«We visited the families with the Word of Life leaflet and while talking about one thing and the other, a meeting ensued.» These were the words of Carmen, who with her husband, Mynor and their nearest of kin, initiated the holding of the Mariapolis close to their city, Chimaltenango, 54 km from Guatemala City. Based on commerce and agriculture, the city’s economy is integrated with the modern rhythms of production and consumption, but still jealously guards their ancient culture and traditions.
Carmen and Mynor are the heart of the Focolare community and their big house is the local base of the Movement. With a twinge of pride they told us about the meetings they hold there.
Information about the Movement was barely disseminated, so the first thing they did was to inform the parish priest, who Mynor, Carmen, and her sister, Marta went to visit. But priests in these areas are very busy, and since Mynor could not wait for long, he went to his work in Court. «The priest could not understand what novelties the Movement could bring – Carmen continued – until my sister Marta told him about the experiences of her children who are gen3». The first had allocated the money she received on her 15th birthday to the poor children of an isolated village; the other had forgiven a school mate who had tripped him and caused him to consequently break an arm. At that point the parish priest understood the effects of living the Focolare spirituality.
Once they received the support of the local church, they had to cover the expenses. «When people are invited to a retreat – Mynor said – they know they will be hosted as guests». Because of this the preparation for the Mariapolis also consisted in fundraising activities, one of which was holding Bingo sessions in the parish hall, and gathering gifts for the occasion.
Kelly, the second of Carmen and Mynor’s four children, is studying law to follow in her father’s footsteps. «There are only a few of us in the faculty – she affirmed – but we help each other. Only two of us are gen but we always try to have Jesus in our midst and with everyone». Kelly admires the coherent life of her parents: «When they invited people to the Mariapolis, they spoke about experiences I know, and which were all true. In our home, the Word of Life is the reference for every situation. And so, when there is a problem we read it in order to put it into practice.»
Respect for the elderly is one of the riches of the Kaqchikel. In their presence, a gesture of reverence is shown before speaking. Motherhood and the gift of children are considered a benediction of God and are foremost in value compared to all considerations. «For me, the Movement – again Carmen says – is a grace of God that welcomes us, adults and children, and likewise the various cultures and languages. Here, they appreciate us, with our traditions and mentality.»
In the culture of the Maya there is a strong bond with nature. «We invoke it, giving thanks to the heart of the heavens and the heart of the earth, and like St. Francis, we say: all are my brothers. Also Chiara Lubich had this vision. The Holy Spirit inspired her in this sense, which is why the Focolare Movement welcomes us as we are.» Mynor concludes: «The Maya philosophy stresses harmony, balance of the material and spiritual aspects, and solidarity which is equal to fraternity, to nurture conditions of cooperation.»
Beyond all the contradictions that reign in every culture, the Kaqchikel conserve many human values which, enlightened and purified by the Gospel, enrich all those who receive it.
Filippo Casabianca, Guatemala City