My Dear Salesian Confreres,
Brothers and Sisters of the Salesian Family,
My Dear Young People,
I want to send all of you a special message today when we recall the 150th anniversary of the death of Dominic Savio. For all of us he represents one of the most beautiful fruits of Salesian Spirituality. It is with great joy therefore that we want to remember him and pray to him on this special occasion.
We are still full of gratitude for what the Lord enabled us to experience in 2004, when we celebrated the 50th anniversary of his Canonisation. The pilgrimage of his relics around Italy, Spain and Lebanon was an opportunity for deep reflection: on the call to holiness, on the richness of Salesian Spirituality, on the importance of an education that aims at the all-round development of our young people.
Today we renew our thanks to the Lord in prayer as we contemplate how much the Lord wished to accomplish in the short life of this great young saint and in our commitment to being educators according to the heart of Don Bosco, and therefore of being able to accompany our young people on their journey of life and of holiness.
I am therefore writing to you Dear Salesians:
We are on the threshold of a new General Chapter, in which we want to concentrate on renewing within ourselves Don Bosco’s spiritual programme: Da mihi animas cetera tolle. These are words to which we want to give new life and to make our own, and that show us the urgent need there is to hand ourselves over totally to the Lord and to the mission he has entrusted to us. Offering Him all our efforts, investing all our resources, giving free rein to creativity, like Don Bosco we will be men capable of giving life, above all “the life of God.” It is that fullness of life that will enable our young people not only to develop all their human talents in harmony, but also to commit themselves openly and joyfully to living to the full the gospel values that throw light on every human experience and give it importance.
Guided by Don Bosco, Dominic became a saint by cultivating a strong friendship with Jesus and Mary, seeing in fidelity to his everyday duties a response to God’s will, being at the service of his companions with a great spirit of dedication and with a love that was able to bring joy and a readiness to do good.
For us, my dear confreres, this day is like a new “vocational call.” To be for the young what Don Bosco was for Dominic Savio: guides capable of leading them to the utmost heights, towards the fullness of life, towards joy and holiness.
I am writing to you Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Salesian Family, consecrated and laity:
The great heritage that we all share is Don Bosco. He is the “foundation” of our Salesian Charism. From him there came «a vast movement of persons who in different ways work for the salvation of the young » (SDB Const. art. 5). The apostolic approach that unifies our mission is the commitment to education.
Today the challenge presented by education is becoming more difficult and more demanding, Faced with the continuing presence of situations of serious disadvantage and poverty in developing countries; in the face of terrible social conditions for great masses of children and young peoples who are living abandoned on the fringes of the rich metropolises; confronted by the spiritual poverty of millions of young people who in spite of a climate of material well-being, from the spiritual and moral point of view are living confused lives, we cannot remain indifferent. “As he landed he saw a great throng and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd…” (Mk 6, 34). We look at these young people with the eyes of Jesus and with the eyes of Don Bosco and we hear their cry for help. We are called to work with great commitment in the field of education. We are called “to work together,” to rediscover, with a spirit that is up-to-date and full of vitality, the great “means of education” that Don Bosco has given to all of us, the “Preventive System.” They are simple things, the essentials that Don Bosco lived in his own life and enabled him to form a generation of Saints among his boys.
My dear friends, may the memory of Dominic Savio renew in you the commitment to be educators who work “together” in a shared apostolic project. «In the face of the old and the new needs of the young, always be ready to respond without hesitation or uncertainty. Put before them a plan of life such as Don Bosco did with Dominic Savio. Help the young people to accept life as a gift and to live it with true freedom and joy. Tell them that what will give them strength and guarantee their growth is friendship with Jesus, and having experience of God. And, finally, teach them to open themselves to responsibility, to service, to solidarity, to charity».
I am writing to you my dear Young People:
You have always been Don Bosco’s great passion. He spent himself to his last breath for you. Today, more than ever, you are in my heart and you are “the reason to live” for those who have chosen to commit themselves to the Salesian mission. I am writing to you because I know “your hunger” for genuine life projects. I am writing to you because I know “your thirst” for deep joy. On this day when we remember the 150th anniversary of the death of Dominic Savio I invite you to look to this young person who in his way of life can be a real model for each one of you.. May he teach you his secrets.
The first is that of being open to great ideals. Above all, let yourselves be taken up by a great desire for a Christian life of the highest quality. This means having very clearly in your plan of life the aim and the real desire to become “saints”. This was Dominic Savio’s great desire; may it also be a desire that is cultivated in the heart of each one of you..
The second secret that Dominic teaches us is that our Christian life needs to be constantly “healed and renewed” by the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to become strong by being nourished by “the Bread of Life” in the Eucharist. In spite of all the difficulties, we can be strong by living a real relationship of friendship with Our Lord Jesus, through the sacraments. In this journey of the Christian life, Mary, as the Immaculate Conception is by our side to show us the beauty of what is good, just, pure, loveable, worthy of praise, and as the Help of Christians supports us and protects us in the difficulties along the way.
The third secret is that of giving our life for others starting left now. Really being those who “fight the good fight” committed to service, those who bring hope and joy. Ready for anything so that good may increase and evil be fought, just like Dominic Savio. Are you are ready for all this? I am sure you are, but on one condition: that you know how to chose a guide to accompany you on your way. My dear friends, chose “your own Don Bosco”! this is what Dominic did, and his life bore those abundant fruits that we all know about. On my part, as the Successor of Don Bosco, I am close to you, I encourage you, and every day I remember you in my prayers.
I conclude, inviting all of you, my dear friends, once again to be grateful to the Lord, who in Dominic Savio has given us a splendid example of how holiness is a universal vocation, a path that is possible for the young, a gift to be cultivated and helped to mature through the accompaniment of people who are deeply spiritual, permeated with the educative passion of our Dear Father, Don Bosco.
To all of you on this day of Grace, my affection and my prayers.
Asunción - Paraguay, 9 March 2007
Fr Pascual Chavez V.