Vincent and Chiara, two extraordinary individuals who transformed the world, sit around a small table, sipping Italian coffee and breaking French bread.
Vincent de Paul, a French priest in the 16th and 17th centuries, established several communities to serve and love the poor. Chiara Lubich, an author and spiritual leader in the 20th and 21st centuries, established a community rooted in unity and love, especially in ecumenical, interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
During this exchange, they listen attentively to one another. They share the same love for Jesus, and an allied commitment to discovering God in neighbor and stranger alike.
Vincent recalls being overcome with emotion as he heard the confession of a dying servant, visiting the imprisoned, and seeing so many children and adults lacking basic needs.
Chiara relates, sharing how she and her companions sought shelter from the bombs of World War II, creating a new way rooted in the love of the God.
They recount the overwhelming amount of poverty, war, destruction, injustice, and pain that served as the backdrop to their lives. After taking another sip of their coffee, they reflect on those moments where they found their purpose in healing wounds. They recall their companions who united with them to serve and to love.
The conversation continues, shifting to looking at us- the millions who continue as branches of their trees of life.
As kindred members of the Vincentian and Focolare movements serve in the spirit of living the Gospel message, Vincent and Chiara are moved by the willingness of these generations of pilgrims who commit to living this “divine adventure,” as Chiara called it.
Vincent and Chiara are impressed in how these movements provide an “inventive love,” as Vincent called it, to respond to the needs of the world- many of which are similar to the needs in which Vincent and Chiara responded.
Chiara’s words echo still in the hearts of her followers: “Let our thoughts and the affection of our hearts go beyond the barriers imposed by our human vision of life, and develop the habit of constantly opening ourselves to the reality of being one human family in only one Father: God.”[i]
Vincent’s teachings relate and leads us into action: “Let us love God . . . let us love God, but let it be with the strength of our arms and with the sweat of our brows.”[ii]
As their coffee break comes to a close, they join their earthly companions in feeling the burden of the divide and injustice that continues to plague the world. Their heads drop in sorrow, and they instinctively begin to pray.
Their prayer is for us, their descendants, who are touched by the spirit of service, unity, and divine love that flowed through their words and actions. Their prayer and their legacy points us to a better tomorrow for all.
They eagerly wait with hope for our response.
Join us this Sunday, September 27th, the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul for a special concert titled “One in Hope,” featuring the International Performing Arts Group, Gen Verde. Gen Verde is part of the Focolare movement- learn more here.
Join us this Sunday at 3pm (EST) for this incredible experience, including the world premiere of the song, “Vincent’s Song (You Did It To Me).” Access the concert here.
[i] Chiara Lubich, Jesus: the Heart of His Message,New City Press, New York, 1985, p 24-25.