Ireland: Living a Spirituality of Communion Today

Some topics that emerged at an open meeting of the Focolare community with Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti: youth, family and Church. A space dedicated to teenagers at the conclusion of Ireland’s Run4Unity.

In her concluding remarks at an open meeting held by the Focolare in the Royal Dublin Society on 16 June, Maria Voce stated: “The powerful experience lived in Ireland with this Eucharistic Congress is an extraordinary grace that can give the Church of Ireland a new start, and we are all to be the protagonists.” Just before, she and Giancarlo Faletti had met with teenagers who were concluding their Run4Unity that was held in several schools. “What is your favourite mathematical symbol?” the youngsters asked. “The equal sign,” Maria Voce responded, “because in a family, sisters and brothers are all equal.” Giancarlo Faletti preferred the “plus sign”. “Every person is a gift of God, there’s a plan of God on each one of you, and this is what is totally precious.”

The program continued in the afternoon with an  open meeting for 300 people – the seating capacity of the hall, and others stood outside – with many new faces among the Irish focolarini. There were practical applications of the spirituality of communion in the family, at school, and in Church environments. Everything interspersed with pieces of music. Each musical selection was followed by a moment of dialogue on how to put the Gospel into practice and respond to the many challenges of today.

Is it easier or more difficult to love your enemy when you become old?” on little girl asked. “I think it’s easier,” responded Maria Voce, “because God has placed a small flame in our heart, and the flame grows each time we love. Old people are much helped when they see a child who loves.”

When the word was given to some families, the discussion turned towards the economic crisis: “How can we live in a Christian way, faced with the economic problems of so many people?” Maria Voce recalled the experience of Chiara Lubich at the beginnings of the Focolare in Trent, surrounded by the misery left by the war. By setting in motion love among people, they reached the point of sharing even their material goods, or their personal needs. When they lived the words of the Gospel, ‘Ask and you will receive,’ they asked and received. The problem of one was the problem of all. God intervened through this mutual love: “And this guarantees that work and material wellbeing don’t become a myth, but a  means for loving more and for growing and increasing the communion among all.”

The final round concerned the Church and the relationship with the Church authority. When asked how to live unity with the ecclesiastical authority even in face of the abuse scandal and cover-up, Giancarlo Faletti recalled that it is the authority of Jesus that must grow in every Christian. “It was important for me recently to meet many people who have been marked by this difficult situation in the Church. I met people who felt like they had been robbed of something sacred, who had invested their entire lives in the Church, and now feel betrayed. It’s like investing all your money in one bank, and this bank fails.” “For me this is a call to live the Gospel more strongly,” he continued, “(and) this enables dialogue, a climate of love, which also permits those who carry out an episcopal ministry, to serve the Church, to continue to express a word and to guide us on the way. The moral authority of Jesus lived in His word belongs to all.” Faletti pointed out the example of Saint Catherine of Siena, who lived during hard times for the Church, and had direct contact with the Pope, strongly and decisively urging him to return. But she was able to do this only because she had made room for God in her life”.

By Maria Chiara De Lorenzo