“In high school, when I read Man The Unkown by Alexis Carrel, I found great inspiration for my future. His intuition concerning the psychosomatic relationship, that is, the interaction between body and soul in health and in illness simply fascinated me.
But the war was on and there was the landing at Anzio (Italy), just a few kilometres away from where my family lived, which catapulted me into the traumatic experience of saturation bombings, and the destruction of our home. Rome then became the safe haven where my family and I went to live with the few possessions we were able to salvage. There I began my life again, and enrolled in medical school. In addition to my studies, which were moving on with good results, I attended the Catholic activities that were held in the world of the university. I became more and more convinced that the most genuinely obvious Christian values of charity, justice and the faith that were expressed in good works, needed to be more deeply rooted in the consciences of Christians, in order to avoid that deadly dichotomy between the relationship with God and the relationship with other people, which renders the Christian presence in the world invisible and irrelevant.
Therefore, without realising it, I was searching for something, in an interior atmosphere of expectation, of vague discontent that was towards something that was new. This was the state of my soul when, in the 5th year of medical school, in February 1949, I was invited to a meeting.
There I met Chiara Lubich. After having been introduced by an order priest, she told us her spiritual experience and that of the first group that formed around her. And I don’t know how to explain it, but by some sort of alchemy that story I heard from Chiara also became my story. It didn’t deal in ideas and necessary explanations. It was a simple exposition of the facts; these were extraordinary, yet “normal” people.
It was a matter of accepting their story or not. But if one accepted it, there was no other way of knowing more, than to follow that young woman who – you could just see it – was the living personification of that experience, of that message she brought. So at the end of the meeting I wanted to spend a few more minutes with Chiara and accompanied her for a bit of the way. From that day I never lost contact with the focolarine who had been living in Rome for a few months. […]
But my story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t tell you the secret weapon that made me win the battles against myself and overcome that radical inability to love which afflicts all of us. It was the discovery of Jesus’s greatest suffering in the small and great sufferings of humanity. Chiara spoke of it often, because it’s such an indispensable help, especially for those who are just learning to take their first steps in building unity. We all know that dark umbra that lies behind our human nature, with its load of introspection and selfishness. But all that was assumed once and for all by Jesus It has taken on His voice and countenance, which tells us that “the night no longer has any darkness” and every wound can be healed, because He loved it and healed it.
Many times, through the years I’ve experienced the burden of pain and suffering. Yet, each time I believed in Love and threw myself into His arms, beyond the suffering I found an ever deeper peace, an ever purer joy.”