RM Resources




ACG 337
Rome, Solemnity of Pentecost
19 May 1991

My dear Confreres,

Introduction: the newly emerging scene in the field of education. Urgent need of new education. The challenge of the young. Distinction between educationand evangelizationas such. Should education come before evangelization? Don Bosco's choice of a field of work, and his practical example. Educating by evangelizing. Looking again at the Preventive System: - creativity of the artist; - in solidarity with the young; - with eyes trained on the New Man; - for a work of anticipation; - seeing reasonand religionin the same light; - with inventive attention given to free time; - towards the reality of life. Self-sanctification through educating. Prompted by Mary in her role as Mother of the Church.

My dear confreres,

During my visits to various provinces in recent months I have been able to see for myself the efforts that are being made to give practical effect to the deliberations and guidelines of the General Chapter. It is a question of putting into practice the riches the Congregation has amassed in the period that has followed Vatican II.

For us this forms part of that new evangelizationthat is demanded at the present day, and to which we are insistently urged by the Pope, the Bishops and the GC23.

Young people themselves are asking in different ways to be enlightened and followed in the intricate course of their existence. Parents and many of those bearing responsibility at a civil or ecclesial level are turning to members of Don Bosco's Family as experts in education.

In addition a number of confreres have recently asked me to put forward some reflections on the practical manner in which we carry out our educative mission.

Today one sees education as taking on almost emergency proportions in both civil society and in the Church; and on the other hand one hears objections advanced which call for a fitting response.

In a long conversation I had at Havana with a minister of the Castro government, I was struck by something he said about the youth of the revolution: immorality and lack of mystique among youth are among the greatest concerns of the current regime.

In another context at Prague, in a meeting with the deputy prime minister of the present government I heard the ecclesial situation summed up in these terms: the Church has been compelled to live in a ghetto for the past 40 years, and now if she fails to come out into the open she will have no influence on young people who are no longer linked to a parish or other ecclesial institutions, who are totally ignorant of the Gospel, or who have been led astray by an atheistic ideology and have grown up with a mentality lacking any personal ethic.

In nearly every society education is no longer considered an activity leading to the formation of christians; its cultural environment is secularist in nature, or based on ancient religions.

The Church through Vatican II has taken note of the closing, if that is the right word, of an era of 'christianity' to be followed by a new kind of relationship with the world; and so she speaks of new evangelization and pastoral rethinking. And all this touches deeply the field of education.

If in particular we look at the numerous followers of other religions, we find pedagogical models of various kinds, permeated by concrete religious aspects with specific positive values, but having in common (and the fact is of significance for us) an anthropology that precinds altogether from the mystery of Christ and, in consequence, from an overall vision of man and from a complex of practical and mysteriously efficacious mediations that contribute to the full maturing of the individual.

The fundamental objection stemming from these varied and complex situations is that the education of the young, so fundamental and indispensable in every society, is not only no longer linked in practice with evangelization but is in fact deliberately separated from because it is considered a cultural sector with an autonomous field of development.

This emerging fact in the area of education is to be linked especially with the central position of man in the cosmos and in history: a massive anthropological turning-point.The reference is to man in himself, as a subject open to a thousand and one possibilities. It is one of the expressions associated with that great sign of the times that goes by the name of the personalization process.

And so a previously unobserved problem arises which directly affects and calls into question the significance and methodology of our educational activity. The GC23 wants us to be able to take up the values put forward by the signs of the times, discerning them in the light of faith. Hence as we come to grips with the present anthropological turnabout we must clearly avoid falling into a narrow anthropocentricism which characterizes it from a cultural standpoint.

In the reflections that follow, it is not our purposepose to tackle all the vast aspects of the present educational panorama after its development by the human sciences. Nor is it possible to examine the multiple demands of particular concrete situations and cultural differences. Our interest at this point is to reflect on the mutual relationship between our educational and evangelizing activities. The enlightenment we derive from so doing will call for further efforts on our part at study and discernment. There will in fact be one manner of application in secularized societies; another among peoples engaged in the exhausting process of liberation; and still another in cultures associated with the great religions of the east, etc.

Reflection on the mutual relationship between human development and christian growth we must consider as fundamental and indispensable in every situation. From its correct interpretation depends the proper and efficacious application of the Constitutions themselves (articles 31 to 43).

And therefore: an anthropological turning-point, yes; but with Christ, the New Man, at the vertex.

Urgent need of new education

In his letter Iuvenum patrisJohn Paul II had already said that St John Bosco is not something of the past...; he teaches us to integrate the permanent values of tradition with 'new solutions', so as to meet in a creative fashion the newly emerging requests and problems: he continues to be our teacher in the present difficult times, and suggests a 'new education' which is at once both creative and faithful. [1]
And in his address to the General Chapter (1 May 1990) he exhorted Us in the same sense: You have chosen well: the education of the young is one of the key issues of the new evangelization. [2]
The GC23 rightly recalled that individuals and society become transformed by a newly emerging culture, [3] and this necessarily implies a new education: education, in fact, is the fundamental sector of every culture. For this reason I remarked in the closing address to the Chapter that the formation of youth to the faithpresents so many particular aspects at the present day that it requires a new education. [4]

We are living through a period of epoch-making changes and we are asked, as Christ's disciples, to leaven the present culture with a living faith. This is something that requires careful discernment, and the ability to grasp in depth the problems raised by the current changes.

Let us look briefly at the main aspects emerging from the signs of the times: secularization and progress in the fields of science and technology; democratization and the development of a social sense; liberation and the pursuit of justice; personalization and awareness of the dignity of every human being; the advancement of women and woman's role in society; leadership and shared responsibility in an ever more complex world; the hierarchy of values and differing standards of evaluation; education to civic duties and the formative effect of parallel and discordant factors; and the circulation of new fertile and productive themes, like peace, ecology, solidarity, human rights, etc. All these form a vast and growing panorama rich in positive values (and indeed of negative ones as well), that have a profound influence on ways of thinking and acting and which shape the way of life of individuals, families and social institutions.

At first sight it would seem, unfortunately, that the negative values have the greater effect. The sophisticated communications system, with its emphasis on the pleasant and ephemeral rather than on what is true and important, risks stimulating the cult of what appears on the surface, to the neglect of what lies deeper and of true ideals. There is a danger (and it is by no means imaginary) that in the heads and hearts of individuals, especially the younger ones, there will be an ever more powerful injection of materialistic and hedonistic ideas through the many hidden messages instilled by the mass-media. The psychological rhythm of the passageoftime emphasizes the present in contrast to the past, if indeed the past is remembered at all, and looks forward with impatient haste to the future. There is an urgency about what lies ahead, and it is fast approaching. We need to be aware of this state of affairs.

The emergence of the new scene in education brings with it at least two innovations which have an effect on our commitment. On the one side there are the positive values of the signs of the times. They represent a true growth in humanity; they assert man's central position, emphasizing his subjective nature (self-awareness, freedom, ability to act). From this point of view the young person plays the leading role in his maturing process in so far as he is a free and conscious individual, and therefore able not only to receive and assimilate but also to create and modify, forming in this way his personal convictions and beliefs.

But on the other hand this anthropological turning-point is thought of arid presented at the present day as a reality that has Christ, because man would have in himself, prescinding altogether from the mystery of the Word Incarnate, all the reasons for his own dignity and all that is needed to give sense to history.

These two new factors (positive values and prescinding from Christ) which at the present day have a powerful incidence in the field of education, are a direct challenge to us and call for a new education.

Now our mission as evangelizers is carried out through the work of education: if we do not evangelize by educating we run the risk of losing our identity. It is urgently necessary that we be experts in the knowledge of new cultural values so as to promote them by wisely overcoming the tragic dissension between the Gospel and culture, and so establish a broad and solid bridge between education and pastoral work. The Pope's insistence on a new evangelization means for us that we must get down to deepening our understanding of the present anthropological turnabout: we must take up the values of growth in humanity of the personalization process, in the light of the central position of man which is true and integral only in objective relationship to the historical event of Christ. [5]

This is the sense in which we speak of a new education. Without it we cannot take part effectively in the new evangelization.

The challenge of the young

The GC23 has given a synthetic presentation the situation of young people at the present day, [6] their attitudes as regards the faith, [7] and the more urgent challenges they put to us. [8]

But there is one challenge,says the Chapter, that is a synthesis of all the others and permeates them all: the challenge of 'life'. [9]

Such an all-embracing challenge concerns not only this or that aspect of existence, since these are the deep foundation of personal and community living which are either disregarded or mutilated and impoverished; they are the basic formative values that are either forgotten or misrepresented. The challenge of life demands a clear seeking of sense and identity for a new understanding of the very foundations of human existence and activity.

The Chapter concentrated its attention on three important objectives: the formation of the individual conscience, right up to the highest point of its religious dimension; [10] the authenticity of love as the supreme human expression of interpersonal relationships; [11] and the social dimension of the individual for a culture of solidarity. [12] In other words, the Chapter is asking us to foster the process of personalization, and consider the young people as true agents in their own formation.

And so it is crystal clear that the new educationcannot be reduced to a simple method of instruction or indoctrination, or the imparting of erudition, or a knowledge of science and technology; it must aim at the growth and maturing of the person in criteria of judgment, in the ethical sense of existence, in transcendent horizons, in practical models of behavior, together with a positive evaluation of the progress of science and technology for the humanizing of social life.

In today's culture the coming of the new manis a phrase that is frequently used; and there is indeed quite a collection of cultural expressions that bear witness to this as being an idea of some originality. But if you examine closely the practical directions in which these innovations are moving, you will find that they lack any higher vision and easily lead to subjectivism. The increased rate of change, linked with the overcoming of a particular cultural model that served citizens of yesterday, makes us realize that the new creatureof the present culture truly new values which go beyond wellbeing, beyond an anthropocentric vision over concerned with efficiency, beyond the indefinite creative capacity of the freedom of the individual, to ensure the inspirational sources of a more genuine human personality. Faith makes us become aware that the changes taking place and the transcendence of the person automatically bring in Christ, in his historical condition of the one and only true New Man.

We can understand in this horizontal context the relevance of what has been frequently stated by the Holy Father: Man is the way of the Church. Her sole purpose has been the care and responsibility for man, who has been entrusted to her by Christ himself: for this human person, who, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, is the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake, and for which God has his plan, i.e. a share in eternal salvation. We are not dealing here with people in the abstract, but with the real concrete historical human beings. We are dealing with each individual, since each one is included in the mystery of Redemption, and through this mystery Christ has united himself with each one for ever. [13]

Evidently it is urgently necessary that we should involve ourselves in the anthropological turnabout with the same pastoral concern with which the Church addressed herself to man in the Second Vatican Council.

We must not start,says Cardinal Ballestrero, from the idea that man is what he is, but from the principle that he must be. This principle is of the greatest importance... I believe in man not because I know him in his history, in his daily pilgrimage, in his whims, in his daydreams, in his rebellions. When I see an individual, I say to myself: despite everything, this is a creature of God; and this instils in me a certain confidence in him... To this unalterable quality of being God's creature I must give due value at an educational level. I would say that education becomes an art, because the application of this principle is linked with respect for each one's historical identity. [14]

The challenge of lifeobliges us to identify the areas for our intervention and to look for new methods, redefining in the circumstances of the present day the great criteria of our commitment to education.

Distinction between educationand evangelizationas such Today the tendency is to present the educational situation in prevalently secularist terms.

Most of us, indeed, will have come across some confrere who is a teacher but has forgotten that he is an evangelizer as well, or on the other hand some other confrere who takes classes in catechetics, liturgy and religionbut omits the appropriate pedagogical dimensions because he knows little about educational science and techniques, and is in consequence unable to meet cultural challenges. The danger of our cultural task becoming disjoined from our pastoral commitment is a very real one for us too.

Educating and evangelizing are two activities which in themselves are different, and which can become separated one from the other. But the essential unity of the young person requires that they be not separated; nor is a simple juxtaposition sufficient, as though the normal course would be for them to take no account of each other.

It will be worth our while to spend a little time on clarifying the specific distinction between these two poles. Certainly the intention behind educational activity is different from that behind evangelizing activity; each of them has its own proper objective, methods and particular content. We must be able to distinguish them, but without separating them; we have in fact to bring them together in complementary fashion in our organic practice.

Education, in itself and regarded as educating activity, belongs to the field of culture and is part of earthly reality; it refers to the process of assimilating a collection of evolving human values with their specific aim. In this sense one can speak also of its lay or secular dimension, because of its creatural content that can be universally shared with all men of good will. We may recall in this connection our reflections in the circular on the new evangelizationconcerning the need for deepening our knowledge today about the theology of creation. [15]

Educational activity is intrinsically lawful, but must not on that account be wrongly exploited or manipulated. Its aim is the development of man, or in other words to teach young people the craft of being individuals. It is a process which takes place over a long and gradual period of growth. It is concerned not so much with the imposition of norms as with rendering freedom more responsible, with developing individual enterprise, with reference to his conscience, the authentic quality of his love, and his social dimensions. It is a true process of personalization to be brought to maturity in each individual.

Educational activity presupposes two items that must be given careful attention. The first refers precisely to its nature as a process, i.e. the lengthy period of growth which necessarily involves a well arranged gradual development. The second is that education cannot be reduced to a mere method. Educational activity is vitally linked with the evolving of the subject. It has something in common with fatherhood and motherhood, as though sharing in the process of human generation for fundamental values like conscience, truth, love, work, justice, solidarity, sharing, the dignity of life, the common good, the rights of the individual. And for this very reason it is concerned with the avoidance of whatever is degrading and deviant: the idolatries (of riches, power and sex), emargination, violence, selfishness, etc. Its aim is to bring about the growth of the young person from within, so that he will become a responsible adult and behave as an upright citizen.

Education therefore means sharing with a fatherly and maternal love in the growth of the individual concerned, while fostering collaboration with others to the same end: educational relationships presuppose, in fact, a number of different agencies working together.

Evangelization, on the other hand and in the wider meaning of the term, is directed of its nature to the passing on and fostering of the christian faith;it belongs to the order of those salvation events that flow from the presence of God in history; it aims at making them known, communicating them, and making them come alive in the liturgy and testimony. It cannot be simply identified with ethical norms because it is transcendent revelation; it stems from neither nature nor culture but from God, and Christ his anointed one.

Although transcending the sphere of earthly realities, it tends to become objectively embodied in persons and cultures. It is an activity that belongs to the order of incarnation; it depends on the active presence of the Holy Spirit; it involves something more than what is merely human; it goes back ultimately to the very mystery of the Word made man, in the awareness that in this mystery Christ is not presented as some kind of alternative, but as assuming, fostering and saving the whole of human reality. And it should be noted finally that the ultimate point of reference for evangelization is not constituted by a collection of values but by a living Person, Christ the alpha and omega of the universe.

The intention behind evangelizing activity is not simply that of religious instruction about particular christian truths; it consists precisely in the formation of the believer; i.e. of a person who lives by faith in Christ and who commits himself with Christ in the pains and sufferings of life. And so evangelizing activity includes not only proclamation, but also the giving of testimony, dedication here as elsewhere, a gradual and appropriate service which calls for educational sensitivity rooted in an anthropological perspective; hence an action which is essentially open and directed to education. In this way the Church, an expert in humanity, becomes also an expert in education, because everything in her is directed to man's growth.

&sagrave And so the two actions are distinct in themselves, but they work together on the organic unity of the person of the young individual: they are two complementary ways of being concerned about man; they stem from different sources but come together for the purpose of generating the new man; they are made for full collaboration in the unified growth of the young person.

And let us not forget a consideration which harks back still further in the process. Between education and evangelization there is of their very natures a very much deeper organic bond. The Pope drew attention to it in his famous Encyclical Redemptor hominis. This bond comes to light when the mystery of creation is considered in relationship to that of the redemption. The redemption, says the Pope, is a renewed creation. [16]

The Word did not become incarnate in a reality outside God, but in the imageof God himself projected into created man. The Word therefore did not become incarnate so as to add partially new values, but to purify, make fuller and raise up the human values of creation (mirabilius reformasti!). Christ is the second Adam, the New Man; he is more humanthan all others precisely because he is God; he is not alternative, as we have already said, but fullness: he is the Lord of history. The Council put it very clearly: In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come (Rom 5,14), Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, who in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, clearly reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling. [17]

Faith is made to live in man; and man is made to live by faith: faith and life are the binomial of the future. A faith content to remain on the margins of culture would be a faith that did not reflect the plenitude of what the Word of God manifests and reveals, a decapitated faith and, still worse, a faith in the process of self-destruction. [18]

When the GC23 spoke of educating young people to the faith, it was evidently not proposing some anthropocentric form of education. The Chapter's expression educating to the faithmeans in effect educating by evangelizing. The word educatinghere is not to be taken in isolation; its true meaning depends entirely on its relationship to the word faith. If educatingwere to be taken alone it would indicate nothing more than a commitment at cultural level; but what the Capitular expression means is a commitment at a pastoral level: hence to speak of educatingin its merely cultural connotation, and to speak of educating to the faithin the Chapter's sense, is to use the word with two quite different meanings.

To produce a lasting effect on the living reality of the individual we have to drive home the reciprocal influences of the contributions provided by education and the rich values of evangelization, as concentric factors which do not absorb each other as concepts, but which must converge in harmonious fashion in a combined pedagogical and pastoral activity aimed at the unity of the growing individual.

In the last analysis, the true final end of the new creature is one and only and on it the two concerns converge in practice: it is a matter of taking history seriously.

Should education come before evangelization?

Even if we accept the mutual relationship between education and evangelization, we may still ask whether in our commitment one or the other comes first, so that we may know where to begin our journey.

In reality the question is an artificial one; the Chapter requires the simultaneous interaction of both.

We could recall that there are some realities that antecede educational activity. In the first place there is the young person as we find him, in the integrity of his person and the total sense of his life: Imitating God's patience, we encounter the young at their present stage of freedom, say the Constitutions. [19] Then there is the contribution of the actual values corning from the emerging cultures in their existential context, which calls for a critical sense and creative intelligence.

And finally the other reality which is necessarily antecedent is the pedagogical and pastoral ability of the educator, prompted by a fervent pedagogical spirituality: and this is where the true secret is to be found of the inseparable nature of the two poles.

Accepting these premises, we must be convinced that education must be evangelically inspired from the very outset; and that evangelization from its first steps must be adapted to the stage of development of young people. Education finds its full and integral meaning and a further motive force in the Gospel message; and evangelization is totally directed towards the living man and finds its efficacy in pedagogical approaches.

And then the Gospel, which of its nature transcends all human evolution, has always become embodied in the different cultures, taking up their values, purifying them and perfecting them by broadening their horizons, and exerting an influence on their various forms of expression (art, literature, science, law, politics, economy, etc.).

There is an urgent need .at the present day to collate the advancement of man with the riches of the mystery of Christ. And so the educational methodology suggested by the Chapter appears simultaneously as a sharing in and a continuation of both the creative work of the Father and the redemptive work of the Son.

It is true that in a change so profound as that through which we are passing on the threshold of the third millennium, evangelization can no longer count (as in the past) on a social context that is religious and christian. But for this very reason it must heed the challenges of the times; it must consider with prophetic care and attention the presuppositions of man's reply to God, and have recourse to natural and cultural dispositions which reveal an opening to personal transcendence (the search for a religious sense), to social transcendence (the search for solidarity), the transcendence of the sense of existence (the search for values), and the transcendence of spirituality (the deep search, even though not always explicit, for the mystery of Christ).

Here there is an intuitive recognition of the inseparable nature, the reciprocal attraction, and the need for mutual and simultaneous interaction between the two poles.

Don Bosco's choice of a field of work, and his practical example

A fact that throws light for us on the significance of the Chapter's expression educating young people to the faithis the thought that our Founder was raised up by the Lord for the young, as the privileged people to whom his evangelizing activity was directed; this is why he chose education as his field of work. In this way he sited his apostolic mission in the area of human culture. He translated his burning pastoral charity into concrete and practical forms of educational activity, becoming the father, teacher and friendof the young.

Through his original experience he has put his own stamp on educational practice; he has imbued it with a principle of permanent vitality; he felt the need to give order and organic structure to pedagogical interventions; he worked for a concrete renewal of society beginning with a renewed and overall plan for the formation of young people of the working classes. His pedagogical method appears as a series of practical and convergent interventions at various levels: culturally, selecting between tradition and the contemporary; socially, working between civil society and convinced adherence to the Church; pedagogically, bringing together instruction, trade apprenticeship, education and evangelization; methodologically, intervening at one and the same time in the case of individuals, groups and the masses. Rigid divisions were ill suited to his living practice. What is of special interest to us at this point is to reflect on the harmonious integration and the mutual interchange between education and evangelization.

Educational praxis is an art;and it is carried out by an artist. Art and the artist are not dissociated into the distinct aspects which contribute to the work, but compenetrate in a living dynamism that produces a harmonious convergence of the contributions of the various factors to the expression of the finished product.

Education is evidently not the same thing as shaping a block of marble. It consists rather in the ability to accompany a free subject through his maturing process. The concept of artas applied to education has to be interpreted in analogical fashion, as in the spiritual and ascetical order where it is described as the art of arts.

In anatomy one distinguishes and separates; in the sciences it is in distinction that the identity and autonomy of the different branches find their foundation. In life, on the other hand, the leading idea is the organic structure which brings unity out of many differences; and thus it is in art that comes to the fore the brilliance of one who is able to concentrate several enriching aspects in the elaboration of a masterpiece.

Not only is educational commitment an art; evangelizing activity too, in the intrinsic thrust it receives from inculturation, involves a certain dimension of art, even though one of its vital suppositions is the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit which essentially transcends all human methodology. Evangelization is, in fact, an activity which does not usually prescind from human collaboration; not for nothing did Christ send Apostles to different cultures and peoples: Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. [20]

Don Bosco's pedagogical practice brought together in inseparable unity education and evangelization, not in just any manner, but with a particular harmonious compenetration. The resulting masterpiece was an upright citizen because he was a good christian.

If we want to discover the secret behind the compenetration of the two poles, we must enter into the personality of the artistto try to understand in what his ability consists. After the GC21 we reflected on this theme, so vital a one for us, in the circular The Salesian Educative Projectof August 1978. [21] We now take up once again the thread of that reflection, in the conviction that the GC23 will prompt us to its better realization.

Our practical commitment is at the same time both educational and pastoral: the pastoral work lives and breathes in the area of education; and our educational activity opens with a constant and competent understanding of Christ's Gospel.

In his own educational and pastoral activity, Don Bosco always ruled out any dissociation between the two poles. The GC21 stated clearly that we are well aware that education 'and evangelization are specifically distinctive activities of their class, but nevertheless there is a strict connection between them on the practical plane of existence. [22] What then is the pedagogical and pastoral characteristic of Don Bosco? It is to be found in the inexhaustible christian tradition which has always, but especially since the rise of humanism, found in education the master path of youth pastoral work: Don Bosco cannot be exempted from this tradition of the Church. But he certainly put on it his own particular stamp, and has left to us as a legacy this concrete component of his charisma.

The Constitutions speak of Don Bosco's legacy of the Preventive System in two articles (20 and 38) at different though evidently complementary levels: the first is the expression of the salesian spiritwhich permeates the whole person of the educator; the second indicates the methodological criterionof our mission for accompanying young people in the delicate process of the growth of their humanity in the faith.

We may say that in these two articles we can find the secret we are looking for. In the innermost sanctuary of Don Bosco's personality, as his first and most dynamic inspiration, there lies pastoral charity (the 'da mihi animas' lived in line with the particular original and unique characteristic of the Valdocco Oratory), which is the center and synthesis of the salesian spirit. [23] And in the perspicacious and creative practical approach of Don Bosco in the line of activity, there is also the pedagogical intelligencewhich embodies his pastoral charity in the cultural area of education, with all the requirements called for by an adequate pedagogy.

Pastoral charityprovides animation and a continual thrust towards the goal to be reached; pedagogical intelligencegives guidance as regards method, in the determination of areas, the drawing up of the program to be followed, and the settling of details. Between the 'pastoral urge' and the 'pedagogical method',I wrote in the circular of 1978, there is a fine logical distinction that is useful for gaining an understanding of various other facets, but the bond that unites them so radically makes them inseparable in practice. To want to divorce Don Bosco's pedagogical method from his pastoral spirit would result in the destruction of both. [24]

To be able to say that the educative art of Don Bosco implies the deep union in his person between pastoral charityand pedagogical intelligence, is to ensure for ourselves the clarity and priority concerning the obligations we must face so as to give effect to the deliberations of the Chapter, and particularly to be aware of what a new educationnecessarily presupposes in ourselves.

But let us press on further still.

Educating by evangelizing

In our discernment process following the Council we expressed Don Bosco's choice of a field of work in the slogan: evangelizing by educating and educating by evangelizing. [25] I think it is a happy formula and one which is very expressive. Nevertheless it needs to be properly understood, so as to exclude the possibility of forms of disjunction that would over-emphasize one aspect and forget the other, or reduce one to the other, through not attending to the dynamic linkage between the two and their reciprocal relationship.

If this deeper understanding is lacking, we run the risk of falling into naturalismforgetting the interior action of grace and the intervention of the Holy Spirit , or of supernaturalism forgetting the human effort and the necessary pedagogical competence called for by the art of educating to the faith.

And here it may be well to quote an extract from the Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae, where we are invited to reflect on the original pedagogy of the faith: Among the many prestigious sciences of man, wrote the Pope, that are nowadays making immense advances, pedagogy is certainly one of the most important. The attainments of the other sciences biology, psychology, sociology are providing it with valuable elements. The science of education and the art of teaching are continually being subjected to review, with a view to making them better adapted or more effective, with varying degrees of success. There is also a pedagogy of faith, and the good it can do for catechesis cannot be overstated. In fact, it is natural that techniques perfected and tested for education in general should be adapted for service of education in the faith. However, account must always be taken of the absolute originality of faith. [26]

There is no doubt, I think, that this quotation from John Paul II will be of use in enlightening our pastoral and pedagogical practice, and that we should read again in its light some of the requirements of our Preventive System.

We have already seen that education can never be static, because it is called to adapt itself continually to the future as regards both the subject and the prevailing culture. It must be able to offer to evangelization an existential reading of human values that must be permeated; to deepen the understanding of their specific nature as willed by the Creator, with consistency and finality; and to give rise to a realistic sense of the gradual nature the process and help to program its stages. It must also fulfill a positive critical function with regard to certain methods of evangelization that are defective by reason of ingenuousness and abstraction; it must also be able to stimulate, in pastoral planning, an indispensable pedagogical awareness so as never to prescind from the fundamental positive nature of human values, even though they be damaged by sin.

But educating by evangelizingmeans above all never forgetting the substantial unity of the young person. Educational activity, therefore, must be kept intelligently open to the one who can point out to it clearly and objectively the supreme purpose of human existence, and be founded on an anthropology which does not exclude the historic event of Christ.

We know too that evangelizing activity is directed to the formation of the believer or, in other words, to fostering the faith of this person redeemed by Christ, in the awareness that revelation is not, strictly speaking, a book of human wisdom designed to provide solutions to everyday problems; rather is it God's challenging call to us, taken on his own initiative, his gift to us, his questioning of us. Indeed the Gospel questions before it answers. [27] Before all else the evangelizer must always be first and foremost a prophetof the Word of God. But the Gospel is meant to be inserted into culture; it has never existed in the abstract; the Word of God is like rain which renders the earth fruitful; faith is not something that exists on its own; the believer is a living individual who includes in the craft of being a personthe relationship with Christ his brother, the new Adam, as the vertical dimension of his own existence.

Nowadays insistence is laid on the fostering of an operative faith characterized by the social dimension of charity for the coming of a culture of solidarity; care is taken to consolidate in every believer ecclesial communion and participation, with particular reference to the local Church and a convinced adherence to Peter's ministry; priority is given to the active involvement of the laity, with particular attention to the young, so that they may be in truth leading characters in evangelization and participants in the renewal of society; [28] sensitivity is fostered in respect of those who rank lowest in society (the poor, the. marginalized, immigrants), and in general those most in need; and a greater awareness and responsibility is inculcated in respect of missionary activity. These are all aspects which make it urgently necessary for pastoral work to become embodied in the prevailing human condition; it is in very truth a case of being able to evangelize by educating.

Educational activity, in its turn, finds in the Gospel a formative help for the maturing of freedom and responsibility, a support in the search for identity and sense, an enlightening guide for the formation of conscience, a sublime model for the authenticity of love, a clearer and more compelling horizon for the social dimension of the person, and broader possibilities of intervention and service in the common pilgrimage towards the Kingdom.

In addition the educator, within the process of maturing of the subject, renders pastoral activity more conscious one might say he educates itto offer to personal growth an appropriate supplemental animating force. In this way the specific contributions of evangelization (listening to the Word of God, prayer and liturgy, sharing in ecclesial communion, active participation in the obligations of charity) can be lived without loss of their specific nature also as educative mediationswhich stimulate, promote and support the authentic growth of the individual.

Don Bosco's pedagogical experience, which has earned him the title of Educator princeps, has been able to demonstrate in practice that many ecclesial elements of faith (frequenting of the sacraments, devotion to Mary, apostolic commitments) as well as being ways of christian living are also delicately educative mediations, which can lead to a savoring of the riches of freedom and responsibility. They provide a magnificent response to the search for sense and identity, and help to the discernment of true values in the muddled confusion of pluralism.

Don Bosco's preoccupation with evangelization, wrote the Pope, was not limited to catechesis alone, nor to liturgy alone, nor to those religious practices which call for an explicit exercise of faith and lead to it, but covered the whole vast sector of the youth condition. It forms an integral part therefore of the process of human formation, not losing sight of defects but at the same time optimistic about progressive maturing, in the conviction that the word of the Gospel must be sown in the reality of their daily living so as to lead the boys to a generous commitment of themselves in life. Since they are living through a period of particular importance for their education, the saving message of the Gospel must sustain them throughout the educational process, and faith must become the unifying and enlightening element of their personality. [29] Our Founder was convinced that education of the upright citizenis rooted in the formation of the good christian; he even went so far as to say that only religion (i.e. the christian faith) is able to begin and carry through the great work of a true education. [30]

It is true,wrote the Pope, that his educational message needs to be studied at still greater depth, to be adapted and renewed with intelligence and courage, precisely because of changed social, cultural, ecclesial and pastoral contexts... Nevertheless the substance of his teaching remains intact; the unique nature of his spirit, his style, his charisma are unchanged, because they draw their inspiration from the transcendent pedagogy of God. [31]

Looking again at the Preventive System

The GC23, taken as a whole, is a pressing invitation to study more deeply the pedagogical and pastoral criteriology of the Preventive System, concentrating our attention on some key elements as we look for what the new educationmust be for us. The Pope has reminded us that Don Bosco's system represents the quintessence of his pedagogical wisdom and constitutes the prophetic message which he has left to his followers and to the Church. [32]

In the Preventive System education and evangelization mutually interact in an intimate and harmonious manner. We find the explanation for this in the intuition that in practice Don Bosco's method is a pedagogical and pastoral art. He has translated the ardent charity of his priestly ministry into a concrete plan for the education of young people to the faith.

Art, as we have said earlier, needs to touch directly the objective reality if it is to have any effect on it in the search for sense, for beauty, for a loftier approach. It is a form of activity seen in a genial man; it exalts his inventive talents and the expression of his creativity; because of it the artist modifies even himself while he is carrying out his work. What prompts him in his activity is an interior fire, an inspirational ideal, a passion in his heart enlightened by his genial impulses. Rightly has John Paul II called Don Bosco the Educator a genius of the heart.

We have seen that this interior fire is called pastoral charity: an apostolic love marked by predilection for the young; a love which incites pedagogical intelligenceto translate itself into practical educational projects. From this internal stimulus and from this pedagogical intuition is born the Preventive System. It is not a matter of a static and almost magical formula, but of an ensemble of conditions which lead to educative fatherhood and motherhood. Let us look at some of its more significant aspects, which have their roots in fidelity to the Founder whose charism is of its nature permanent and dynamic, and hence in vital growth. One of Don Bosco's important guiding principles, in fact, was: we must try to know our times, and adapt ourselves to them. [33]

Today we feel ourselves involved in the anthropological turnabout, but let us not become drowned in a reductive anthropocentricism.

a. The creativity of the artist. The task of educating by evangelizingpresupposes in the one carrying it out an indispensable basic condition. It is one we see very clearly in Don Bosco: it is a pastoral urgecombined with pedagogical intelligence, the two being intimately united by the grace of unity. It is a kind of apostolic passion, a pastoral brilliance, directed to the faith of the young. The presently prevailing secular climate, in which also the development of the educational sciences is frequently deflected along a path infected by ideological incrustations, is a deep provocation to our apostolic consecration.

Since methodological principles are of quite exceptional importance in art, pedagogical intelligence has to give a special tone, impress a particular physiognomy on pastoral charity. For Don Bosco the basic principle of this kind for action as an artistin education was loving kindness: the building of trust, confidence and friendship through the ascetical demands of make yourself loved. The Preventive System involves the mystiqueof pastoral charity and the ascesisof loving kindness. From this stems that sense of spiritual fatherhood which is addressed to many, but is nevertheless concerned with each one individually, with tact and a personal approach in a family atmosphere.

The Chapter reminds us that this pedagogical charity is not only to be an individual trait in each confrere, but it must also be characteristic of the local community, because the latter in the last analysis is the primary subject of our mission. And so a fundamental condition for the success of the new educationis that every community be in very truth a sign of faithwith a family-like atmosphere, so as to become a center of communion and participation. [34]

The creativity of the artistis therefore rooted in a lived salesian spirituality!

b. In solidarity with the young. The appeal to go to the young is the first and fundamental need in the field of education. [35] It is realized in a life lived together which is an expression of operative solidarity. The youngster, as we have said so often, is an active subjectin the educational process and must feel himself truly involved as an agent in the work of art to be realized.

Don Bosco's experience with Dominic Savio (the masterpiece), or with Michael Magone and Francis Besucco, is also both evocative and stimulating for us. He worked with them not as though temptingthem towards education, but by sharing responsibility with them. In this he was guided by his conviction concerning the primacy of the person of the youngster, and hence of the essential value of his freedom and of the importance of the personal role he must play. In the integral harmony of the person he saw the indispensable need for interaction between education and evangelization, and in his freedom he based the conviction that the work of the educator cannot take the place of that of the pupil, but must rather support and strengthen it.

It was in this kind of shared educational pact that was formed the serene and joyful environment which made all activity fruitful. Today more than ever before, there is need of this educative solidarity when family, school, society and parish settings are not sufficiently in harmony with the formative requirements for youthful growth.

c. With eyes trained on the New Man. Like every other art, that of education tends of its nature to the full realization of the end to which it is directed. There is no art without an objective; its lively dynamism is concentrated in the energy with which it pursues that objective without tiring and giving up at intermediate stages. Forgetting the goal, or the making of a wrong choice, takes away the sense of the whole work of art. In the practical order the final end has just as much importance as has an absolute and evident principle in the speculative area.

Now objectively, through conviction of faith, the end or goal to which educational work tends is Christ, the New Man; every young person is called to mature in Him and in his image. The GC23 gives a clear indication of the overall objective, i.e. the kind of person and believer we wish to develop, given the specific circumstances of life and society... The goal of the journey put before the young is that of building their own personality, with Christ as the point of reference as regards mentality and life. [36]

Fr Albert Caviglia used to say that no one will ever understand Don Bosco the educator, nor his pedagogy, unless he starts from this methodological principle of the final end and its constant presence throughout the whole process to be gone through.

At the present day the nature of this final end is disputed in various quarters; from the secular sector it is quite common to hear that human education needs no qualifying adjectives, not even christian; and from the area of the great religions comes the objection that each of them has a word to say on man's supreme goal.

It is not a case of entering into polemics, but of being convinced that the Christ-event is not simply the expression of a religiousformulation, but an objective fact in human history which has a concrete reference to every member of the species and gives a definitive sense to history itself. Every person needs Christ and tends towards him, even if he is unaware of the fact. Everyone has the existential right to be able to reach him, and to put obstacles in the way is in fact to trample upon a human right. The tendency towards Christ, be it conscious or unconscious, clear or confused, is intrinsic to human nature, created objectively in the supernatural order in which the project-man has been conceived in view of the mystery of Christ, and not vice-versa. This consideration should be an unshakeable conviction in the heart and mind of every educator who draws his inspiration from the Preventive System; it will support and enlighten him also in adverse contexts.

Religious relativism and today's inordinate concern for efficiency tend to be more concerned about means than about ends, and this reacts to the detriment of the personality of young people.

d. For a work of anticipation. John Paul II has reminded us that preventionas used by Don Bosco meant the art of positive education by putting forward what is good through appropriate experiences which call for the involvement of the pupil and are attractive because of their splendor and lofty nature; the art of producing growth in young persons 'from within' by appealing to their inner freedom to oppose external conditioning and formalism; the art of winning the heart of young people so as to inculcate in them a joyful and satisfied attraction to what is good, correcting deviations and preparing them for the future by means of a solid character formation. [37]

It is a case of touching the point where are rooted and lie hidden the seeds for the development of a personality capable of making decisions and discerning between good and evil, so as to avoid being ensnared by surrounding deviations or inclinations of the passions. In this work of prevention, accompanied by a constant and cordial presence among the young, both pedagogy and faith simultaneously come into play in a practical and concrete way, and not as so much hot air and rhetoric. Through gradual insistence, with revision and encouragement, with humility and realism, with helps from the natural and supernatural order and the patient pedagogical reflection that the best is the enemy of the good, the goal can be attained.

e. Seeingreasonand religionin the same light. Prompted by pastoral charity and guided by the methods of loving kindness, the educator pastor coordinates pedagogically the great formative lights that come from both reason and faith. They must converge so as to promote the growth of the personality of the youngster, ensuring for him light for his mind and concrete means of help for his will: enlightening the mind to make the heart good. [38]

Here a special role is played by the interaction between education and evangelization, by the convergence between nature and grace, between culture and the Gospel, between life and faith. Here too is engrafted the peculiar educative efficacy of the knowledge and use of the sacraments. It will be well to reflect a little further on this point.

We are not in any sense downgrading the Sacraments from the order of mystery to that of pedagogical means, but rather of thinking that the divine efficacy of the Christ-event has a projection also in educational practice. Christ is not only the overall objective and the vertex of the new man, but also his way and life, whose intrinsic efficacy enters also into the methodological level of mediations in the growth of the person.

And in fact, the Preventive System is completely permeated by the care to unite in harmony the activity of the subject (opus operantis) with the intrinsic efficacy of the sacrament (opus operatum). Precisely because the educator-pastor is convinced through faith in the efficacy of the christian liturgy , he fosters pedagogically the qualities and human contributions which dispose towards an adequate participation in it.

Don Bosco always considered the Eucharist and Penance as the two columns on which his educational and pastoral practice was built.

f. With inventive attention given to free time. The Chapter declares that group experience is a fundamental element in salesian pedagogical tradition. [39] Don Bosco's educational work bears the stamp of the oratory initiative; this involves feeling oneself solid with the young and beginning by making educative use even of their free time. This is a typical formative experience that is in no way opposed to formal education and its institutions, but rather precedes them, frequently requires them, and in the latter case permeates them and gives them a particular character of youthful involvement. Oratorian creativity remains even for us at the present day the lasting criterion for discernment and renewal in all our activities and works. [40]

In this oratorian practice, youth groups are a prominent element with their variety of expressions; they foster interpersonal communication and leadership; in fact they not infrequently constitute the only structural element giving young people access to human values and education to the faith.

The Chapter has spoken of the Salesian Youth Movement, formed by groups and associations which, while maintaining their organizational autonomy, share the same salesian spirituality and pedagogical principles. [41] The Pope too had made an appeal to us in 1979 recalling the urgent need, felt nearly everywhere, of the revival of sound models of Catholic youth associations. [42]

This is a very practical way of re-reading the Preventive System in the light of the oratory criterion. Experience is showing us that the fostering of groups and associations is an initiative to be strengthened and coordinated as an open reality, in the form of concentric circles, which unites many young people: from those farthest away, for whom the spirituality is something only dimly perceived through an environment in which they feel welcome, to those who consciously and explicitly make their own the salesian ethic. These latter constitute the animating nucleus of the whole movement. [43]

It will evidently be necessary, especially with the animating nucleus to go more deeply and specifically into the values of youth spirituality, so dear to Don Bosco.

g. Towards the reality of life. One of the characteristics of Don Bosco's pedagogical activity is its practical aspect, i.e. his desire to accustom the young to face the concrete quality of life, whether social or ecclesial. In education, theory is not enough. Formation of mind and heart must be accompanied by practical ability alone and with others, a spirit of initiative, the sincere ability to make big and small sacrifices, a personal inclination to work with a sense of responsibility, a desire to learn skills and techniques and how to be of service to others; in general, pedagogical activity involves a training in approaching the realism of existence with a growing and serious sense of collaboration.

All this contributes to the formation of the upright citizen, and is accompanied also by the fostering of attitudes of communion and sharing in commitments of the ecclesial community (associations, groups, apostolic services).

The practical aspect, therefore, is concerned with giving young people the opportunity to practice social and ecclesial attitudes, opening the development of the individual in various ways towards the common good and the experience of Church.

― In all these pedagogical requirements and conditions that we have indicated, one thing remains central the force of the grace of unitywhich causes education and evangelization to converge harmoniously in mutual interaction.

For an ever better understanding of the dynamism involved, faith prompts us to examine the mystery of Christ, true man and true God; in Him there is a mysterious and vibrant unity between the created order (with the dynamism proper to human values) and the incarnation of the Word (with the richness proper to its divine essence). In Jesus Christ there is a harmonious existential organic unity resting on the inseparable duality of natures. St Thomas Aquinas has given a penetrating analysis of this ineffable convergence into unity: he has deepened the principle of unity of the person by distinguishing the dynamic aspects of the two natures. [44]

In our case we are not applying univocally what is proper and exclusive to Jesus Christ; but the Vatican Council itself compares, in a somewhat similar way, the ecclesial reality of the faithful with the sublime mystery of the incarnate Word. [45]

Self-sanctification through educating

We reflected in an earlier circular on salesian spirituality for the new evangelization. [46] The new ardor, to which the Pope referred, means a strong relaunching of the interior apostolic convictionthat is at the root of our particular character in the Church. [47] Here we must add that Salesian spirituality represents for us also the force of the sanctifying synthesis of the new education.

The GC23 assures us that the work of education is the preeminent context in which we meet God. [48] This implies a special apostolic spirituality which is simultaneously both pastoral and educational, always attentive to the world context and the challenges of youth: it calls for flexibility, creativity and balance, and seeks seriously the appropriate pedagogical qualifications. The same salesian consecration [49] which inwardly 'thirsts for souls', assumes the pedagogical values and lives them as a concrete expression of spirituality. [50] It is not only a spirituality for education in general, but a true spirituality of education to the faith!

We remember what the Holy Father wrote to us: I like to consider in Don Bosco the fact that he realized his personal holiness through an educative commitment lived with zeal and an apostolic heart, and that at the same time he knew how to propose holiness as the practical objective of his pedagogy. An interchange between 'education' and 'holiness' is indeed the characteristic aspect of his personality; he was a 'holy educator', he drew his inspiration from a 'holy model' Francis de Sales, he was the disciple of a 'holy spiritual director' Joseph Cafasso, and he was able to form from among his boys a 'holy pupil' Dominic Savio. [51]

Rightly the Constitutions speak of the Preventive System as a spiritual and educational experience, passed on to us by Don Bosco ''as a way of living and of handing on the Gospel message, and of working with and through the young for their salvation. It permeates our approach to God, our personal relationships, and our manner of living in community through the exercise of a charity that knows how to make itself loved. [52]

Our Founder teaches us that we must sanctify ourselves by educating!

The salesian educative commitment asks us to dedicate ample space and time to living with the young, especially at the present day because of the complexities and problems of their environment. The reminder about staying with them, as long and intensely as possible, points to a cardinal point in our obligation to sanctify ourselves, and is also the main reason behind the birth and growth of vocations. Don Auffray, author of the well know biography of Don Bosco (which won for him the applause of the prestigious French Academy), summed up this pedagogical practice as being there (with the youngsters) all of us and all the time!

This demands a heart filled with pastoral charityand a mind rich in pedagogical intelligence, a spiritual and educative solidarity lived in the humdrum life of every day, as well in critical moments of difficulty as in times of exultation. Educative love requires us to be professionally qualified for work of human and christian advancement. Here we can understand all the ascetical and mystical sense of what Don Bosco said of himself to his boys: For you I study, for you I work, for you I live, for you I am ready even to give my life. That you are young is enough to make me love you very much. [53] He took no step, he said no word, he took up no task that was not directed to the saving of the young. [54]

In the mind of the Founder his sons should not be persons dedicated only professionallyto the young, but should make of their educational commitment the spiritual areaand the pastoral centerof their life, their prayer, their professional activity, and their daily living. They are invited to form for themselves a spirituality that does not disjoin their being from their activity, that never separates their evangelizing efforts from their educational activities and vice versa, and that links their own holiness with competent pedagogical work. This is where the brilliance of the artist' who is a christian educator is to be found. The pastoral charity of the salesian spirit carries with it that often quoted and precious grace of unitywhich the Holy Father told us is the fruit of the power of the Holy Spirit which ensures the vital inseparability between union with God and dedication to one's neighbor, between depth of interior evangelical meditation and apostolic activity, between a praying heart and busy hands... Any deterioration on this point opens up a dangerous path to activism or intimism, both of which are insidious temptations for Institutes of Apostolic Life. On the other hand, the hidden riches accompanying this grace of unity provide clear confirmation... that union with God is the true source of the practical love of one's neighbor. [55]

In this perspective of spirituality, not only does one reach the fundamental trust implied in the expression Let nothing disturb you, but one also lives in the daily hope that believes in the natural and supernatural resourcesof the young, and accepts all that is good in the world without bewailing one's times. [56] It is a spirituality expressed in optimism and joy, in work and temperance, which gives rise to the appearance of festive people who are active and hard-working, creative and flexible, rooted in a tradition but dynamically modem nevertheless, faithful to the supreme novelty of Christ and open to emerging cultural values. [57]

A spirituality of this kind is without any doubt the fruit of commitment, of dedication, of reflection and study and research, of careful continuous attention; but it is rooted in a constant union with God, expressed in prayer and activity, which is mystique and ascesis. In this way it serves to sanctify not only the person himself, but the young people too. The Constitutions tell us that the witness of our spirituality reveals the unique worth of the beatitudes, and is the most precious gift we can offer to the young. [58]

But nevertheless our sanctification is also a gift that comes to us from young people, because we believe that God loves the young; that Jesus wants to share his life with young people; that the Spirit is present in them and that through them he wants to build a more authentic and human christian community. We believe that God is awaiting us in the young to offer us the grace of meeting with him and to dispose us to serve him in them, recognizing their dignity and educating them to the fullness of life. [59]

With them we can make the pilgrimage of faith with an educative spirituality common to both educators and youngsters, even though at different levels and intensities; it becomes translated into a realistic pedagogy of holiness... The originality and boldness of the plan for a 'youthful holiness' is intrinsic to the educational art of Don Bosco, who can rightly be called the Master of youth spirituality'. [60]

This is the spirituality on which the Chapter concentrates the attention of all, both Salesians and young people, so that together they may become architects of the vital synthesis between the Gospel and culture, between life and faith, between human advancement and christian witness. We must be able to sanctify ourselves against the background of the new elements of the present times, dedicating ourselves attentively to the new evangelization, precisely as being experts in new education, with the art of Don Bosco who had the happy knack of coordinating successfully their mutual interaction.

Don Bosco invites us to make the education of young people to the faith our 'raison d'etre' in the Church, i.e. our way of sharing in the Church's holiness and activity: in her we shall become holy if we are missionaries of the young!

Prompted by Mary in her role as Mother of the Church

Dear confreres, when each one of us thinks back to the birth and growth of his own personal faith he will find that it was historically linked to concrete pedagogical influences: the family, some friend, our local christian community. Certainly faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit; without the divine initiative we should never have had the faith at all. But when we think of our own baptism, and in general of the baptism of infants throughout the Church's tradition, we soon become convinced that the gift of faith is normally accompanied by educational activity and the testimony of all parents, of some particular priest, certain members of the faithful, or certain men or women religious. It is a gift which uses human collaboration to ensure the birth and development of so precious a vital lymph.

A similar reflection makes us aware on the one hand of the interaction between human concern and the gift of faith, and on the other it highlights the importance of a valid pastoral and pedagogical care and attention that we could describe before all else as motherly.

In concluding his letter of 1988, to which we have several times referred, the Pope says: By your work, dear educators, you are sharing in a wondrous manner in the motherly function of the Church. [61] There you have a happy expression which well reveals in what the artof education to the faith consists: it is an exercise of ecclesial motherhood!

In the incarnation of the Word Mary was not the cause of the hypostatic union in Christ, but she is nevertheless the Mother of Jesus; she gave him birth, helped him to grow to manhood in history, and educated him according to the local culture. In the motherly action of Mary, and in Jesus himself, very different aspects have to be distinguished, but there is nonetheless an organic unity of life which makes the Church proclaim that Mary is Mother of God.

This is a truth that provides much material for meditation.

We are already entrusted to Mary and now we turn to her to beg her diligent help in our commitment to the art of education. She it was who suggested the Preventive System to Don Bosco.

The journey of faith, we are told by the Chapter, begins under the motherly guidance of Mary. [62] It says further that the motherly presence of Mary provides deep inspiration throughout the whole journey and in every phase of it... In her the path of everyone meets that of God; [63] and recalls further that salesian spirituality reserves a special place for the person of Mary... At the end of his labors Don Bosco could declare with truth; 'Mary has done everything'. [64]

And so, if we live our entrustment to her with sincerity the same thing will happen to each of us, to every local community, to every Province. What is important is to be able to live with frankness and honesty the Marian aspect of our spirituality.

This is the Holy Father's desire for us: On all of you I invoke the continual protection of Mary Help of Christians, Mother of the Church. May she be for you, as she was for Don Bosco, both Teacher and Guide, the Star of the new evangelization!. [65]

It is Mary who invites all of us to commit ourselves to living and testifying to that interior apostolic conviction that characterizes the Salesian in the Church; from the unitive strength of this spirituality will come forth so many happy and fruitful initiatives for educating young people to the faith.

I send my fraternal good wishes to each and every one of you, in the joy of being united in a great and common endeavor. May Don Bosco intercede for us!

Cordially in the Lord,

& Don Egidio Vigan
[1] IP 13
[2] GC23 332
[3] GC23 4
[4] GC23 348
[5] C 31
[6] GC23 45-63
[7] GC23 64-74
[8] GC23 75-88
[9] GC23 87
[10] GC23 182-191
[11] GC23 192-202
[12] GC23 203-314
[13] CA 53
[14] A. BALLESTRERO, Dio, luomo e la preghiera, SEI, Turin, pp.14-15
[15] AGC331 p.15-16
[16] RH 8
[17] GS 22
[18] JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities: ECE 44
[19] C 38
[20] Mt 28, 19-20
[21] ASC 290
[22] GC21 14
[23] C 10
[24] ASC 290 p.11
[25] SGC 274-341; GC21 80-104
[26] CT 58
[27] ASC 290, p.37
[28] CL 46
[29] IP 15
[30] MB 3, 435; 7, 451
[31] IP 13
[32] IP 8
[33] MB XVI, 416
[34] GC23 215-218
[35] IP 14
[36] GC23 112-115
[37] IP 8
[38] JOHN BOSCO, Storia Sacra per uso nelle scuole, Op. Ed. III, 7
[39] GC23 274
[40] C 40
[41] GC23 276
[42] ASC 294, p. 16
[43] GC23 276
[44] Summa Theol. IIIa, qq. 18-19
[45] LG 8
[46] AGC 334
[47] AGC 331, pp. 28-33
[48] GC23 95
[49] C 3
[50] AGC 334, p.34
[51] IP 5
[52] C 20
[53] C 14
[54] C 21
[55] GC23 332
[56] C 17
[57] C chap. 2
[58] C 25
[59] GC23 95
[60] IP 16
[61] IP 20
[62] GC23 121
[63] GC23 157
[64] GC23 177
[65] GC23 335