LETTER OF RECTOR MAJOR - Fr. EGIDIO VIGANO
EUCHARIST IN THE APOSTOLIC SPIRIT OF DON BOSCO
Rome, 8 December
the Immaculate Conception
most vital theme for measuring our spirit and activity - Don
Bosco and the Eucharist: Mass, Communion, Adoration - The
eucharistic outlook of Vatican II - The Fathers masterpiece making Christ
the heart of the world - The insuperable paschal work of Christ. - The living
and permanent nature of the event of the New Covenant. - The wonder of the
Churchs sacramental character - Adoration and mission - The pastoral obligation
of creating Church - Some concrete requirements of Don Bosco's eucharistic
pedagogy - A Marian devotion which leads to the Eucharist. My dear confreres,
am writing to you on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, harbinger
of the birth of Christ at Christmas. It is a day unusually dear to the Salesian
Family: it not only takes us back in gratitude to our origins but at the same
time urges us to go boldly forward to even greater realities. May my greeting
to each of you bring you also the hope and trust that goes with the period
We are beginning
a new year which is dedicated in a special way to the prophetic memory of
our Founder. We feel his invitation to approach with deep interior feelings
and apostolic creativity the renewal on 14 May next of our salesian profession:
one of the loftiest choices we could possibly make, and one which endorses
anew the mystery of our Covenant with God by giving it a deeper and fuller
expression.  The most vital theme for measuring our spirit and activity
In view of this
Year of grace, I very much want to reflect with you on an aspect which I consider
central in Don Bosco's personality and in the apostolic heritage he bequeathed
to us: the place occupied by the Eucharist in our spirit and activity.
I already broached
this subject in my circular letter on the Salesian educative project, when
I reflected on the meaning of educating by evangelizing 
It is the most
vital standard against which we
can measure ourselves. The Eucharist
in fact is source of our salesian pastoral charity, 
our sharing in Christs heart; 
experience of our union with God; 
our individual living communion with the Church;
the endorsement of the special gift of our predilection for
the young; 
the energetic source of our kindness,
friendship, optimism and joy; of our daily commitment to work and temperance,
and of the practical and creative nature of our approach to apostolic work: 
in other words it is the great motivating force behind the salesian spirit.
recall that the celebration of the Eucharist is the central act of every
salesian community, and that the presence of the tabernacle in our houses
is a reason for frequent encounters with Christ, from whom we draw energy
and endurance in our work for the young! 
We are deeply
aware of what the Vatican Council declares: that the Liturgy (of which the
Eucharist is the highest expression) is the summit towards which the activity
of the Church is directed, and at the same time the fount from which all her
power flows 
of the Church had already said that the liturgy is at the same time the summit
of wisdom and the vertex of religion, the salvation of the faithful and
their spiritual progress.
words of Christ: he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and
I in him 
been throughout the centuries the true measure of christian faith. And as
it was at the time of Christ so it is at the present day, there are too many
who fail to understand: after this many of his disciples drew back and no
longer went about with him 
of the central place of the Eucharist in the salesian spirit and apostolate,
my dear confreres, would result in a deviation from Don Bosco's living tradition
(enshrined in the perennial tradition of the Church), and a very dangerous
manifestation of superficiality in our pastoral work and pedagogy. Don Bosco and the Eucharist
A sketch of the life of
Don Bosco written from the eucharistic point of view would be both attractive
and stimulating. Here we shall just recall one or two aspects which are well
known but which serve as a true guide.
The Christ who
dominated the whole existence of Don Bosco was, by preference, Jesus alive
and present in the Eucharist, the master of the house (as he used to put
it), the center of gravitation towards which everything converged, the bread
of life, the Son of Mary Mother of God and of the Church. Don Bosco lived
by and in this presence, which was always close at hand.
When he spoke
of God, it was often in terms of Jesus in the Eucharist, true man and true
God, who came down from
heaven to save us, who died on the cross for
us and who is living still on our altars and in our tabernacles. Nothing
could be more easily accessible and at the same time more thrilling. To have
Jesus in the house, in fact, meant that one could go and meet him whenever
one wished, take part in his death and resurrection, have a heart to heart
conversation with him, receive him in Communion and be transformed by his
Spirit for the mission. 
The life of
our Father, right from his early boyhood, and the history of the first Oratory
constituted a hymn of praise to the Eucharist. What feelings filled the minds
of the better ones among his boys can be deduced from the following burning
words of Dominic Savio: When I pass close to him (Jesus in the Eucharist),
not only would I cast myself in the mud to honor him; I would even throw myself
into a furnace so as to share in some way in that infinite fire of love which
drove him to institute this great Sacrament 
Behind the saintly lad
there was Don Bosco, his spiritual guide, who passed on to him his own eucharistic
ardor. In fact, we are told by Don Lemoyne, when Don Bosco preached on the
extent of Our
Lords love for us, he would often weep and bring tears
to the eyes of his hearers. Even during recreation time, if the conversation
turned to the subject of the Holy Eucharist, he would beam with holy ardor,
and he would frequently say to the boys: My dear boys, love Jesus in the
Blessed Sacrament with all your hearts, and you will be truly happy! His
words made the boys more convinced than ever of the truth of the real presence
of Jesus Christ. He was truly happy when he managed to have a good number
of the boys take turns in receiving holy communion each day. 
We may recall
some of the more significant things said by Don Bosco about the three great
aspects of the Eucharist: the celebration of Mass, sacramental communion,
and adoration of the consecrated species. - The Mass.
of the altar, wrote Don Bosco, is the glory, the life and the heart of christianity. 
cannot imagine anything more holy and precious than the Body, Blood, Soul
and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and so when you go to Mass, he said to the
boys, I want you to be convinced that you are doing something which is the
greatest and holiest thing you could possibly do, something which gives greatest
glory to God and is most useful for your own soul. Jesus Christ comes himself
in person to apply to each one individually the merits of his adorable blood
which he shed for us on the cross of Calvary 
Even more eloquent than his words was his example. Don Ceria wrote:
He was recollected, attentive, devout and exact in his celebration of Mass;
he pronounced the words with clarity and feeling; he visibly enjoyed distributing
holy communion, hardly able to conceal his inner fervor. But in it all there
was no trace of affectation or serving the eye; without either haste or undue
lingering he proceeded from start to finish in a calm and natural manner.
This is how the early Salesians saw him, and this too is how he appears to
us, the latest arrivals. 
His union with
Christ in the celebration of the: Eucharist reached sublime heights: occasionally
his face would be bathed in tears... It also happened that at times he looked
so ecstatic after the elevation that he appeared to be seeing Jesus Christ
with his own eyes. 
happened with greater frequency during his last years. 
His manner of celebration was in
truth that of one who deeply believed, and more than a few people came long
distances to be present at his Mass, while benefactors and cooperators who
had the privilege of a private chapel in their own house vied with each other
to have him with them.
His great educational
concern was to help his boys to grasp the sacramental reality of the Mass:
Understand well, my children, that when you assist at holy Mass it is just
the same as if you were seeing our divine Savior coming out of Jerusalem and
carrying his cross to Calvary where he is crucified and sheds the last drop
of his blood. When the priest celebrates holy Mass, this same sacrifice is
renewed, but in a bloodless manner. 
The Mass was
always the central point of the feasts celebrated by the boys, and was prepared
with great solemnity with music, singing and lots of servers. People used
to come to Valdocco from other parts of the city to take part in the festive
eucharistic celebrations. - Holy Communion.
The reception of Communion is another focal point in the spirit and action
of Don Bosco. He spoke of it as essential to the smooth running of the house; 
the column which supports the material
and moral world. 
the strongest moral support of the
the foundation of vocations. 
These are significant
expressions, but they do not contain the whole of Don Boscos thought, i.e.
that the one receiving Communion experiences personally a most intimate encounter
with Jesus Christ, who incorporates him into Himself and makes him an apostle
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can detect
a distant echo of this in the words with which he concluded the conference
he gave at Rome in 1876: Grant us, O Lord (the Church prays), that by participating
in the merits of your Body and Blood sacrificed on the cross, we may be deserve
to be included among your members... As members of the most Sacred Body of
Jesus, we must keep ourselves closely united with him, not in an abstract
but in a concrete manner, in believing and in our actions. 
There is no
greater happiness on earth, he used to tell his boys, than a well made Communion:
What joy it is to receive our Divine Redeemer into our hearts, that same
God from whom we must draw the strength and constancy needed every moment
of our lives. 
of Comollo, Savio, Magone and Besucco all contain, among other things, burning
references to the Mass, to Communion and to Viaticum which transforms the
fear of death into a loving embrace of Jesus. If I want something important,
said Dominic Savio, I go to Communion and receive the Sacred Body, Blood,
Soul and Divinity of Jesus, offered for us to his eternal Father on the cross.
What else do I need to be happy? Nothing in this world, but just to be able
to see face to face the God I adore in faith on the altar. 
At the school
of Don Bosco, the promoter of frequent Communion, his boys achieved real growth
in a strong and clear faith, and through the Eucharist scaled the heights
in this connection is the inserting in his Companion of Youth of the translation
of a text from the Council of Trent, which had previously been quoted only
as regards its general sense, but which is much more incisive when expressed
literally: It would be highly desirable that every faithful christian should
keep himself in such a state of conscience that he could receive holy Communion
each time he assists at Mass, and that this Communion should be not only spiritual
but also sacramental, so that greater fruit may be reaped from this august
and divine Sacrament. 
He was also
one of the strongest and most convinced supporters of the desirability of
making the First Communion at an early age: Avoid as a plague the opinion
that the first communion should be deferred to a late age. 
The awareness of the living presence of Christ in the consecrated Host is
a stimulus to a convinced attitude of adoration. This was a particular characteristic
of Catholic piety in the nineteenth century, and especially at Turin, city
of the Blessed Sacrament. At the Valdocco Oratory this kind of piety flourished
in the eucharistic heart of Don Bosco, and this also from the conviction that
he was able to inculcate among the boys that Jesus lived in the house with
them: he was present there with his infinite love to be their daily Friend.
It is true that
the kinds of eucharistic piety lived at the Oratory were those which flourished
at the time in dioceses and parishes: hours of adoration, eucharistic triduums,
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, processions and (especially for their
pedagogical value) individual and group visits; but Don Bosco knew how to
motivate them from an educational point of view with a sanctifying quality
which remains as a challenge to us at the present day.
If Jesus, with
his permanent presence, is at the center and heart of every salesian house,
he cannot possibly be forgotten. Hence the importance of cultivating various
expressions of contemplative piety in the life and activity of those who belong
to him. Don Boscos urging of the boys themselves to visit frequently Jesus
in the Blessed Sacrament, to ask him for spiritual and material graces, to
talk with him, to think about his death and resurrection, to spend a little
time with him, is one of his most frequently occurring exhortations: Remember,
my sons, he used to say, that Jesus is in the Blessed Sacrament with lots
of graces that he wants to give to those who ask for them. 
And again: I
also recommend visits to the Blessed Sacrament: Our gentle Lord Jesus Christ
is there in person, the Cure of Ars used to exclaim; if time is limited,
let us at least kneel before the tabernacle and say a Pater, Ave and Gloria.
This alone will steel us against temptation. 
And in one of
his Good-Nights 
he insisted with fatherly
conviction: There are two things the devil is deadly afraid of: fervent Communions
and frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Do you want Our Lord to grant
you many graces? Visit him often. Do you want him to grant you only a few?
Visit him but seldom. Such visits, he added, are a powerful defense against
the attacks of the enemy. Visiting the Blessed Sacrament, my dear boys, is
essential if you want to overcome the devil. Therefore make frequent visits
to Jesus; if you do that, the devil will never prevail against you. 
There is no doubt that Don Bosco
spirit and pedagogy give special importance to adoration as a manner of practicing
friendship with Christ present in the Eucharist. Dominic Savio, Magone, Besucco
all made good use of this method; and if the same cannot be said of all the
Oratory boys, there were more than a few who imitated them.
character of the Eucharist however went hand in hand with an educative practice
that aimed at the integral overall formation of the youngster, in which human
needs and requirements are seriously attended to in all their aspects, from
their primary material needs (like food,
lodging and clothing) to those
of an intellectual, moral and cultural nature; from education for work, for
study and for art, so as to be able to take a proper place in society, to
the satisfaction of the insuppressible needs of the young, such as self affirmation,
the correct use of freedom (let them have full freedom to run, jump and make
as much noise as they like), the fostering of recreational activities, theatre,
therefore, which is full and joyful, but one whose secret (as is evident from
the models described ion detail by Don Bosco himself) we see to be youthful
hearts centered on the Eucharist (Mass, Communion and Adoration), or in other
words on Jesus who is alive and present, and whom they know, love and visit
as their dearest Friend. Youngsters in whom kindness, commitment and joy are
obviously present and spring from a sacramental experience of Christ,
whose loving influence on all their behavior is evident.
We may conclude
this rapid glance at the central place of the Eucharist in the spirit and
activity of Don Bosco by recalling what a heroic task he accepted because
of a devotion inseparable from the Eucharist, that of the Sacred Heart, expressed
in the building of the Church of the Sacred Heart in Rome as his culminating
work. He said himself that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus includes
all the rest and that the source of this devotion is to be found precisely
in the Blessed Sacrament. Keep always before your minds, he said at Paris,
the thought of the love of God in the Holy Eucharist. 
assure us that under the inspiration of God, Don Bosco lived and handed on
to us an original style of life and action: the salesian spirit. 
finds its model and source in the very heart of Christ, apostle of the Father. 
And to this
we may just add that for Don Bosco this reality of living and sharing the
deep redemptive concern of the Heart of Jesus was intensely concentrated on
the great and ineffable mystery of the Eucharist. The eucharistic outlook of Vatican II
It is often
said that the mentality, language and catechesis of the nineteenth century
concerning the eucharistic mystery reflect a vision which is not organic and
is rather incomplete. We know that for historical reasons medieval christianity
intensified the cult of the permanent real presence in the consecrated species.
The Council of Trent itself, as the legatee of what had gone before it, dealt
separately with the Eucharist as a permanent Sacrament 
and the Sacrifice of the Mass; 
interpreters emphasized from a pastoral point of view a certain separation
in popular devotion between the sacrifice of the Mass and the permanence
of the real presence in the consecrated species. Religious practices of the
time, without detracting from the value of the Mass, leaned rather towards
the permanence of the sacrament through multiple and varied devotional expressions.
For us at the
present day the nineteenth century was certainly a long time ago; but we have
to admit that in those days it was certainly possible to develop a concrete
holiness in both educators and young people.
II there has been in the Churchs ecclesiology a genuine and qualitative leap
in the strongly organic doctrine of the paschal mystery (of which the Eucharist
is the sacrament) and in the whole of liturgical cult. There is a fresh and
deeper understanding of the concepts of the Paschal mystery, of the New Covenant,
Priesthood, Real Presence, the Body of Christ, Communion and Mission; in a
word, of the Sacrament which sees the whole eucharistic cult from the standpoint
of a liturgy and kind of piety that have undergone great renewal. We can certainly
say that the directives that have followed the Council 
make it possible for us to salvage
in a renewed form more than a few of the devotional values of the past, even
though they were linked with an imperfect outlook.
Here we find
ourselves facing a massive challenge: to this richer and more organic eucharistic
vision launched by the Vatican Council there should correspond a spiritual
praxis and pastoral pedagogy very much more intense and incisive.
in fact what is actually taking place in certain environments which see themselves
as being in the vanguard of progress: in these places we are witnessing a
lopsided over-evaluation of the of human and cultural values, without there
having been first the careful and indispensable discernment of prophetic values
to which Don Bosco always bore witness on the basis of the central nature
of the Eucharist, precisely in view of a more genuine and valid human formation.
find ourselves face to face with a kind of impoverished pedagogical activity
that lacks a genuinely pastoral inspiration: it does not respond sufficiently
to the stimulus of Da mihi animas.
of Vatican II was not to eliminate the tremendous efficacy of the Eucharist
in our spirit and activity, but rather to intensify it and relaunch it with
more authentic truth.
What we are
called upon to do at the present day is to permeate the praxis left us by
Don Bosco with the conciliar indications concerning the eucharistic mystery.
We must know this widening of horizons and be able to translate it into life
as it is lived.
How our Father
would rejoice at some of the Council statements, and how he would translate
them into educational initiatives. Take for instance the following passage
from the Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis: In the most blessed Eucharist is
contained the whole spiritual good of the Church... The Eucharist appears
as the source and the summit of all preaching of the Gospel, and the faithful
who have already been consecrated in baptism and confirmation are fully incorporated
in the Body of Christ by the reception of the Eucharist. Therefore the eucharistic
celebration is the center of the assembly of the faithful... The house of
prayer in which the most holy Eucharist is celebrated and reserved, where
the faithful assemble, and where is worshipped the presence of the Son of
God our Savior, offered for us on the sacrificial altar for the help and consolation
of the faithful this house ought to be in good taste and a worthy place
for prayer and sacred ceremonial. In it pastors and faithful are called upon
to respond with grateful hearts to the gifts of him who through his humanity
is unceasingly pouring the divine life into the members of his Body. Priests
ought to take the trouble to properly cultivate liturgical knowledge and art. 
Don Bosco became
the great pastor of youth that we know, precisely because of his deep adherence
to the eucharistic mystery and his sharing in it. If a certain mentality and
mode of expression of his time have need of updating, this should not imply
any impoverishment of his role as a prophetic Founder.
What we have
to do is discern in his way of acting the
formative values of the Eucharist
in the harmony of that same faith which made of him, as it must make of us
at the present day, an insuperable model of pastor and educator, constantly
stimulated by holy initiatives. The substance in fact is the same: Jesus Christ
is with us! The paschal event is at our disposal here and now: the Emmanuel
who intervenes daily in the formation of the New Man!
It is therefore
worth the trouble, my dear confreres, to dwell for a while on so substantial
a topic; it will enable us to enrich our centenary year with the rediscovery
in depth of that pedagogy of kindness which is proposed to us in the Strenna
to celebrate the memory and prophetic presence of Don Bosco.
I am offering you will serve to recall and summarize the many meditations
each one will have made in the course of his salesian life, so as to better
understand and relaunch everything in the eucharistic practice of our Father
that was not merely transitory and that means the substance of it. Only
in this way shall we be able to bring about a genuine renewal of a kind of
pastoral work and pedagogy which without the central position of the Eucharist
would no longer be the precious legacy we have inherited.
Let us begin
in a rather roundabout fashion so as to make sure that we have a proper and,
as far as possible, adequate understanding of so vital a theme. The Fathers masterpiece: making Christ the heart of the
If we had to
seek in the whole universe the most perfect expression of the brilliant ability
of the Creator, we should at first be well and truly at a loss.
Before the immensity
of the macrocosm we are left astonished and well nigh dismayed in our admiration
as we give free reign to our imagination, and we seem to be in a shifting
whirlwind rather than in a position to make judgments and comparisons as one
would do in a museum. Everything is so unbelievably above the normal ideas
of time and space which circumscribe our thoughts and imagination that we
are well nigh unable to compare one planet with another.
And as we continue
to contemplate the wonders of the universe we become still more bewildered
and almost incredulous in finding that in it there is a perfection which is
not at first noticeable, and that furthermore an enormous power and tremendous
vitality are involved.
that we are dealing with a higher and ineffable capacity for planning that
leaves us no alternative but to conclude that what is done by the Creator
exceeds our wildest imaginings. In fact the sciences, as they progress, are
simply engaged in a learning process as they strive to penetrate the laws
and secrets of creation.
even as we contemplate the wonders of the world, we are aware that as human
beings we have a higher gift: the acute penetrating power of the spirit which
enables us to reach far beyond the perfections of nature; our intelligence
takes us always beyond the labors of Hercules with a courage that outdoes
the legend of Ulysses.
And so, in so
far as we are men we find present in creation the treasure we call love, a
thing which is worth more than any macro or microcosm because it transcends
matter and introduces us to the intimate mystery of the life of the Creator.
There we discover
without too much difficulty that Gods real masterpiece is Man,
in his own image, the living synthesis of cosmic wonders, free and enterprising,
who thinks, who makes judgments, who creates, who loves, and who is therefore
destined to be the minister of all created things, the voice of praise, the
mediator of glory in joyful dialogue with the Creator himself.
mans history and the very meaning of the cosmos have been deformed by sin.
St Paul in fact says: the creation was subjected to futility, not of its
own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation
itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious
liberty of the children of God. 
And it is precisely
in our own history that when the fullness of time had come God raised up the
his definitive masterpiece: Jesus Christ! He is the culmination
of the whole work of creation. In Him the mystery of man truly becomes clear...
He is the image of the invisible God, the perfect man... who in a certain
way has united himself with each and every man... the firstborn of many brothers. 
In his life
on earth he felt himself solid with every man of every century, from the first
Adam (his progenitor) to the last of his brothers born at the end of time.
Solid with them in good and evil, he has overcome sin by the power of his
great love, to which he bore witness by giving his own life in the supreme
event of his death and resurrection.
permanent paschal presence in the sacrament of the Eucharist he continues
to generate in history in union with the Church, his spouse, the new Man until
his victorious return at the end of time. As the liturgy says, God the Father
has hidden from us the day and the hour when Christ, the Lord and judge of
history, will appear on the clouds of heaven robed in power and splendor.
On that glorious day the present world will pass away and there will arise
new heavens and a new earth. 
there Christ will offer his Kingdom to the Father.
does the Council declare that the Lord is the goal of human history, the focal
point of the desires of history and civilization, the center of mankind, the
joy of all hearts and the fulfillment of all aspirations... (the Fathers
loving design) to unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things
on earth...And the Lord himself said: Behold I am coming soon, bringing my
recompense... I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning
and the end! 
I think it important,
dear confreres, to come back continually on this synthesis of faith, so as
to be able to understand the ineffable value of the eucharistic mystery, and
to convince: ourselves that it is not possible to prescind from Christ in
the promotion of man and in the development of a true salesian pedagogy.
It is certainly
our duty to take up everything that is positive in the various processes of
the signs of the times, but we must also be able to discern their ambivalence
and to harmonize their novel and positive: contributions with the immense
and definitive innovation of Christs Passover. The Insuperable paschal work of Christ
Christ was aware that he had a very personal vocation which called him to
a mission which was impossible from a human standpoint: to face up radically
to evil, to re-establish the Covenant of all humanity with God, to give back
sense to the cosmos, to proclaim the truth about the sense of life and history,
to point out the way to be followed in practice, and to provide a superabundant
supply of energy to keep Man moving along in his pilgrimage throughout the
ever more clearly that the Fathers plan was directing his vocation and mission
to a strategic moment which would be the culmination of his existence in earthly
history: what he called His hour!
His great historical
hour is called his Passover
(Pasch or Easter in English). It
is a masterpiece of Christ the Man, within the masterpiece of the Father.
It is something so sublime that not even the Creator could think up something
greater, as it has been happily said: id quod maius fieri nequit! (that
than which it is impossible to do anything greater). It is the maximum gesture
which the all-powerful brilliance of the creative love of the Father could
think of as possible in human history.
of Mary through the work of the Holy Spirit, as a true and responsible descendant
of Adam is the living synthesis of cosmic marvels; he gives back to man the
vocation of being the minister of everything created, the voice of praise,
the mediator of glory, through his sacrificial love endorsed by the resurrection.
work he carried out as One of us, our best representative, fraternally solid
with all the rest. He did it once for all. 
He did it and left it permanently imprinted on his human existence
after rising from the dead. The historical events of his death and resurrection
have, in fact, given a definitive constitution to Christs soul and body,
they have perfected his individual human nature by giving to it traits and
features which remain for ever as indications of his victorious physiognomy.
We may say that they established the soul of Christ (his heart) in the supreme
act of his self-oblation in extreme love, and have adorned his physical body
with the consequences of his total donation, made visible in the scars of
his bloody immolation.
The man Christ,
in fact, stands before the Father as a Lamb that seemed to have been sacrificed...
and a choir of thousands and thousands of voices cried out: Worthy is the
Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor
and glory and blessing. 
events are the liturgical and sacrificial realization of the New Covenant,
the last and eternal covenant which gives his place to the new Man, to the
new Heavens and the new Earth.
letter to the Hebrews assures us that Christ appeared as a high priest of
the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect
tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once
and for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves
but his own blood thus securing for us an eternal redemption. 
In the light
of the paschal events and of Christs command to make a sacramental memorial
of them in the celebration of the Eucharist, the Apostles beheld with wonder
the realization of the New Covenant he had promised. There you have the full
sense of his presence! The Passover and the Eucharist signified for them
in the first place the great and ardently awaited hour of the definitive Covenant.
put an end to the loss of sense of the cosmos and the ancient cult, which
had not been sufficient, and began a new one, thought up, planned and realized
only by Christ, by his love and solidarity as the Second Adam. This was a
new cult in which priest, victim, temple, altar, sacrifice and liturgical
banquet are concentrated in the unique reality of Christs person.
And so He is,
Jesus Christ, his heart, his love, his word, his body, his blood, his priestly
consecration (in the hypostatic union), which constitute the great treasure
of the New and Eternal Covenant. One only Love, one only Gospel, one only
Priest, one only Sacrifice, one only Communion, for ever: the only valid objective
for the hope of man and of the cosmos.
There you have
the Fathers masterpiece: making Christ the heart of the world! He is the
new Man, He is the truth, He is the way and the life; He offers his flesh
as food and his blood as drink to give birth and growth to the new Man.
It is well for
us to come back frequently on these thoughts and keep in our minds for the
benefit of ourselves and our young people this supreme and vital historic
work of Christ. Objectively we cannot prescind from it: it would be ignorance,
the emptying out of faith, ingenuous secularism, and unpardonable superficiality
to forget these realities in order to make space for a transitory and mundane
mode of life which would render our vocation and mission frail and without
paschal events of Christ, within the masterpiece of the Father in the limitless
and wonderful universe of his creation, constitute the high point of greatness,
love and beauty in all the Creators work.
Who could possibly fail to see that this is at the center of the life
of believers, and in particular of the spirituality, pedagogy and pastoral
work of Don Boscos Salesian Family?
The living and permanent nature of the New Covenant
in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and people, we are told
by Vatican II, draws the faithful and sets them aflame with Christs insistent
love. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, grace
is poured forth upon us as from a fountain, and the sanctification of men
in Christ and the glorification of God to which all other activities of the
Church are directed, as toward their end, are achieved with maximum effectiveness. 
This is a solemn
statement which should influence all our pastoral and pedagogical planning
if we do not want to waste time following obsolescent ideas.
Through a sacramental
action, the Eucharist makes present for us here and now in a very real way
the same substantial reality of the paschal events of Christ, by continually
renewing and communicating to us the sure and certain riches of the New Covenant.
In the course of the centuries there have been either denials of the existence
among us of the real presence of Christ who died and rose again, or attempts
at explanations which have only upset the integral and organic nature of the
cult of the Eucharist by undervaluing at various times either the priestly
ministry, or the sacrificial aspect, or ecclesial growth, or the transformation
in the liturgy of life and history which give to the cosmos its true sense.
It is urgently
necessary to get back to the organic truth of the doctrine in the whole of
our renewed pastoral activity, whether as regards spirituality, catechesis
This is the
Churchs great treasure: the Eucharist is the common boon for use in the future
of all the work of salvation.
so great a work, says the Council again, Christ is always present
his Church: he is present
in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in
the person of his minister ... but especially in the eucharistic species...
He is present in his word... He is present when the Church prays and sings.
Christ indeed, always associates the Church with himself; she is his beloved
bride. And so (the Eucharist), because it is an action of Christ the Priest
and of his Body, which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others.
No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and
to the same degree. 
The theme of
the living presence among us of the New Covenant is precisely one of the central
aspects of the eucharistic mystery which the Council wanted to restore in
all its greatness and wonderful fertility.
In his encyclical
Mysterium fidei on the doctrine and cult of the Eucharist, 
Pope Paul VI, while setting out on
the one hand motives for pastoral concern and anxiety with regard to possible
reductive interpretations concerning the permanent real presence of the body
and blood of Christ in the consecrated species, insists also on the objectivity
of other modes of the real presence of Christ in the celebration of the
Breaking of the bread. All of us realize, he says, that there is more
than one way in which Christ is present in his Church;
and he goes on
to list the various modes. The mind boggles, he concludes, at these different
ways in which Christ is present; they confront the Church with a mystery ever
to be pondered. 
us here are those modes of presence which are directly linked with the celebration
of the Eucharist. Let us concentrate on three of them which ensure the living
presence among us of the New Covenant.
refers to Christ in so far as he is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass
in the person of the minister,
the same now offering through the ministry
of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross; 
the one who presides at the Eucharist
is therefore playing a sacramental role.
emphasizes that Christ is present under the eucharistic species. 
Paul VI adds the comment in
the encyclical Mysterium fidei: This presence is called real, not with
the intention , if excluding all other types of presence as if they could
not be real too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is
to say it is a substantial presence by which Christ, the God-Man, is wholly
and entirely present. It would therefore be wrong to explain this presence
by having recourse to the spiritual nature, as it is called, of the glorified
body of Christ, which is present everywhere or by reducing it to a kind of
says that Christ is also present when the Church prays and sings,
he has promised where two or three are gathered together in my name there
am I in the midst of them (Mt 18,20). 
And the celebrating priests represent also the Church which, in
union with Christ, has recourse to the Father.
of real presence offer an admirable manifestation of the originality of
the ways in which Christ is with us. We need to concentrate our reflection
on them so as to re enlightened in our eucharistic awareness.
We know that
the redemptive effects of the Pasch have been realized in history once only
for all time, and that in consequence the personal oblation and immolation
of Christ are the great and unique sacrificial event of the New Covenant.
not have to offer himself again and again. ... or else he would have had to
suffer over and over again since the world began. Instead of that, he has
made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do
away with sin by sacrificing himself. 
point for an understanding of this mystery must be a consideration of Christs
resurrection as the indispensable foundation of his Churchs liturgy.
The great point
of all that we have said, (from the letter to the Hebrews again), is that
we have a high priest of exactly this kind. He has his place at the right
of the throne of the divine Majesty in the heavens, and he is the minister
of the sanctuary and of the true Tent of Meeting which the Lord,
not any man, set up. 
There you have
the tremendous aspect of originality! The sacrifice of the New Covenant is
not simply a fact from the past, but is renewed here and now in a sacramental
manner; when we celebrate the Eucharist, it is Christ himself who is acting
in the presence of the Father; Christ is therefore with us as the mediator
of the New Covenant between God and men. 
In the eucharistic
liturgy Christ himself is actively involved, and makes of his Passover a living
act which continues through all time in the Church.
During our eucharistic
celebrations we need to close our eyes sometimes and make the effort to meditate
so as to understand the transcendent density of the mystery in which we are
In the very
course of the celebration itself, after the consecration of the bread and
wine, we even interrupt the solemn prayer to the Father to exclaim with admiration:
The mystery of faith! When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim
your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory!
During the celebration
or the Eucharist, enlivening periods of silence are indispensable. The heart
of the believer has need of certain moments of recollection. The mystery calls
also for silence at times, not simply as a pause but as an opportunity for
listening to the Spirit. It is a moment reserved for movement of love to enable
a personal penetration of the sacramental veil to take place.
The richer the
mystery, the greater is the need for silent contemplation.
It is a matter
of savoring the presence of Christ, who involves us in the New Covenant.
The wonder of the Churchs sacramental character
Let us try to
analyze more deeply this living presence of Christ in the New Covenant.
First let us
look at its components.The one Priest,
his act of self-sacrificing oblation ( a death he freely accepted Eucharistic
prayer II) is Christ the High Priest who stands before the Father. The one sacrificial
is the flesh and blood of his human body, which is risen but which
continues to appear in heaven as the Lamb that was slain.  The sacrificial
is the true incorporation, through the mediation of the sacrament,
into that same body of Christ, which in this way continues to grow in a mystical
fashion throughout history. In fact, says St Paul: The cup of blessing which
we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which
we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is
one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one
There is indeed
a mine of authentic wonders to be discovered; they are contained and manifested
(albeit in a hidden manner) in the sacramental character of the Church, when
she celebrates the Eucharist. The Councils expression that makes of the Church
itself the great sacrament of salvation, goes beyond pure symbolism; it
objectively transcends the limits of time and space. Only with the eyes of
faith can one perceive the paschal reality.
At the conclusion
of the Eucharistic Prayer, which is addressed personally to the Father, we
proclaim in fact with reference to Christ: Through Him, with Him, in Him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours. Almighty Father,
for ever and ever. Amen! Everything is
realized through the real presence of Christ.
Let us dwell
briefly on these three points in the eucharistic celebration so as to better
appreciate their density concerning Christs real presence. In the
first place the Priests
who preside at the celebration of the Eucharist
have an exceedingly high sacramental role to fill. They render Christ himself
present and renew the content of his sacrificial offering, of adoration, praise,
covenant and apostolic commitment. 
also represent the Church. In the name of Christ and as representatives of
his Church, they speak to the Father; Paul VI says in fact: Christ is present
in his Church as she governs the people of God, since her sacred power comes
from Christ, and since Christ, the Shepherd of shepherds, is present in
the pastors who exercise that power, according to his promise to the Apostles. 
In this sacramental
role the priests gather together the daily lives of the faithful and insert
them into the very love of Christ; in this way every human generation enters
into the paschal work of the Lord, as a spiritual sacrifice in solidarity
with him. It is the sublime moment when history becomes transformed into liturgy.
It is not a question of some alienating rite, but rather of the highest degree
of celebration of the most concrete realization of human love in the unrolling
of daily life and in all the vicissitudes of existence through the authentic
significance of the universe itself.
And within this
role of ecclesial representation, there is a very special sacramental function
in the ministry of celebrating priests. While carrying out the liturgical
commemoration of the paschal events they act directly in the person of Christ;
they lend him their voice, through the help of a special sacred power. In
the person of Christ, says the Council, they effect the eucharistic sacrifice, 
elsewhere the same Council goes on to say: acting in the person of Christ
and proclaiming his mystery, they unite the votive offerings of the faithful
to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they
make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice
of the New Testament. 
What a great
mystery this is! Secondly,
we need to consider that the priests ministerial activity is permeated
by the power of the Holy Spirit for the consecration of the bread and wine
so that they may become the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, 
and for the invocation of the fullness of the Holy Spirit
upon the assembly.
manner of this presence is sacrificial; under the sacramental signs of the
body and blood (which were in fact separated during the bloody immolation
on Calvary), it makes truly, really and substantially 
present before the Father, Christs
risen body with the scars of the sacrificed and acceptable victim. The reality
contained in the eucharistic species, said St Ambrose, is not what nature
formed, but what the blessing created. 
And there, once
again, you have another aspect of the great mystery! Thirdly,
the real and substantial presence of Christs risen body brings with it
a new and wonderful sacramental effect: that of assimilation to him in
the Communion banquet. It is there that all of us who share in the body and
blood of Christ are brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. 
This is a truly
striking vision of faith. The sacramental rite of eating and drinking carries
with it, by analogy with the natural process of assimilation, a mystical incorporation
of ourselves in Christ, so as to form with him a single body as time passes;
for, as St Leo the Great says: The sharing in the body and blood of Christ
has no other effect than to accomplish our transformation into that which
we receive. 
When the Council
speaks of the Church as the Body of Christ it is not its intention that
the phrase should be understood simply as a figure or a metaphor. Lumen gentium
makes a clear distinction between images of the Church 
and the deeper expression the Church,
the Body of Christ. 
This latter expression
indicates, in fact, an objective and divinely mysterious reality which cannot
be reduced to the level of a simple metaphor; the term implies that the Church
is in reality a visible organism of spiritual life which, in virtue of its
being an assembly of persons in communion with Christ, becomes the overall
universal sacrament of salvation.
In the Mystical
Body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe and who, through
the sacraments, are united in a hidden but real way to Christ in his passion
and glorification... Really sharing in the body of the Lord in the breaking
of the eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with him and with
one another... The head of this body is Christ. He is before all creatures
and in him all things hold together... From him the whole body, supplied
and built up by joints and ligaments, attains a growth that is of God (Col
2,19)... And in order that we might be unceasingly renewed in him, he has
shared with us his Spirit who, being one and the same in head and members,
gives life to, unifies and moves the whole body. Consequently his work could
be compared by the Fathers of the Church to the function that the principle
of life, the soul, fulfils in the human body. 
description, while plunging us into the insuperable originality of the sacramental
dimension of the New Covenant, makes us more clearly aware of why the Council
spoke to us of the mystery of the Church.
It is in the
Eucharist that we perceive with wondering contemplation the tremendous innovation
of being Christians. Rightly should we recognize that all the sacraments,
and indeed all ecclesial ministries and works of the apostolate are bound
up with the Eucharist and are directed towards it. For in the most blessed
Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church.  Adoration and mission
The wonder of
the multiplication of the real presence is an incentive to us to place at
the center of our life of faith an attitude of adoration. The various stages
in the celebration of the Eucharist and the permanence of the consecrated
species are an invitation to a cult of contemplation in faith. It is something
of an excelling nature which provokes in us an intelligent adoring silence
while we venerate and contemplate its different aspects of cult, sanctification,
profession of faith, self-sacrificing witness, apostolic commitment, deepening
of truth, and triumph of love. In the
we may contemplate who is the priest who here and now makes the
true sacrificial oblation. As we have seen, it is Christ himself; and he does
it for us and together with us, so as to incorporate into his offering also
the contributions of our own daily life and troubled existence.
Here our meditation
should lead us to discover what is specifically christian, what was lived
and revealed by Christ in his Passover. In the Eucharist there is no danger
of ambiguous or distorted interpretations. What is specifically christian
is not to be measured by the yardstick of the Old Testament or by hasty temporal
expressions; it is presented in its full originality in the gift of self in
love which has become sacrifice: the ability to make a joyful offering of
the concrete and generous commitment of ones love.
The new Man,
the result of the Passover, lives in its fullness the love of a non-violent
charity, directing himself simultaneously towards its two objectives, God
and Man, through an intrinsic grace of unity which springs from the heart
of Christ where the love of the Father is the cause, the source and the strength
of our love for our neighbor, for the poor, for the young, for those in need.
too, we may contemplate the manner in which Christ
offers himself to us in the guise of a victim, prompting us to an understanding
of the rich value of suffering in life when it brings about an increase of
love through the giving of ourselves in sacrifice. This is why Christ remains
always, even after the Ascension, as the true Emmanuel, i.e. as God with
us because, as Paul VI recalls, day and night he is in our midst, he dwells
with us, full of grace and truth; he restores morality, nourishes virtues,
consoles the afflicted, strengthens the weak, and proposes his own example
to those who come to him. 
reason does the same great Pope Paul VI exhort us to tirelessly promote the
cult of the Eucharist, the focus where all other forms of piety must ultimately
And John Paul
II has reminded us that it is impossible to conceive of a local religious
community which does not unite in contemplative faith around the tabernacle.
in sacramental Communion,
we may contemplate the marvel of our assimilation
into Christ, as a result of which we become his Body to continue his redeeming
mission in the world.
At the communion
banquet we have two wonderful aspects on which to meditate: the fertility
of the Eucharist which daily generates the Church, and in addition its being
sent forth in history with a concrete mission for the salvation of men. These
are two quite fascinating considerations.
by the strength of the Spirit, is reborn from Christ every day, born of his
priestly mediation; in the Eucharist he mystically unites the Church, his
Spouse, with himself, thus forming a single fertile body which gives new life
to so many children. Here alone can the authentic matrix be found for the
origin of the Church! She does not rise up from below by some process of self-generation,
but is vitally inserted by sacramental action in a pre-existing and structured
living organism which is the Body of Christ. One does not receive communion
simply to take part in a ritual celebration, but by its reception one enters
into a living participation of what is specifically christian so as to feel
being sent forth for a mission of salvation.
This is why
communion prompts vital decisions, stimulates criteria for apostolic work
and provides paschal energy for growth and perseverance.
of the Eucharist, therefore, it can be clearly perceived that the New Covenant
is not a thing of the past, a simple doctrine or a mere ritual celebration,
but the permanent origin of the new Man in a People united by God to be the
protagonist of true human progress and of the gathering of all creation into
Christ. The pastoral obligation of creating Church
At this point,
my dear confreres, we have to ask ourselves whether so dense a panorama of
paschal marvels is really the guiding factor in our lives as consecrated people
and our commitment to pastoral work for the young and the poor.
None of us has
any right to forget or to pass over in silence the rich content of the Mystery
of faith. To prescind (cut off) from the Eucharist in salesian life and in
our pastoral and pedagogical activity would be to betray the sense and plan
of our apostolic consecration. 
In 1988 Don
Bosco expects us to rethink our preventive system in depth. Young people ask
for our sincere witness to the authenticity of the christian mystery, and
that we set it out for them. They have the right to expect that we appeal
to them as signs and bearers of the wonders of the New Covenant. Any dodging,
any camouflage, any desire to appear as no longer out of date, would disqualify
us from being disciples of Christ and Don Boscos legatees.
us: either to be with Don Bosco through the centuries, or to adopt certain
fleeting modern styles!
We must be able
to live and pass on to the young an authentic experience of Church at this
great historic moment of conciliar renewal at the dawn of the third millennium
of the Christian faith.
There is a delicate
and very important aspect which has been in my mind like a question mark while
making these reflections: what are we to think and do about the non-christian
youngsters who, in many part of the world, frequent our centers of education?
Clearly we cannot
use with them the same methods of christian initiation which must be used
in the case of those who are baptized. But in such a case must we say that
Don Boscos preventive system would lose its meaning?
It is an undeniable
fact that salesian pedagogy works with singular efficacy among a lot of youngsters
of other religions. Our own experience assures us that commitments of this
kind are fully justified and has prompted us to make altogether new evaluations
and appraisals in this regard.
In going into
this field we have followed precise indications of the Constitutions: People
still awaiting the gospel message, they tell us, were the social object
of Don Boscos concern and apostolic effort. They continue to stimulate our
zeal and keep it alive: ... the salesian missionary
makes his own the
values of these people and shares their hopes and anxieties. 
speaking of human advancement the Constitutions remind us that we labor in
economically depressed areas and for poor youth. We educate them to a sense
of moral, professional and social responsibility. In this way we contribute
to the development of both people and environment... While not getting involved
in ideologies or party politics, we reject everything that encourages deprivation,
injustice and violence. We cooperate with all who are trying to build a society
more worthy of mans dignity. The advancement to which we dedicate ourselves
in the spirit of the Gospel
makes tangible the love of Christ which makes
men free, and is a sign that the Kingdom of God is among us. 
And again: Imitating
we encounter the young at their present stage of freedom. 
activity, they tell us still further, is carried out in a variety of ways,
which depend in the first place upon the actual needs of those for whom we
are working. Sensitive to the signs or the times and with initiative and continual
flexibility we evaluate our activities. 
We must therefore
act in a whole variety of ways, but always as missionaries.
spirit does not prescind from the Eucharist nor diminish its central position.
Missionaries, in fact, as agents in a commitment to education, dedicate themselves
to their work in the spirit of the Gospel, imitating Gods patience and
being educators in complete fidelity to Don Bosco. Together with their work
for the large non-christian majority, on the other hand, they also educate
and form groups of baptized youngsters and believers.
both to nourish the spiritual life of confreres in this difficult apostolate,
to promote the growth of young people who are already christian, and also
to let others see what in practice is the secret motive force behind all their
kindness and activity and the real significance of their educational plan,
there is need to cultivate among them (and I would say especially among them)
in adequate fashion the absolute centrality of the eucharistic mystery.
up to this point, dear confreres, give us the assurance that there is an objective
relationship of mutual causality between eucharistic celebration, apostolic
and missionary spirit, and experience of Church. It is a vital relationship:
the one and only hope for the future. It has been expressed: the Church makes
the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church.
means being members of Christs Church. But the mutual causative relationship
between Eucharist and Church will be neither incisive nor fruitful unless
pastors and flock are reached and moved by its paschal content. Introduction
to such a sublime christian reality poses a particularly urgent challenge
at the present day to the pedagogical ability of communities and all workers
in the pastoral field. Among other things, all are in need of greater liturgical
knowledge and competence.
To form true
christians means to introduce them to an experience of Church. And every true
experience of Church makes the believer a sharer in the reality of the Mystery.
It is true that today one must be able to begin from the hermeneutic sensitivity
to the signs of the times which has led to the present cultural transformation;
but if we want to introduce the young to the New Covenant, we must be able
to give pride of place to the immense innovation of the Passover, and situate
it before the interesting but comparatively tiny innovations of the anthropological
turnabout. The paschal novelty judges and assumes in the course of time but
also infinitely surpasses so many progressive cultural innovations which,
although having a certain value, pale into insignificance in comparison.
Workers in the
pastoral field are invited to become qualified at one and the same time in
both the emerging culture and above all in the deep and precise sense of the
paschal mystery, always thinking with the Church, and eschewing unworthy
exploitations. No one will ever be able to present anything greater and more
novel than Christs Passover, the great masterpiece of the Father and the
supreme work of Man.
And so it will
be necessary to lead up to the great contents of the Eucharist by a most adequate
cultural mediation. At the present day cultural innovations are certainly
exacting; but the goal aimed at will always be that of making understood,
accepted and shared the paschal mystery of Christ.
Our task is
to single out the pedagogical and pastoral path that will best lead to a true
christian initiation (the mystagogy so dear to the Fathers of the Church).
Every pastoral commitment must seek to find the road which leads to the indispensable
meeting between contemporary sensitivity and the saving contribution, so necessary
and insuperable of the New Covenant.
path to be followed in the generation of Church demands a strong commitment
to renewal, both in catechesis about the Eucharist and in its liturgical celebration.
In such a celebration
the Church proclaims both the mystery of its own precise nature (= ecclesiology)
and the fruitfulness of its specific mission (= ecclesiogenesis). She is the
Second Eve, with whom Christ, the Second Adam, gives origin to a new human
Hence one cannot
be satisfied with seeking in the Eucharist something new about God or about
man; one cannot stop at a simple introduction to rites (though this is necessary);
nor will it suffice to celebrate mere human, youthful or social values. What
is required is a true introduction to the mystery of Christ.
In this way
the eucharistic celebration will appear as a genuine meeting between existence
and faith, between daily life and the Gospel, between the saving truth and
the paschal memorial will grow the discovery of love and the precious nature
of life; it will be urgently necessary to educate to a sacramental sensitivity
with its original and symbolic richness; and the attitude of contemplative
adoration will need to reintensified Pastoral pedagogy will be concerned to
foster active participation, the awareness of being sons in Christ, the peculiar
christian values of gratitude, the settings of solidarity, and the historical
requirements of the mission.
This is the
practical way to generate Church, a way that offers society upright citizens,
who are competent and responsibly committed. It is through the Eucharist that
will be formed that valid Laity to which the recent Synod of Bishops referred.
We, who are
sons of Don Bosco and have inherited a precious pedagogical legacy, must be
able to propose and communicate always to the young the specifically christian
content of the Passover of Christ offered to them in the Eucharist. Some concrete requirements of Don Boscos eucharistic pedagogy
of the Jubilee Year invites us to attach great importance to the pedagogy
of kindness, which is a characteristic of the preventive system.
Allow me, dear
confreres, to put a fundamental question to you: what place in our educative
projects at the present day is taken by the eucharistic mystery?
Let us be honest!
Perhaps many of us are just wasting time. Don Bosco does not agree with certain
kinds of rationalization. We need to do some serious revision and then make
a courageous fresh commitment. The preventive system, in its most genuine
expression, will always be based on pastoral charity sustained by the two
great columns of the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. These
statements are not just relics of an obsolete religious culture, but prophetic
perspectives of Vatican II.
From the spiritual
and pedagogical legacy left to us by our Founder there emerge among other
things the following practical requirements to which we must give our attention.
First of all
Don Boscos spirit, as we have seen, is entirely concentrated
on Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, from which comes forth the fire of Da
mihi animas. Our communities must grow around the altar, and draw on the
riches associated with Emmanuels dwelling with us.
Christ is not
only the great personage of our ideals, but also the Friend who lives in our
house with us and for us. We look continually to him in the supreme expression
of his Passover. Don Bosco wrote in the spiritual testament he left us: Your
first Rector is dead. But our true Superior, Jesus Christ, will never die.
He will always be our Master, our guide, our model. But remember that in his
own time he will also be our judge and the rewarder of our faithfulness in
his service. 
place of Christ is lived, in our spirit, with an unusual sensitivity as regards
contemplation and friendship towards the Eucharist, and hence with a particular
delicacy and studious respect for its humble sacramental dimension. It should
be embellished by art, by dignified liturgical vestments, by an elegance of
cult which rejects oversights, bad taste, coarseness, and the decay of its
inherent symbolic messages.
From a merely
external point of view, everything about the Eucharist seems almost insignificant:
the person of the priest (one of us like all the others), a piece of bread,
a little wine, some words of prayer. If we do not raise these elements to
the much higher and dignified level of the ecclesial part they play through
their sacramental expression, if we present the persons of the celebrants
as just ordinary people, if we trivialize the rite of Mass, if we carelessly
change the liturgical Prayer to suit our arbitrary and passing fancy (or even
our ideology), we deprive the heart and contemplative thrust of the liturgical
rite of its content of mystery, which in fact is substantially inherent in
Let us not forget,
my dear confreres, that the Eucharist is something than which nothing can
be greater; and it is this as a reality of the entire Church: in the Church,
with the Church, for the Church!
on the part of priests a special contemplative ability, whose interior vitality
must be concentrated on the risen Christ (the one and only High Priest!) and
on the Church his Spouse to serve her and represent her worthily.
And here allow
me to remind you, dear confreres who are priests, of the importance of a daily
nuptial attitude deeply linked with the Eucharist: I am speaking of the praying
of the Divine Office. We
priests recite it with the Church and in the
Churchs name for the benefit of all. Unfortunately there are some who have
no clear awareness of its nature and ecclesial value, and skip over it as
though it were simply a personal prayer to be said or not according to ones
Article 89 of
our Constitutions says explicitly that the Liturgy of the Hours extends the
grace of the eucharistic mystery throughout the day. 
And it further reminds priests and
deacons (the clerics) of the obligations assumed at their ordination.
I think it will
be useful here to quote in its entirety a passage from the decree on the General
Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours 
in which deals precisely with the
relationship between this official prayer and the Eucharist.
of the Hours, we read, extends to the different hours of the day the praise
and prayer, the memorial of the mysteries of salvation and the foretaste of
heavenly glory, which are offered to us in the eucharistic mystery, the center
and culmination of the whole life of the christian community. The Liturgy
of the Hours is in itself an excellent preparation for the fruitful celebration
of the Eucharist because it fosters the necessary dispositions, such as faith,
hope and love, devotion and a spirit of sacrifice. 
attitude of Jesus Christ is centered without any doubt in prayer. He himself
has said that we ought always to pray and not lose heart. 
We know too that through him we continually
offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. 
We give back to the universe its
true sense: being made the voice of praise of all created things.
It will therefore
be necessary for this more intimate relationship between the Eucharist and
the Liturgy of the Hours that greater attention be given, especially by priests
and deacons, to the Churchs prayer of the Divine Office.
(N.B. It will
be a good thing to read, both individually and in community, what was suggested
by the Councilor for Formation, Fr Paolo Natali, in AGC 321 [April-June 1987,
pp. 44-56] concerning our liturgical celebrations. He gives some directives
and guidelines which are needed in a particular manner at the present day!)
And so Don Bosco
wants from us a higher level of spirituality and celebration in the liturgy.
It does not matter that others may follow poorer and even trivialized ways
of doing things, justifying themselves with pseudo-cultural reasons. The great
criterion which must enlighten our own celebrations and prayer is the ineffable
and definitive value of the paschal events.
We must have
the courage to face up to the educational consequences of such a criterion
if we want to achieve success in the laborious pedagogical work of leading
young people to live the Eucharist.
And this leads
us to a second group of practical requirements called for by the prophetic
legacy of our Founder. For the education
of the young and of people in general.
Don Boscos apostolic activity
was designed to lead to the Eucharist those to whom it was addressed. In his
biography of Francis Besucco we find him saying categorically in Chapter 19:
They can say what they like about various educational systems, but I find
no other sure foundation than frequent Confession and Communion; and I do
not think it an exaggeration to say that if these two elements are left out,
you can say good-bye to morality. 
Such a peremptory
tone is unusual in Don Bosco; it is explained by the polemical context in
which he was speaking, but it reflects his real feelings.
of Reconciliation combined with a living participation in the Eucharist was
in the hands of Don Bosco the pedagogical means par excellence for correcting
his boys and building a true and solid piety, of the kind that is required
in life and penetrates it. 
of our Fathers pedagogy is certainly of wide extent, but it would be difficult
to deny that these two sacraments Reconciliation and the Eucharist constitute
its source and summit.
Our very Constitutions
(to which we look in order to prepare ourselves for our great relaunching
on 14 May next) recall the same thing in various articles:
knowledge is to know Jesus Christ, and our greatest delight is to reveal to
all people the unfathomable riches of his mystery. We walk side by side with
the young so as to lead them to the risen Lord, and so
him and in his Gospel the deepest meaning of their own existence, and thus
grow into new men. 
the young to the experience of ecclesial life by bringing them into a faith
community and helping them to take part in it. 
and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, celebrated with care, are means of exceptional
value for education to christian liberty, to conversion of heart and to
a spirit of sharing and service in the ecclesial community. 
We must therefore
revise the way in which we carry out our daily work for the young. We must
move gradually: Imitating Gods patience, say the Constitutions, we encounter
the young at their present stage of freedom. We then accompany them, so that
they may develop solid convictions and gradually assume the responsibility
for the delicate process of their growth as human beings and as men of faith, 
but it should be always
clear in our educational projects that we introduce the young to a conscious
and active participation in the Churchs liturgy, the summit and source of
all christian life! 
the young to a conscious and active participation in the Churchs liturgy
means, in practice, introducing them to the paschal mystery. In Don Boscos
method of education it meant building up an awareness of faith and of the
friendship of living with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
attitude of this kind requires, among other things, careful pedagogical attention
to the following six eucharistic aspects:
without a sense of sin, it is impossible to understand the central and indispensable
place of Christ; and on the other hand, without a deep understanding of the
truth of love, sin will be incomprehensible;
by the Word of God: only the light of the Gospel can provide a valid response
to lifes pressing problems;
of the real presence of Christ in the New Covenant: we cannot insist too
strongly on the need to make known and understood the wonders of the sacramental
character of the Church in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass;
4. living incorporation
into Christ: sacramental communion is the true cradle of the new Man; it
should be continually presented and inculcated as the source of deep convictions
and as strength for courageous christian behavior;
being the Body of Christ in the world requires the daily commitment to take
part in his saving activity; one of the characteristics of our educational
work must be to introduce young people to the apostolate;
the friendship of adoration, not forgetting its reparation aspect. Don
Bosco gave special importance to the fact of having Jesus in the house, close
at hand and available to us; the inculcating of the Emmanuel mystery banishes
the depression of feeling lonely, and ensures that each one has a strategic
starting point for the revival of his appreciation of the good of his own
There you have
some guidelines for drawing up practical programs.
A little earlier
I mentioned the step by step pedagogical approach. Initiation to the eucharistic
mystery is a dynamic and pedagogically creative process, which develops gradually
as those to whom it is addressed grow in their understanding of the paschal
events, and the consequent demands they make for faith in personal and social
But going slowly
is no excuse for stopping halfway or, worse still, for not starting at all.
It keeps always clearly in mind the goal to be achieved, and the process is
no longer gradual if there is not a continual movement towards the objective.
It always supposes therefore a pedagogical and concrete growth which provides
a permanent stimulus to those who want to be true christians and live by the
And that leads
me to repeat with deep conviction what I said at the outset: the theme of
the Eucharist is a vital one for us; it is the measure of our spirit and activity!A Marian devotion which leads to the Eucharist
dear confreres, I suggest to you a stimulating aspect suited to the Marian
Year we are at present living. I will mention it only briefly without developing
the idea. I am thinking of the eucharistic perspective of Don Boscos devotion
to our Lady.
The 1860s were
a critical period in the Italian Risorgimento
, especially in Piedmont.
Everything seemed to be conspiring against the Church. Don Bosco watched attentively,
suffered, and then went into action. He saw in the rebirth of eucharistic
devotion and of that to Mary Help of Christians the two columns on which to
lean to avert catastrophe.
In a political
and cultural context which compelled the Pope and the Church to live in a
state of siege, he could find no better course of action than to place unlimited
trust in the mystery of the Eucharist and the powerful intercession of the
Help of Christians.
Though he was
not a theologian by profession, he sensed as a pastor and educator that the
line of force of the faith passes always through the Eucharist with the motherly
mediation of Mary.
On 30 May 1862
(the year and month of the first salesian profession ceremony!) Don Bosco
narrated his famous dream of the two columns which rose in the midst of
an endless sea. One was surmounted by a statue of Mary Immaculate at whose
feet a large inscription read Auxilium christianorum; the other, far loftier
and sturdier, supported a Host of proportionate size and bore beneath it the
inscription Salus credentium. 
are the two who have been raised from the dead: Christ and Mary
the new Adam and the new Eve who guide the Church!
symbol of the Church, the one ark of salvation after a furious struggle
with the stormy sea and the concentrated attacks of the enemy ships, fought
back and won through as soon as it had tied up to the two columns, i.e. the
Eucharist and Mary Help of Christians.
the dream has a strong apologetics message, but it also expresses Don Boscos
state of mind and deep convictions.
of the following year, 1863 writes Don Ruffino our Father gave us the
Strenna for 1864 Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary, taking
up once more the dream of the two columns. Listen carefully to what I say.
Picture to yourselves a huge globe hanging at its poles from two columns.
On one is written: Regina mundi, and on the other Panis vitae. The columns
give out a very brilliant light, while places remote from them are shrouded
in darkness. 
Jesus and Mary
are for Don Bosco people who are alive and living in history; they intervene
powerfully in favor of the Church. Mary leads to Jesus, but his real presence
to which she leads is that of the eucharistic mystery.
every contingent and limited social and political situation, there remains
as a living and contemporary fact the perennial and prophetic significance
of the two columns. To them we too must have recourse in our interior life
and in our pastoral and pedagogical commitment to the education of the new
I think it will
be meaningful to recall that the moving episode concerning the foundation
of the house at Liege in Belgium, which emphasizes this relationship. Mgr.
Doutreloux, the energetic Bishop of that city, had gone to Turin on 7 December
1887. Don Bosco was seriously ill at the time. The Superiors, who had already
discussed with Don Bosco the Bishops request for a foundation, told him that
the project would have to be delayed because of lack of the necessary personnel.
On the following morning, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the
Bishop went personally to greet Don Bosco who, to the surprise of all the
others, gave him an immediate affirmative reply. What had happened in the
meantime? Our Father had said to his Secretary, Don Viglietti, that morning:
Get some paper, take your pen and write down what I am about to say: These
are literally the words which the Immaculate Virgin said to me when she appeared
to me during the night: It is the wish of God and of the Blessed Virgin Mary
that the sons of St Francis de Sales should go and open a house at Liege in
honor of the Blessed Sacrament. There public honor began to be given to the
glories of Jesus, and from there the same glories must spread to all your
houses and communities, and specifically to the young people who will be entrusted
to their care all over the world. Feast of Marys Immaculate Conception, 1887.
And there he stopped. While he had been dictating he wept and sobbed; and
he was moved with emotion for quite some time afterwards. 
Do you not think
that this is an emblematic incident which, while revealing the Marian heart
of our Father as he lay dying, manifests the living and concrete trend of
his Marian devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist?
It must be our
hope and prayer, dear confreres, that Don Bosco, going beyond the mentality
and language of his time, will always remain a hundred years after his death
our Teacher and Guide towards the living presence of Christ who involves us
in the wonderful sacramental gift of the New Testament.
Each day Mary
leads us to Christ. And may Christ be always for us the Emmanuel of the Churchs
liturgy and of the tabernacle.
let 1988 reawaken in our hearts the salesian spirit in so intense a form that
with intelligence and courage we shall be able to renew through the Eucharist
Don Boscos legacy in our pastoral work for the young and the poor.
I send you my
cordial greetings and best wishes, especially for 14 May!
With hope and
trust in the Lord,
Fr Egidio Viganò 
C 23 
ASC 290, July-Dec 1978 
C 10 
C 11 
C 12 
C 13 
C 14 
C 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 
C 88 
SC 10 
Jn 6, 56 
Jn 6, 66 
G. Bosco, Il Giovane Provveduto
, Turin 1863, p.
Opere e Scritte ed. di D. B, v.6 Turin SEI, 1929-1965
cit:ed. Caviglia, v.4, Savio, c.14, p.37 
BM 4, 317 
G. Bosco, Il cattolico istruito nella sua religione
Cattoliche I (1853-54) 9, p.191 
G. Bosco, Il Giovane Provveduto
, Turin 1847, p. 85; Opere
Edite, v. II, p.265 
E. CERIA, Don Bosco con Dio,
Colle Don Bosco (Asti) 1947, p.
97-98; BM I, 387 
BM 4, 314; BM 12, 702 
MB 17, 558-559 
G. Bosco, Il Giovane Provveduto
, Turin 1847, pp. 84-85; op.
cit. p. 264-265 
BM 7, 466 
ed. E. CERIA, SEI Turin 1955, v. I, p. 299 
BM 6, 77 
MB 14, 44 
MB 12, 641 
BM 12, 18 
Caviglia, v. 4, Savio, c. 14, p. 35 
G. Bosco, Il Giovane Provveduto
, Turin 1885, p. 108, in Op.
Ed. v. XXXV; Coucil Trent Session 22, c. 6 in DENZINGER-RAHNER 1955 n. 944;
also G. Bosco, Il Giovane Provveduto,
2, VIII (append Const. p. 25) 
G. BOSCO, Il Sistema Preventivo,
2, VII (ibid.) 
G. BOSCO, Il Sistema Preventivo,
Turin 1847, p. 103 
BM 9, 167 
24 February 1865 
BM 8, 32 
MB 16, 195 
C 10 
C 11 
Conc. Trent sess. 21 
Conc. Trent sess. 22 
e.g. Eucharisticum mysterium,
Cong. Rites, 25 May 1967 
PO 5 
Rom 8, 20-21 
GS 22 
Advent Preface I A 
GS 45 
Heb 9, 12-28 
Rev 5, 6-12 
Heb 9, 11-12 
SC 10 
SC 7 
3 September 1965 
(MF) in Enchirid. Vat. Edizione Dehoniane,
Bologna, v. 2 1976, n. 422 
SC 7 
MF, op. cit. n. 424 
SC 7 
Heb 9, 25-26 
Heb 8, 1-2 
Heb 9, 15 
Rev 5, 6 
I Cor 10, 16-17 
PO 2 
MF, o.p, cit. n. 422 
LG 10 
ibid. 28 
Eucharistic Prayer II 
DENZINGER RAHNER, En symbol
, 1965, n. 874 
MF, o.p, cit. n. 429 
Eucharistic Prayer II 
LG 26 
LG 6 
LG 7 
LG 7 
PO 5 
MF, o.p, cit. n. 438 
MF, o.p, cit. n. 436 
C 3 
C 30 
C 33 
C 38 
C 41 
F. MOTTO, Memorie dal 1841 al 1884
(Spiritual Testament) ed.
LAS Rome 1985, p. 31 
C 89 
CIC can. 1174, 1 
2 February 1971 
General Instruction on Liturgy od the Hours,
n. 12 
Lk 18, 1 
Heb 13, 15 
ed. Caviglia, v. 6 Besucco,
c. 9 
ed. Caviglia, v. 4, Savio
, Studio p. 355 
C 34 
C 35 
C 36 
C 38 
C 36 
Eph 4, 13 
BM 7, 107ff. 
BM 7, 354 
MB 18, 438-439