Salesian Holiness

Exercises to the Salesians 1955 - The unity of spirit

Second sermon - UNITY OF SPIRIT
25 July 1955 afternoon



"Haec est voluntas Dei sanctificatio vestra." It is the Lord who comes in full to validate what we were saying this morning. Let us sanctify ourselves and if we do so, we will be useful tools in the hands of the Lord to sanctify others as well. Do not forget my good brothers, because it is something that can sometimes come into someone's head; that is, to think that being Salesians is a de facto condition rather than a special one in this world. Yes, we have been chosen by the Lord, precisely in our dear congregation. But beware, that before being Salesians, we are Christians; and mind you, if you analyze precisely our holy rules, our Don Bosco proposes us precisely as sanctification this: the perfection of our Christian life. 
Our Don Bosco places at our disposal means which facilitate this obligation of ours, which we assumed when we received Baptism, when we received Confirmation, when the Lord descended into us and descends into us in the Holy Eucharist: it is the perfection of Christian life. So also, if you hear, we will say so, that the Salesians talk a lot about Don Bosco, we must think precisely about this: The means and suggestions that our Don Bosco gives us are precisely to facilitate this that we have professed with our rule: the perfection of the Christian life.
On the basis of all the teaching of the Lord, and also of the reading that we have made this morning of our Don Bosco circular and in what we will do later, we see nothing but quotations from the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; let us not forget this, my few brothers: "Haec est voluntas Dei" is the will of the Lord "sanctificatio vestra", with the means, in the place, at that time, which the Lord, in his Divine will, has established. It is up to us to make an effort to carry out these means which, together with the Grace of the Lord - we can do nothing without it - we will really be able to sanctify ourselves.
 And here is our Don Bosco who still insists on a means, perhaps one of the most important, and which, mind you, is a poor thought of mine, is rather weak among the Salesians of Japan, what is clearly determined by our Don Bosco in the second chapter of our constitutions. Therefore we seek in the words of our dear father who invites us precisely to reinforce this "spirit of unity" in us. We are historically in the period in which Don Bosco finally approved, after all the difficulties we know, his congregation. And it seems to me to read in his words, to feel the satisfaction: that he had finally reached what had cost him so many years of work, of sacrifices. 
"Our Congregation is approved, - we are in 1869 when the approval of the congregation took place, - We are bound to each other, I am bound to you, you are bound to me, and all together we are bound to God. Church has spoken. God has accepted our services, we are obliged to observe our promises. We are no longer private persons, but we form a society, a visible body; we enjoy privileges, the whole world is watching us. And the Church has the right to our work. It is therefore necessary that from now on every part of our regulation is executed on time. We are the ones who must base these principles on the right bases, so that those who come after will only have to follow us. "
Just remember the thought of this morning, the position in which we find ourselves in front of our dear Japanese confreres, who evidently will be at the head of our dear Society here in Japan in a few years time. "Let us always remember that we have chosen to live in society, we have chosen to live in UNUM. What does this mean to live in UNUM? It means IN UNUM LOCUM, IN UNUM SPIRITUM, IN UNUM AGENDI FINEM. We must first of all, and this is the first condition of a religious society, to live in UNUM, be a unity of body. A religious congregation must have as a human body, must stand as a human body of the head and limbs, the one subordinate to the others, all then subordinated to the head. " 

And so our Don Bosco then does so many special cases; he also mentions the admiral, constitution of the mystical body of the Church, to make this unity of spiritual body precisely understood.
And he continues: "Because a society like ours thrives, it is necessary that it be well organized, that is to say who is in charge and who obeys. Who does something and who else, according to their abilities. Nor does he who obeys envy the fate of those who command, nor those who work the fate of those who study and the like, because both are necessary; and if everyone studied and all commanded, there could be no more variety; suppose that in the body there were all eyes or all ears or all hands; is there still a living body? No, but a monster. Therefore, in our society there must be those who preach, those who confess, those who study, those who teach, those who provide for material needs, those who are moral; and this being the case, obedience is required to the leader who will put one to one office and the other to another. And this is like the pivot on which our whole society is based; because if obedience is lacking everything will be disordered; if, on the other hand, obedience reigns then only one body and one soul will be formed to love and serve the Lord. Here is the purpose. The divine service, the Glory of God, the health of souls, and before, of our soul; let's never forget it. " 
Sometimes, with this phrase: Glory of God and health of souls, we put ourselves in the midst of this work to do good, etc. etc., and we forget ourselves, which is precisely the fundamental point. Let us sanctify ourselves and then we will also sanctify others. 
And here Don Bosco reveals to us those details - I would say - that are proper to our life and make cases: he who teaches, perhaps he who fucks, he who waits for material things ... And the fruit? The fruit - here is the utility of living in common - the fruit is always the same for everyone; so much for one who exercises a high office, as for one who exercises the most humble; after which so much merit will be those who preach, the one who confesses, who teaches, who studies, like the one who works in the kitchen, who washes dishes or fucks. In society, the good of one remains divided among all, just as evil in some way remains bad for everyone. 
"Therefore any employment one has it fulfills. Each before God will have merit for obedience. We work in common and sleep in common; if one does good, one has equal merits before God, if one does evil the whole congregation loses. " Sure, because there will not be the blessing of God. The unity of spirit follows again, unity of obedience, which we will discuss later in the following instructions; this in general. "In particular I give you two tips: be careful not to break that unity." 

And note that Don Bosco gives examples of the rupture of this unity of body precisely in the environment, - we will talk about it later, - where the Salesian must show all his characteristic as a Salesian educator: in the courtyard, and mentions clerics, crocchi of superiors who instead of waiting for young people talk to each other. And therefore they do not take care of their duty so important for assistance.
"Supervision, tours of the house. - and concludes - Oh if you knew the good that the Salesian does when he occasionally goes around the house. It always turns out something faulty. And it is in this way that one can also avoid sins ...
My dear confreres, those of us who have been in our homes for many years, think of his youth and think of the shortcomings that escaping out of the courtyard, perhaps we put myself in the middle of it, we have committed. And think, - Don Bosco insists on this concept - this too is a rupture of unity of body.
"Every day the visit to the Blessed Sacrament." By sanctifying first we will try to sanctify others. And it has a magnificent circular that is written in the month of May, without date, but it is certain in this period of time of the approval of the rule that is entitled: "Unity of spirit and administration through the observance of every article of the constitutions. " 

"I am convinced that you all have a firm will to be persevering in the Society and therefore to work with all your strength to win souls for God and to save your own soul first. In order to succeed in this great enterprise, we must, on a general basis, use the utmost promptness to put the rules of the Society into practice. Because nothing would benefit our constitutions if they were like a dead letter to be left in the desk and nothing more. If we want our Society to go ahead with the blessing of the Lord, it is essential that every article of the constitutions be the norm in operating. However, there are some practical and very effective things to achieve the proposed purpose and I want to talk about this. Among these, I note: the Spirit Unit and the Administration Unit. 
And by unity of spirit I mean a firm, constant deliberation to want or not want those things that the superior judges or not to greater glory of God. This deliberation never slows down; however serious are the obstacles that oppose the spiritual and eternal good according to the doctrine of Saint Paul: Charitas omnia suffert, omnia sustinet. This deliberation induces the confrere to be punctual in his duties, not only for the command he is given, but for the Glory of God which he intends to promote. From this comes the readiness to do meditation, prayer, the visit to the Blessed Sacrament, examination of conscience, spiritual reading at the appointed time. It is true that these things are prescribed in the rules but if they do not try to get excited to observe them for a supernatural reason, 
What powerfully contributes to preserving the unity of spirit is the frequency of the Holy Sacraments. The priests do what they can to celebrate Holy Mass regularly and devotedly; those who are not in such a state try to attend Communion as often as possible. But the fundamental point is in the frequent confession. " We will talk about it on another occasion. "Everyone will try to observe what the rules in this regard prescribe." The unity of obedience, and the unit of administration we will talk about. 

"Let us all animate ourselves, especially for two things: first we try to work a lot, to do very well; then tell others what they want. Believe me, it's just not possible to satisfy everyone, it's really not possible. I can tell you that this is still my commitment, not to discontent anyone, but I warn you more and more that making everyone happy is impossible. We therefore work hard, do what we can and do it all. On the other hand, we can say, let's not worry about what others can say about us. We always say good to everyone. The second thing in which I would like us to get so involved, is to remove the grumbling even among ourselves. If anyone has any notes to say, but talk to their superiors. " 
It is true that we are told about this subject in so many circumstances in exercises and conferences, in private and in public, that I insist my dear brothers because it seems to me that it is the simplest and most natural way to avoid precisely this murmuring spirit ; I don't even call it murmuring; the murmuring is another beast that absolutely must not enter the soul of a Christian, much less into the soul of a priest. This spirit of criticism, because - I would say so - we are not yet convinced of this spirit of unity, of which our Don Bosco speaks to us. 
Ah, if you could all make a concrete study, I would say so, or of human physiology, or, indeed, studies on the many mineral and vegetable and animal species; and study with the microscope in hand, study with all the reagents and reagents we have available, chemical elements, electricity, and go by saying and even minutely studying one of the smallest of these beings. You see, the perfection of those individual elements that all of us together form the unity of this little being that I cannot see with my eyes if I am not armed with very strong lenses. And each has its purpose, and everyone has their part. And precisely, as our Don Bosco said, as Saint Paul says, as Jesus blessed himself says "I am the vine and you are the branches". But if we complain because we are the last sucker that is there at the base of life, but why does the Lord keep me so hidden? Yet even that small part of life has its importance, and if it is lacking it does not perform perfection; and so it is with us, my dear confreres.
We are gathered in a community; there is the superior but the superior face as superior and we do not want to do his part; let's do the part that is assigned to us and do it the best we can. We have something to say, let's say with charity. We also expound our thoughts; but because sometimes, my dear confreres, we are three or four and we start talking about a guy, a caio and a sempronio; and maybe it is distant and you bring out the imperfections, the flaws, the .... of this individual. But it seems to me that it is reasonable and that this spirit would be removed from us if each of us did this: "I have something to say to my superior, do I have something to say to my brother? but I go directly to him. "But you feel dear, it happens like this, so and so. But feel dear brother, so, so-so. ”Well, don't you think so? 
And so the director in relation to his confreres, the prefect for his parts and in relation to his confreres, school counselors and catechists and professional counselors, and go by saying, each frankly, then gently, with charity, with good manners, he said precisely what seemed to him opportune, before the Lord, for the good, for the Glory of God, for the health of his soul, for the health of souls of which he is responsible before the Lord. But say. And then doesn't it seem to you that all these things would be avoided? It seems so natural to me!
And - I repeat, - here is if you could see and even study and honestly tell everyone the structure of all beings, that all tend to this unity, and all model studies do not tend to this unity? Unity of ideas in the philosophical field, unity of scientific ideas, the unity of matter and go on saying; everyone gets together to see if they can find points so they can get along together. And we others who should form a family, we who must be united in one, but we must really eat each other, and not be able, we will say so, frankly, but I repeat, with good manners? Because sometimes it manifests itself to the superior, it is manifested to the companion what is believed opportune of I do not know, precisely in a trivial form that one would not even do in front of any man of this world. 
We can all be wrong, but we understand. And then to avoid precisely this, you see, it is Don Bosco who advises us. "Is there anyone who has anything to say? But talk to your superiors. "   

I would say: talk about it with the responsible superiors. The director will be responsible for everything, but the prefect is also at home, the councilor is in the house, the catechist is there, and you go by saying; each has its own attributions. Each of you others in his house will also have his attributions; are you not assistants? are you not a teacher? Aren't you dear chief co-workers of your laboratory? and there is no sacristan, and things like that? But if we really have something to say, whatever you want: that sacristan there does nothing, here and there, up and down ... Go tell him! but be careful, light the candles, make it here and there, it seems to me ... Does it not seem to you? But it seems so and so logical, so reasonable! 
Here then is that there would really be - you understand it too - this unity of heart, this unity of mind, this unity of charity that is most important. We will try every way to remove the reasons for bad temper, but no one has ever complained about anything. "Especially let's support each other, always, both among ourselves and with others; both internal and external. This will greatly contribute to the increase and the good of the congregation. " It seems to me that more clearly than this, our Don Bosco could not speak. 

In the first general chapter of 1877 of which I spoke to you this morning, Don Bosco established the program and there are 4 substantial points which he considered opportune for the good progress of the Society from the beginning. And in one of these points, and he wrote in big terms: "Basic principle: Common life is the bond that supports religious institutions; preserves them in fervor, in observance of their rules; without a common life, everything goes wild. " 
I make no other quotations from his confidential memories and similar things; this spirit is enough, this we have mentioned in this regard. But I want to conclude with the memories that His Holiness, Pius IX, gave Don Bosco when he dismissed him, rejoicing that he had finally obtained the approval of his congregation. We are at the first of March 1869; the Pope says: 
"In spirit and in union, observe and imitate the Jesuits. In the first place they do not show anyone what concerns the ordering and internal development of their homes; so they don't give people the right to put language in their business. Careful then, no one knows what you do inside: who goes, who comes, what orders your superiors give, if there will be changes in personnel and so on. Keep all the faults of the community hidden. If something happens that can somehow stain or diminish the name and reputation of the company, let it remain buried with every stranger. "
Connect, with this body principle, of which we should all invest ourselves in order to carry out our sanctification ever better. Mind you, he doesn't think so much about the good that comes to society, but about our sanctification. 
Second: "Secondly, you will never hear a father of the Company speak less favorably than one of them, rather it is always with great praise that responds to those who enter with them in the speech of any of their confreres. Charity is ingenious, always finding a topic of praise; in the same way they know how to support and make known the merits of those who press each other or in any case work to the advantage of the church, peoples, missions and youth. One for all and all for one. Here is their sign. So you, defend each other. In all circumstances; the miseries of a member of society are not revealed for how many defects he has. Each member is willing to sacrifice himself to save the body and to animate each other for good. There is only one spirit to reach a single goal. The many and the bad, cheat. Your congregation will flourish if the rules are observed; and until too many nobles and rich people will enter, because with them the affluences, the partialities and therefore the relaxation will begin to enter. Always make sure you stick to the poor children of the people. Do not distort your purpose for nothing; until you take care of the poor youth, orphans, always with the aim of giving members to the clergy, - remember the first chapter, the various articles, - with the aim of giving members to the clergy, your society will go on well, otherwise it will degenerate. " Do not distort your purpose for nothing; until you take care of the poor youth, orphans, always with the aim of giving members to the clergy, - remember the first chapter, the various articles, - with the aim of giving members to the clergy, your society will go on well, otherwise it will degenerate. " Do not distort your purpose for nothing; until you take care of the poor youth, orphans, always with the aim of giving members to the clergy, - remember the first chapter, the various articles, - with the aim of giving members to the clergy, your society will go on well, otherwise it will degenerate. "
I also wanted to collect this thought because it joins precisely, both in the historical moment of our congregation and in the topic we have been discussing this evening. And I invite, dear confreres, each of you, to reread the second chapter of our constitutions, in which, fundamentally, and in other practical forms that we all know and with which we must also examine ourselves if we observe them.
It seems to me that if we take into account this, which in this small family conversation has made us feel like our father, - I repeat - it will greatly benefit our soul to be able to reach the purpose for which we have become Salesians. : the sanctification of our soul. 
My dear confreres, of course, all this must then be based, or rather, the fundamental stone that must guide us to this unity of body, in our heads, in our thoughts, in our words, in our action, all that this must animate us and in these days, especially with a little meditation, to make us think if this charity really exists among us, this ardent charity towards the Lord. The perfection of love is indicated to the Christian, we said this morning. To us is indicated, besides this, the religious perfection which is, I would say, the most perfected perfection, if one can say so, of the Christian life. 
Let us love all my dear brothers. And especially, let's do this; we are attentive to our way of speaking; and I repeat, we have the frankness, you see also for the good of the soul of the confrere, and for the good of the soul also of the superior because he also needs it. In other circumstances Don Bosco resembles the superior, to one, I would say, who must support himself for the responsibility he has, to someone already a little old who has the stick in his hand and sometimes says there are the brothers who give the push to the stick for the upper falls; and sometimes it also happens with our brothers. 

I repeat, we have something to say; but let us say it with charity, in beautiful ways. Certainly this will serve to unite our souls more and more, we repeat the usual phrase: For the Glory of God and for the salvation of our souls and for the salvation of souls that the Lord will entrust us with. Praised be Jesus Christ.