Salesian Holiness

Exercises to the Salesians 1955 - The missionary spirit

27 July 1955 morning



This morning we have meditated on our missionary vocation. I anticipate what I would have liked in our conversation to tell you in relation to this subject, sung according to the spirit of our Don Bosco. So this morning we must tell ourselves something in relation to the Salesian missionary apostolate according to the spirit of our Don Bosco, according to the suggestions of our Don Bosco. 
Of course, the universality of the work of our Don Bosco, - and we all know what the purpose of our society is - naturally led him also to think about the conversion of the infidels. We all know the life of Don Bosco, the life of Don Bosco, a young boy, the life of Don Bosco when his priestly vocation, Don Bosco's life in the seminary, his doubts in relation to his vocation are more clear if it were rather the religious state. We also had the idea, we know, of going on a mission; he was firmly stopped by his spiritual director Don Cafasso. And then when he sees himself foreclosed, he tries to transfuse precisely this missionary ardor of his congregation and wants for others how impossible it was to realize by him. 
Remember the first missionary dream 1871-72. It is not clear, but in any case it serves. He didn't understand it well; goes in search of who these mysterious savages he could see, with those strange forces of that dream; are 3 years of study that he does. Then in 1874-75 the chink opens: the invitation to Argentina. 
On the following feast of St. Francis de Sales he gives the solemn announcement and wanted this announcement to be just something special for the Oratory. Let us think then, in those times, of the beginning of our small congregation. And then, from that day, we can say that a new story, the history of the Salesian missions, also begins for our society. And for the Glory of God, with holy pride, we can say that, even though we are among the last missionary congregations, we have gradually risen. And we are certainly not the last. The thought of Don Bosco in relation to the missionary apostolate, and for Don Bosco who is the missionary, it seems to me that I can summarize it by taking elements from the data left by our Don Bosco here and also by the definitions that it is customary to give of the missionary. 
It seems to me that one can, in Don Bosco's mind, consider the missionary as the man of faith, of prayer, of action, of sacrifice that is given in the details of daily life to the Lord to cooperate in his Glory for the salvation of souls , not only of souls in general, but of the infidels in particular, and to ensure that the Church is - is now said the word "plantatio" - planted where the missionary works. This thought is very clear in Don Bosco; the word itself, plantatio, also uses it in its letters to the missionaries. Some hints, - I do not mention the pages, - are things that you can all consult. 
"The missionary must obey, suffer for the glory of God and give himself the utmost care to observe those vows with which he consecrated himself to the Lord. To work only for the divine glory and for the salvation of souls, for the triumph of religion and of the Catholic, apostolic and Roman Church. "
And to a soul that asks if it can be a missionary, if its vocation is a missionary vocation, Don Bosco he answers: "If he only looks for Jesus and his cross, if he really wants to suffer with Jesus, go on a mission." For the missions it takes a lot of prayers, a lot of work and a lot of time. Time is of the Lord, work is of the missionary, prayers are of us all. 
It seems very clear to me, I repeat, the concept of our Don Bosco of whom he considers truly missionary: "faith, prayer, action, sacrifice, - we were told this morning, - courage." Think of the courage, perseverance, faith of our Don Bosco in the institutions of the missions. Beyond the missionary vocation, it is very clear in the concept of our Don Bosco that there are also those qualities that can more easily overcome those difficulties that we have also meditated this morning in missionary work: a physical, intellectual, moral preparation that is necessary to accomplish well your duty. Previously and now, dear confreres, especially our clerics, theologians, I am here precisely to accomplish this preparation. 

This morning there was talk of not only internal but external enemies of the mission. The Holy Church, when sending the missionary, gives him special instructions; and right in the first few pages he makes the missionary consider: "Take care that your enemies, especially your internal enemies, are briefly summarized in the 3 temptations that blessed Jesus suffered there in the desert. Are you hungry? - Tell these stones that they become bread! "Man does not live by bread alone!" It is the first temptation. That is, sometimes the missionary forgets the spirit and sticks to the flesh; sure, he finds himself in a state of very strong temptations even in this regard; think of the climate, think of nourishment, think of unnerving work; they are certainly occasions that facilitate this temptation. 

The maximum temptation: presumption. It smells of presumption, of vainglory. Sometimes we get carried away by excessive externalization, we get drunk on successes, how we become discouraged in the deficiencies we experience in ourselves, bad results and go by saying.
Third, lack of spirit of faith. 
And so Don Bosco thinking precisely about these difficulties, not only external but internal, - and beware that Don Bosco initially sent his missionaries not to infidel countries. In preparation to get in touch with the savages, with the Indians. It doesn't matter, but his thought is clear, you have to get there, through the schools, and so on. You know, - and then Don Bosco wants to surround the soul of his children of all those means, methods, of all those calls that can manage to overcome these inner and outer difficulties. And here are the letters. 
Oh, how can we follow even just for the little that we have in the Biographical Memoirs, as individuals follow and each one precisely, because these his children, his first children, had with Don Bosco an openness of mind as precisely his son more tender towards his beloved father, he follows them step by step. And then officially - we know it - he also went to meet them with those we used to remember, "The memories of Don Bosco to the missionaries."
On November 11, 1875, when Don Bosco had the great function of leaving the missionaries of the first expedition, when the function was over, at the final embrace, each one handed a piece of paper on which printed exactly were those memories that we also reproduced in our regulations . And from these we can clearly understand what was the missionary spirit of our Don Bosco and what are the essential characteristics of the Salesian spirit in mission. And allow us to give these memories together again, accompanied by other secondary memories that our Don Bosco gave to the missionaries either by letter or during other expeditions.
The base, the first: "Seek souls, but not money, nor honors, nor dignity".  
The base: What is our mission that we said this morning. We must "Preach Jesus, Jesus crucified." And this Crucifix is ​​so because he wants to save souls. "Look for souls. - And underlines Don Bosco in other memories and in other letters: "Not with science, but with holiness, not with riches, but with example and with piety, we will do great good by promoting the Glory of God and salvation of souls. " And he wanted to write:" Put your soul to safety first and then take care of saving one's soul. Praebe teipsum exemplum bonorum operum. In omnibus labora. Opus fac evangelistae. Ministerium tuum imple. Et Dominus dabit incrementum evangelizationi tuae. " 
Oh, if the missionary really did the missionary, how many miracles of holiness would shine on every side. But unfortunately many are afraid to work and prefer their own comforts. Remember what the Church tells us: "Tell these stones that they become bread". You became a Salesian to save. We are looking for souls, my dear confreres; and especially we are missionaries, the first missionaries for our soul. And in help of the soul Don Bosco insists: Tenth quarter and tenth fifth, I remind you, about the practices of piety. "Never forget the Exercise of Good Death; every morning he recommends to God the occupations of the day, specifically the confessions, schools, catechisms, sermons. " 

Tenth sixth: "I constantly recommend devotion to Mary Help of Christians and to the Blessed Sacrament." And in other recollections: "In whatever need you may find recur and commend yourself to Mary and be assured that your hopes will never be disappointed." death and frequent Communion are the key to everything. Tenth seventh: "To the youngsters recommended the frequent confession and communion well done."  
See Don Bosco's care for our souls; wants us also because we are missionaries, - because you see there is this thought in the minds of many Salesian missionaries ... Of course I am a missionary; but on mission you can do whatever you want. We start from the point of the ceremonies, all the dispensations, all the things ... We think that we must sanctify ourselves. It is the constant refrain that we should precisely put, precisely sculpting deeply in our heads and in our hearts. This is our first job! 
And then you see that Don Bosco, takes care of our soul and suggests to us precisely those means that must be followed to ensure that it really for us, in conditions, sure, different from the ordinary ordinary conditions of our houses, where there is no è, - we will say properly speaking, because even there it is mission - in any case you see, with what care our Don Bosco holds behind the education of our soul. Not enough, even to the body: 
Tenth first: “Take care of health; work, but only as much as your own strength entails. ”In medio stat virtus. Sometimes, even in mission, efforts are made that are useless, even harmful, harmful to the individual, because they become ill, and therefore harmful to others because the missionary can no longer work. Sometimes, we think that missionary zeal, so called for good, is to jump, even in dizzying work, material ... and even if prescribed, not to take even those ordinary hygienic rest and similar things, because we think that with that, of course, the missionary spirit is better represented. 
When it is necessary for the salvation of souls, but we also have it in our rules, but surely, "we must be able to bear the cold, the hunger, the thirst, the heat and all that, until death, for the love of the Lord . ”But in short, in between is virtue. The zeal for the health of souls does not consist naturally in the ruin of our health. 
"Take care of health; work, but only as much as one's own strength does. "No no! But this yes: "Great sobriety in food, in drinks, in rest." This is hygiene; and it is in this way that we must also take care of our body. And the same memory will then be repeated in the memories, in relation to the holy purity. The Salesian in mission, says Don Bosco, must not forget that he is a good religious; and here then, true, that Don Bosco recalls the most essential points in relation to the observance of the holy vows. Tenth quarter: "Observe your rules. Be the norm of your work, read them often, always obey them. "   

Remember, the great dream of Don Bosco's missions, the second. The one that accompanied him from the Dal Colle, and turns, one can say, all the universe, especially there, in the Argentine area. We are told, "But yes, all this will happen, but we must maintain the observance of the rules in the spirit of the Society. Let us observe the rules with which we have consecrated ourselves to the Lord. " Poverty, tenth second:" Let the world know that you are poor, in clothes, in food, in homes and you will be rich in the face of God and you will become masters of men's hearts . " Chastity: eleven:" Great courtesy to all but flee conversations and familiarity with people of other sex and suspicious conduct. " 

Let us not forget that we, due to the need for the apostolate, are in relationship with these female congregations: Salesians with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, for the mandate, of which our venerable Rector Major spoke, with the Caritas family. Then you will have opportunities, by necessity, with other religious congregations. Let us not forget that there are laws of the Church in this regard that we must observe, both in relation to the manner of dealing and in relation to confessions and similar things. As Salesians we have very clear rules in this regard. The Magna-carta, we will say so, in relation to this subject, is the famous letter that you can find of our beloved late Mr. Don Albera, in the collection of letters and circulars of this our revered superior; and we must stay with that. 
Third: "Do not visit, except for reasons of charity and necessity." Our missionaries, in the practice of life, know very well the need for these visits. We can say that, at least here, in the Tokyo area, if you do not make these visits, eh are almost always visits to families, evening visits, necessary to do their job. Don Bosco says: be careful. And do not make these visits, except for reasons of the apostolate, except for reasons of charity, of necessity, the need for the apostolate. "Do not accept - fourth - never accept lunch invitations except for very serious reasons; and in these cases you try to be two. "Eh, you must also understand others, according to the conditions of the countries, etc., etc. 

Ninth. "Escape idleness and issues. Great sobriety, I repeat, in food, in drinks, in rest. "
For obedience:" Observance of the rules and union with the superior. " One of the fundamental points then, on which Don Bosco insists, on which the Church insists and on which all the missionary spirit is founded, even of all religious congregations, it is charity. I remember our saint Don Rinaldi when he sent us there for the first time, gathered in nine in Don Bosco's room. That Don Rinaldi celebrated Holy Mass and then made a small speech in which he said: "Go to this new country, remember that the weapon with which you can win souls are not those that we others can think of, but it is charity, charity, charity. " 
And our Don Bosco, precisely addressing the missionaries, to one of the missionary expeditions there in the chapel of Sanpierdarena said; "You will find difficult and undisciplined characters down there with whom you must use charity, charity, charity." And this charity first of all we must use it among ourselves. Tenth third: “Among you, love yourself, advise yourself, correct yourself, but never bring envy or rancor; indeed the good of one is the good of all; the pains and sufferings of one are to be considered as pains and sufferings of all. And each studies to remove them or at least to mitigate them. Then, no one even thinks about what he knows or does. "Ex fructibus cognoscetis eos." And if we do nothing but talk together and others shouldn't ..., we need to leave. 
Counsel! I found this medium that facilitates a lot in us: always bringing to light all the true things that are done. We always talk a lot already. "Coming to the test, everyone can do what is possible without ostentation. But we must also use this charity with others. Don't look at other people's faults; we all have it. Everyone does his duty, so that it does not happen that one works for three and the other for no one. "And take care, especially - I remember him here - of the sick, of the children, of the old and of the poor, and you will gain God's blessings and the benevolence of men." Tenth eighth. "In relationships and in contentious matters, before judging, both parties are heard." 
We then need, said Don Bosco, everything and everyone. We need to make friends with each other. It was Don Bosco's rule, "Keep the powerful man friend so that he will not harm you, lest he harm you." And then you see that there is a series of articles in the memories that serve precisely for this.
"Pay tribute to all civil, religious, municipal and governmental authorities. Meeting an authoritative person, take care to greet them obsequiously. "This is the norm for us. Sometimes the missionary isolates himself precisely from the environment in which he must live and thinks he is a religious who must remain closed in his cell. But the missionary must forge relationships with all possible and imaginable people, especially with the authorities. It is in this way that then all the forces of the missionary can be connected in order to be able to untangle this skein, which at times is very difficult, this block against which we must fight with strength and courage to be able to fulfill our missionary duty. 
Eighth: "Do the same to the ecclesiastical or aggregate to the religious institutes." In Japan then especially. Indigenous clergy, religious institutions and congregations of all kinds; but if you don't get along, nothing comes to an end. No way. And don't be afraid if they get irritated. And don't be afraid. We will say, but what do they have to say? Never mind, come on! It opens my eyes. It is from the union of forces that one can actually succeed in doing something good. Don't be afraid. "Love, - Don Bosco, smart, - love, fear, respect other religious orders and always speak well of it. This is the means of making you esteem by everyone and promote the good of the congregation. " And Don Bosco then insists - I would say as a final conclusion - in relation to Salesian work: vocations. 
"All the concerns of the Salesians and of the Sisters of Mary Help of Christians are aimed at promoting ecclesiastical and religious vocations." In the great missionary dream this is heard. "To cultivate - eighteen - ecclesiastical vocations insinuate love for chastity, horror of the contrary vice, separation from the devils, frequent communion; used with young people: charity, loving kindness, special benevolence. " And let's not forget that our venerable Rector Major, precisely in his visit, also spoke words for this, for this missionary work, especially then on vocations. 
"Above all, you must make this environment suitable for the development of vocations. How well the companies can do in this regard. Yes, the companies also of pagans. I have seen that in some houses you have organized the Companies among the pagan students. It doesn't matter that you can't follow the traditional regulation to the letter, it's the spirit that counts. My heart opened up, I didn't believe. I told the inspector and I repeat it. And I decided that there should be a discussion on the religious education of the pagans for the next General Chapter, how it can and should be done. We use schools as a missionary field; it is here that we can carry out our apostolate, even more than in the parishes. For religious education we must do well, choose the right men to teach, use good texts. And here goes a praise, and he really deserves it, and a special thanks to Don Barbaro who has completed the texts for high schools. - We will not be able to give everyone baptism; we do our part, and the rest will do the Lord. Use the filmstrips as means; they are of great importance; they greatly facilitate teaching and make it attractive. And the day comes when you can have filmstrips that are suitable for this Japanese environment. I am pleased that you are ahead on this point too. Remember that the term of comparison for the good progress of a house is the sprouting of religious vocations and also for the secular clergy; sure, also for this we have to work and you will see how the bishops will thank us. " - We will not be able to give everyone baptism; we do our part, and the rest will do the Lord. Use the filmstrips as means; they are of great importance; they greatly facilitate teaching and make it attractive. And the day comes when you can have filmstrips that are suitable for this Japanese environment. I am pleased that you are ahead on this point too. Remember that the term of comparison for the good progress of a house is the sprouting of religious vocations and also for the secular clergy; sure, also for this we have to work and you will see how the bishops will thank us. " - We will not be able to give everyone baptism; we do our part, and the rest will do the Lord. Use the filmstrips as means; they are of great importance; they greatly facilitate teaching and make it attractive. And the day comes when you can have filmstrips that are suitable for this Japanese environment. I am pleased that you are ahead on this point too. Remember that the term of comparison for the good progress of a house is the sprouting of religious vocations and also for the secular clergy; sure, also for this we have to work and you will see how the bishops will thank us. " And the day comes when you can have filmstrips that are suitable for this Japanese environment. I am pleased that you are ahead on this point too. Remember that the term of comparison for the good progress of a house is the sprouting of religious vocations and also for the secular clergy; sure, also for this we have to work and you will see how the bishops will thank us. " And the day comes when you can have filmstrips that are suitable for this Japanese environment. I am pleased that you are ahead on this point too. Remember that the term of comparison for the good progress of a house is the sprouting of religious vocations and also for the secular clergy; sure, also for this we have to work and you will see how the bishops will thank us. " 
All our brothers, especially from the missions and also us, here in the Tokyo area, in Osaka, etc., we have also worked for vocations. And whether you go to the seminary or anywhere, you must thank the Lord. "Cultivate the former pagan and non-pagan students, cultivate the cooperators." And our Don Bosco ends in his memories, recalling the spirit of Salesian missionary work. And he says: 

"Continue with energy and sacrifice; the effort should always be to make and build schools and to draw up some vocation for the ecclesiastical state; some sisters for the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, but let us not forget that we go for the poor and abandoned children. And don't pay attention to hardships or privations, to the scorns of the world. Do what you can and God will do what we cannot. Confide everything, - repeat what we have said before - in Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and Mary Most Holy and you will see what miracles are. But there is only one thing to recommend; that my children constantly recommend the virtue of Mary. " And our good father concludes with that memory which we always hear repeated on the occasion of the repetition of our holy vows. 
"In the labors and in the sufferings do not forget that we have a great prize, prepared the sky."

It seems to me, I say, that by studying the backbone of these memories, by annexing these thoughts that our Don Bosco has said to missionaries on other occasions, we have everything necessary and sufficient to be truly good missionaries, first of all for us, for our souls, and for all the souls, who are not few, that the Lord has entrusted us here, in our dear Japan. Let's not forget, it's duty. But allow me to conclude, insisting, on how much in our meditations and in our poor conversations we have insisted, that is our spiritual formation, our sanctification. 
Accept these memories. You need to see that we operate as men, manly, with spontaneous and personal energy in this topic. In the exercise of virtue, we must operate from us, independently of the excitements of the superiors and also from certain external aids, with firm, determined will. It is a matter of interest precisely for the salvation of our soul, for our spiritual formation. And if there is not this, the spiritual formation of others is impossible, because we cannot give to others what we do not have. 
Do not forget our Italian proverb which exists in all countries. "The eye of the master fattens the stable." And if we have eye to our soul it is natural that the profit is made. But note that we must act with spontaneous and personal energy, because sometimes we wait, we will say, for the jelly made. And we act simply because a superior tells us: but he does so, but look ... The superior will do his duty, but it is we personally who must operate independently of these excitations because it is a matter of our interest. And look at the saints, who sought precisely, tried all possible and imaginable means and employed all their forces. But look, my friends, our Savio Domenico. "I absolutely must make myself a saint." Absolutely! Boy, thirteen fourteen!
So, let's try my good brothers, to love our perfection. Let us be humbly ambitious, let us be passionately holy; - perhaps a word a little stronger - holyly obsessed. Then yes we will do something good. Today we have reflected on our missionary vocation. Let us thank the Lord and think precisely of continually preparing ourselves. The preparation of the missionary must not simply be for you here in the few years you are in Chofu. It must always continue with a crescendo, ad meliora, higher. This is how we must always operate. 
May our dear confreres enlighten us, in this work of our improvement, in this passion of our perfection, our good mother Mary Help of Christians, queen of the Apostles and our Don Bosco who gave us all these means that facilitate our missionary work .