I am delighted to have the opportunity to greet all those attending the launch of the book:Qui c’è il dito di Dio” (“Here is the hand of God”). It is the second volume in the series “Studies and Documents” published by the Chiara Lubich Centre. The title of the book recalls words well known to the members of the Focolare Movement. They were spoken by the Archbishop of Trent, Most Rev. Carlo de Ferrari, who recognised that the new life coming about in his diocese, which was both edifying and opposed at the same time, did not come from human beings but “from the hand of God”.
Clear insight allowed this pastor not to be influenced by judgements and considerations that were purely “human” but to enter more deeply into the surprising action of God made manifest through the life of a group of young women. All this took place 20 years before the Second Vatican Council, and history proved him right.
As members of the Focolare Movement, we feel special gratitude to Archbishop De Ferrari for his wise discernment, which allowed the little fire that was burning to grow and later spread throughout the world.
Looking back after 70 years, this work by Lucia Abignente helps us understand the extent to which the Archbishop’s perception was deeply rooted in the life of the Word of God and his action imbued with humility, perseverance, readiness to pay the price in person, and with prophecy.
In reconstructing the events, which in this volume are derived from a multitude of sources, we can discover a golden thread. Both favourable and adverse circumstances allowed Chiara Lubich and “her” bishop to forge a relationship of communion that was living, and real. This relationship gave meaning to the alternating times of “hosanna” and “crucifixion” – to use words we find in their letters – and enabled Chiara to live out of love for God and the Church. These pages offer us an authentic and engaging witness to this love.
Today in addition, this witness represents an invitation to us to be newly aware of the gift of the charism we have received and of the potential of a foundation that, as is recognised today, opened up a pathway followed by other ecclesial realities. I am glad to note that the publication of this book occurs in the year the Focolare Movement is dedicating to deepening our understanding of Mary. Mary who represents one of the key points of the spirituality of unity. It was during the period of light lived during the summer of 1949 (in which the Holy Spirit enabled Chiara to contemplate the greatness of the Mother of God and to admire her in her unique beauty, all clothed with the Word of God) that God’s plan for the new Movement itself became clear; it was the Work of Mary.
The “marian” vocation and hallmark of this Work are evident in these pages and given unconfutable proof – I would say – thanks to Chiara’s perennial renewal of her yes to God’s plans. Chiara said yes to her calling, yes to proclaiming the Ideal that imbued her whole life, yes to her readiness to offer and sacrifice the fruit born from it, during the years when the Movement was studied by the Church of Rome.
In Mary’s “let it be” at the Annunciation, and in her yes in desolation at the foot of the cross, she is the model, the mould in which Chiara lived her divine adventure.
In our time, there is “a new and more explicit awareness of the Marian principle in the Church, as a sacrament of unity”. I trust that the witness and the message conveyed by the book launched today, may be a gift for the whole people of God and help the Work of Mary to express the vocation that the Church confirmed in the Statutes: to be “as far as possible – a presence of Mary on earth and “almost” a continuation of her”.