Who we are
The gen4 are the children (from 4 to 8/9 years) of the Focolare Movement. They welcome and live the spirituality of Chiara Lubich and they commit themselves daily to live for a more united world and to spread the values of peace and universal brotherhood.
“Let the children come to me” (Mt 19:14).
These words of Jesus have always been very much alive in the Focolare Movement, where children were present from the beginning. Chiara Lubich, a primary school teacher, always had a direct relationship with children, building a relationship of reciprocity with them: she understood them and was understood by them. She never made a distinction between adults and children in transmitting the spirituality with wholeness and radically, while taking into account the need to adapt the contents to each age: “We must not see in them only as children – she stated in 1966 -, we must see them as children with a soul, and soul is neither big nor small, it is always soul “. (C. Lubich, Loppiano, 19.8.1966, cf. AAVV, Love one another as I loved you, CNx, Rome, p.4)
Lubich saw the future in children, people who tomorrow will be able to bring into the world a way of thinking and a “lifestyle” based on the Gospel.
In 1988, comparing the Movement to a large flowering and fruitful tree, she added that children are like the “little buds” of this tree and they are very precious because they are the tree’s ‘guarantee’: buds of hope for a better world.
1972 | The Gen4 are born
Chiara Lubich gives the children of the Focolare Movement – also called Opera di Maria – the name of gen4. Alongside the gen1 (adults), the gen2 (youth) and the gen3 (teens), the gen4s come to life. Chiara herself recounts: “I realized that in the Work of Mary there was an immense gap and that if Mary took in all the vocations (…) she had first of all cultivated baby Jesus” and ” if we do not give birth to the branch of the gen4, Mary here will ask me for an account of this enormous omission., “(C. Lubich, Loppiano, 03/23/972, see AAVV, Love each other as I loved you, CNx, Rome, p.20)
1988 | 1st International Congress
“When will a Gen4 congress be held?” From this question, asked to Chiara Lubich by the children, the idea was born of having the first Gen4 International Congress in Castel Gandolfo (Italy) in 1988. Eighth hundreds of them arrived from all over Europe with some representatives from other continents: boys and girls from three and half years old to eight years. “It was an extraordinary experience!” – Chiara commented – “they understand everything! (…) they are all so taken by God, to the point of forgetting everything else “. (C.Lubich, Castelgandolfo, 27.1.1989)
1991 | Gen4 "cottage industries"
All over the world, small “Gen4 cottage industries” (creation of artisan necklaces, production of sweets, greeting cards …) are born with which the gen4 want to participate – in a manner appropriate to their age – in the innovative project called “Economy of communion “born from the idea of Chiara Lubich during a visit to Brazil. There she had been struck by the inequalities so evident between the center of St. Paul and the” crown of thorns “constituted by the favelas that surrounded the city (http: //www.edc-online.org). Even the gen4 want to do something to help those who have less than them by putting into practice the culture that is at the base of the “Economy of communion”, based on giving and sharing, on solidarity and gratuitousness.
1997 | `They have dislodged Jesus’ "
Around the world, thousands of girls and boys respond to Chiara Lubich’s invitation to bring Jesus back to the center of Christmas. Together with parents, friends and the communities of the Movement, in the squares, local institutions, schools, markets and streets, they offer people small plaster statues of the Infant Jesus, elaborated by themselves, together with Lubich’s writing entitled “They dislodged Jesus”.
1998 | The Art of Loving and the “cube”
In the 1998 International Congress, Chiara Lubich also explained to the gen4 the Art of Love
(facets of love discovered in the Gospel that have permeated the life of the Movement from the beginning) and gives them a small cube that shows on each face, with a small sentence, an aspect of evangelical love. Called since then “The cube of love” soon it becomes a traveling companion of children of all latitudes: thrown every morning this original “game” indicates “how” to live on that day making the experience of going out of oneself and open up to other, to forgive and build fraternal relationships
2004 | Culture of giving and sharing
In 2004, again during an International Congress, Lubich helps the gen4 to broaden the horizon of sharing. Giving is not just about material things (helping the most needy), but everything we have as talent, time, availability (giving help, a smile, listening …): it shall and can become a “lifestyle”, a new “culture of giving and sharing”.
and the story continues ...
-after the first congress of 1988 there were various international congresses held in Rome which, until 2006, saw the presence of the founder and, subsequently, the participation and contribution of Maria Voce, President of the Movement.
-Currently, the gen4 congresses are held mostly locally, within the same region, nation or in synergy with neighboring countries. It aims at an increasingly widespread network to reach children where they are, discovering and rediscovering together the beauty and value of the “educating community”.
-Actions are increasing for the most needy, to spread peace, to take care of nature with respect.
THE GEN5 ARE ENTRUSTED TO THE GEN4
There the gen5 were born ! (…) They are aged from zero years up to three and a half years. (…) These children are entrusted to you: you have to bring them up, make them play, teach the Ideal, teach them to love (…). They understand what they see, and if you behave well and love, they learn and say, “Ah, we must love” and then they also love … “*
“Dear Gen 4, as you may already know, the Gen 5 are born! Even though they are small, they understand many things above all love. I entrust them to you. Be their guardian angels!” Chiara *
* (C.Lubich, in Gen4 n. 1-2 January-February 1995 page 3 and insert)
Companions on the journey! To promote the harmonious growth of children
Chiara Lubich always paid special attention to the education of children, supporting the idea, as widely confirmed by many scientific studies, that the first years of life represent a privileged phase for the promotion and development of all dimensions of being a person, including the spiritual one.
Furthermore, attention to the child, to his/her integral formation, has led the Focolare Movement to put forward an educational paradigm (person-relationship) that can help children and young people to become protagonists of conscious choices and capable of living positive relationships
To support this holistic development of the various dimensions of the person (biological, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, historical-environmental), we have also seen the need to enrich the education of children on the art of loving. In this regard an educative journey can be carried out in synergy with and in support of the primary educational role played within the family, which helps them to know and adequately express emotions. Furthermore some aspects of education to affectivity in the developmental age can be given through periodic meetings for children and parents together: Up2Me bambini.
It is part of the ongoing project Up2Me ragazzi (http://up2me.afnonlus.org/)
Languages and Methods
chosen according to the age we are dealing with (appreciation of the supernatural dimension, typical of children and fully participating in their life, which is lived mostly as a game)
Give value to both the educating community and the individual assistants, animators. Attention to the formation of the educators and to the respect of the norms for the “well-being and protection of minors”
ACTIVITY AND MEETINGS
Discovering the Gen4! What do they do when they meet?
The Art of Loving – The Golden Rule
– The guiding principle of the formation is the “Golden Rule”, which is thus expressed in the Gospel: “ Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Mt 7:12), but which is present in the Sacred Texts of the main religions, and conveys the value of “fraternity” that can be shared even by people of non-religious convictions
Children of other religions or non-religious beliefs participate in the activities
The “cube of love” is a fundamental and very useful tool to deepen and experience all the facets of the art of love. (refer to the page of the Art of Loving and the “cube” )
The “culture of giving and sharing“ helps to make people aware of the riches and multiplicity of the gifts they each possess and can share with others. (refer to the page of the Culture of giving)
Models of lived lives
– for a formation that is not only theoretical, but that translates into a global growth of the person, contact and comparison with life experiences will be promoted:
– of the founder, Chiara Lubich, of other people within the Movement and beyond, who offer testimonies of values such as solidarity, fraternity and that would have contributed to building a better world;
– of children like them, but of different countries and cultures: the testimony of life of peers makes this lifestyle possible and credible;
– of episodes from the life of Jesus, discovering, together with the whole community in which they are inserted, that every phrase of Scripture can be lived (refer to the WoL page). For the gen4 of other religions sentences of Scriptures according to their own faith will be identified along the way.
In addition to the personal commitment to live the art of loving, the gen4 engage together for :
-Loving the poor: affected by the life of the first Christians and by the first members of the Movement, who shared everything and loved the poor, the gen4 discover Jesus present in those in need and act accordingly (they offer their toys, they save to give to the most needy, they give life to small “gen4 cottage industries”: artisan necklaces, bracelets, greeting cards, sweets …) in order to share the experience of that culture of giving and sharing that is also the basis of innovative projects economic like the Economy of Communion.
Starting from the reflection of Chiara Lubich contained in the writing “They dislodged Jesus” at Christmas the attention to the other brings the gen4, to remember the One who is to be celebrated, to do much to give happiness to those who are alone or to collect money for helping those in need. (refer to the page “They have evicted Jesus”)
–Transmit and share your joy with others: every gen4 activity (giving, actions for peace, They have dislodged Jesus …) can be the occasion to invite other children to let them discover how to be happy. The Gen 4 also have special attention for the little ones, the Gen 5 (children up to 3 and a half years).
In Italy, the Giornalino Big – Bambini in gamba by Città Nuova publishing house was born: an interactive monthly magazine for children up to 10 years old, with games, comics, narratives, true stories, curiosities. It promotes a “positive” pedagogy through the dissemination of values such as: acceptance, peace, solidarity, universal brotherhood.
In each issue there is a theme to discover while having fun and, for educators, a formation insert to be detached and preserved.
In fact, we also want to provide support for adults who are in contact with children with reflections proposed by experts in pedagogy, psychology, family and school on the evolutionary characteristics of children. In these years BIG has successfully proposed several itineraries, in particular on emotions and pro-social skills; soon a new path to discover the values of friendship will begin. | Subscribe immediately>