How the many children who are members of the Focolare Movement are living this moment of global emergency. A new website designed for them goes online.
“We have to stay at home at the moment, but we have a secret to stay happy: loving. So every morning we throw the dice and do what it says”. Gen 4, children who are members of the Focolare Movement, are not giving up. Even in isolation, they start each day with their ‘dice of love’. Each of the six sides bears one point of the ‘art of loving’ and they try to live it during the day.
In some cities, the Gen 4 boys and girls have been busy writing letters and cards offering help to the older residents in their apartment blocks. They’ve drawn their parents into the activity too. “None of our neighbours has actually asked us for practical help,” explained one mother, “but it’s been a great opportunity to get to know each other and they’ve all been calling us to say thank you”.
“What if some of the children here don’t have as many toys as we do?” reflected Niccolò and Margherita, two Italian Gen 4. So they filled a box and left it in the hallway of their apartment block, with a sign saying: “Ciao! We found these toys at home and we’re not using them. You can take them if you like and keep them. Courage!”
While it may be true that “home” in these times is coming to signify “limits”, in Rome the Gen 4 have welcomed a proposal to build their own small houses out of cardboard and fill them with accounts of their acts of love. As the cardboard houses fill up with notes and pictures, the adults confined with them are learning how everyone can fill their home with small acts of love.
The Gen 4 are present all over the world. As the pandemic spreads to all countries, it’s natural for them to feel solidarity with those who are suffering the most. Two Gen 4 in Asia sent a video-greeting with the image of a rainbow, as they called out “Courage Italy!”. Another greeting from Africa encouraged everyone “We can get through this together!”
Alongside the children, Focolare animators are actively accompanying them through this delicate period. From Brazil to Congo, new ideas are springing into action. In Bilbao, Spain, they wrote, “We had the idea of holding meetings for the Gen 4 and their families every week via the web. We share how we are living this new situation, highlighting our acts of love. We encourage each other by promising to pray for peace, for the sick and for all who are suffering”. A group in Portugal is preparing a video about each Sunday’s Gospel reading which they share on social media every week.
Being part of a network is proving valuable at this time. And a new website (https://gen4.focolare.org/en/) from the international Gen 4 Centre has just gone online, for children and their educators, offering material and formation programs in the Focolare spirituality, designed for this age group. The timing is significant. On 29 March 1972, Chiara Lubich gave life to the Gen 4, as the youngest generation of the Focolare Movement. A few years later, comparing the whole Movement to a large tree, she defined the Gen 4 as “the buds of the tree. (…) Something so very precious, very precious. It is the very future of the tree” .
Anna Lisa Innocenti