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3/6/2013 - RMG - Strenna 2014: The spiritual experience of Don Bosco as the source of Salesian holiness

(ANS – Roma) – At the end of the first meeting of the summer session of the General Council, the Rector Major announced the theme of the 2014 Strenna: Let us draw upon Don Bosco's experience, so we can walk in holiness according to our specific vocation.
We have studied the history of Don Bosco and his pedagogy. Now, in this third year of preparation for the Bicentenary of his Birth, we will study his spirituality, a fundamental aspect.

Fr Pascual Chávez presents and comments upon the slogan of the Strenna in a brief text. He points out immediately that Salesian spirituality, like Christian spirituality, has charity at its core. In this case we speak of “pastoral charity”, the charity that urges us to seek “the glory of God and the salvation of souls”: “caritas Christi urget nos”.

He goes on to say that “Salesian charity is pastoral charity because it seeks the salvation of souls, and it is educative charity because it finds a resource in education that allows it to help young people to develop all their energies for good; in this way young people can grow up to be upright citizens, good Christians and future inhabitants of heaven.”

 “Knowledge of aspects of Don Bosco's life and activities, and of his educational method are not enough,” writes the Rector Major, and he invites us to become familiar with Don Bosco’s deep inner life, what we could call his “familiarity” with God. Knowledge, understood as historical and critical study, should help us to discover the essence of the spirituality of Don Bosco. It would be interesting to have a new spiritual profile of Don Bosco, a new hagiography, as this term is understood by spiritual theology today.  Fr Chavez proposes a series of questions which can help in understanding the spirituality of the father of the young.

The specific topics identified in the 2014 Strenna (and anticipated in this brief presentation) include: the spiritual experience of Don Bosco; his pastoral charity as the centre and synthesis of Salesian spirituality; a Salesian spirituality that is valid and effective for all vocations. The Strenna calls for a systematic and progressive study of how this spirituality was lived by Don Bosco, and how it can be lived today. Salesian pastoral action consists in accompanying young people as they try to discover their plan of life and their vocation.

The Rector Major puts us on our guard against a possible danger: “Our spirituality runs the risk of disappearing because times have changed and sometimes we live it only superficially. To bring it back to life we need to start from Don Bosco, his spiritual experience, and from the preventive system.”  Fr Chavez presents us with an interesting challenge which is very relevant. “We need to understand better what elements of Salesian youth spirituality can be offered, and how we can offer them, to young people who are non-believers, who are indifferent, or who belong to other religions.”

This initial presentation of the theme of the 2014 Strenna concludes with some lines of action: a deeper understanding of the spiritual experience of Don Bosco, a pledge to live pastoral charity, and finally the reading of some texts of Don Bosco.

The complete text of the presentation of the theme of the 2014 Strenna is available on the website and in the service section of ANS.

Published 03/06/2013

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