Loppiano, Francis to the Focolare Movement, “Sense humor brings us closer to God”

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Loppiano, Francis to the Focolare Movement, “Sense humor brings us closer to God”

By Domenico Agasso/ lastampa.it

The Pope in the “International Citadel” of the Movement founded by Chiara Lubich. Our “epochal challenge is to build a culture of encounter and a civilization of alliance”.

“The opposite of “I” is not “you” but “we”. Our epochal challenge “is to build a culture of encounter and a civilization of alliance”. Pope Francis affirmed this in Loppiano when he met the Focolare Movement founded by Chiara Lubich (1920 - 2008). The Pontiff said to the Focolarini that one of the attitude that brings closer to God is “sense of humor”.

The pastoral visit of the Pontiff, today 10 May 2018, which began in Nomadelfia, continues and ends in Loppiano, in the province of Florence and in the diocese of Fiesole, where he visits the “International Citadel” of Chiara Lubich’s movement.

The helicopter lands at the sports ground. The Bishop of Rome was awaited by Monsignor Mario Meini, Bishop of Fiesole, Maria Voce, president of the Focolare Movement, and co-president Don Jesús Morán.

Pope Bergoglio moved to the shrine of Mary Theotokos, where he stood in silent prayer. He then stepped out in the churchyard to meet with the Focolare community. After Maria Voce’s initial greeting, three representatives asked the Pope some questions.

Francis then begins with a joke about his speech, “It is 14 pages long”, he laughs pointing at the text, “You will get bored”. The Pope thanks Maria Voce and then says that he is “very happy to be among you today here in Loppiano, this small “city”, known in the world because born from the Gospel and that wants to be nourished by the Gospel”.

The Pontiff wanted “to come and visit it also because, as Chiara Lubich who inspired it, pointed out, it aims to be an illustration of the mission of the Church today, just as the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council traced it”.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio then thanks the “pioneers” of Loppiano, you were the first, more than 50 years ago, and then gradually in the following decades, to launch into this adventure, leaving your lands, your homes and your jobs to come here to spend your life and make this dream come true”.

To all the inhabitants “of Loppiano, I spontaneously repeat the words that the Letter to the Hebrews addresses to a Christian community living a stage of their journey similar to yours. The Letter to the Hebrews says: “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light of Christ, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering [...]. In fact, [...] you have joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. Do not abandon your frankness (parrhesia), it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere (hypomoné), so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised”.

In this passage, there are two “keywords: parresia and hypomoné”.

Parresia, in the New Testament, “tells of the way of Jesus’ disciples’ life: the courage and sincerity in bearing witness to the truth together with trusting in God and in His mercy”.

And then hypomoné, “which we can translate as the under-stay: to stay and learn to inhabit the challenging situations that life presents us”.

For St. Paul, the foundation “of perseverance is the love of God poured into our hearts with the gift of the Spirit, a love that precedes us and makes us capable of living with tenacity, serenity, positivity, imagination ... and also with a little ’sense of humor, even in the most difficult moments. Sense of humor is “the human attitude that comes closest to God’s grace”, he exclaims off the cuff. Francis then tells of a priest who “was said to be “able of laughing at others (amiably, ed.), laughing at himself and at his own shadow”. This is having a “sense of humor”.

What Chiara Lubich conceived and wanted was “a city that has its heart in the Eucharist”, and which presents itself even “to the eyes of the lay people who visit it, inclusive and open: with the work of the earth, the business and industrial activities, the training schools, homes for hospitality and the elderly, artistic ateliers, musical ensembles, modern means of communication ...”

The Focolari movement is a “family in which all can recognize themselves as sons and daughters of the one Father”. But “not to quietly remain outside the world, but to go out, to meet, to take care of, to throw the yeast of the Gospel into the dough of society”.

The Pope advises to do “a test” that a priest once proposed to him: the question is “what is the opposite of “me”? Francis “fell for it” and answered “you”, whereas the “opposite of all individualism, I and you, is “we”. It is the “spirituality of us”.

In Loppiano we live the experience of “walking together, in synodal style, as the People of God”.

In this way, the paths of formation - which flourished in Loppiano from the charism of unity - can “draw new impetus: spiritual formation for different vocations; formation for work, for economic and political action; formation for dialogue, in its different ecumenical and interreligious expressions and with persons of different convictions; ecclesial and cultural formation”. Loppiano is an “open city, Loppiano a city on the forth”. In Loppiano “there are no outskirts”, he highlights.

The success and the “large-scale implantation of this promising commitment” has been attested by “two realities that have arisen in Loppiano: the “Lionello Bonfanti”, an entrepreneurial centre, a centre for the formation and diffusion of a share and civil economy; and the frontier academic experience of the Sophia University Institute, established by the Holy See. A local seat - I warmly rejoice - will soon be activated in Latin America”. To these words the Focolarini burst along applause.

The Pope notes that the world is experiencing a “change of epoch”, for which it is necessary “to commit oneself not only to the encounter between persons, cultures and peoples and to an alliance between civilizations, but to win together the epochal challenge of building a shared culture of encounter and a global civilization of alliance”.

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 23:30
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