Sharing experiences on the Word in Valdarno

15 Feb 2024 | Life, News, Spirituality

There are 11 groups that meet every end of the month in various towns of the Upper Valdarno to share experiences on the Word of Life. The hospitality of the local communities and the freshness brought by the young people of the citadel.

Francisco looks to the left at the end of his sharing. He recounted an experience on the Word of Life for January: “You shall love the Lord your God… and your neighbor as yourself.” The young Colombian seeks the gaze of Marta, his Italian teacher. She nods with a satisfied and proud expression. Applause erupts from the twenty or so people arranged in a circle. Yes, because this group that meets on Monday evenings in the last week of the month rejoices in the progress made even in learning the Italian language. The attendees – diverse in age, vocation, and background – largely come from Africa and Latin America, Asia, and Europe. We are in Loppiano, at Claritas, the spirituality center for religious, and Father Egidio Canil, the welcoming and friendly Conventual Franciscan, hosts the event.

The sharing of experiences lived on the Word of Life is a practice used in the Focolare family from its early days. “Living the Word” was the indication and passion of the founder. Even during the war, in Trento, Chiara Lubich began to choose a verse from Sacred Scriptures, to comment on it to help the small community better live it in daily life, and then share the fruits of the lived Word to grow together and encourage one another.

The aim as always is to be shaped by the Word, which evangelizes individuals and the group, while the communion of the fruits progressively generates the community and attracts new people. These latter do not listen to spiritual comments or fervor directed at others. Contributions are essential, seeking to reflect Lubich’s indication, summarized in the formula of the “3 Fs”. That is, a Phrase (the Word of Life for the month), a Fact (an event illuminated by that Word), a Fruit (the concrete effect of love towards God and towards others produced by the inner attitude).

In 2018, on February 2nd, the surprising news of Pope Francis’ visit to Loppiano on May 10th came. The inhabitants wondered how to best prepare as a community beyond the commitment to live the law of reciprocal love. The idea of intensifying the life of the Word and the communion of experiences arose. There were 100 days left until that historic visit. Mixed groups were formed by age, vocation, nationality, culture, and faith.

After five years, last September, a more pronounced “outward” purpose was given to this type of gathering. Therefore, the meetings in the towns of the Upper Valdarno multiplied (from 3 to 11), thanks to the presence of Mariapolis residents. The freshness and spiritual sensitivity of the seventy young people present in Loppiano from October to June and included in the Word of Life groups were also highlighted.

“We are about a dozen each time, and everyone feels responsible,” explains Sara Sottani, in whose home in Leccio the meeting takes place.” The girls who come from Loppiano are really beautiful souls. And those from here are happy with the testimony of these girls. In Paterno, the appointment brings together people from Pontassieve and Rufina as well. “The meetings did not stop even during the pandemic,” David Pellegrini explains with satisfaction . We used Zoom or WhatsApp. The ten or so participants feel committed to being there. There is vitality, and this arouses interest in some who have recently been attracted to an evening of sharing experiences.”

There are three groups in Figline Valdarno. One meets in the men’s Focolare with about twenty people. “It’s an enriching and attractive moment of community life open to all,” says Feri Farkas, a Hungarian focolarino. His contagious passion for this appointment plays a significant role, so the meeting has turned into a broader evening of sharing. Whoever can, indeed, arrives for dinner.. And as we know, a well-set table encourages confidences.


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