|Midwest Mariapolis 2011--"Our Yes to God"|
|Written by Tom Masters - Chicago|
|Saturday, August 27, 2011|
Each day of Mariapolis 2011 led the 480 participants deeper and deeper into the experience of saying their "yes" to God—from Chiara Lubich’s first inspirations at the birth of the Focolare Movement almost seventy years ago, through the fifty years of life here in the United States, and culminating with the impact of that "yes" in the lives of children, young people, families, schools, faith communities, political life, and businesses.
This Mariapolis, held during the fiftieth anniversary year of the Focolare in North America, seemed to touch everyone in a deep and lasting way. One participant who had come for the first time said,. "I never felt so accepted, so loved. We have been told about God’s will all our lives, but it’s never been brought to life as much as here. It is the most amazing thing in which I have ever been involved."
The young people, inspired by the example nineteen-year-old Chiara Luce Badano, the first Focolare member to be beatified, brought their particular passion and energy to Mariapolis 2011.
During the Sunday afternoon devoted to interreligious dialog, questions from a panel of young adults allowed Imam Mikal Ramadan (Islam), Dr. Tarunjit Butalia (Sikh), Emily Soloff (Judaism), and Dr. Paul O’Hara (Catholicism) to explain in depth how they understood the notion of the will of God in their particular faith traditions. One person who watched the panel in action commented, "Are we witnessing the new religious reality of our age? They were prophetic of the world’s experience."
As at every Mariapolis, children of all ages helped to build the "city" in ways only they could do.
One young girl exclaimed, "Today was my very first Mariapolis and it was very awesome! It was the best day I ever had in 12 years!!!!!!!
The spirit of the Mariapolis touched everyone. One of the Catholic priests who attended for the first time connected his experience with that of the first Christians. "My first impression is summarized in the story of the Gospel of the Transfiguration. My stay here has been the experience of the disciples. If Peter had been an American he would have said "Wow!". I have been overwhelmed. I have seen and heard people who have seen God, who have seen and done His will… people who have been bearers and doers of God’s will. To those who have had their first experience of the Mariapolis, this is my message, let us "build three tents." Let us come back not three times, but thirty times more, let us go and be carriers and doers of God’s will in this and every moment of our lives."
In this photo, the whole Mariapolis gathered after they had completed a game in which a puzzle spelled out the theme. "So many people were carrying a piece of the whole picture. And when they shared, it all came together in a single picture of God and His love for each of us."
Another participant summed up the feeling that almost everyone shared: "Can you imagine a world filled with people who want to live LOVE? How much peace there will be!"