Athens (Unsplash/Topsphere Media)

That "piece of heaven" in Athens

The Fraternity Exercises for the small community of Greece, inviting friends from other movements. An account of an “event of grace, unity and deep communion.”

On Saturday, June 15, warmly welcomed by our friend Fr. Raffi in a small parish in Athens, we experienced the Spiritual Exercises together with friends from other movements: the Focolare, the Pope John XXIII Community, and Punto Cuore. It was truly an event of grace, renewed and ever living, of unity and deep communion.

It was a communion experienced by each of us, so much that Patrizia, of the Focolarini, said, “It is not only a material communion, but spiritual. Within your charism, I find ours. An encounter between charisms where my vocation is enlightened. Living poverty, humility as we heard it described in its true essence, can really be a gift for all the people we meet.”

Patrizia also wrote to a friend of ours, “Dearest Rosaria, it is I who is thankful for this opportunity to live a true, sincere and profound experience of communion. This is only possible when we live that poverty about which we heard today. A poverty that makes room in our hearts and allows us to welcome each other. I too returned to the Focolare feeling rich in His Presence among us, with a living joy that makes me want to give around me. I count on your unity and prayer and assure you of mine. To see each of you today was truly to see members of my family again. Let us thank God who has allowed us to experience moments of heaven! Let us remain united in mutual prayer.”

And then Mariella, also from the Focolare and who lived in Pakistan for a while, wrote: “We can only witness to our communion. Fr. Giovanni spoke of what we try to live. A grace for the whole Church without any claim of outcomes, belonging to this people.”

Fabiola, from the Pope John XXIII Community, said: “I understood that the first poor person to recognize and welcome is within me, is my own person. Today it was said that the poor person is the person who stretches out their hands, with nothing to claim. How often do I think that the point is to find solutions to the needs I encounter at all costs. And this concern makes me not to sleep. Instead, within this lived communion, I understood that the point is rather to offer our helplessness all full of his Presence.”

Read also - Malaysia: At the origin of a friendship

And then Paolo, from the CL community in Athens, recounted: “I understand more and more that without you, it would be impossible to experience a fullness. This communion that you experience makes it possible to begin again every day.” Finally, Filippo, from the Pope John XXIII Community, said: “I understood that the great limitation is to feel that we own what we have freely received, the charism. Instead, the communion experienced makes me get out of my comfort zone.”

We are so attached to one another in Jesus. It is precisely the experience of this ‘piece of heaven,’ of this communion experienced and happening again that makes us yearn for it to happen among all of us and in the whole Church.

Friends from CL in Greece