“Chiara represents a multifaceted personality, a person of faith, hope and charity. A woman who knew how not to impose but give a new space to the laity inside the Church with a gentle approach. A woman who above all conquered millions of hearts, bringing them back to the heart of the Gospel message, restoring the focus of Christianity on the Holy Trinity. Michele Zanzucchi, journalist, writer and member of the Focolare Movement, thus describes Chiara Lubich, remembering her on the day of her birth a hundred years ago in Trent. As of today and for the rest of the year, the Focolare Movement will be engaged in the celebrations marking the centenary of its founder’s with a wide range of events, initiatives and meetings worldwide. “We are certain that Chiara is alive,” Maria Voce, president of the Movement, told journalists during the presentation in Rome of the international exhibition “Chiara Lubich – City World” in Trent, adding,
“the purpose of this 100th anniversary is not to remember her, but to meet her.”
Chiara used to refer to the Church as “a beautiful garden” in which all the Words of God come into bloom. In her, this Word was Jesus’ prayer: “That all may be one.” A Word that continues to burst forth today at a time marked by – as Pope Francis says – “a piecemeal third world war”, where feelings of hatred and contempt worm their way into societies, where diversity often translates into enmity and fear.” Today Chiara’s charism – Zanzucchi points out – transmits what the Gospel transmits, nothing more, nothing less. It expresses it in a special way, centred on the Gospel of unity, on a Gospel that is completely open to dialogue with our fellow other, a Gospel that through the abandonment of Jesus on the Cross can be proposed also to those with other beliefs or those who have none.”
This “secret”, or rather, this “gentle force”, has led the Focolare Movement to spread silently but extensively throughout the world, reaching remote places, creating bridges of dialogue and brotherhood everywhere: from Japan to the Pacific Islands to the African lands, to South America. Zanzucchi gave the example of Algeria: “Having a Muslim Focolare movement in Algeria, for example, does not mean betraying the Gospel message, it means taking it to a level that is rarely found in the relations with people of other faiths.”On January 22, and for the rest of the centenary year, the Movement will pay homage to its founder with a multitude of initiatives throughout the world. Highlights will include the visit of the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, to Trent on January 25, for a meeting with citizens entitled “Trent meets Chiara.” The Trent exhibition will be followed by others, during 2020, dedicated to Lubich. The first will be inaugurated on February 29 at the exhibition area of the Custodial Curia at St. Saviour’s Monastery in Jerusalem (Holy Land), ongoing until March 14. Thereafter the exhibition opens in Algiers (Algeria) with a focus on inter-religious dialogue, in particular with Islam.
In a video message Maria Voce underlines the fact that “in a world in which winds of particularism and division are continually surfacing and new walls and new borders are being created,” Chiara Lubich’s message of unity “has great topical relevance.”
Zanzucchi confirms and explains: “A parallel can be drawn: in European architecture we had basically three styles: Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque. Romanesque features strong architectural lines; Gothic is marked by a development and also an elevation. Baroque reshapes the existing architecture trying to subject it to different forms. I believe that the charism of unity was originally Romanesque, it experienced a strong elevation in the 80’s and 90’s with great success and then inevitably the Baroque period ensued.
Today it’s important to seize the opportunity for development. The Movement has certainly experienced and continues to experience difficult moments after Chiara’s death. This occurred with all the great charisms in history, from Saint Teresa of Avila to Saint John Bosco, but these periods are important to go back to the initial lines, to that Romanesque style indicating the true and authentic existence of a charism.”