President Piero Coda was among the speakers presenting the new series released in Rome
Ten years after the death of the Focolare Movement foundress, the publication project is inaugurated with the release of the first volume: “Words of Life”.
“I never wrote a book,” Chiara Lubich said in 1995 when she received the Author of the Year Award from the Catholic Publishers and Booksellers Union (UELCI), “even though many books bear my name.” Yet, her Italian biography lists 58 titles, and many others appear only in non-Italian editions. Hundreds of articles and thousands of letters, along with documentary material, have been collected by the Chiara Lubich Centre, which was established after her death to keep her memory alive. That is why the publication project dedicated to the Works of Chiara Lubich, which was presented on 12th November 2017 at the headquarters of the Italian Press Federation, takes on an added importance. Sponsored by the Chiara Lubich Centre and Città Nuova publishing house, a series of fourteen volumes is planned which will collect the writings of the Focolare and Sophia foundress, whose beatification process began two years ago.
Many of the collected writings have never been published before. They are classified according to literary genres and organised in three blocks: the woman (the autobiographical element, the heart and soul of Lubich, recovered not only in diaries and letters, but also in mystical writings); her spiritual path (texts about the spirituality of unity, the Words of Life, and texts where her spiritual, theological and cultural thinking is developed); and the Work (conveying the historical impact of Lubich’s life and thinking through her speeches in civil and ecclesiastical contexts, her articles and interviews, and the Focolare Movement Statutes and Rules).
The first volume in the series, Words of Life, is a collection of 350 comments on sentences taken from the Gospels that Chiara Lubich wrote in a simple and direct language. Her words are within the grasp of everyone, and they were originally handwritten on small leaflets that were passed on from hand to hand. Speaking at the press conference for the presentation of the new book series, Piero Coda, the President of Sophia and a member of the series’ scientific committee, said that Lubich’s message “is quite a timely one: there is no country in the world where the leaven of this charisma has not fermented”. And yet, noted the President, Chiara Lubich – a woman with whom he worked for decades – is still widely unknown, partly because “her vast cultural, spiritual and social legacy is only just beginning to germinate – and that is a paradox, because its potential is yet to make history”.
He noted that “there is a clear correspondence between the main lines of Pope Francis’s pontificate and Chiara’s message”, and affirmed that “this era is opening up unprecedented horizons for the diffusion of Chiara’s message, of the charisma of unity” – here, he mentioned some of the themes of her spirituality which were later developed, such as a ‘new cultural paradigm’, the ‘economy of communion’ and dialogue with other cultures and religions – even if our era seems to encourage a retreat into identity.
He then recalled the emblematic moment that took place on 18th May 1997. At the time, it was hardly imaginable for a white Catholic woman (wearing a white chador on her head) to give a speech at the American Muslim Mission mosque dedicated to the memory of Malcolm X, in Harlem. It had never happened before. “I was also in New York, with her, when she met with Imam W.D. Mohammed” – recalled Coda – “There was a rabbi sitting beside me. It all seemed impossible. But she made it happen, and she spoke in front of more than three thousand people”.
The first woman to be lawfully recognised as the head of a Movement comprising men, women, priests, monks and nuns, Chiara Lubich “should not be confined inside a holy card. She should be recognised in her true identity, so that we can go on discovering and highlighting new aspects of her story and spirituality”.