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3/3/2008 - RMG - CG26: Don Bosco
(ANS – Roma) - “The charism of Don Bosco is a gift of the Spirit for all the People of God, but only by docile listening and openness to the action of God is it possible to interpret it and in these times of ours, to make it relevant and fruitful.” This is what the Holy Father Benedict XVI asks from the Salesians in the message he sent to the Rector Major, Don Pascual Chávez, on the occasion of the solemn opening of the General Chapter 26. It was read in the assembly hall by Cardinal Raffaele Farina, Librarian and Archivist of the Holy Roman Church.

“The Sons of Don Bosco belong to the large host of those disciples Christ has consecrated to himself by his Spirit through a special act of love”, affirms the Pontiff, reminding us that the consecrated person is called to become, as did Christ, a sign of contradiction, a witness to an alternative style of life, alert to the possibility of secular influences.

He defines Don Bosco as “a saint with one great passion: the glory of God and the salvation of souls”. Every Salesian is called to maintain this passion, by understanding, studying, loving and imitating the saint of young people. The Pope invites Salesians to “overcome the dissipation of energy in hyperactivity and cultivate the unity of a spiritual life through the acquisition of a profound sense of the mystical dimension and a sound asceticism” to nourish apostolic commitment and guarantee pastoral effectiveness. Lectio Divina, the Eucharist, and a lifestyle which is simple and moderate will help the consecrated Salesian to strengthen the response to his vocation.

To the Salesians, who must burn with the same apostolic passion as their founder, the Pope entrusts the task of evangelisation. “The universal Church and the particular Churches of which they form part expect from them a presence characterised by apostolic drive, and by a daring evangelising zeal... May evangelisation be the main and priority frontier of their mission today. It presents many tasks, urgent challenges, vast fields of activity, but its fundamental purpose is that of  proposing that everyone should live their human life as Jesus lived it. In  multi-religious situations and in secularised ones, it is necessary to find new ways of making Jesus known, especially to the young, so that they may discover his perennial fascination... Their charism places them in the privileged position of being able to give due weight to the role of education in the field of the evangelisation of the young.”

He sent a call to the entire Congregation to “devote its attention to strengthening the proclamation of the Christian message, the presence of the Church and Don Bosco’s charism” in the western world where vocations are falling and challenges to evangelisation are rising. Benedict XVI invites Salesians to present the attractiveness of the consecrated life to young people, making explicit reference to the role of the Salesian brother.

There is special mention of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) for its “original and specific” contribution in the past and the role of formation to which it is called today. “Don Bosco’s preventive system and the Salesian educational tradition will surely lead the Congregation to propose a Christian pedagogy for today, inspired by the specific charism that is its own. Education is one of the key issues in the anthropological question of today, to the solution of which the Salesian Pontifical University, I am sure, will not fail to make a very valuable contribution.”

In conclusion, the Pope turns directly to Don Chávez: “Dear Rector Major, the task facing the Salesian Congregation is one that is difficult but exciting. Each member of your large religious Family in fact is called to make Don Bosco present among the young people of our day.” Referring to the bi-centenary of the birth of Don Bosco and the deliberations of the General Chapter, the Pope exhorts Salesian to be “ever more credible signs of the love of God  for the young so that the young may indeed be the hope of the Church and of society.”

Published 3/3/2008



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