newcity June 2013
No 468 Vol 43 £2.50/€3.00
Reigniting the Flame
Contents 3 Editor’s Notes 4 Spirituality of Unity Reaching Out
This month Maria Voce explains how the charism of unity reaches out into every area of society.
Anja Primbs meets Angela Marr from Falkirk to find out more about her life.
Reigniting the Flame
A married couple tell how they started to rebuild their relationship.
The National Health Can the NHS be saved?
10 Focolare Movement Seeds of Hope
Margaret Karram talks about bringing together Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land.
12 Spirituality of Unity Word of Life - June
14 Focolare Movement
Sanctity with a Sense of Humour
New City offers a brief tribute to Oreste Basso, a man with a winning smile.
Be the Bridge
Young people from twenty-five countries meet in Bethlehem.
A Civilisation of Love
Chiara Lubich outlines the principles on which a new way of organising work should be based.
19 Word in Action Holy Ground
An assistant hospital chaplain shares his experience.
20 Arts Focus
Music Can Change the World…
Sally McAllister writes about Focolare international band Gen Verde.
22 Thoughts from the Kitchen Summer Fruits
Tom Lamont looks forward to summer days of sun, sumptuous scenery and strawberries.
But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval (1 Pt 2: 20).
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Cover Photo: Hildebrando Moguiê
New City the magazine of the focolare movement
No. 468 June 2013 published by Mariapolis Ltd.
© 2013 New City, UK. ISSN 01427725 Editorial director: Frank Johnson Grap hic De sign: Hildebrando Moguiê Business Manager: Rumold van Geffen Subscriptions: Graham Doyle Editorial committee: Lynn Beattie, Cathy Beer, Ana Domitrovic, Lesley Ellison, Mary Gateshill, Paul Gateshill, Frank Johnson, Pat Kane, Barry Redmond Assistant Editors: Barry Redmond, Michael Robinson All correspondence to: Unit 1, Polaris Centre 41 Brownfields Welwyn Garden City Herts AL7 1AN Tel: 01707326213 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.newcity.co.uk Printer: Gutenberg Press Ltd, Gudja Road, Tarxien, GXQ 2902 Malta www.gutenberg.com.mt subscription for one y e ar
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The problem of peace in the Middle East in general and in Israel in particular has occupied and preoccupied politicians in the West for at least the last sixty-five years. We seem no nearer a solution, and yet many would agree that the key to the whole problem of so-called Islamic terrorism lies there. If justice and peace could be restored in the Holy Land it would soon spread elsewhere. Recently, Margaret Karram from the Focolare in Jerusalem visited Britain and shared her experience of working to build trust between Christians, Muslims and Jews. New City publishes an edited version of her talk to a group of church leaders (see p 10). The great hope for the Holy Land lies with the young and the Genfest held in Budapest last summer encouraged young people to build bridges of fraternity with those different to them. In Be the Bridge (p 16), young people came from all over the world to the Bethlehem Peace Centre to continue the process of building peace and harmony among peoples. Over the last few years many of those who helped Chiara Lubich found the Focolare Movement have completed their Holy Journey and gone to receive their heavenly reward. The most recent of these was Oreste Basso, a little man with a big heart and a brilliant smile. In Sanctity with a Sense of Humour (p 14) we present a brief profile of Oreste whose life was a witness to so many. Although in Britain today many people regard religion as a purely private affair, this was never the intention of Jesus, the whole of whose public life was spent living with and loving all kinds of different people. So too today, Christians feel a natural urge to share with others the gift they have received from God. In Reaching Out (p 4) Maria Voce explains how those who try to live the spirituality of unity try to share their discovery of God as love not so much through words as by serving others and making themselves one with them.
Spirituality of Unity
REACHING OUT This month, Maria Voce explains how the charism of unity reaches out into every area of society.
any times, in reflecting on the early times of the Movement, Chiara did not hesitate to stress that right from the very beginning, love for our neighbour was so important that for many years they didn’t even think about sanctity: in fact, they were afraid that doing so would make them focus on themselves and be excessively attached to reaching their own personal perfection. Chiara said: ‘We felt strongly that God wanted us to love our neighbour, He wanted unity. And in this lies our charism.’ Only later on did she make the discovery that ‘we would sanctify ourselves if we also brought others to reach the same goal.’ Chiara did not teach us a theory, but she gave us a life to live. If we look at her story we will see that she loved every neighbour with a very personal love. ‘We reached out towards our neighbours first in Trent, then all over Italy, Europe and the world.’
The net spreads ‘From person to person, of every vocation, age and social class, a huge net spread out over the earth. From person to person, with increasing intensity, and all the while keeping everyone in touch with what was going on in every other part of the world; and on a more intimate level, sharing the sufferings which make Jesus grow in each person; all for one, one for all.
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Spirituality of Unity
Around 1960 God put us in touch not only with Catholic brothers and sisters, but also with Christians of other Churches and denominations. And from 1976 we’ve had more direct contact with brothers and sisters of other religions, or more generally speaking, with people who don’t know Jesus. Rather than putting the brakes on before a task that looked more difficult, God’s grace urged us on to love those immense portions of the human race - to love them with care and enthusiasm.’ Therefore, the expansion of the Movement, both geographically speaking and structurally, was born in this way. From love of neighbour emerged the mass Movements, from love of neighbour the dialogues1 were born and from love of neighbour the inundations2 were born. If we are truly this nothingness of love in front of each person we meet, the Holy Spirit will guide our dialogue with His light and then our brother or sister will be able to open up completely. This will enable us to see what is alive in him/her, alive in a supernatural sense – so Chiara told us – to grasp hold of ‘that little flame of divine life in his or her heart; or “alive” simply in the purely human sense of the word, that is, alive in expressing the values that the Lord placed in every human soul when He created us.’
A spirit of service The experience of Chiara and the whole Movement is that on to this something ‘alive’ we can - in a spirit of service – gently graft those aspects of the Gospel message that we have within us and which give fullness to what that brother or sister already believes. These Gospel truths are often what they are already seeking, and so what is brought to the fore is the whole truth. Let’s take a look at the life of our various Christian Churches: John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Movement said: ‘The necessary fruit of this love of God is the love of our neighbour, of every soul which God hath made; not excepting our enemies; not excepting those who are now “despitefully using and persecuting us” - a love whereby we love every man as ourselves; as we love our own souls.’3 And in the Evangelical-Lutheran world, Walter and Hanna Hümmer, founders of the Christusbruderschaft say: ‘Our inner life is enriched if we give (to our brother or sister) that which love has worked in us. To be there for the other does not impoverish us, it enriches us.’4 (To be continued) The Focolare Movement encourages various ‘dialogues’: within one’s own Church; between Christian traditions; with other religions; with people of good will who do not profess a religious belief. 2 Bringing the spirit of the charism of unity into the different ‘worlds’: health, education, politics, art etc. 3 John Wesley in Sermon 18 - The Marks of the New Birth, 1748. 4 Hanna and Walter Hümmer, Leise und ganz nah, Selbitz 2009, p. 323 (our translation). 1
June 2013 new
Face2Face with… Angela Marr lives in Falkirk, Scotland. She is married and has two children. Anja Primbs met her to find out more about her life
Angela, how did you get to know the Focolare?
hrough a friend at college. I’d never met anyone like her - Mary really listened to others and it was the way she loved and respected people that really impressed me. I was fascinated by how she lived her life. At college we tried to study together with others. We would study and try to help each other understand what the subject was all about. One day Mary and I had to do an assignment together. We worked all night and in the end we both got a 1st for it. For me it was the first time that I’ve experienced that anything we do in our life can be done out of love, even studying. At the end of the first year Mary asked me to come to the Mariapolis, which is the summer gathering of the Focolare. I asked her what the Mariapolis was and she said ‘Just come. I won’t explain it. Just come.’ So I went, and my impression was that of ‘coming home.’ It just felt right, like the family of God I had always wanted. My mum and dad had died when I was
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a wee girl and different people in my family brought me up. I’ve always felt much loved, especially by my sister Gladys, who is like a mum, friend and sister to me. But meeting the Focolare felt like ‘coming home’, like meeting my family.
Has living the spirituality of the Focolare Movement changed how you treat other people? Totally. At my first Mariapolis we lived the Word of Life ‘I know I have passed from death to life because I have loved my neighbour’ – and so many questions were answered within me. So many times things had happened in my past that left me with that question ‘Why? Why did this happen?’ At one point someone spoke about when Jesus on the cross felt forsaken and that he too cried out his ‘Why?’ from the cross. I thought, if Jesus can cry ‘My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?’ then it’s ok for me to ask ‘Why?’ too. But it’s
important not to get stuck on the ‘why.’ Because what did Jesus do? He just kept on loving, he carried on loving. This is the key to building unity and that has been the first thing I understood when meeting the Focolare – not that I have always been able to live it.
How did you live this spirituality in your job as a teacher? Chiara Lubich has really helped me understand practically how to love, which as a teacher meant how to love a particular class or child, to teach them the art of loving, to be empty of yourself in order to be filled with God and to give God to these children. It changed the way we taught and also changed the dynamics in the staff room. For example, to build a relationship with your boss and not to get caught up in talking about this teacher, or that teacher, which can easily happen in a staffroom, especially when it’s all women! But I had the strength and the courage to do that because I knew that others were living in the same way with me. The strength that we had together gave me the strength to go back
in the class room and make a difference. I understood that the experiences I had as a child, could either bring me down or I could use them to help other children, because I could understand them. For example, I had a girl in my class whose mum had died, and before Mother’s Day the art teacher came in and before I could say anything she invited them all to make cards for their mothers. I knew that I would have never made this card with the class, so I spoke to the girl and she said it was fine, that she would make the card for her mum and take it to her grave. I was so much more conscious about what language to use, e.g. I would say ‘Take these letters home to mum and dad or whoever is at home,’ because I was so aware that the girl might feel different for not having a mum or dad at home. One of my greatest joys as a teacher was the experience I had with a wee boy. He was a lovely
boy, but he was always fighting and finding himself in the thick of a fight. We used the ‘cube of love’ (a game involving a dice which has a phrase from the Gospels on each face) in class and one day it landed on ‘Love your enemy’ and I explained that Jesus believed that was the way to love, but that other people believed that was crazy, because why would anyone love somebody who hurt you? The boy went into the playground to play football and another boy hacked him down. He just stood up, brushed himself down and helped the other boy up as well. He came running in after play time shouting: ‘Miss, Miss, that cube works.’ That wee boy had an experience of loving his enemy and was full of joy in experiencing the word of God.
How does this work at home with your family?
always being able to start again. At home, for me it’s the greatest joy that our children have understood how they too can start again. They really flourish when mutual love is at the heart of our family. Once, when my husband and I had fallen out over something really insignificant, Anna came in and asked me if I wanted to start again with Daddy. I said that I wanted to do that. ‘Do you want to start again now?’ she asked, and she frogmarched me to the living room where my husband was sitting. So we both said ‘Sorry’ and had to laugh. It was just so simple: you fall out and you start again, and we learn from that. Or another time when Clare did a painting for Anna to tell her that she was sorry for something that had happened earlier.
I’m amazed that you go out to so many different people and are able to build relationships with them. I find that at times I can be my own worst enemy and left to my own devices I could go really down, but living with others the life of the Focolare or with others in the parish, with that strength of Jesus present among us, I know that anything is possible. One of my favourite hymns is Amazing Grace, because I feel that I have received so many graces that helped me to become who I am today. My desire to love God, my desire to love my neighbour is already a grace. And I thank God for the graces I have received as a mum and that we’ve received as a family.
One of the highlights of being a mum is the challenge of June 2013
Reigniting the Flame A couple speaks of a crisis in their relationship and the help offered by the Focolare’s New Families, giving a chance for growth to couples in trouble.
e married for love and our married life went through the normal ups and downs. When we got to know the spirituality of unity, it seemed that our relationship had reached its zenith. But, four years ago, we hit a crisis that we could never have imagined,’ said Silvia, who has been married to Stefano for thirty years. She is a primary school teacher and he runs a business. They have two children. Silvia went on to explain, ‘We thought we’d built a solid relationship, and yet bit by bit we came to the point of not understanding one another anymore. There was no dialogue between us and the days passed by in utter bleakness, what with
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work and other chores to do, crushed by our family problems. We became indifferent to each other, perhaps because we had taken our love for granted.’
Absorbed by worries
‘For my part,’ said Stefano, ‘I had become absorbed by a pile of worries at work and they were always on my mind. Silvia tried to share her difficulties, but I was too caught up in the whirl of business to give her my attention. Between Silvia and me the wall was so high that even our children noticed it. It was at that point that I realized how much it was hurting us and those around us. During a New Families meeting we felt we should talk about our problem. We were accepted just as we were and appreciated for our sincerity. Later we heard
about the course to strengthen the unity of couples held in Loppiano, an international little town of the Focolare, in Italy. It deals specifically with moments of crisis. We went along with a real desire to start again.’ ‘Sharing with other couples who had the same problems as us really helped,’ said Silvia. ‘We were not alone in facing these things that at the beginning we were too ashamed to tell anyone. For us that week was like reigniting the flame. We realized that we had to give space to one another and then harmony returned between us. Our children were the first to benefit from our newfound peace.’
The Course to Strengthen the Unity of Couples looks at issues to do with self-awareness, diversity, conflict and acceptance, and there are moments when the couple has to face these things head on. There are other moments of dialogue and practical exercises, and everything is interspersed with moments of relaxing together and trips out. The good relationships among the people taking part help the gradual coming together of the couple. Often the couple find their own feet and manage to go ahead on their own, sometimes a specific wound is spotted requiring particular attention, even, when necessary, with psychological support. If the time together proves especially challenging, there is the possibility for couples to come back for special courses in the winter and the spring. In these weekends, often families from previous years wish to give a hand because they have benefitted from those who have helped before them.
The National Health
he National Health Service, the great triumph of the post-war Labour government and the envy of the rest of the world, is facing the greatest crisis in its history. Morale amongst NHS staff is at an all-time low, every week seems to reveal another failing hospital and, if Labour Party claims are to be believed, the current coalition government is engaged in a gradual process of privatisation. And yet, there is still nowhere else in the world that provides free healthcare on the scale of the NHS. So what has gone wrong? And what is the future of this once glorious British flagship? Itâ€™s difficult to know where to start, but the most obvious starting point is the fact that Britain today is a much different place to that of sixty-five years ago. One major factor which puts a huge strain on health service is due to the very fact that it has been so successful. People are now living much longer. Life expectancy at birth increased by almost a decade in the first fifty years of the NHS - in 1948, 40% of people died before reaching pensionable age, but by 1996 this was reduced to just 7%. Over the last twenty-five years male period life expectancy at birth has risen from 71.7 to 78.5 years, and female period life expectancy rose from 77.4 years to 82.4 years. Also, the UK population has increased by more than ten million since the NHS was founded. The so-called post code lottery, whereby certain treatments are available in some areas and not in others, is often criticised. But with finite
incomes, health authorities have to decide on priorities â€“ not all treatments can be made available to all patients. And as new treatments and medicines are developed, the NHS will have to make more choices as to which can be financed and which not. All of the above factors are beyond the control of governments and health services, but what is in their control is the management of staff. The North Staffs scandal which revealed a lack of proper care for patients and a fundamentally wrong attitude towards the sick has caused the government to review the training of nurses. It has been said that they no longer see the care of patients as their number one priority. It is clear that in some cases that is, or has been, true, but most of us who have spent time in NHS hospitals recently have been very impressed by the levels of care. If there is a general lack of care, it is more often due to the fact that nurses and doctors are working under tremendous stress and simply donâ€™t have the time to give to patients that they deem necessary. It is often said that a society should be judged on the way it treats its most vulnerable members. The sick and the infirm are amongst the most vulnerable in any society. It is also clear that there is no bottomless pit of money to fund the NHS. But when money is tight, one must surely ask if it is better to cut spending on the NHS or on multibillion pound nuclear weapons.
Seeds of Hope
was the Templeton Price, given to was born in Haifa, her precisely in London in 1977! a city in the Galilee There are twenty focolarini Region; a city where Margaret Karram, a focolarina from (men and Israel, women) came from twelve coexistence between and with two thousand the three religions doeshernationalities, recently to Britain to share experience a or so people in different cities not seem to be a dream but is, groupa of Church leaders. who are committed in one way or daily living experience. My Below is anareedited version talk. another to the spirituality of the parents Palestinian Catholicsof her Focolare. and I grew up with a deep-rooted Over the years people from Christian faith. At school at the three religions have been the age of six, along with my attracted to the spirit of unity mother tongue, Arabic, I started which animates the Focolare and learning Hebrew and three other they too started to live according languages: Italian, English and to the ‘Golden Rule’, and thus French. After finishing high cooperating together in small school, I worked for two years in projects of solidarity and peace. a Bank with Jewish employees. The Focolare is involved in inIn 1976 I met the Focolare and terreligious activities, at both the in 1981 I left home to join the personal and institutional level. Focolare Community. My first Religious festivities are celdestination in this journey was ebrated together between Jews, the United States where I studied Christian and Muslims. This Judaism at the University of Lee gives an opportunity to meet and College in California. In fact, I to get to know each other in a was the only non-Jewish student friendly and simple way. Many on the course. Now I am living participated in a Shabbat dinner, in Jerusalem and besides my full Christmas celebrations, Muslim commitment to the Focolare, Iftar. For some Palestinians it I am a member of the Steering was the first time they had enCommittee of ICCI (Inter-religious tered a Jewish house and vice Coordinating Council in Israel) as versa. It is always a unique and well as, member of the Episcopal enriching experience to discover Commission for Inter-religious the beauty of being together and Dialogue. learn how many things unite us.
Focolare in the Holy Land
The Focolare Movement arrived in the Holy Land thirty-six years ago. It’s a nice coincidence to remember here that the event which inspired Chiara Lubich to open the first Focolare in Israel
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One thing we do is to organise a picnic in order to bring together families, young people and children. Last year it was in Raanana Park. Through games, songs,
workshops there was interaction between the various people despite the different languages or ages. We had the honour of having the Deputy Mayor of Raanana with us, a Jewish woman who encouraged our initiative and affirmed that such events are a contribution towards solidarity and peace. Local Israeli TV also broadcast the event. In Haifa, a small group of Jews and Christians have been meeting monthly for several years to study and deepen some texts of the Holy Scripture in their respective traditions. Seventy young people, Christians and Muslims, after a year of preparation and building friendships, took part last September in a big event in Hungary, Genfest, which gathered twelve thousand youth from all over the world, belonging to different faiths with the aim of building bridges in today’s society. Those and other smaller events had a very strong impact on the young people. They experience the possibility of living together and believing in a better world.
Focolare Movement Margaret Karram, a focolarina from Israel, came recently to Britain to share her experience with a group of Church leaders. Below is an edited version of her talk.
‘It is always a unique and enriching experience to discover the beauty of being together and learn how many things unite us.’
Since 2005, through a joint project between the Focolare and the JCJCR (Jerusalem Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations) we started an initiative with young people from Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Every year, a group of about thirty young people meets to dialogue (ten from each religion). The programme varies at each meeting: games and activities to get to know one another, moments of reflection, deepening the appreciation for the three religions and sociallygeared volunteer projects. At first, the young people who participate in the groups of dialogue appeared to be enclosed in three ‘bubbles’, with no communication among them. Now we see that gradually the distances are shortened and divisions crumble. Miriam, one of the Jewish facilitators of this project shared with us: ‘Only in the past six years have I had personal contact with Israeli Arabs. I was very influenced by the media, and I had a partial vision of reality. I met many Arabs on public transport, on the streets, but I had no dialogue with them. Why? Because I, like many Israelis, felt that the presence of “others” was a threat, and so they were to be feared. The other was not like me, and
we shared nothing in common. We, here in Israel, live with conflict day after day: it’s a conflict that is political, above all, but it regards the confines of territory, and ways to govern. This situation is terrible and makes us suffer on both sides. And what makes us suffer the most is the division created among people. This experience of dialogue has put me in a position to learn. So I have a lot of hope of being able to continue to bring down barriers and to open opportunities to young people to give and to receive from one another.’ Nura a nineteen year-old Muslim, lives in Abu Gosh, an Arab village near Jerusalem. She says: ‘Participating in the project changed my life, because I felt that everyone loved the other and cared for each other. We are only a small group, but we can grow, and the love that dwells within us will spread throughout the world.’ Fadi, a 17-year-old Palestinian–Christian from Jerusalem: ‘My parents are war refugees from the city of Lod. When I joined this project of dialogue, I had strong prejudices against Jews and I would have never thought that we could ever live together and dialogue. But when I met the Focolare, my ideas changed and I started believing that I could deal with Jews and I didn’t feel
they were my enemies anymore. Through these meetings, my trust is growing that we will reach peace and love.’
Run 4 Unity
Run4Unity the world-wide activity organised by the young people of the Focolare, was held for the third time in Israel, in Caesarea National Park under the title ‘Together for a United World.’ Some four hundred Christian, Muslim and Jewish teenagers from all over Israel participated in the event and the whole programme was presented in Arabic and Hebrew. You could see the joy on the faces of the participants. They knew they had lived an unforgettable moment. Caesarea had been the historic site of battles and conquests, and had seen the alternation of Jews, Christians, Muslim. But now they were together without strife or desire, but together to build a better future. Here are some impressions of teenagers: - Moments like these give you hope. - It was a spectacular day that will always remain in my heart, - I understand how important it is to listen to each other, to give love, to show respect. All the ones I saw were happy, and I was too! June 2013
Spirituality of Unity Word of Life June 2013 But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval (1 Pt 2: 20).
By Chiara Lubich
God wants us to build a just society and that means correcting injustice. For this to happen we must be as Jesus, living his kind of love. It is in this love that things begin dramatically to change.
(First published May 1990)
The hour that awaits us From the Book:
Essential Writings Page 92
New City London 2007
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Word of Life Word o But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval (1 Pt 2: 20).
he apostle Peter is showing his communities the true spirit of the Gospel in its practical applications. In particular he refers to each person’s circumstances and position in life. Here he is speaking to slaves who had converted to the faith and who, like all slaves in society at that period, were sometimes subject to totally unjust ill-treatment and lack of understanding. These words also extend to all those in any time and place who find they must endure a lack of understanding and injustice at the hands of their neighbours, whether superiors or equals. But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. Peter advises them not to give in to the instinctive reactions that such situations provoke, but to do what Jesus would do. He urges them to respond with love and to see such difficulties and lack of understanding as a grace, that is, something God allows so they can demonstrate the true Christian spirit. Besides, like this, with their love they will be able to bring to Christ even those who do not understand them. But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. Some people use this sentence and others like it to accuse Christianity of encouraging excessive submissiveness, dulling people’s consciences and making them less active in the struggle against injustice.
Spirituality of Unity
of Life Word of Life Word of Life But this is not so. If Jesus asks us to love those who do not understand or who treat us badly, it is not because he wants to make us insensitive to injustice. Far from it! It is because he wants to teach us how to build a truly just society. This can be done by spreading the spirit of true love, beginning ourselves to be the first to love. But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.
How should we live the Word of Life this month? There are many ways today in which we too can be misunderstood or treated badly. They range from a lack of tact and rudeness to malicious judgements, ingratitude, offensive behaviour and real injustices. We can say this: even on all these occasions we have to give witness to the love that Jesus brought to earth for everyone and so, also, for those who treat us badly. The Word of Life this month wants to tell us that, even in the legitimate defence of justice and truth, we ought never to forget that our first duty, as Christians, is to love others. We have to treat them with that new attitude, made of understanding, acceptance and mercy, which Jesus had for us. In this way, even when we defend our ideas, we will never break relationships, never give in to the temptation to resent others or to take revenge on them. Acting like this, as instruments of Jesus’ love, we too will be able to bring our neighbours to God.
Next Month: For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ (Galatians 5: 14).
Sanctity with a Sense of Humour A little man physically, but a spiritual giant, Oreste Basso was greatly loved by all who knew him. New City offers this brief tribute to the man with the winning smile.
he funeral of Oreste Basso, focolarino and priest, was held at Rocca di Papa in the presence of hundreds of people as well as a live telecast via internet. A huge number of testimonies, messages and thanks arrived from all over the world including the Vatican Secretary of State. The tribute to Oreste Basso during his funeral on 15 April began with the words: ‘The Holy Father wishes to express his deep condolences to the entire Focolare Movement.’ This message signed by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, was read by Focolare President Maria Voce. It also recalled ‘his generous service to the Church as a fervent priest who did his utmost to joyously proclaim the gospel and zealously witness to charity.’ Cardinal Bertone, who knew Oreste Basso personally in the course of discussions on some details of the Focolare Movement’s (Work of Mary) stat-
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utes, also expressed his own thoughts through a letter to the Focolare president. It read: ‘I was impressed with his keen listening to advice and his total willingness to collaborate. I experienced a sense of true fraternity with him, which left me with this feeling of friendship even later on when we no longer met. I sensed the fineness of his soul as a fellow priest, in the Movement, without any authoritarianism. It was an example to me.’
A life lived to the full The president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Rylko, wrote: ‘I appreciated his clarity of ideas and his profoundness as a witness to the gospel.’ He considered him as ‘a faithful and untiring collaborator of Chiara Lubich… His being a priest with a heart conformed to that of Jesus shone out… and he witnessed to the flowering, that the Movement’s charism
can bring about, of the grace of the sacrament of priesthood.’ Marco Tecilla, the first focolarino and Oreste’s close companion for many years right till the final moments of his life, told something of his life story. He said it was only a brief presentation of a life lived to the fullest. Oreste Basso, who had been one of Chiara Lubich’s closest collaborators since the 1950s, passed away peacefully at the age of ninety-one between Saturday night and Sunday morning of 14 April. He can be described as a ‘giant’ of the Focolare. During his lifetime, he held various positions of responsibility in governing the Movement. Ordained a priest in 1981, he considered the ministry as a service and a calling to a greater love. He was elected Co-president of the Movement in 1996 and he exercised a fundamental role at the time of Chiara’s death in March 2008 and during the General Assembly that followed in July. During this assembly, which
was the first of its kind for the Focolare, Chiara Lubich’s successor as president was elected.
Deep sense of family Born in Florence on 1 January 1922, he met the Focolare in Milan in 1949, when, along with his friends, Piero Pasolini, Danilo Zanzucchi, Guglielmo Boselli and Giorgio Battisti, all of whom later became focolarini, he heard Ginetta Caliari speak at the university. He worked for a prestigious firm in Milan as an engineer and inspector of locomotive engines. In those difficult years that followed World War II, the spirituality and life of the Movement based on the gos-
pel were for him a discovery of a force, which with others would have given back peace, progress and hope to the world. In 1951 he opened the first men’s Focolare in Milan, together with other companions. At the end of the 1950s, Chiara Lubich called him to be at the Centre of the Movement where he exercised his functions in a spirit of service. Everyone who met him experienced a deep sense of family. The Centre of the Focolare received messages from all over the world expressing condolences and a deep gratitude for Oreste Basso’s tireless work at the service of the Church, the Movement, and for his vividly evangelical life. Some spoke of ‘sanctity with a sense of hu-
mour’ bringing to mind this wonderful gift he possessed. Oreste’s last words reveal the deep relationship with Mary that marked his whole life: ‘Beautiful, wonderful, amazing, Paradise. There’s Our Lady… we must pray, above all we must help the poor and the weakest who are the ones most in need of mercy.’ Marco Tecilla concluded, saying: ‘We always asked Chiara for a sentence of the gospel to guide us during our lifetime, and Chiara proposed to Oreste: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1Cor 11: 1). Now that he has completed his journey, it’s as if Oreste is recommending this to each one of us.’
Be the Bridge
Breaking down barriers
he Peace Centre is located in the multi-religious and political heart of Bethlehem. In the same square, made of white stone and surrounded by palm trees, there is the Basilica of the Nativity and the mosque, which peacefully co-exist. Next door is the Town Hall and all around the colours of the Bethlehem market. There is also the daunting wall that the Israeli government has built in defence of its territory. The Focolare Movement’s Youth for a United World decided on the Peace Centre as the venue for strengthening the bridges of fraternity that started at the Genfest, which took place in Budapest last
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September. Now the young people are building bridges everywhere in the world. The slogan in Hungary was ‘Let’s Bridge’, and this was an invitation to build relationships with people around the world, overcoming barriers among peoples, faiths and cultures. Now the slogan has become ‘Be the bridge’, and this project is being launched from the Holy Land with a database that provides a list of good practices that have been inspired by the desire to build fraternity and have been implemented by individuals, groups, organizations and states.
It’s up to us The First Lady and Mayor of Bethlehem and the Palestinian territories, Vera Baboun, wel-
comed the proposed launching ‘happily and proudly because I believe in the power and ability of dialogue in a land that is wounded by the absence of fraternity.’ A Christian, who is a university professor, widow and mother of five children, shared her experience as a woman mayor and answered questions that were put to her by the lively young audience. As an enthusiastic supporter of innovation and of the new generations, she repeated several times: ‘In a country wounded by the absence of brotherhood the rule that says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, is the real change… It’s up to us to take the steps that will lead to what is new. Three things are needed to build bridges: courage, good will and truth. You need to have trust in your-
Conflict has marked the Holy Land ever since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Despite the apparent impossibility of peace, many projects aimed at developing fraternity between opposing factions have been set up. In April one hundred and thirty Focolare young people from twenty-five countries met Mayor Vera Baboun in Bethlehem, along with a group of young Palestinians at the Peace Centre.
selves and believe that you can change.â€™ As a confirmation of the innovation that has distinguished her administration she presented the idea of an advisory council made up of young people alongside the elected city council. In her closing remarks she could not but make reference to the wall surrounding her city. â€˜This wall was built by human hands. What will bring it down? Human hands. Let us make a disadvantage into an advantage and work for a common dream: that of making the world a home for people who really are one single humanity. And the Palestinians are this humanity.â€™
Workshops Meanwhile in Jerusalem the final stage of the Genfest continued until 1 May with the workshop on fraternity that is being run by the young people of the Focolare in the Holy Land. There were events involv-
ing Jews, Arabs, Christians and Muslims to help them continue in the commitment they made in Budapest to build bridges everywhere. There is a workshop at Bethlehem University on reconciliation, involving two hundred Christian and Muslim students; while other young people were involved with the international bands Gen Rosso and Gen Verde, as well as other local artists, for a journey into the world of music and art. On 1 May there was an international link-up from Jerusalem with Italy, Hungary and India during which a worldwide pact of fraternity was made and the United World Project was presented. This project aims to increase the unity among peoples, individuals and institutions also through the creation of a database of all the projects that have worked over the years. For further information see: http://www.unitedworldproject. org/en/news/48-be-the-bridge.html June 2013
A Civilisation of Love
In this article, which is made up of extracts from a talk Chiara Lubich gave in 1984, she outlines the principles on which a new way of organising work should be based.
Since then we have achieved definite improvements in safeguarding the basic rights of workers. Even so, in many countries under various systems, old injustices persist and new ones have arisen.
Global awareness needed
Humanity is one family
‘Only a new civilization based on love will be capable of offering a solution to the complex problems of the world of work.’
ot only can our Gospelbased spirituality of unity contribute to finding solutions to the present problems of the working world, but it can be of vital importance to it. Every person — from the owner to the administrator, from the director to the technician, from office workers to labourers — should love everyone in such a way that he or she becomes ‘one’ with the others, in order to build solidarity with them. In this spirituality, mutual love leads to reciprocal understanding, to sharing the fatigue of the others, to making the problems of the others our own and to seeking solutions together. It leads us to find common agreements for new forms of organizations in the working world. All come to share and participate together in the
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means of production, and in the fruits and profits. What are the consequences? For individual workers, industrialized work may have previously been synonymous with being crushed and deprived of their personality, with being unable to see the fruits of their intelligence and efforts. Now, because they consider their own all that regards the others as well, work cannot help but take on meaning and stimulate it … We need to realize that in the world, humanity is one family and to live accordingly. It’s difficult to reach these goals simply through goodwill, with mere human strength or with a vision of work that is purely an earthly one … We know, however, that a sense of solidarity was what led labourers of the last century to fight against the injustices of the rising industrial system …
The fact is that it is not sufficient to unite workers to resolve economic problems. It is necessary to unite all men and women who are involved in this field of human endeavour … Since the economy of each country is so linked to that of others, the situation requires a ‘global’ social awareness, as John Paul II has affirmed. Who is capable of helping people to fully achieve this? … Only Christ and his supernatural and universal love can help. So often he is relegated to our private prayer life, and instead his love is the indispensable leaven for the whole of human existence in all its expressions … Only with his love can selfishness and hatred — often considered the law of social life — be eliminated from the workplace and working communities will witness how unity rather than conflict can truly improve work. With his love, the life of society itself will not be considered as a struggle against someone but as a commitment to grow together. Only a new civilization based on love will be capable of offering a solution to the complex problems of the world of work.
Word in Action
Walter Cheney, who works as an assistant hospital chaplain, explains how trying to see Jesus in each of the patients can bring about very special moments with them.
t our local hospital there is a team of Chaplains and assistants who regularly visit patients on the hospital wards. I am an assistant and an Anglican, working one day per week as part of the team. We have ordained priests, ministers and lay people representing the Christian denominations. The chaplaincy team has regular meetings, when we share thoughts and experiences, and strengthen the unity between us. Often, on my way to the hospital, I am thinking: what am I trying to do, what am I going to say to patients? As Christians, we want to share the pain and the anxiety that the patient may be experiencing, and to make unity with them. I have quite a short time to do this, perhaps five or ten minutes, or occasionally twenty minutes. We have a conversation and I listen and try to understand their feelings, to set aside my own thoughts, and to believe that I am called by God to minister to this particular patient, and this is the most important act I do this day. In the pain and suffering that there is in hospitals is the face of the forsaken Jesus, and we try to help patients believe that Jesus is with us always. Sometimes
I offer to say a verse from the Bible or a prayer with the patient, and maybe we feel the presence of God. If the person is not able to go to Sunday worship in the hospital chapel, we can give him or her the Eucharist at the bedside, one to one. I have experienced many special moments on these occasions.
In our ministry to patients we need to be aware that â€˜the space between us is Holy Groundâ€™ and to tread carefully. I belong to the Focolare movement, and I feel strengthened for this work by the spirituality of unity with Christians all over the world.
Music Can Change the World…
n the words of U2’s Bono: ‘Music can change the world, because it can change people.’ As a quote, it gets to the heart of something I was pitched into headlong just over eighteen months ago, when I left London to take up a new appointment in Tuscany with the Focolare music group Gen Verde. Like so much else in the Focolare Movement, Gen Verde was born from a prophetic insight on the part of Chiara Lubich. The setting was Christ-
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mas 1966. Each year Chiara normally gave the young people attending the Focolare formation school in Loppiano a Christmas gift – stocking fillers really. However, that year she decided to give them a collective gift. For the young men she thought of a drum kit and an electric guitar. But what should she give the women? It turned out that they wanted the same thing. Well, it was the sixties after all – the decade of change. And that is how it all began. The groups took their names
from the colour of the drum kits, so Gen Rosso (red in Italian) and Gen Verde (green) were born.
A new generation However, even if that is how the story goes, for me, drum kits, Christmas presents and the like are just the external elements in a story which has a much deeper narrative. Chiara on more than one occasion used a musical metaphor when she described how God brought
Arts Focus Sally McAllister writes about Gen Verde, the Focolare’s all-female international artistic performing group. ahead his plan for the Movement – ‘the score was written in heaven, and on earth we read it, line by line.’ In the counter culture of the sixties, young people used music to express not only their rage and rejection of the past, but their hopes and ideals for the future. The ‘new generation’ of the Focolare Movement, (Gen for short), also had a revolution to promote: the revolution of love. It was not the easy, free love of ‘flower power’, but the love of which the Gospel speaks; love that means being ready to give your life. And that revolution found voice in the music and songs of the Gen groups from then on. That is the real story. Looking back to the start of Gen Verde, from that Christmas of 1966, there are all the elements of something too magical to have been invented by any one person. From very humble beginnings – a drum kit and an electric guitar – to becoming a group that has literally toured the world.
made up of twenty-one women from thirteen different countries. Coming from a wide variety of backgrounds and artistic influences, the group has retained its distinctive all-female characteristic which in the past provided an element of newness. Perhaps all female groups are nothing new today, but Gen Verde retains a note of originality in that these women don’t just sing and perform; they also provide the technical support for the sound, lights, video and staging. In the very brief time I have been with them, I have witnessed first-hand the respect they have won from the (largely) male staff in theatres and sports arenas where they have performed, for their professional approach to work and the sheer hard graft they put into their shows. Maybe that is because the lifestyle the members of Gen Verde live informs everything that happens on stage and off; from music and movement, to the set and the relationship they aim to build with their public.
Gen Verde’s most recent production (Gen Verde in Concert 2013) takes a refreshingly honest look at the big questions of our times, proposing the core values the group stands for – peace, solidarity, unity and fraternity. The concert is as upbeat as it is inspirational.
Obviously the original members of the group have moved on. In fact, since its inception, some one hundred and forty women have been part of the group – but the commitment to spread the message through music and song has remained constant. Today Gen Verde is
Gen Verde has come to be recognised as providing some of the best modern liturgical music in the Italian language, and so is much sought after for workshops on liturgical music and formation in parishes and dioceses the length and breadth of Italy. This year the group has
worked very specifically on producing a new range of workshops designed especially for young people – dance, drama, singing, music and the technical side of theatre. This type of workshop provides a more ‘hands on’ experience of building unity with lots of space for discussion and dialogue. Whilst differing greatly in content and style, a common denominator for each workshop is that it is tailor-made to suit the age, ability and experience of the group involved in it. This positive, encouraging setting in which participants work together fosters creativity, producing outcomes that generally surprise and delight the participants and the audience invited to sample the final results. If I were to try to sum up what Gen Verde does today, I would say that through concerts, interactive workshops and youth events, Gen Verde promotes a simple message on a serious theme: the world needs change and as Gandhi said, we can be the change we want to see. Gen Verde? Check it out! For more information go to: www. genverde.it Or find them on You Tube and Facebook
Gen Verde is based in Loppiano, (20 km. south of Florence, Italy), a small town of the Focolare Movement with an incredibly rich multi-ethnic, multicultural, interreligious mix. Just as everything about Loppiano witnesses to the creativity of different cultures and ethnic groups coming together in unity and diversity, so Loppiano continues to provide the background against which so much of the creative work of Gen Verde takes place June 2013
Thoughts from the Kitchen
Summer Fruits Tom Lamont looks forward to summer days, of sun, sumptuous scenery and strawberries.
easonality’ is a word that I have been hearing more and more recently. It is used often when seasonal food produce is being discussed. Over the last thirty years or so supermarkets have tried to convince us that the seasons no longer exist, by selling fresh produce all year round. They have been able to do this by stocking foods grown in glasshouses and polytunnels, or by importing from countries where the foods are in season (mainly in the southern hemisphere). New techniques in storing foods have also contributed to the all-yearround supply. However for environmental, ethical or for even quality of taste reasons, this is increasingly being frowned upon. It is now fashionable to be seasonal as far as food is concerned. I certainly love all the seasons. There is nothing better than a walk on a crisp, sunny winter’s day. Autumn and
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spring each also come with their own gifts. However summer in this country is the season that for many people can determine whether it will be a year to remember or just another year. The month of June well and truly marks the beginning of the season of summer. It is a month that is filled with hope - hope that we will have a summer of good weather. Many events also occur in this month that have come to symbolise summer, none more famous than the Wimbledon Tennis Championship. Wimbledon is also associated with another great summer tradition, the eating of strawberries and cream. The countryside is the best place to appreciate the change in the seasons. A particular favourite of mine are the hills just to the north of Glasgow, the Campsie Hills. By Scottish standards they are not particularly high (400m), but from these hills you can see across the whole of central Scotland from Glasgow in the west to the Forth Road Bridge (and Edinburgh just beyond) in the East. It truly is a stunning view, especially in the summer. Apart from the view, what also thrills is the realisation that most of the major characters who have featured in Scottish history have passed through this central area of Scotland. Although many modern buildings can be seen, by and large you can see what
they saw, with respect to much of the countryside. It’s another way of touching the past, to see what others have seen. And to see what others see, helps us to understand our neighbour. This helps improve the quality of the relationship we have with our neighbour. Looking to see how others see things is often the key to success. Seasonal Produce in June : peas, asparagus, beetroot, elderflower, gooseberries, new potatoes, broad beans, chicory, French beans, radishes, raspberries, rocket, Spring onion, strawberries, tomatoes, watercress.
As a general rule strawberries in the UK taste better than imports. British strawberries will also be fresher. To get the best from strawberries, eat soon after purchase, refrigerate as little as possible and serve at room temperature.
Classic Strawberries and Cream Things you can do with strawberries: 1. Dust with sugar, sprinkle with lemon juice (this enhances the flavour). Some chefs recommend grinding with black pepper. 2. Dip the strawberries into melted chocolate and leave to cool before serving. 3. Layer up thin shortbread biscuits with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. 4. Mix smooth, sweetened strawberry pulp with sparkling white wine for a summer cocktail. 5. Make a smoothie with strawberries, oat flakes, natural yoghurt and a little honey.
The Focolare Movement New City is the magazine of the Focolare Movement, which takes as its inspiration Jesus’ prayer to the Father ‘May they all be one’ (John 17: 21). Over the last six decades the Movement has grown from a small community of around 500 in Trent, northern Italy, to a worldwide community of several hundred thousand people of all ages and backgrounds. It has also spread beyond the confines of the Roman Catholic Church, to many other Christian traditions, to other faiths and to people of goodwill who have no specific religious faith. The Focolare Movement works to pro-
mote mutual understanding and respect through dialogue. This can take many forms, from the simple sharing of experiences between individuals, to large-scale international conferences. Whatever the level of the dialogue, the underlying principle is always love: which means openness to the other, getting to know them, and respecting them and their cultures and beliefs. New City offers its readers the spirituality of unity which is the specific gift of the Focolare, and presents articles on a wide range of topics which encourage this attitude of openness to and respect for others.
The front cover of a recent edition of the Hugarian ‘New City.’
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New CityNBewooksCity BooksNew City BooksNew CityNeBwooksCity Books Lieta (Blanca) Betoño (1951 -2002) is considered a pioneer of the Focolare Movement in Ireland. As a twenty year old, she wrote “/ only want to give joy to others” - a quality confirmed by the name by which she then became known - Lieta - meaning happy or joyful. “/ live so as to be a cause of joy for the people I meet,” she wrote years later, just weeks before her death. Lieta said a radical, definitive ‘yes’ to God as a teenager which never wavered even in the face of great suffering. A divine adventure brought her from Argentina to Ireland, where she lived for thirty years, sowing love, peace and joy among the people she met. This is her story.
ISBN: 978-0-957529-0-6 £8.95 pp 192 PB
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