Alison Caluori reviews ‘Glimpses of Gospel Life: The “Little Flowers” of Chiara and the Focolare Movement’.
[New City Magazine]
A wonderful and uplifting read. This book is profoundly moving, due primarily to its truthfulness. The Focolare Movement began because a group of young women shared the desire to live the Gospel and through this miracles happened all over the world. The book is a living testimony to this life which then spread spontaneously. In it, people from many different countries share their experiences of entrusting every need and worry to God and receiving incredible providence as a result.
In order to live our spiritual life well, we need to spend time every morning or evening with God, and I discovered that this book was a great help in focussing me and leading me in my prayer life. In fact, it was intensely difficult to put it down at all, and at times I found myself continuing to read it on the train to work in the morning.
The stories start from Chiara Lubich’s own early experiences of asking God for the most specific needs of the poor during the Second World War and tell of the providence she and her companions received. In one experience they are even asked for a particular size shoe, which arrived due to their faithful prayer. We are then taken through the lives of priests, focolarine, families, young people and even children from all over the world who gave money, possessions or time to others and experienced the most amazing hundredfold. It is evidence that we must give what we don’t need, but also ask for what we do, and God will answer.
Some examples of this are a child who asks God to mend a sound mixer, a young Tanzanian blind boy who gives his last pennies to a poor woman and receives even more, a student who shares her examination notes but gets top marks, a priest who gives his time and discovers this changed someone’s life, and so many families who give all they have and yet are never in need. It’s a beautiful montage of unique personal stories telling us of God’s love and reminding us that He is always here with us.
This book completely transformed the way in which I viewed my everyday experiences. Suddenly I could see how the hand of God guides everything. Immediately I asked for three things that I was worrying about; a job for my sister, fair treatment and training at work for my boyfriend, and a car (mine had finally died and I had decided with the other young people of the Focolare, that although we did need one for our activities, I didn’t have the money for a new one.) Within the next few weeks, my sister began to receive application forms for a job, although there had been nothing for months and my boyfriend was started on the training he had waited two years for. Then several days ago, a friend told me she was going to live in another country and she wanted to give me her car to look after!