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On Saturday 8 June, the President of the Focolare Movement, Maria Voce, was invited to the international conference for leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. It was organised by CHARIS (Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service), the new service established by the Holy See through the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life that officially began its activity on the day of Pentecost. In her talk, Maria Voce spoke about how the Holy Spirit is seen in the Focolare Movement. Here are some extracts.

Dear Friends,

The Holy Spirit has always had a very important role in our history. Chiara Lubich, founder and first president of the Focolare Movement, repeatedly emphasised : “He was our Teacher”, “the key player in our history”, “the giver of our charism”.

The Holy Spirit has always been the one who has illuminated, guided, supported and spread what we call “the Ideal”, that is, God, discovered and rediscovered through the spirituality of unity. An “Ideal” that, through an outpouring of light, launches us every day into an ever new divine adventure, one that is unique and wonderful.

Certainly, at the beginning of our history – in the 1940s and 50s – this role of the Holy Spirit was not obvious. For a number of years, there was no mention of him and of his action regarding us, because he himself wanted it this way. As Chiara herself said at a Charismatic Renewal Convention in 2003: “He took great pains to step aside. In a certain sense, he disappeared, he annulled himself, thereby giving us a wonderful lesson we will never forget: He who is Love in person taught us what love is: living for others, giving prominence to others.”

Nevertheless, from the earliest times, in the various points of the spirituality of unity that gradually emerged, we find the living imprint of the silent but active presence of the Spirit. It is enough to think of the experience during the Second World War in a “dark cellar” where, taking refuge from the bombs, Chiara opened the Gospel and had the impression that every page was illuminated with new light. It was the Holy Spirit that made her feel that the words of Jesus spoken two thousand years earlier were living Words, that can be lived always and are suited to every time and every situation. Love for the Word of God – which we still try to live month by month, to always re-evangelise ourselves – is one of the cornerstones of our spirituality.

During the summer of 1949, which was characterized by a particular mystical experience Chiara had, we find the Holy Spirit as her silent companion on that journey, the one who gave her “infinitely beautiful realities” to live every day. It was in that circumstance that she understood how the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is “all the breath of Jesus, all his Warmth, his Life”, “the air of Heaven”, the air “with which the whole of Heaven is suffused”.

During that time, the Holy Spirit also revealed to her a whole new understanding of Mary , an understanding that would then be decisive for the development of the charism and for the very constitution of the Work of God, the Movement that was later given her name.

On her spiritual journey, Chiara always urged her followers to be “assiduous students of this great Teacher”; to be attentive to his mysterious and delicate touches; not to let any of his inspirations fall by the wayside .

It has therefore become common practice in our lives to “listen to that voice”, that is, the voice of the Spirit that dwells in us, a “voice” that speaks loudly, that inspires, that guides us, if we place ourselves in an attitude of love with regard to God and our neighbours; a “voice” that helps bring the revolution of Gospel love into the world.

Among the numerous effects brought about by the Holy Spirit, one that we continually experience in our communities, in our little towns and in our meetings, whether large or small, is the “atmosphere” that is created as the fruit of a deep unity generated by the presence of the Risen Jesus amongst us (cf. Mt 18:20).

But Jesus can be in our midst only if our mutual love is measured by his (“love one another as I have loved you”). That is why we need to look to him on the cross, he who even experienced being forsaken, and recognize and love him in all the sufferings we encounter, making ourselves nothing as he did.

“Jesus Forsaken is nothingness, is the point and through the point (= Love reduced to the extreme, having given everything) passes only Simplicity, that is, God: Love. Only Love penetrates…” Thus we can let the Risen One live in us, and the Risen One brings his Spirit with him.

We experience that when there is Jesus in our midst, the voice of the Holy Spirit is greatly enhanced, as if through a “loudspeaker” .

Furthermore, we invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit in a special way through our characteristic prayer called the consenserint, in the light of Jesus’ words: “Truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” (Mt 18.19). Through this prayer we turn to the Father entrusting every need to him and how many graces, both varied and unimagined, we have obtained in this way!

We also experience that the Holy Spirit enters the life and story of each person. He renews from within not only details but every human reality, to lead all humanity to the fulfilment of God’s plan for humankind and the universe. We experience that, by placing mutual love at the basis of relationships, as a reflection of Trinitarian love, the world can truly be transformed in every field, whether political, economic, cultural, artistic, educational, and so on . “I felt – Chiara told us – that I have been created as a gift for the person next to me and the person next to me has been created by God as a gift for me. As the Father in the Trinity is all for the Son and the Son is all for the Father. And this is why the relationship between us is the Holy Spirit, the same relationship that exists between the Persons of the Trinity” .

We are convinced that all of us, both old and young, can be “bearers” of the Holy Spirit: to make the divine shine out not only in the Church, but also beyond it, in the world entrusted to us. We are called to embroider “patterns of light” wherever we pass, and to make our contribution to humanity around us, to find together the true meaning of our journey.

I would like to conclude with a dream of Chiara, which she completely entrusted to the Holy Spirit. A dream that is mine too and I think is also yours: “I dream that the Holy Spirit will continue to enrich the Churches and strengthen the “seeds of the Word” beyond them, so that the world may continually receive new light, life, and works which He alone can is able to give. So that ever-greater numbers of men and women may set out towards straight paths, converge on their Creator, and put their hearts and souls at his disposal.”


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