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3/3/2008 - RMG - GC26: Greeting from Cardinal Rodé to the members of the 26th General Chapter
(ANS – Rome) – Cardinal Franc Rodé, CM, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, was present this morning at the official opening of the Salesian General Chapter.

The Cardinal began by thanking the Salesians for the contribution they make to the Church in various parts of the world, and the Rector Major in particular for his commitment to the Salesian Family and Consecrated Life.

“The Christian faith is exposed to all the questions and debates about God, about his entering into history in the person of Jesus, about the nature of man and the meaning of life and of death.” The response to this situation, which does not exclude the Church and consecrated life, is to be found in a return to its origins, to the centrality of Christ and to the spirit of the Founders.

Recalling the themes of recent General Chapters, Cardinal Rodé invites Salesians to “return to Don Bosco and start afresh from Don Bosco so as to re-awaken the heart”. This was a profound choice of spirituality which is “life according to the Spirit and its being firmly rooted in everyday life, with its struggles and its tensions, its efforts and its difficulties, in this way reflecting the nature of all spiritual journeys – personal and ecclesial – rich in life and mystery.”

The image of the “acrobat from the Becchi”, which characterises the childhood of Don Bosco, is for Cardinal Rodé, “a very real, conscious and willing consecration, a mission  for the holistic salvation of youth”. With frequent references to the letter of John Paul II, “Iuvenum Patris”, the Cardinal recalls that Don Bosco’s educational method is held together by holiness, proposed to each young person. “There is an urgent need to recover the true features of holiness – for each Salesian, for each young person who approaches you – to continue to be, as was Don Bosco, holy teachers of holy young people, masters of youth spirituality – to carry out the plan of life that your Founder left you: to be in the Church signs and bearers of the love of God for young people especially those who are poor.”

To achieve these objectives, Cardinal Rodé invites Salesians, as consecrated men, “to constantly reinforce the links of their covenant with God.”

The lament of Bartholomew Garelli, the first boy in the Oratory founded by Don Bosco – “I am sixteen years old... and I know nothing” – is once more real and expressed in a different way by the youth of today. Bringing together the mission and the vocation of the Salesian, he affirms “Today, more than in the past, we are in need of a prophetic outlook on these new times, so complicated and difficult, and above all of the daring of the saints, with a large and generous heart.” “It is necessary to be able to speak the truth, without being afraid to, even when it is inconvenient - as the Holy Father does constantly” said Cardinal Rodé. “The ministry that you carry out places you first of all in the position of transmitting the faith. This, we all know, is not primarily a question of abstract subject matter, but of a way of life that flows from the decision to place oneself at the sequela of Christ and to accept his word as a promise and as personal fulfilment.”

Thinking of the loneliness experienced by many young people today the Cardinal launched an appeal “If we want to do something for the young, it is necessary above all to be people with large hearts, because as Don Bosco once again said, education is a matter of the heart.” To achieve this objective it is important, for Cardinal Rodé, to return to personal encounter with young people and guiding them, putting into practice Don Bosco’s expression “it is not enough to love...”.

Concluding his address, the Cardinal recalled the three ‘loves’ which Don Bosco passed on to his sons: Jesus Christ, Mary and the Pope. “May your ‘sentire cum ecclesia’ not only be the concrete task in the life of each  Salesian and of the Superiors of the Society, but also witness to the ecclesial dimension of your faith and your commitment in educating the young people in the same way.”

Published 3/3/2008

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