Council Resources

Interview on vocational fidelity



to the General Councilor for formation
about the Orientations appeared on ACG 410


1. In the last six years the Congregation has reflected particularly on vocational fragility; now she is invited to deepen the theme of vocational fidelity. Is there a connection between vocational fragility and vocational fidelity?

Fragility and loyalty are two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, the overcoming of fragility aims at strengthening the vocational option, deepening in the first years of formation the meaning and motivations of the vocation. On the other hand, fidelity presupposes vocational maturation, which keeps the awareness of God's interventions alive in one's personal history and supports the daily commitment of the generous and creative response to the call of God. In this way the foundations are laid for living fully the own vocation.


2. Let's talk about fragility first. Has the experience of these past years helped the Provinces to better understand this reality and therefore to work towards overcoming it?

Vocational fragility is still a current and open question; it requires to be continuously monitored and addressed. Today, however, we have acquired a new awareness and a deeper understanding of what it means; this helps to better face its challenges and identify the most suitable solutions to overcome it. We also realized that fragility has three different and complementary faces, which require specific answers.


3. What are these three faces of fragility?

First of all, psychological fragility exists. Today's young people are generally open, available and generous; have more attention to relational aspects and less to institutional ones; they seek sincere and authentic relationships. At the same time they show uncertain identities; sometimes they present a self-referential and narcissistic view of life; they have an acute sense of individual freedom; they tend to act according to their emotions; they are attracted by great ideals, but they favor the satisfaction of their own needs, especially the emotional ones; they are afraid to commit themselves in the long term. This condition is called psychological fragility; it characterizes, even if to a different extent, the youth of the whole world. Therefore being "these" are the young people whom God calls to Salesian consecrated life, with their strengths and their weaknesses,
There is also vocational fragility. It is found from the first steps of the formative experience. Often it happens that we begin the formative journey without having operated a true vocational option; often discernment remains open for any choice for a long time and no process of identification and vocational maturation is started. Sometimes insufficient attention is given to conscious and unconscious vocational motivations, nor to their purification and strengthening. Sometimes the criteria of vocational discernment are not known or applied appropriately. At other times, attention to human formation and to the faith life of the candidates is insufficient; it also happens that they are not helped to understand from the beginning the meaning of the Salesian consecrated vocation as a call from God and not primarily as one's own choice.
Finally, we note the formative fragility. It is found when the formation paths are weak, when the formation teams are inconsistent and poorly prepared, when the training methodology is inadequate. Sometimes it happens that the formative process is reduced mainly to the intellectual aspect and does not give sufficient importance to work in the depths of the forming; in this case we do not come to the personalization of formation: the person then does not take responsibility for his own formation, he is not very available to a true personal accompaniment, above all spiritual, he tends to live the formative process as conformation to the environment and not as a configuration to the Lord Jesus and his lifestyle. When there is formative fragility, neither psychological nor vocational fragility can be overcome;


4. Let's talk now about vocational fidelity. Why did we feel the need to offer reflections and guidelines on fidelity?

I believe there are two fundamental reasons. First of all, these guidelines intend to help each confrere to live fully and joyfully the vocation to Salesian consecrated life, with the awareness that it is certainly a gift that God gives him for his salvation, holiness and personal joy, but that is above all a a gift that God gives him for the good of the young and of the Church. This means that the vocation to Salesian consecrated life must be lived by him in such a way as to bear witness to Christ, to the Church and to the Gospel. Secondly, these reflections are intended to encourage and support the confreres in being faithful to the commitments taken in the religious profession and the priestly ordination. It is known that today, in any state of life, it is not easy to live fidelity; are the strong socio-cultural changes taking place, but also the weaknesses of the life of faith and of the proposal of consecrated life that put fidelity at risk. These reflections aim to strengthen the conviction that with the grace of God it is possible to be faithful even today and to offer suggestions for living fidelity with joy.


5. To whom are these guidelines addressed?

These orientations are addressed above all to every Salesian who has taken on the commitment of the religious profession, temporary or perpetual, and for someone also of the presbyteral ordination. Training, initial or permanent, must lay the foundations and must be helpful for their loyalty. Everyone must feel responsible, individually and as a community, not only for their own loyalty, but also for the fidelity of others. These guidelines also concern formators and formation communities , as their work greatly influences vocational identification and a faithful response. Finally, they are addressed to the Provincial with his council, to the Provincial Formation Commission, to the Directors of the Province, because the creative and joyful fidelity of its members depends on its "culture", mentality and lifestyle and on the impact of its work of animation and government.


6. What is the fundamental message that we intend to communicate to all the confreres?

The fundamental message to be communicated to the confreres is that the vocation to Salesian consecrated life is not first of all a choice of life, but it is God's plan for each one for a love of predilection. If it were primarily one's own choice, the vocation could change when it was no longer to one's liking. Instead being the vocation a project of God, and moreover, becoming God in the religious profession the partner of the life of everyone, it is not a question of asking ourselves how much our strength remains but how long His lasts, and His lasts forever. It is up to everyone then to collaborate with the grace of God, which will always be sufficient and will never fail, trying to live faithfulness day after day. For this reason it will be necessary to place a solid theology of vocation at the center of fidelity,


7. In this six-year period, attention to religious discipline has been particularly accentuated. Is there a connection between religious discipline and vocational fidelity?

We all have the daily experience that fidelity can be preserved and lived only with a constant struggle against our own weaknesses and with an ongoing commitment, sometimes heroic, against temptations and failures. Fidelity requires spiritual combat; this combat is precisely the religious discipline, or the constant asceticism to be authentic disciples of Jesus. We could say that vocational fidelity is the mysticism of vocation, while religious discipline is its asceticism. Also in this case mysticism and asceticism must always be cultivated together. In fact, religious discipline is intrinsically linked to vocational fidelity,


8. How will the preparation and celebration of the bicentenary of Don Bosco's birth favor the rediscovery of our charismatic identity and therefore of our vocational fidelity?

The closer we get and we are united to Don Bosco the founder, knowing him, esteeming him, loving him, imitating him and invoking him, the better we deepen, appreciate and feel gratitude for the gift of the Salesian consecrated vocation, which we see realized in him. All these elements - knowledge, esteem, appreciation, love, gratitude - are powerful factors that drive loyalty. Each of our efforts to learn about history, pedagogy, the spirituality of Don Bosco and to take up his mission with and for young people leads us to identify more and more with him and to live our vocation with dedication, generosity and enthusiasm.