Don Bosco

Pope Benedict XVI

Strenna 2013

I write to you on the solemnity of the Christmas of the Lord, in which we celebrate with the whole Church the great joy that has been announced to us: "today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, was born in the city of David. This is the sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger "(Lk 2: 11-12). As I extend my best wishes for a profound experience of God in Mary's child, I invite you to set out and, like the shepherds or the magi, go to Bethlehem to see "this event which the Lord has made known to us" ( Luke 2.15).
This is the best way to live this special time of grace which is the Year of Faith, because - as Benedict XVI says - at the beginning of it there is “an encounter with an event, with a Person who gives life a new horizon and thus the decisive direction”.[1]"In our days too, faith is a gift to be rediscovered, cultivated and witnessed, so that the Lord grants each of us the opportunity to experience the beauty and joy of being Christian”.[2]
[1]Benedict XVI, Enc. Letter Deus caritas est, December 25, 2005, n. 1.
[2]Benedict XVI, Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 10 January 2010.
I must say that reflection on the new evangelization already has a history. Although the expression as such was coined by John Paul II, we can find references and foundations in the messages of Pius XII, in John XXIII's speech at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, in the main conciliar documents and in the doctrine of Paul VI on evangelization, and more recently in the interventions of John Paul I and Benedict XVI.

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Mother and teacher of Don Bosco

Evidently this does not exclude the human response: on the contrary, it makes it possible and indeed "requires" it, as Pope Benedict XVI stressed very well: "The Almighty awaits the 'yes' of his creatures as a young bridegroom that of his bride (...) On the Cross it is God himself who begs the love of his creature: He thirsts for the love of each of us ".12 This we can apply, very firstly, to Mary. In this regard it is interesting to observe a specialist theologian, Alois Muller: "From the historical point of view, we did not speak at first, to tell the truth, of the immaculate conception of Mary, but of the absence of sin in her life"13 : this means that the Church has always seen in the "full of grace", not only the free gift of God, but also the response of full and total love of Mary.
12 Benedict XVI, "They will look upon Him whom they have pierced". Message for Lent 2007.
Benedict XVI writes in his Encyclical on hope, going to Mary:
«When then the public activity of Jesus began, you had to stand aside, so that the new family could grow, for whose constitution He had come and that should have developed with the contribution of those who would have listened to and kept his word ( cf Lk 11,27s) (...) Thus you saw the growing power of hostility and rejection which progressively asserted itself around Jesus until the hour of the cross, when you had to see the Savior of the world, the heir of David, the Son of God dying like a failure, exposed to scorn, among the delinquents (...) The sword of pain pierced your heart. Was the hope dead? (...) In this faith, which even in the darkness of Holy Saturday was certainty of hope, you went to Easter morning (...) Thus you remain among the disciples as their Mother, as the Mother of hope. Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, hope and love with You».25
25 Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, Rome, 30 November 2007, n.50


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3.1   Evangelical radicality of consecrated life

Observing the current situation of the Church, and in it of our Congregation, we cannot ignore that the call to "evangelical radicality" constitutes an urgent need and a very topical issue, starting from the practice of the evangelical counsels. For example, with regard to consecrated chastity, the problems of pedophilia and sexual abuse have arisen in recent years, causing great scandal;[20] they, as Benedict XVI himself wrote, "have obscured the light of the Gospel to such a point that even centuries of persecution had not arrived",[21] although it is worth remembering that the problem is not today.
However, it is not only the aspect of chastity consecrated to be problematic; very often, in fact, the difficulties in this field are the consequence and expression of other negative situations relating to the evangelical counsels of poverty and obedience. In particular, the practice of poverty, which is one of the central points of the GC26 (cf. nos. 79-97), has become more urgent, following the worldwide financial and economic collapse. As religious we cannot reduce poverty to a more supervised correctness in the management of resources, which is also a duty; poverty in fact invests the way of understanding and living a fundamental evangelical value for our consecration. The Holy Father Benedict XVI himself, in this regard, has very strong and illuminating expressions on the moral root of the current economic crisis.
In one of my first letters, "You are my God, outside of You I have no other good",[22] I wanted to do a thorough analysis of the current situation, caused by a "liberal model" of consecrated life, which particularly affects obedience. I am convinced that one of the points indicated there can be recognized as one of the roots of the current problem; it is individualism, which sometimes hides behind the right to "privacy", a reality that often, to paraphrase the biblical text, "covers a multitude of sins". All this is inextricably linked to difficulties in obedience; In fact, I also recognized this link in the aforementioned letter: "Thus a great deal of individualism was introduced, which makes obedience almost impossible.".[23]
[21]   BENEDICT XVI, Apostolic Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, Rome 19 March 2010, n. 4.

Researchers of God (Const 85-95)
Speaking to the participants in the Assembly of the USG (Union of Superiors General) and of the UISG (International Union of Superiors General), in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, on November 26, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI told us: "Your last two Assemblies are dedicated to considering the future of consecrated life in Europe. This has meant rethinking the very meaning of your vocation, which entails, first of all, seeking God, quaerere Deum: you are by vocation seekers of God. To this search, consecrate the best energies of your life. You go from secondary to essential things, to what is really important; look for the definitive, seek God, keep your eyes turned to Him. Like the first monks, cultivate an eschatological orientation: behind the provisional look for what remains, what does not pass (cf. Address in the Collège des Bernardins, Paris, 12 December 2008 ). Seek God in the confreres who gave you, with whom you share the same life and mission. You seek it in the men and women of our time, to whom you are sent to offer them, with life and word, the gift of the Gospel. You seek it especially in the poor, the first recipients of the Good News (cf. Lk 4:18). You seek it in the Church, where the Lord makes himself present, above all in the Eucharist and in the other Sacraments, and in his Word, which is the master way for the search for God, he introduces us into conversation with him and reveals his true face to us. Be always passionate seekers and witnesses of God! ».


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The term "digital continent" is a happy intuition of Pope Benedict XVI, expressed in his Message for the World Day of Social Communications of 2009, in a context that called on young people to evangelize their companions.The Church has meaning only as a sign and instrument to communicate this "missionary" love of the Triune God; in fact, "all the activities of the Church are pervaded by divine" love, which is "the source of the Church's mission".[2] Ed è a questa missione che, per vocazione, noi siamo associati, essendo “nella Chiesa segni e portatori dell’amore di Dio ai giovani, specialmente i più poveri” (Cost 2).
[2]Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the participants in the X Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Rome, 7 June 2008.
Through our apostolic presences, and first of all within our increasingly multicultural religious communities, we are called to live and witness a communion in which "mutual attention helps to overcome loneliness, communication pushes everyone to feel jointly responsible , forgiveness heals wounds ... In communities of this type, the nature of the charism mobilizes energies, supports fidelity and directs the apostolic work of all towards the one mission. To present its true face to humanity today, the Church urgently needs similar fraternal communities, which with their very existence constitute a contribution to the new evangelization, since they show in a concrete way the fruits of the "new commandment”.[7]
[7]VC 45. Cf. Benedict XVI, Homily in the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (June 23, 2011).
Living as brothers between us and as workers of peace and solidarity with all, we promote the unity of the human family and the transformation of the world according to the heart of God; "From faith lived with courage, still today as in the past, [that] fruitful culture made of love for life"[8] ,which distinguishes the Salesian charism.
[8] Benedict XVI, Speech at the Assembly of the Second Congress of Aquileia (7 May 2011), Il Regno. Documents 56 (2011) pp. 322-323.
The Church has been committed for some time to "build bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the authentic good of every person and of society as a whole".[10]
[10]   Benedict XVI, Address to the Representatives of Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Non-Christian Religions, Rome, 25 April 2005 ..
For us, dialogue, rather than a "method" for carrying out the Salesian mission, is the "way" to carry it out. And if there is a "dialogue of action" that spurs us to seek concrete forms of loyal collaboration, "while we apply our religious [and charismatic] intuitions to the task of promoting integral human development, working for peace, justice and the safeguarding of creation ", we should above all focus, as educators, on the" dialogue of life "which simply implies" living side by side and learning from one another, in a way of growing in mutual understanding and mutual respect ".[15]  
[15] Benedict XVI, Address to institutional and lay representatives of other religions, London, 17 September 2010.
The center is still God, of course, and Christ is the guide, but "... the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies presupposes their deep knowledge for a consequent adequate use".[25]
[25] Benedict XVI, Message for the LXIII World Communications Day (24.01.2009).
The option of "sticking to the mass of the people with the education of poor youth"[43]it was not only a guessed, because effective, method of evangelization[44]but it was and is the strategic choice that defines the missionary dimension of the Salesian charism[45] "Without education, in fact, there is no lasting and profound evangelization, there is no growth and maturation, no change of mentality and culture is given".[46]
[46]Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Fr Pascual Chávez, Rector Major SA on the occasion of the XXVI General Chapter, in "Da mihi animas, cetera tolle". Chapter documents. CG26, Editrice S.D.B., Rome 2008, p. 91.

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To mature the recognition of Jesus, as the Risen Lord and as the supreme sense of his own existence. Vocational motivations must be founded on gratitude to the initiative of God who loved us first. As Pope Benedict XVI explained to the youth of Rome and Lazio: «The Lord is always present and looks at each of us with love. Only we have to find this look and meet with him. How to do? I would say that the first point to meet with Jesus, to experience his love is to know him ... To know a person, first of all the great person of Jesus, God and man, we need reason, but at the same time also the heart. Only with the opening of the heart to him, only with the knowledge of the whole of what he has said and of what he has done, with our love, with our going towards him, we can gradually know him more and more and so also to have the experience of being loved ... In a real conversation, we can find more and more this path of knowledge, which becomes love. Of course not only thinking, not just praying, but also doing is a part of the journey towards Jesus: doing good things, committing oneself to others ".21
21 BENEDICT XVI, Meeting with the youth of Rome and Lazio in preparation for the World Youth Day, March 25th 2010.

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I feel in complete harmony with Pope Benedict, and I am so grateful to him,24   for having affirmed that, even if in the midst of this storm we are living under the attacks of the world that speak to us of our sins, the vicissitudes of pedophilia and the sufferings connected with it “come precisely from within the Church, from the sin that exists in the Church”25same. "There has never been a lack of proof for Christians, which in some periods and places have assumed the character of real persecutions. These, however, despite the sufferings they cause, do not constitute the most serious danger for the Church. The greatest damage, in fact, it suffers from what pollutes the faith and the Christian life of its members and its communities, affecting the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening its capacity to witness, tarnishing the beauty of its face ".26
In fact, "the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from enemies outside, but arises from sin in the Church; [...] the Church therefore has a profound need to re-learn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice. Forgiveness does not replace justice ".27"The real enemy to fear and to fight", therefore, "is sin, the spiritual evil, which sometimes, unfortunately, also infects the members of the Church [...] We Christians are not afraid of the world, even if we must beware of his seductions. We must instead fear sin and for this reason be strongly rooted in God, united in goodness, in love, in service [...] Together we continue this journey with confidence, and the trials that the Lord allows us, push us to greater radicality and consistency "28
24 Cf. CHÁVEZ, Letter of the Rector Major and of the Salesian Bishops to the Holy Father Benedict XVI, Turin, May 23, 2010. To this letter the Holy Father responded with a letter to the Rector Major on June 14, 2010, in which this is expresses: «This thoughtful thought of solidarity, manifested in a delicate situation also for the whole Church, has aroused in my heart profound gratitude, also because it is a sign of that intense communion and of that ardent affection that the spiritual children of St. John Bosco they have always nurtured towards the Successor of Peter. Therefore, I wish to reciprocate the courteous attestation, which I greatly appreciated, with the assurance of my constant remembrance in prayer, with which I willingly accompany the praiseworthy resolutions of spiritual renewal and ever more convinced adherence to the Gospel manifested, on behalf of the entire Institute, from you and from those who took part in the significant meeting ". 
25BENEDICT XVI, To journalists on the flight from Rome to Lisbon, 11 May 2010.
26BENEDICT XVI, Homily at the Mass for Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 2010, in L'Osservatore Romano (June 30-July 1, 2010) p. 8.
27BENEDICT XVI, To journalists on the flight from Rome to Lisbon, 11 May 2010.
28BENEDICT XVI, Regina Coeli, 16 May 2010.