On December 7, 1943, at the age of 23, Silvia Lubich consecrated herself to God and became Chiara. This date marks the symbolic beginning of the Focolare Movement. 

 

On December 7, 1943, Silvia Lubich became Chiara. A few days earlier she took the place of her sisters, going out into the cold to buy some milk for her mother at a nearby farm. As she carried out her act of love, she felt a clear and strong calling: “Give everything of yourself to Me.” When Silvia returned home, she wrote a letter to the priest who had been accompanying her. After having tested her, the priest allowed her to consecrate herself to God forever.

That’s how on that 7th of December in 1943, just before dawn at a morning Mass celebrated just for the occasion, Silvia secretly – as she herself would later put it – “married God”. 30 years later she would write:

“Imagine a girl in love, with that love that is the first love, the purest one, the one that hasn’t yet been declared, but has begun to burn in the soul. With only one difference: the girl who is in love in that way on this earth, has the figure of her beloved in her eyes, but she doesn’t see him, she doesn’t’ hear him, she doesn’t touch him, she doesn’t smell his fragrance with the senses of this body, but with those of the soul, through which Love has entered and invaded everything. Such unique joy, so difficult to experience in this life, a secret joy, serene and also triumphant.”

Silvia Lubich was fascinated by Clare of Assisi’s response to Saint Francis when he asked her what she wanted: “God!” The 18 year-old Clare from Assisi, beautiful and full of hopes for her future, was able to contain all the desires of her heart in that single One who was worthy of all her love: God. With this shining example filling her sight, Silvia changed her own name into Chiara (Clare), because she felt those very same sentiments in her soul. Changing name can mean acquiring a new identity. That change, desired with the heart, was actualized on December 7, 1943, the morning when Silvia espoused God and became Chiara.    

Later the 7th of December was chosen as the symbolic beginning of the Focolare Movement. With that total gift of herself to God, the first stone was laid in the edification of what the Catholic Church would later name Work of Mary.  

With the name “God,” Chiara’s adventure and that of the Focolare Movement began.  “God” is what December 7 means for Chiara Lubich.

by Michel Vandeleene

Source: Centro Chiara Lubich

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