'Clear Light' Badano an Example for Youth Today
Heroism is possible at the age of 19. Pope Benedict XVI recognized this on 3 July 2008, by approving a Decree of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints which stated that Chiara Badano had practiced the Christian virtues to a heroic degree.
In accordance with the characteristic procedure for processes of beatification the young 19-year-old has been declared "Venerable".
Chiara "Luce" (which means "light") ended her earthly pilgrimage on 7 October 1990, after two years of a long and painful illness; a bone tumour gradually sapped her energy but not her joie de vivre, a joy won heroically.
"A person is heroic when his or her virtuous conduct is extended in time and is rendered particularly difficult so that it is far superior to normal behaviour, thus manifesting the constant determination to be configured in all things to God's will".
This was the explanation given by Bishop emeritus Livio Maritano of Acqui, Italy, who initiated the diocesan investigation for her beatification process in 1999.
It was the Gospel that supported Chiara, together with a lively, youthful faith which she drew largely from her encounter with the spirituality of unity with Chiara Lubich when she was 11 years old.
Chiara Badano was born in Sassello, Savona, on 29 October 1971, after her parents had waited 11 years for her.
In 1981, she took part with her parents in the "Family Fest" in Rome an event organized by the Focolare Movement world-wide. It was the beginning of a new life for all three. In her small town, Chiara committed herself to loving her schoolmates and anyone who passed her way, determined to live radically the Gospel that had fascinated her. And she immediately became engrossed in the Movement, together with other girls of her own age.
When she was 17, a strong pain that she first felt in her shoulder during a tennis game caused the doctors' suspicion. She was subjected to a series of clinical examinations to determine its cause and it was not long before a serious form of bone cancer was discovered.
A whole range of medical check-ups and examinations followed and at the end of February 1989, Chiara faced her first operation: there was not much hope. Her hospital stays in Turin became ever more frequent and, with them, the very painful treatment that she faced with great courage.
To each new painful "surprise" she made an offering full of determination: "For you, Jesus, if you want it, I do too!".
Despite the gravity of her condition, whenever her health permitted, Chiara took part personally with joy and enthusiasm in all the experiences of the Focolare Movement.
It was not long before she had to confront another great trial: she lost the use of her legs. A further, painful operation proved to be in vain. This caused Chiara tremendous suffering. She felt as though she were in a dark tunnel. Yet she found the strength to dedicate herself once again to love and so the light returned.
"If I had to choose between walking and going to Paradise", she told someone, "I would choose going to Paradise without hesitation. At this point that is all I care about".
She had been committed to living the Gospel 100 percent since she was a small child. She wrote in her diary, addressing friends, "I left your life in a moment. How I would have like to stop that fast train which was taking me further away! But I still did not understand. I was still absorbed by so many ambitions and projects, and who knows what else (all of which now seem to me so unimportant, futile and transient).
"Another world was waiting for me and all I had to do was to abandon myself to it. But now I feel as though I were wrapped in a splendid design which little by little is unfolding itself to me".
Chiara's doctor, a non-believer and very critical of the Church, was progressively and more deeply moved by the witness borne by her and by her parents: "Ever since I met Chiara something has changed inside me. Here there is consistency, here everything about Christianity fits into place".
Chiara's relationship with Chiara Lubich was very close and she kept Chiara Lubich closely informed of the state of her health and her triumphs and discoveries.
On 30 December 1989, Chiara Lubich wrote to her: "I feel that you are doing your utmost to respond to God's love and say your continuous 'yes' to him. I am constantly following you with my prayers and all my love. I chose the word of life that asked me for: 'Those who remain in me and I in him will bear abundant fruit'.
"Good-bye, Chiara! I am asking the Holy Spirit to give you the gift of fortitude, so that your soul, for love of Jesus Abandoned, may always 'sing'".
Although she was reduced to immobility, Chiara was very active: she kept in touch by telephone with the nascent group in Savona of "Youth for a United World", she made herself present at Congresses and in various activities through messages, postcards and posters; she went to great lengths to introduce her friends and schoolmates to [Focolare's] "Gen" movement.
In the beginning of the summer, the doctors decided to interrupt her treatment: the disease could no longer be halted.
She immediately informed Chiara Lubich of her situation on 19 July 1990: "The doctors have laid down their weapons. By stopping the treatment, the pain in my spine has increased and I can barely turn over. I feel so small and the journey is so laborious . . . I often feel suffocated by pain. But it is the Bridegroom who comes to meet me isn't it? Yes, I repeat with you: 'If you want it, I want it too' . . . With you I am certain that together with him we will conquer the world!"
Chiara Lubich answered her: "Do not be afraid, Chiara, to say your 'yes' to him moment by moment. He will give you the strength, you may be sure! I am praying for this too and I am always there with you. God loves you immensely and wants to penetrate to the depths of your soul and make you experience drops of heaven. "Chiara Luce" [Clear Light] is the name I have thought of for you. Do you like it? It is the light of the Ideal that conquers the world. I send it to you with all my affection . . .".
As her illness became worse, it would have been necessary to increase her does of morphine but Chiara Luce refused: "It takes away my lucidity and I can offer Jesus only pain".
Chiara Luce departed for Heaven on 7 October 1990. She had thought of everything: the hymns for her funeral, the flowers, even to her hairstyle, and she wanted her dress to be white, like a bride's.
She made one recommendation: "Mom, while you are preparing me you must say over and over again: 'Now Chiara Luce is seeing Jesus. Be happy because I am'".
Her father asked her if it would be possible to donate her corneas. She replied with the brightest of smiles.
Immediately after Chiara Luce's departure for Heaven, Chiara Lubich's telegram arrived for her parents: "Let us thank God for his luminous masterpiece".
This item 8608 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org