holy Spirit had bestowed on a young woman from Trent, Italy. Since the earliest days of the Movement numerous incidents concerning Chiara Lubich and her first companions show a total acceptance of others, and acceptance is the first step in dialogue.

The spreading of the Movement throughout the world, the rapid growth of the spirit of unity cannot only be attributed to words that were spoken by few a people into a microphone, but to the love that was based on the art of loving, which Chiara had always proposed as the “method” for spreading the Gospel: “making yourself one”. This term is borrowed from Saint Paul who writes: “I have become all things to all people”. For the Movement, this has always been the main method of evangelization.

Observing the vast spreading of the Movement, it seems obvious that the spirituality of unity conquered hearts and souls of people of every social category, due to its uncompromising openness to the human family; openness expressed primarily through an attitude of dialogue in all fields, times and places. In the Focolare dialogue is meant to be understood in its strongest sense, in its Gospel sense. We do not sacrifice our own identity for the sake of any sort of compromise, but precisely because of our identity, we are able to reach out to another who is “different” from us.

On January 24, 2002 Chiara and Andrea Riccardi (founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio) were invited to Assisi. They were to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church in front of the pope and other religious leaders of the world, following the collapse of the Twin Towers. Chiara emphasised that dialogue is the main attitude of the Church. She recalled the Church’s four dialogues: dialogue within the Church; ecumenical dialogue; dialogue with the faithful of other religions; and the dialogue with people who have any religious affiliation. These are the four dialogues identified by the Church during the Second Vatican Council in the Encyclical Letter Ecclesium Suam.

In 1991 Chiara had written: “Jesus considers as allies and friends all those who battle against evil. Without being aware of it they work for the coming of God’s Reign. Jesus asks for a love from us that is capable of becoming dialogue; that is, a love which, far from closing us proudly within the safe boundaries of our own little worlds, is capable of openness towards everyone, and capable of working with other people of good will for the building of peace and unity in our world. Therefore, may we try to open our eyes to the people we meet, may we admire the good they do no matter what their beliefs may be. May we support them and encourage one another along the path of love and justice.”

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