|Saints and Theology of the Heart - Blessed Chiara Luce Badano|
Maria Teresa Badano (Chiara's mother): "Chiara had many toys and like all children she liked to play. One day, while she was playing in her room and I was working in the kitchen, I told Chiara: "Surely, you have many toys, lots of them!" She replied: "Yes, why?" I said: "Couldn't you give some to the poor?" She answered: "They are mine!" And she grabs her toys out of fear. After some time, while I am in the kitchen, I hear her say: "This one yes, this one no...!" I was curious, I looked from her door and saw that she had divided all her toys and then she told me: "Bring me a bag mum," I brought her the bag and she put some of her toys into it. I asked her: "But Chiara, these are the new ones!" And she said: "Mum, I cannot give old and broken toys to poor chidren."
In first grade, she was attentive in all sorts of little ways toward her classmate, a girl who had lost her mum. At Christmas, Chiara Luce enthusiastically agreed with her mother’s proposal that they invite her to celebrate with them, and she asked that they use the most beautiful table cloth, “because today Jesus will be with us!”
She listened with great attention to the parables of the Gospel and carefully prepared to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. She touched people with her demeanor and great concentration while listening to the Word of God and attending Mass. She visited the elderly in a retirement home and, later, when they needed assistance, she would offer to spend the night by the bedside of her maternal grandparents. Her life was full of little acts of love. One evening she wrote: “One of my classmates has chicken pox and everyone is afraid to go visit her. With my parents’ permission, I decided to do my homework over at her place so she wouldn’t feel lonely. I think that love is more important than fear.”
Stories like this attest to the fact that she had received a solid Christian education at home through the parish community, through the parish priest who gave interesting catechism lessons and through the good friends she had. She had a special love for the elderly and really liked to help them. In September 1980, when she was 9 years old, Chiara attended a meeting of the young people of the Focolare Movement, founded by Chiara Lubich, and joins the Gen (New Generation of the Focolare Movement). It was to be fundamental for her future life. There she encountered the spirituality of unity.
In 1981, her parents began to share the same spirituality after they attended a Familyfest, an international meeting for families. Her mother said, “When we arrived home, my husband and I said to each other that if someone were to ask us when we got married, we would reply: ‘When we met this Ideal (spirituality of unity)’." From that moment, the Badano family became an example of respect, warmth and unity.
St. Augustine often said that “love makes us beautiful”. Chiara, besides being a nice-looking girl, was, in fact clothed in evangelical beauty. Her photos show that even as an infant she had quite a strong character. What is so striking in these photos is the purity of her expression.
When Chiara was just over nine years of age, she became attracted by the spirituality of unity of Chiara Lubich. It all began during a train journey where she met a girl who was not much older than her and soon became her best friend. Later on, she wrote: “I discovered the Gospel. I was not an authentic Christian because I did not live it completely. Now, I want to make this magnificent book the sole purpose of my life.” Chiara dragged her parents to Rome for the Familyfest 81, an international meeting of the New Families of the Focolare Movement. Her mother said, “Our life has changed so much that if anyone were to ask us when we got married, we would have replied: ‘When we met God Love (through the spirituality of unity)’."
In 1983 Chiara is one of the most committed gen 3 (gen 3 = third generation of the Focolare Movement, between 9 to 16 years of age).
To these gen 3 Chiara Lubich launched the challenge to become a “generation of saints”. She added: “In order to build new cities and a new world, it is not enough to have technicians, scientists and politicians, we also need wise people, we need saints.” Chiara Lubich is not afraid to reveal her secret to them: Jesus on the cross who cries out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ “Without him – she says – we cannot do anything.” She teaches them how to recognize him and love him in the small and big sorrows we meet every day and hence transform sorrow into love. “Without hesitation, start loving again and you will not meet any obstacles. Do not be afraid! Let him reward you with love!” Chiara Luce listens to these words during her first international congress in Rome.
Chiara Luce immediately wrote to Chiara Lubich, saying: “The congress was a wonderful experience”. She confides her proposal to recognize the countenance of Jesus Forsaken in every sorrow and to “welcome him with joy, especially with all the love possible.” And opportunities abound.
Her life is made up of successes and failures: lack of understanding and appreciation by some of her teachers (she fails an exam during her higher secondary school which she considers an injustice), friendships and marginalization (due to her Christian commitment, she is branded as “nun”). Her first falling in love soon turned out to be a disappointment. It was very difficult for Chiara Luce to transfer from Sassello to Savona with her family. She was obliged to do so for the sake of her studies, to which she committed herself during her illness, up till a few days before her death. Chiara Luce tries to turn small and great difficulties into love, always dedicated to the persons close to her. Though she was not always successful, “however – mum says – she gave Jesus her desire to make it.”
Chiara Luce regularly corresponds with Chiara Lubich and this correspondence becomes even more frequent. She confides her discoveries and trials, up till the very end. From her letters and her witness, her underlying joy and wonder in discovering life is very evident: a positive and cheerful vision. Chiara Luce is a girl like all the others: happy and lively, she likes music (has a beautiful voice), swimming, tennis and hiking in the mountains.
Chiara Luce has a wide circle of friends. Especially during summer, they meet at a bar in Sassello which happens to be the only venue in town. Some youth open up with her, confiding their doubts and difficulties, sure they would feel welcomed and listened to. To her mother who asks her if she speaks to them about God, she answers: “I should not speak about Jesus, rather, I have to give him to them.” And how do you do so? “By the way I listen to them, by the way I dress and above all, by the way I love them.”
Chiara Luce is not alone along this journey.
It is like walking along together with other youth: they do not miss a chance in “building this unityamong them” – as one of them says – during their meetings, during which, they mutually share their concrete experiences on the Gospel, but also through telephone calls, visits, letters, parties, trips and gifts. Among these young people, the communion of goods is a reality: till death, Chiara Luce maintains in her room a list of all her things which she wants to share with all those who are in need.
Summer 1988. Then something totally unforeseen happened. While playing tennis one day, Chiara Luce experiences a very sharp pain in her shoulder. At first she does not take much notice and neither does her doctor. However, since the pain persists, the doctor carries out further tests. The verdict: osteogenic sarcoma – one of the most serious and painful forms of cancer and it has already started spreading.
In February 1989, Chiara Luce undergoes her first surgery. On hearing this news, Chiara Luce, after a moment’s silence, accepts the outcome courageously, without tears or rebellion. “I’m young. I’m sure I’ll make it,” she says.
Maria Teresa (Chiara Luce's mother): "I said to myself, now Chiara has said her 'yes' to Jesus, buthow many times but how many times would she have to say this 'yes'; how many times will she fall; how many times would she have to repeat it during surgical operations and in moments of pain. However, Chiara Luce takes twenty five minutes to say her 'yes' to God and from that moment on, she never looks back." Her father, Ruggero narrates: “We were sure that Jesus was in our midst in that moment as he gave us the strength to accept it.” This was when a dramatic change took place in Chiara Luce’s life and her rapid ascent towards holiness began.
In June 1989, Chiara Luce undergoes a second surgery. This time, hopes are slim. She is admitted to hospital many times and her kindness and unselfishness really stand out. Setting aside her own need to rest, she spends time walking around the wards with a drug-dependent girl suffering from serious depression. This meant getting out of bed despite the pain caused by the huge growth on her spine. “I’ll have time to rest later,” she says.
While Chiara Luce was in hospital, youth and adult friends of the Focolare Movement take turns in the hospital in order to support her and her family. The treatment is painful and she wants to be informed of every detail of her illness. For each new, painful surprise, her offering is firm: "For you, Jesus, if you want it, I want it too!"
One day Chiara Luce writes: “Jesus sent me this illness at the right moment.” Ferdinando Garetto, then one of the youth who shares the same choice of life as Chiara Luce, narrates: “At first we thought we would visit Chiara Luce to keep her spirits up, however, we soon realized that in fact, we were the ones who needed her. Her life was like a magnet drawing us towards her.” The cancer was spreading mercilessly, but Chiara Luce tried her best to live a normal and happy life.
One of the medical staff, Dr. Antonio Delogu, said, “Through her smile, and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn’t exist; only life exists.” She had to undergo surgery twice. The subsequent chemotherapy treatment caused her to lose her hair, which she was very proud of. As each lock of hair fell, she would say simply, but sincerely, “For you, Jesus”. Her parents, ever at her side, used to remind her that hidden in all of her sufferings there was a mysterious plan of God.
The philosopher Cioran once said, “Has anyone ever seen a joyful saint?” Anyone who knew Chiara Luce could certainly say ‘yes’, as Jesus became more and more her “Spouse”.
In July 1989: the tumour spreads quickly. Chiara Luce is not yet 18 years of age and she loses the use of her legs. She tells her mother: "I really used to enjoy cycling around." And her mother replies, "If Jesus has taken away the use of your legs, he will give you wings."
When she lost the use of her legs, Chiara Luce said, “If I had to choose between walking or going to heaven, I would choose going to heaven.” With the last CAT scan, all hopes of remission disappeared.
Slowly, slowly, Chiara Luce starts having the foreboding of death: "Mum, is it fair to die at 17 years of age?" and her mother replies, "I do not know. I only know that it is important to do God's will, if this is his plan for you." Whenever she heard this, Chiara Luce would redouble her efforts to love. So, for example, she gave all her savings to a friend leaving on a humanitarian mission to Africa, saying, “I have everything. I don’t need this anymore.”
At one point, Chiara Luce suffers a severe bleeding and she is in danger of dying. Her young friends take turns in praying all night. The doctors are in doubt whether to carry out a blood transfusion and prolong her suffering or just let her pass away...They decide to carry out the transfusion. From that moment, Chiara Luce lives another year, a year which is very decisive for her.
For this last year, Chiara Luce is completely immobile in bed: through telephone calls she follows an emerging group of Youth for a United World (Y4UW) of Savona. She also participates in their congresses and activities through messages, postcards and posters, and she tries to spread the spirituality of unity among her friends and school companions. She actually invites many of them for Genfest '90 (an international Youth for a United World gathering, held in Rome in May of 1990). She has the joy of watching the Genfest '90 through a satellite dish antenna mounted for this purpose on the roof of her home.
She has always Chiara Lubich's support and the latter writes her the following, “God loves you immensely and wants to penetrate the depths of your soul in order to allow you experience heaven on earth.”
She refuses to take morphine, saying: “It reduces my lucidity,” and she adds, “and there’s only one thing I can do now: to offer my suffering to Jesus because I want to share as much as possible in his suffering on the cross.”
19 July 1989: Chiara Luce nearly died because of a hemorrhage. She says to her mother Teresa: “Don’t shed any tears for me. I’m going to Jesus. At my funeral, I don’t want people crying, but singing with all their hearts.” She writes to her friends, “Previously I felt another world was awaiting me and the most I could do was to let go. Instead now I feel enfolded in a marvelous plan of God which is slowly being unveiled to me.” She confides: “I no longer ask Jesus to come and take me away to heaven. I don’t want to give him the impression that I don’t want to suffer any longer”. She knows what lay before her and she does not want to change anything (she does not pray for a cure but to be able to do God’s will).
As Chiara Luce’s health situation deteriorates, she starts needing higher doses of morphine in order to ease the pain, however she refuses it, saying: “It reduces my lucidity,” and she adds, “and there’s only one thing I can do now: to offer my suffering to Jesus because I want to share as much as possible in his suffering on the cross.” During one of those moments of great pain, she confides to her mother Teresa that she is singing in her heart a familiar song: “Eccomi Gesù anche oggi davanti a Te… - Here I am oh Jesus, today as well, I’m here before You…” Chiara Luce is aware that her meeting with Him is approaching and she starts preparing herself. On one of those mornings following a night of severe pain, Chiara Luce spontaneously repeats at short intervals: “Come Lord Jesus.” At 11:00 am, a priest from the Focolare Movement pays her a surprise visit. Chiara Luce is very happy! In fact, from the very moment she woke up, she desired receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. This eventually becomes the food for her departing journey.
Chiara Luce passes away to Heaven on the 7th of October 1990.
Together with her mother, Chiara Luce prepares for her “wedding celebration”, her funeral. She herself gives instructions on how she wanted to be dressed; she chooses the music, the songs, the flowers and the Mass readings. She tells her mother, “When you’re getting me ready, Mum, you have to keep saying to yourself, ‘Chiara Luce is now seeing Jesus.” At the moment of her departure her parents are at her bedside, and all her friends were in the adjoining room. There is a great sense of peace. To her father Ruggero, who had asked her if she is always willing to donate her corneas, Chiara Luce answers with a bright smile. Her last words to her mother Teresa are: “Goodbye. Be happy because I’m happy.”
At the funeral, celebrated by H.E. Bishop Maritano, there are hundreds and hundreds of young people and many priests. The Focolare Movement international musical bands, “Gen Rosso” and “Gen Verde” accompany the funeral Mass with the songs chosen by Chiara Luce. A big bouquet of flowers and a telegram to Chiara Luce’s parents come from Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement, saying: “We thank you God for this bright masterpiece.”
On 7th October 1990, Chiara Luce concludes her earthly journey. The echo of Chiara Luce’s extraordinary experience lived in a normal daily life reached faraway places very quickly. She is actually an imitable model for all. Many people, especially youth have changed their life because of her. There are countless testimonies.
It is H.E. Msgr. Livio Maritano, Bishop of Aqui Terme, who takes the initiative and follows through the beatification process of Chiara Luce Badano. Of course, together with the precious assistance of Ms. Maria Grazia Magrini, vice postulator, and Capuchin Father Florio Tessari, who defines Chiara Badano as a “hurricane of light.”
This is how H.E. Bishop Maritano motivates his decision: “Her witness is of particular significance to young people. It’s enough to see how she lived her illness and how the experience of her death resonated with the youth. Such a shining example could not be neglected. There is a need for sanctity today. Young people yearn for direction, for a goal worth living for. They need a means of addressing their sense of insecurity, their solitude; they need an answer to the failures they experience, to suffering and death. But theory will never convince them; they need the witness of others.” The beatification process goes ahead rapidly. It started off in Acqui Terme Diocese in 1999 and one year later, it is passed on to the Vatican.
On 3rd July 2008, Chiara Luce is proclaimed Venerable.
On 19th December 2009, with the consent of the Holy Father, the Congregation of the Causes ofSaints proclaims the decree concerning the miracle attributed to the intercession of Chiara Badano. This miracle concerns the sudden healing of a child from Trieste, who was suffering from a severe form of meningitis. The doctors had given him 48 hours to live.
Chiara Luce is beatified on 25th September 2010. Thousands of people, young and old, thronged this event and they have come from all over the world. There are many others connected via internet and TV.
O Father, fount of every good,
we give You thanks for the wonderful
testimony of Blessed Chiara Badano.
Filled with the Holy Spirit
and guided by the radiant light of Jesus,
she believed firmly in Your infinite love,
and wished to return it with all her strength,
surrendering herself in complete trust
to Your paternal will.
We humbly beseech You
that You may also grant us
the gift to live with You and for You,
and ask You, if it be Your will,
for the grace ...
through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
I am 12 years old. I have met the Ideal and immediately became very attracted to it. The most important reality for me during these meeting has been re-discovering Forsaken Jesus. Before, I used to live this Ideal superficially and I was accepting Him only to expect joy in return. I realized I was going about things the wrong way. I must not exploit Him but just love Him and nothing else. I discovered that Forsaken Jesus is the key to unity with God and I want to choose Him as my first Spouse and get prepared for when He comes. To prefer Him! I understood that I can find Him in the distant ones, the atheists, and that I must love them in a very special way, without interest! I re-discovered the Gospel under a new light. I understood that I wasn’t an authentic Christian because I wasn’t living it to the full. Now I desire this wonderful book to be the only goal in my life. I don’t want and I cannot remain illiterate when it comes to such an extraordinary message. Just as it’s easy for me to learn the alphabet so must it also be to live the Gospel. I have re-discovered this phrase that says: “Give, and it shall be given to you”: I must learn to trust Jesus more, to believe in his immense love. In this period, the occasions for embracing my Spouse have certainly not been lacking; as a matter of fact, I’ve had a very high temperature for about a week, which, being already very debilitated, makes me very weak; but these are so many occasions for love that I have to be even more rooted in God. I offer my nothingness so that the Holy Spirit can bestow his gifts of love, light and peace upon the youth; so that everybody can understand what a free and immense gift life is and how important it is to live every instant in the fullness of God. I feel so little and the road ahead is so arduous that I often feel overwhelmed with pain! But that’s the Spouse coming to meet me. Yes, I repeat it: “If you want it Jesus, so do I”.
Here everybody is asking for a miracle but I cannot bring myself to ask for it. Maybe this difficulty that I have in a sking for it is because I feel that it is not His will. I offer everything, my failures, my pains and joys to Him, starting again everytime the Cross makes me feel all its weight. The important thing is to do God’s will. I might have had plans about myself but God came up with this. The sickness came to me at the right time.... However you can’t even imagine what my relationship with Jesus is like now... I feel Jesus is asking me for something more, something bigger. I might be on this bed for years..., I don’t know. I’m only interested in doing God’s will, doing that well, in the present moment: playing God’s game. I was out of your life in an instant. Oh, how I wished I could have stopped that runaway train that was taking me more and more away from you! But I still didn’t understand. I was too much absorbed in insignificant things, frivolous and transient things. Another world was waiting for me and all I had to do was to surrender myself to it. But now I feel like I am wrapped into a wonderful design that it’s slowly unfolding itself to me.
Chiara "Luce" Badano - Light, Love, Life Born with a Smile - Song Performed at Her Beatification Testimony of Young People about Chiara (Beatification) Mass of Beatification (Pt. 1) Mass of Beatification (Pt. 2) Mass of Beatification (Pt. 3) Mass of Beatification (Pt. 4) Audio of Bl. Chiara "Luce" Badano's Voice
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