A fourth pathway ecumenical dialogue: the dialogue of life

Paris, 17th December 1996

In the context of Christian Unity Week 2016, here is an extract from a talk by Chiara Lubich on the specific contribution the Focolare Movement makes to Ecumenical Dialogue. It’s full of encouragement and hope.

Annie: In June 1997, a major ecumenical meeting will be held in Graz (Austria). The theme will be: “Reconciliation, gift of God, source of new life.” I see this as a step towards the unity of Christians. As a member of the Reformed Church and a volunteer in the Movement, I would like to ask you, Chiara, how do you see our specific contribution to the unity of the Churches today? Thank you.

Chiara: Look, this is really a very beautiful question and the answer became crystal clear while I was in London, where I met not only Catholics, but Lutherans, members of the United Reformed Church, Anglicans, Methodists and many others who are part of our Movement. We had a meeting like this one, even bigger, and they all belonged to the Movement.

It was really wonderful because we analyzed the ecumenical situation together and we understood that as long as our Churches are not renewed, unity will not be achieved. Our Churches must be renewed. They must become beautiful.

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The story of the balloons with the acts of love

Loppiano, 15th January 2002

In some countries children receive gifts on the feast of the Epiphany. What about the Child Jesus? Who thinks of him? Here’s a story that really happened, as Chiara Lubich told it to children in the little town of Loppiano.

My dear gen 4, I have to tell you a true story about something that happened at Christmas time, in a city called Vicenza in Italy. It’s a true story. There was a parish priest in that city who hadn’t been there for long and he taught the girls and boys ... the art of loving.

... But Christmas was coming up and so the Parish priest said to these children: “Look it is going to be Christmas soon so all of you have to try and do many, many, many acts of love for Baby Jesus”, and the Children said, “Yes, we will”. And they started to do many acts of love.

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Message to the Movement for Unity in Politics in Brazil

Brasilia, November 28, 2003

Chiara Lubich speaks of fraternity as the basis on which it is possible to think of the common good of all people, considering the whole of humankind in political terms.  This is both an essential task and an essential goal for political action.

Honorable Senators and Deputies,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

You are meeting today in Brasilia, in the national Parliament. You have come from different States in order to participate in the second national encounter of the Movement for Unity in Politics, which began in Naples, Italy, in 1996, and which has seen surprising developments in the span of a few years.

Today’s national encounter is a sign of its spreading in Brazil, a nation particularly dear to me; a nation whose people, endowed with a generous heart and a keen intelligence, have been, for years now, remarkably receptive to the charism which the goodness of God has entrusted to me.

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The necessary attributes for those who want to undertake a holy journey

Rocca di Papa, November 11, 1986

In this conference call, the phone call which from 1980 onwards linked up the family og the Focolare Movement world wide, there is an invitation to prepare for Christmas by going ahead together on the simple evangelical path of love.

We are continuing our journey to reach the goal which, if God helps us, will be crowned in holiness.

A good number of those who have undertaken this journey have already arrived, and as far as we can know, they have done so successfully. Every week we receive news about such arrivals and often we want to praise God [for their lives].

Most of us are still here on earth to inspire one another: this is the purpose of our conference call.

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Mercy and forgiveness

“Truth is pure mercy”. From one of Chiara Lubich’s writings before 1959. 

We had said we wanted to see only Jesus in our neighbor, to deal with Jesus in our neighbor, to love Jesus in our neighbor, but now we recall that a neighbor has this or that defect, has this or that imperfection.

Our eye becomes complicated and our being is no longer lit up. As a consequence, erring, we break unity.

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The taboo of death

Marino, December 5, 1990

 “Are you afraid of death?”  Journalist Margaret Coen puts this demanding question to Chiara Lubich.  

There are two things which I think are important for today's world. First, relationships, the problem of building relationships and secondly, the great taboo of death. What can you tell me about these two things?

Chiara: A lot is said these days about relationships. Everything is invested in relationships and how to build a good relationship.

I would say that if there is to be a good human relationship, a friendship, something which is to be envied, there must necessarily be a certain amount of sacrifice. Nothing is achieved without sacrifice. Everything we create in this world, even something purely human calls for effort, commitment and sacrifice.

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Message to the young people

Rocca di Papa, April 26, 1999

In this message addressed to young people gathered at Loppiano for their annual meeting on 1st May 1999, the Founder of the Focolare Movement put before them a challenging goal, the one that inspired the first steps of the “Adventure of unity”.

It is the first of May and you, young people, have come together to share joys, concerns and ideals, to consider what can be of interest to you today, who are wholly oriented towards the new millennium which belongs especially to you. You have come to pool your youthful strengths and to contemplate a dream which can become a reality: a united world. And all this despite the very sad events we hear about every day in the media. 

I imagine that in these moments, even in the midst of songs, music, and dances, while sharing various experiences,hearing testimonies and spending hours inthe peaceful and enthusiastic joy which is typical of your congresses, some questions can arise in your hearts. As a matter of fact, some gen have already asked me two questions on your behalf:

One is “Could you tell us how you got the idea of a united world? How did this adventure of unity begin?”And the other:“You were our age when you began… If you were in our place now, what would you do today?”

How did this adventure of unity begin?

Dear young people, it began not when I, but when Another, wanted it to begin.

You may know that certain gifts are given to the world from time to time: they are called charisms. They come from the One who guides history, who leads it toward a very precise goal: the common good, by channelling towards that goal even the sad things that we men and women do in the world.

It is God, God who is Love, in whom many of us firmly believe.

One day, many years ago, one of these charisms arrived here too. Through it, weunderstood that there was a wonderful design, a task, almost a mission entrusted to us, young people at the time: to work in our lives so that all may be one, by putting love into action, in our own hearts and in that of others.

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By this everyone will know that you are my disciples

Castel Gandolfo, December 28, 1997

(From a talk given by Chiara Lubich to Focolare members on the Word of Life...)

If people were to ask: what is your 'uniform' like, without hesitating we would give just one answer arising from the charism that God gave Chiara: mutual love, without limits.

In that talk Chiara shared her own experience. She was in Switzerland when she encountered the beauty and visibility of different charisms in the life of the Church. She asked herself how the charism of unity could best be seen. It was only when she met her first companion, Natalia Dallapiccola, that she was able to reply: I understood, it is the mutual love of the Gospel: "By this all will know that you are my disciples"...

“As I was walking through the streets of Einsiedeln, in Switzerland, I saw many people from different religious Orders going by. It was lovely to see the different types of habit worn by the various groups of Sisters and priests, against the background of such a beautiful natural setting. I realised then that the founders of those Orders were really inspired in deciding on a particular way of clothing their followers.

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What do you do when you are not happy?

Castel Gandolfo, 18 June 1988

This was a question a little girl asked Chiara during a congress. Chiara shares her ‘secret’ and the fruit of suffering that has been loved.

(…) “How do you spend your day, in sadness or in joy? In particular, what do you do when you are not happy?

Chiara: She asks me what I do when I am not happy. This is very important. … You need to learn it by heart. …

When we are not happy, we must go deep down into our hearts and say to Jesus, "Listen Jesus, I feel a suffering, but you felt suffering too. I am happy to be like you and I offer you this suffering." And then we must start to love the others right away, and the suffering will go away. Jesus takes it away. It is as if he puts it in a parcel and takes our suffering away.

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To recognise one another as brothers and sisters to bring about real change in the world

Bratislava, 10th May  2001

At the beginning of September we have the new Word of Life “Love your neighbour as yourself”. This is the key to practising fraternity and love, which are sure means to put an end to was and the abuse of power. This is the answer Chiara Lubich gave to a Member of the Slovak Parliament in Bratislava. She offers the witness of fraternity lived in the Movement’s communities and the ‘trump card’: the art of loving with its various requirements...

Honorable Malíková is a Member of the Parliament, representing the Slovak National Party. Please come to the microphone. Thank you.

Honorable Malíková: Thank you. I am very struck by Ms. Lubich’s words concerning love and universal brother and sisterhood, and how much these are needed in Europe:

“What do you think about the bombing in former Yugoslavia and the contribution, in this case, of Western European countries?

There is talk of building new bridges; but in this case a good number of bridges have been destroyed, both real and symbolic ones between peoples and among Christians; many Christian Churches have been ruined. Thank you.”

Chiara: This is my impression, that in Yugoslavia and in other places, in today’s world of course, what happens is unfortunately what has always happened in history and even in the modern age when people do not see each other as brothers and sisters. They don’t see further than the color of their skin, their language or nationality, their sexual orientation or anything else. That’s what happens, truly. So I really think that the very simple solution of fraternity, to know that we are brothers and sisters, is a solution ... a helpful and very useful solution. I’d say it is necessary in order to bring about real change in our world.

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“Allow God to take you where He wants”

Catelgandolfo,   February 10, 2002

This is an answer Chiara Lubich gave to Cristina, a young woman from the Castelli Romani during a meeting with the local community on 10th February 2002.  She spoke to Chiara being ready to take up the baton with all its consequences.  Chiara said: “In creating you God had a design for your life. Live the will of God in the present moment and you’ll see! You cannot live without being in love, yes, in love with a God who has looked upon you.” Later Chiara mentioned the motto that can help everyone: start again, always, until you reach the goal.

Cristina: I remembered some things that the Pope and you, Chiara, said to us young people during the World Youth Day: “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire”. I realize that great people in history, like you and the Pope, count entirely on us young people. 
I wanted to ask you: how can we measure up to this legacy that you both leave us? In other words, what choices should we make in order to measure up to this legacy? Must we give our life for these great ideals?

Chiara: Certainly. It’s very beautiful to hear that,at root, what you are asking for is not little things, but that everyone wants to give the most; young people in particular want to give the most. They are also fortunate, compared to older people, because they don’t have a past behind them which influences them, like the many disappointments that older people like us have felt, and which might have hurt them. Instead young people are free and so they are free to embrace the greatest ideals. They say that the Holy Father asks them to give the most, that we too ask young people, and adults too, we ask everyone, even little children, to give the most, because we have only one life.

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