About the book
Chiara Lubich is now being called a great Catholic mystic of our times. In these letters we encounter this mystical side of Chiara who is also the bearer of a charism, a gift from the Holy Spirit in response to the special needs of the Church and of the world. Chiara’s charism is unity, the unity that Jesus asked for us from his Father: “May they all be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity” (Jn 17: 22-23).
Chiara saw God’s love in everyone and everything. The light of this discovery enveloped her, and she felt like she was at the center of the Father’s love. This discovery is at the foundation of Chiara’s spirituality which emerges from these early letters. They were written to the young women and others who were drawn by the way she presented the Christian life as a response to God’s love, which was shown to her in Jesus, most especially in his abandonment and death on the Cross.
In these letters, the God that Chiara invites us to believe in is Love. The conversion she asks of us is a conversion to Love. Often using the language and style of the saints and mystics of other ages (like Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Francis of Assisi), Chiara communicates her burning desire that “Love be loved,” that “all the world be set ablaze by the fire of Love.” Her words are full of fervor, but also simplicity and practical common sense.
How should the author be introduced? Well, in the back cover of this book of 147 pages, there is a section introducing the author that I find fascinating: The New York Times described Chiara Lubich as one of the most influential women in the Catholic Church. As the president of the Focolare Movement, Italian-born Chiara Lubich was a renowned religious leader and writer. She, a prolific writer, had published over 50 books in 29 languages, with more than one million copies sold. As a book of spirituality in the form of a collection of 60 letters written to many people spanning from 1944 to1949, it is not easy to grasp the important themes of this book. Therefore, the letters are grouped into four parts with distinguished titles as follows: 1. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love; 2. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified; 3. I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled; 4. Whoever is near me is near the fire.
Lubich’s mystical experience can be traced to her intimate dwelling in God. As result, she has special spiritual insights expressed in her letters in the following subjects: love, suffering, abandonment, and unity. Lubich attempts to help her friends to closely follow Jesus Christ in whatever their situation and circumstances. Who are the audience of these letters? Originally, the recipients of these letters are the readers. However, after the publication of this book, all readers of this book become the audience. With the words of encouragement in this book, readers are uplifted spiritually because as followers of Jesus Christ, we all follow our model/example/sample: Jesus Christ.