Summary: Short biography of the Focolare Movement by one of its founders.
A friend recommended this short audiobook/kindle book to me a couple of days ago. I am a part of a private facebook group for ‘The Initiative and friends with John Armstrong, who is the founder. The Initiative is a group that is seeking to draw together Christians of all streams together in Christian unity. Chiara Lubich and the Focolare Movement have signficantly influenced the Initiative. I have been broadly aware of the Focolare movement, but I have not explored previously.
May They All Be One is not a new book; it was initially published in 1977. But it was only last month that an audiobook version was only released last month. Both the Kindle and audiobook versions are under $5 and are short. The audiobook is just over 2 hours, and the kindle edition is the equivalent of under 100 pages.
This is a very brief overview. I appreciate the introduction and the idealism and devotion that was communicated here. The book is simple, the writing clear and unvarnished. Chiara Lubich has written several books, 30 different ones if Goodreads is accurate. So I probably need to read more.
The Focolare Movement was started by young women in Italy during World War II. They knew they could die at any time. Lubich convinced her friends that if they died, they would want their gravestone inscriptions to say, “And we have believed in love”. Their goal was to serve all around them by seeking unity. Focolare was a peace movement, but it was not only a peace movement. They advocated for human rights and the poor. They desired international institutions of peace as well as local institutions that worked for the common good.
Part of what has made the movement different from other Catholic institutions was the ecumenical focus. Focolare was not only Catholic; its vision was for a campaign that sought peace throughout Christianity.
There is a real idealism of Christianity here. Focolare is taking seriously not just John 17, but also many other of the idealistic passages about love, justice, righteousness, and peace. The corrective of the Focolare seems to be the counter to the Realpolitik and pragmatism that took hold in the post-WII cold war. Focolare is not pragmatic. It is not pragmatic to pay attention to the human rights of the weak and powerless, but it is Christian.
I wanted more from May They All Be One. But it is meant as a brief introduction, not a more robust exploration. And it was written only about 20 years after the start of the movement, but about 30 years before Chiara Lubich passed away. So there is much more to the story. If anyone has suggestions for follow up books, I welcome them.