Salesian Holiness

Exercises to the Salesians 1955 - The report

Fourth sermon - THE REPORT
26 July 1955 afternoon



Our congregation, for the sake of our soul, for our perfection and also for the ever progress of our pious Society, puts at our disposal, at least once a month, another sort of confession. The opening, - as they say, - of our conscience in the report. Allow this evening that our Don Bosco tell us his thoughts in relation to this. 
This fact is praiseworthy, - as I told you. The circulars of our dear Don Bosco date back to 69, the date of the approval of our society. And we start with that first circular we read in our first conversation, about the purpose of the one who joins our congregation. They follow up and down, and we are in March 69; a little later, at Pentecost, we read the circular in relation to unity of spirit, unit of administration. And on the day of the Assumption, he feels the need to write again a circular that refers precisely to the whole report. I think that in Don Bosco's mind and it seems to me so clear, so reasonable, to conclude that all Don Bosco makes precisely the bases of the spirit consist, - let us say so, - of the soul of our congregation on these fundamental points. Later it will deal with the others but the initials are precisely these. 
And he writes precisely on the day of the Assumption: "Most beloved children, Divine Providence ordered that our pious Society be definitively approved by the Holy See; and we, while in the humility of our hearts, highlight the goodness of the Lord, we must work with great care to correspond to the purpose we have set for ourselves by entering the congregation, and to maintain the exact observance of the rules in all those who have professed them. And among the articles of them, there is what concerns the relationships and confidence that must pass between superiors and inferiors. " 
Notice these words, because it may be that even among the Salesians there is a concept, I would say, not too clear in relation to the report. Sometimes it is thought that the report is simply a report to be made together with the superior, in relation to the students; one speaks rather of others than of oneself. Or, yes, things that are useful for good progress, however, but beware that the thought of Don Bosco, - we will see it even more clearly later - this must serve to maintain the good relations and confidence that must pass between the superior and the inferior. And he says precisely the rule: "Everyone has great confidence in the superior, nor does he hide any secret from the heart". The scope of the report, we all know it, is not a confession. 
"This article is of utmost importance. And it has been observed that the entertainments of the superior with his subordinates returned of great advantage; therefore, in this way the ones can with full freedom expose their needs and ask the opportune councils, while the superior himself will be able to know the status of his confreres, provide for their needs and take those deliberations that contribute to facilitate the observance of the rules and the advantage of the whole society. "A
fairly long discussion and a fairly long thought in which he wanted to express this Gospel concept:" Veh alone! Quia cum ceciderit non habet sublevantem se. Si unus ceciderit ab alio fulcetur ”. And he quotes St. Thomas: "Iuvatur a sociis ad fulcendum." And he continues: 
"In order for this concept to be brought back to our society, it was thought well to establish some things that can be said to be the practical consequences of the article mentioned above. First: two lectures will be held each month, one of which is about reading and explaining the congregation's rule; the other conference around moral matters, but in a practical way and suitable for the people we are talking about. "These are the two famous conferences of which, - I have been in the congregation for 60 years, and it seems to me that in all the Spiritual Exercises to whom I witnessed, especially when there were those holy souls of our superiors, in the past years, - the holy Don Rua and go saying, there was no other refrain precisely that this of the two conferences, we already knew ... Sign that... 
Include it with these thoughts of our Don Bosco and we will then understand more deeply why Don Bosco has also established these two conferences.
"Second: Every member, once a month, will present himself to the superior of that house to which he belongs and will explain to him what he judges to be beneficial to the good of his soul, how much he will believe advantageous for the good of his soul, and if he has any doubts about to the observance of the rules, he will expose him asking for the advice that seems appropriate to him for his spiritual and temporal profit. " Understand the words of our Don Bosco, the thought of our Don Bosco; and then you will see the conclusion. 

“For his part, the director, with due charity, will listen to everything in a fixed time, indeed, he will try to ask each member separately about the health of the body, the offices he carries out, religious observance, studies or work at which must wait; finally, he will try to encourage him, help him, with the work and with the council, - careful - to put him in a state of being able to enjoy the peace of the heart, with the tranquility of conscience that must be the main purpose of all those who are part of the our society. ”
We take the report in this respect; and then you will see what strength the congregation has handed over to be able to precisely achieve our perfection. The thought of Don Bosco is very clear. And he wants to repeat it: 
“To render one's own account to one's superior is a general practice of all religious houses and a great advantage is found; so I hope a great good of it among us, above all to achieve the much needed peace of heart and tranquility of conscience. " 
My dear confreres, let us combine the thoughts that we have meditated this morning; let us repeat in our mind and in our hearts the thoughts of Don Bosco in relation to confession; let us remember these thoughts in relation to the statement, even - mind you - since they are also simply external things. We have full freedom; the rule grants it. Remember the preliminaries of the rule and the beautiful pages that Don Bosco wrote above the report and he was very inspired by St. Francis de Sales who also has magnificent pages in relation to this topic. Let us take advantage of it.
"I cherish my dear children; we have a big business in hand. Many souls await salvation from us and between these souls, - here you see the continuous thought of Don Bosco, - and between these souls, the first, must be ours, and then that of our members, - and see that it broadens the concept - and that of any faithful Christian, to whom it happens, we happen to be able to bring some advantage.
God is with us, let us work to correspond to the heavenly favors He has granted us and which we hope will take more copying for the future to grant. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ always be with us and grant us the spirit of fervor and the precious gift of perseverance in society. Amen. Solemn day of the Assumption of Mary Most Holy, 1869. " 
The concept of our Don Bosco is clear. Here you see, we must strive for perfection; yes, this tendency towards perfection is remembered daily in relation to the various occupations that we must do, but here is the predominant thought of our Don Bosco. And you see that he wants to put, precisely even in the congregation this very important means, so that we, by opening our hearts with that familiar confidence, with that confidence of children towards the father, we can certainly manage to take advantage of it for the good of our soul. Clear, and you understand it, there is no need to make so many speeches in this regard, that this union of confidence, this union I would say, this individual cooperation of each member, for the well-being also administrative, scholastic, scientific and go saying of the congregation, then comes,
If we love our congregation, we must be co-interested partners, I would say so, together with superiors to be able to make all things go well. We will be a small cell, we will be a part, we would say, infinitesimal in this body of the congregation. It doesn't matter, - we said it, Don Bosco made it clear - it's not the position that counts. It is the exercise of our duty, albeit humble, hidden. Concretely, but before God, in this harmonious device of souls who unite together for the Glory of God and for the salvation of their soul and of others, you also see others, that the account has its important moral part . 
It is difficult, sure, it is difficult to do the statement well. Rule 1-2-3 up to the number 8, it is obvious, this says it "What he believes opportune", if we consider it, true, from this point of view. But if we consider it for spiritual profit, for the spiritual direction of our soul, you others also understand that it has its difficulties. Difficulties that we know, we have tried them all and we try them; so we forget, we don't give importance, we feel the weight of the report. And as the members feel, the one who receives the report feels it. 
My dear brothers, do you know what the difficulties are? The difficulties depend first on our self-respect. The good Garbellone said, many of you others know him: "Yes, yes! We all have a bit of humility! ”And in that word“ humility ”he meant ... absolute repugnance, or rather repugnance to absolute submission. The spirit of independence! And beware that this - do not be amazed - you will experience it, and this spirit of independence you see, this spirit of difficulty of absolute submission, the perfect domination of our self-love grows with the increase of the years. You will feel when you are old, what the difficulty means, and the difficulty of the report.
We sometimes have too much faith in our strength, too much faith in our science and go saying. We think we do not need anyone, more than anyone who can support us, direct us, advise us, guide us. Only children must be guided! Just the Confession! Why do I have to go to the manager, to the judgment of another? My views also relate to the size of my duties ... Young people especially are afraid of being reprimanded, of receiving paterals. And at times, for many, you believe, for many the report is nothing more than an outlet for being able to say its own reasons that are thought to be overwhelmed, that is thought to be not understood; or ask for permits, ask for favors. Ah, it is so my dear confreres.
And therefore for all these reasons we understand that the report is difficult, because precisely it is difficult. If we have this sense of conviction of wanting to obtain the sanctification of our soul, and if I understand - as I think we all understand - that this of spiritual direction understood as Don Bosco presents it to us - is a very important means to succeed in this perfection that we have embraced and that we have to continue every day, I think, that despite all the possible difficulties, we must try to do better than we can the account. 
Sometimes without doing the accounting, I would say so, orally, but do it in writing. We were taught by our dear Don Piscetta, our old directors taught us that. Well, there is so much difficulty going to the director and saying: "Look, my dear manager, I have come for my report; in this month it seems to me that nothing has changed since last month. "No, no, nobody would have anything to show, nothing at all. Sometimes, I remember, I went to my director Don Piscetta: "In this month, nothing!" "Good dear, go on!" It's difficult? No, because sometimes they are all fantasies, imagination, especially young people come to the head. 
We don't make things difficult; we are not there to strologare. We do our duty with such simplicity and naturalness. It is clear; the statement is based on confidence; and sometimes we don't feel this confidence. It is then, precisely that so many and many difficulties arise, but my dear confreres, we are religious, and we must not forget that this religious practice can also be considered, and in many cases it is precisely so, like a cross that the Lord sends us. Embrace it, otherwise we would never do it, not even a step in the way of perfection. In a conference of 1875 Don Bosco says this: 
"The statement is the main key to the good progress of the house; generally in these reports the confreres open their hearts, they say everything that punishes them, and if there is any disorder, they reveal it; it is also a very effective means of making corrections, even if it were necessary, severe, without bringing indignation. Always in private. What I then consider to be the key to every order and every morality, the means by which the director can hold the key to everything, is that one receives punctually the monthly statements; never leave, for any reason, and do so with commitment. Every director should always remember to ask for these points. ”  
Note these points and you will see Don Bosco's thought and religious action. 
"- In your office, do you find anything that is really contrary or repulsive to you and that can prevent your perseverance in the vocation?
- Is it anything to you that can be done or prevented to avert the offense of God, to remove some disorder and some scandal at home? - Article 8 of the report. -
- From the other account to this do you think you have made some spiritual profit? "
But you see my dear confreres, here is the essence of the report: think of our soul; to think that our holiness consists in fulfilling our duties. And we have not performed these duties at times; it is an external fact, we have not performed them; the assistant, you assistant did not find time and this disorder happened, and a not indifferent disorder ... and we go saying. Should we be afraid to tell the manager? Eh everyone knows what happened. If we have a little experience of life in our homes. You also think of others, to the consequences of times of lack of assistance and for a certain period of time. 
Whoever talks to you, I think I mentioned it, once I found all the clerics of the class who walked up and down, up and down the school benches. There was no teacher. Needs of then. They were walking on the desks! ... It is not a sin, neither mortal nor venial, but well! you also understand others! But, and among young people, are there no other things happening? Eh, I remember when our good Don Balzola was an assistant, an altar boy in Faenza, when the undersigned was a kid ... eh, he didn't arrive in time in the laboratory. Very difficult assistance, especially in Romagna, with those characters! He entered 5 minutes later, seeing nothing but firecrackers flying left and right; if they pulled them together, understood. 
Mostly the confreres speak and discover things we would never think of and that they often believe that we already know, or that we take them into little account. In these reports, therefore, everyone opens his heart completely to the superior; you understand, wander around outside things, unless the partner wants to talk about it.
In a ticket from 1876, a small simple ticket like this, recorded in the archive, among the practical rules of good housekeeping is written like this, in a big character:
"Absolutely necessary: ​​- underlined - First: monthly statement. Second: every week, read a part of the rules and a part of the Chapter deliberations. "
We certainly remember all, my good brothers, the famous dream of 1876, the dream in which that explanatory voice was heard that said: "Work and temperance will make our congregation flourish." In that dream we also talk about some nails that torment religious congregations. The 4 nails: “Quorum deus venter est. Quaerunt quae sua sunt, not quae Iesu Christi. Aspidis lingua eorum. Cubiculum otiositatis. And then, - says Don Bosco, - I saw a special compartment on which was written: "Latet anguis in herba", in the grass there is hidden the snake. - 

And he comments: "There are certain individuals who are hidden; they do not speak, they do not open their hearts to superiors; always keep their secrets in their hearts. Be careful, "Latet anguis in herba", they are true scourges, true plague of the congregations. " But can we consider children, these people, who see evil at home and do not speak? Certainly the last point of the report, my dear confreres, for what refers to the spirit of morality, to the concept of responsibility, which is not only for our soul, but for the souls that are entrusted to us, for our neighbors ; eh, more close than our brothers what do you want to think? 

Sometimes it is known that a poor brother is there vacillating for his vocation; he is a friend, he has talked with you, and you keep that in your heart and say nothing to your superior. And so you say, of other things that can happen among young people, especially in relation to morality. 
Think of this also in relation to the readings; books are discovered, newspapers are discovered that should immediately be thrown to the fire and there are fools, - let's call them this so as not to say another word, - who are then there to absorb all this poison, and then, or forget that book that goes then in the hands of many others and do not speak. "Latet anguis in herba." They are true scourges, true plague of the congregation. Still that bad, if they were revealed they could be corrected, but no, they are hidden. We do not realize it and meanwhile the evil becomes serious, the poison multiplies in the heart of them and when they are known there would be no more time to repair the damage they have already produced.
If we try to avoid the vice of gluttony, seeking comfort, murmuring, idleness, turning them away from us and adding that everyone is always open and sincere and confident with their superiors, we will do good for our souls and in our at the same time we can also save those which Divine Providence will entrust to our care.

There would still be an immense material, - I do not exaggerate the word, - if we wanted to draw thoughts on this topic from our Don Bosco. They seem to me to be fundamental points, and especially, to consider - as I have told you - the statement as a very strong means for our Company as well as all the other reasons for which the statement must be done well. Reporting is a power of information, reporting is a power of attraction that unites souls together. 
My dear confreres, but think that the genuine thought of Don Bosco in relation to our congregation is that this is a family; not only among us Salesians, but between us and our students. And therefore this family spirit, how can it exist if there is not this mutual loving confidence that must bind all our hearts, all minds, all our actions in unity of spirit, in local units, in units of identical action to carry out the glory of the Lord and the salvation of souls? 
I conclude, my dear confreres, because it is probable that you have already heard it, I have also proposed it to you in these exercises, in addition to the words of our Don Bosco, to recall that of our venerable Rector Major, and of the speech he gave to those - so to speak because there were so many - in any case to the confreres, present, true, in his last lecture at Don Boscosha: “Another important point is the report. See, I always say it; the direction of the congregation is based on the superior chapter, on the provincial council, chapter of the houses and the account. The confreres must make them speak. That the life of the house does not escape us, and in order not to miss it there is no other means than the account. Let us remember it well, the education of the confreres takes place through the account. " 

You will say to me: "But read this here to those who must receive the report."
We too must know what we must do, because the account does not do the mica the account; the director and the inspector will do it for his superiors. It is fine eh, we must make the true account to our superior. 
"A director who is good at reporting the confreres is 90% of the direction of the house. The report is made so that the confreres come to talk, to confide, to let off steam. How can a director know so much about the house if the confreres do not speak? And don't give them a chance to talk? Let them tell their impressions, that they manifest what they find irregular, out of place, - I would add, especially in their soul. - If there is something wrong, it may be that the person concerned is careful not to say it; but someone will have noticed well; someone will have known. Speak and manifest clearly to the director. If we see in the confreres what we would not have expected, it is not a surprise; we are together to help us. Ab haughty fulcetur. It is natural that these things happen; anyone can happen, even to me who am Rector Major, because we are men and nothing that is human is impossible. This is why we need guidance. Remember it well, one who does not let himself be directed, falls. This is the first duty of the director; do it without haste in the most suitable time; and I would say, this is also the duty of individual members. To make their report without haste and in the right time. Because the duty of reporting is not a simple duty of the director; it is the duty of every member. In the rule there is that everyone must present himself. Attention to young people and isolated confreres; young people need to be loved and to love, especially in training. These dear confreres need to be loved. " This is the first duty of the director; do it without haste in the most suitable time; and I would say, this is also the duty of individual members. To make their report without haste and in the right time. Because the duty of reporting is not a simple duty of the director; it is the duty of every member. In the rule there is that everyone must present himself. Attention to young people and isolated confreres; young people need to be loved and to love, especially in training. These dear confreres need to be loved. " This is the first duty of the director; do it without haste in the most suitable time; and I would say, this is also the duty of individual members. To make their report without haste and in the right time. Because the duty of reporting is not a simple duty of the director; it is the duty of every member. In the rule there is that everyone must present himself. Attention to young people and isolated confreres; young people need to be loved and to love, especially in training. These dear confreres need to be loved. " In the rule there is that everyone must present himself. Attention to young people and isolated confreres; young people need to be loved and to love, especially in training. These dear confreres need to be loved. " In the rule there is that everyone must present himself. Attention to young people and isolated confreres; young people need to be loved and to love, especially in training. These dear confreres need to be loved. "
Here we speak in general of clerics; I wanted to say, to our Rector Major, you also talk about our young auditors. And under a certain respect perhaps these young men need more direction, than our clerics, even though they need it very much and need it too. And when they are young men, do not believe that they are satisfied with their mother's love, they feel the need for another love, and if they do not find it in their superior or director they seek it elsewhere. It is the history of the congregation. And it's a statistic that makes you think. 300 and more losses in a year; with around sixty provinces, an average of six per province. And mind you, it is above all those who are in training. 
You will tell me that they were not treated in the student residence or in the houses of formation. When we were there, in the good times of Valsalice, you knew the letters that came to the poor director. But what do those there do in the student residence, what kind of clerics? Well done that here the Rector Major says: 
"Do not say that they were not treated in the student residence or in the houses of formation. They were sent into houses full of enthusiasm and good will; and were lost during the internship. I know this. Some directors think only of raising buildings, of arranging rooms. But what does it matter to me if you lose the brothers who are the life of the walls. When a cleric feels above all left alone, untreated, - and think of the assistants, especially the general assistants who are always with the young, never with the community; - when a young cleric finds himself ... and feels untreated well, scolded, gets discouraged and leaves. Remember that the hard word is never forgotten. " And now dear clerics, do not panic: 
"Do not expect from them what they cannot give. Clerics are still children and therefore one must know how to understand them, sympathize, help and above all encourage them. "  
This" children, "mean it, in the life of perfection. Here, my dear confreres; these thoughts more or less coordinated, but it seems to me that in these there is the whole heart of Don Bosco, in giving his children with religious life this means that is so important for the good of the soul, as well as for all the other advantages. 
Despite the difficulties, let us do the statement well. Those who must receive it receive it well. And I would say this: to forgetfulness, to difficulties, try to meet the invitation, in such a way that really all our dear Salesian confreres can take advantage of this great medium that is personally very important - I repeat - for the good of the soul and, socially speaking, it is more than perfectly indicated and very important for the good of our congregation. Trust us, let us love one another with the love of Jesus Christ, giving life to the power of our good Mother the Madonna, help us to do our duty also. Praised be Jesus Christ.