Sierre, 18 August 1983
Chiara visits the saints… This time it is Saint John of the Cross.
Remember the Twelve Stars of Perfection of St. John of the Cross? He says there are twelve stars that shine in the souls of those who have reached perfection and holiness.... These stars are: love of God, love of neighbour, chastity, poverty, obedience, private prayer, prayer in choir, humil¬ity, mortification, penance, silence, and peace.
These past few days, I have noticed how loving our neighbour makes these twelve stars shine brighter in our souls. And to show you what I mean, let's review them quickly one by one.
Love of God. Does this love become more alive in our hearts when we love our neighbour? Certainly it does! It's like a plant: the deeper it sends its roots into the ground, the higher it grows towards the sun. The more we love our neighbour, the more God's love grows in us. That's the first star.
The second star is love of neighbour, which is exactly what we're doing.
The third star: chastity. The Focolare Rule states that the best safeguard of chastity is love of neighbour. And that's understandable: if you love, you think of others, and not of satisfying your own passions.
The fourth star: poverty. As we all know, we do not love poverty for poverty's sake. The characteristic of the Foco¬lare members' poverty is that it is the result of sharing with our neighbour. We are poor in that we have only what is necessary because we give the rest to others, because in various ways, we share all that we possess with others.
The fifth star: obedience. Our first obedience is to God, to the charism the Holy Spirit has given us, which teaches us that our way to God is to love our neighbour. So by loving we are obedient.
The sixth star: private prayer. We know that our prayer life grows and deepens as our union with God grows. But this, in turn, increases when we love our neighbour. Thus, this star, too, shines brighter when we love.
The seventh star: prayer in choir. Love of neighbour stim¬ulates us to pray together. When we truly love our neighbour as ourselves, and are one with him or her, don't we feel a desire - almost a need - to be united with him or her in prayer?
The eighth star: humility. True humility involves com¬plete forgetfulness of self - annihilation of our ego - and this is accomplished perfectly when we love our neighbour, when we "live the other."
The ninth star: mortification. Loving our neighbour as Jesus wants, our self is not only mortified, but dead.
The tenth star: penance. The penance that God wants most from us, is the penance implicit in love of neighbour.
The eleventh star: silence. Loving our neighbour, we practice silence and avoid useless words. First of all, be¬cause to "make ourselves one," we have to silence every¬thing in us. And this is the most sublime form of silence. Secondly, because, when we love, the Holy Spirit, the Source of love, is present in our hearts. The more we love, the stronger is his voice in us, which tells us, among other things, when we should speak and when we shouldn't.
The twelfth star: peace. Loving our neighbour, we ac¬quire true peace, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, who is present wherever there is love.
So let's love. Let's keep loving all the time, so that we may be able to see these twelve stars shining more brightly in us. If we love, it will happen. ... This is what I wish for you with all my heart.
(Taken from Journey, Spiritual Insights, New City Press, New York 1984, pp.112-114)
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