“A family’s history is beset by all types of crises.” This was how Pope Francis introduced his speech on the crisis of couples described in Amoris Laetitia (AL 232 and ff.), thus interpreting the various phases with great realism.
These pages seem to recount my story, of when as a child of five, I lost my father and was impoverished by the lack of a future, and when, as a young man, I found in the love of a girl, a breath of new life and hope for happiness and then, as a disillusioned person, I found myself alone. But it is also the story of a community that welcomed and saved me.
After Renzo’s nautical studies he embarked on the ships of the Mercantile Marines, and during a leave, met Mariarosa and love bloomed. It was such a great sentiment that could not accept distances. He left his maritime job for her, and his new job led him to live far from their families, friends, and the usual life. The entire universe enfolded the two of them in a dream, and both put their bets on happiness with one another. All went well until when our differences, attractive at the start, slowly started to disturb our harmony. It reached the point that they seemed unacceptable, and made us feel like strangers to one another, in the conviction that we had chosen the wrong person. And in the bitter disappointment we admitted that the dream had ended, along with our marriage. So we split up and I found myself alone in an empty house, giving in to anger and despair.
At the wedding feast of a colleague, one of the guests gave me a lift home. Encouraged by his immense capacity to listen, I recounted my situation. He offered his friendship but, disappointed with life and people, I told him I didn’t believe in friendship. “I am offering a new type of friendship – he said calmly – to love one another “the way Jesus loved us,” That “way” opened a passage in my soul. I started to frequent his family and Focolare friends who also became my friends. It was what I really needed: the support of the people who did not judge me but counseled me, without showing off their own happiness. They were able to understand the anguish of those like me, who were lost. Their lifestyle was like a mirror which reflected all my past, making me see my chain of errors and egoisms that had destroyed all. Following their example, I also started to do something good for the others.
Two years later, unexpectedly I received a letter from Mariarosa. Also she, in different ways had found other things, and in her city had met people who brought her closer to Jesus. We met with hesitance, and in that moment we felt that God had given us a new heart and the certainty that our love could again blossom. It was a measure of love that did not wait to receive, but that gave. With mercy, a new path began, up to when our family was reconstituted and later blessed by six children, among which were three twins. We no longer were isolated and with other couples we shared the daily renewal, experiencing that despite the daily difficulties and trials we could look toward ì perspective of happiness as a couple. It was a day-to-day weft of communion, reciprocity, deep sharing of sentiments, promises, and donation towards the children and all around us and experience with joy, as Francis wrote, that a crisis that is overcome really leads to an “improvement, and the consolidation and maturation of the wine of union.” (AL 232)».