What’s the call? This is the question that I asked a young girl a few days ago. While I was talking to her, I remembered posing myself this question before I became a Focolarina many years ago. It was a chance to review my own life story as if in a film.
From an early age I had always felt the attraction to something great, and had dreamt of the possibility of “containing” the world in my little heart. I had considered different ways to realize this aspiration, which did not seem to me a utopia at all. I had a simple and normal childhood. A practical person, I wanted to study, make friends, get to know new things, and raise a family. I also had much initiative. In fact, with my savings, I enrolled in a school of ballet which was my passion: my parents were forced to agree to my request, and until high school I was taking lessons.
In the meantime, at 11, I was introduced to the Focolare Movement through a concert of Gen Rosso, an international musical group of the Focolare, and without hesitation, I got involved with the young people of the Movement.
I became more and more fascinated by the Gospel because I learned that its every sentence could be lived and we could see the example and life of Chiara Lubich, for living the Gospel became so natural to her.
Once, during a school trip to Assisi, the city of St. Francis, entering the church of the Porziuncola, I felt a strong supernatural Presence that filled me with joy and peace – it was as if Jesus was inviting me to give all of myself to him.
At that moment the question “What’s the call?” received an initial fundamental answer: the call is the discovery that Someone has always loved you and consequently, you too want to correspond to his love. How to do so was not so simple because it was about choosing a certain state of life and I was more or less aware of what I had to give up, that is my comfort zones, my studies, my future career and my present and future family.
Everything that I considered my own! After various experiences, second thoughts, fears, and doubts, I reflected on the words of Chiara Lubich about how everyone has a choice in life: to walk along the ray of the will of God, which is the direct way to reach God and humanity because we are alll connected like in a human body where everyone has an irreplaceable function. This made me less worried.
Christ’s words, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am in their midst”, meant that walking together, united with others , I would be able to satisfy my desire to “reach” the whole world.
Thus I started my adventure to follow God along the way of Chiara, in the focolare. Just two months after leaving my home, however, my dad came to reclaim me and bring me back home, and only after seeing how convinced I was about my choice, did he finally give up.
Summing up the experience from that first “yes” to today is really impossible. There have been too many graces: the gifts, the joys, the sufferings, and even the doubts and questions. Everything has been a grace from God!
I realized that the fundamental choice of life we make must be followed up by daily choices, because every day I find myself at a crossroads. I have to make a new choice, always with the full freedom that God offers me. I really like what Edith Stein said:
“Personal freedom is such a great secret that God stands still with respect before it.” 1
Last September 2, I received a special gift in having been able to greet the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. When I informed him that I was leaving for the Philippines, he took both my hands and said: “The mission is not easy… but it is necessary. It is for universal fraternity”.
I am now here in the Philippines continuing my adventure. Here I discover many opportunities inviting me to open up my heart, through loving. The words of the Gospel are always true, even here I can “encounter Jesus” who takes on different faces, a diverse culture, but it is always Him. Along this path a letter of Chiara below continues to shed a great light and I feel, day by day, I’m discovering my vocation even better:
“I feel I live in me all the creatures of the world, all the Communion of Saints. Really: because my I is humanity, with all the people that were, are, and will be. I feel, and
I live this reality: because I feel in my soul both the delight of Heaven and the anguish of humanity that is all a great Jesus Forsaken. And I want to live him totally, this Jesus Forsaken. I live him adding the drop of my pain of the moment (which is my life, me made Pain as he is) to his. But already living him I live all Pain. Indeed, I live delighting in the nothingness I am in contrast to God.”2
1 E. Stein, La settima stanza, film di M. Mészáros, 1995.
2 C. Lubich, Jesus Forsaken, trad. eng. by C. Bajo- JE Karstens, edited by H. Blaumeiser, New City Press, NY 2016, Original title: Gesù abbandonato, 73-74.