Saturday 26 November 2016

Project Europe

I have been struggling to prepare my intervention at the "Project Europe" meeting at the end of next week (2-4 Dec 2016) - which is really the meeting of the provincials of Europe. The struggle could indicate two things: either that what I want to say is not "ready" or "ripe," or that I am excessive concerned about impact.

I have some sort of text - already the second version. It begins from a vision of faith (the prophet Elijah taunting the prophets of Baal: cry out louder! perhaps he is sleeping, or perhaps he has "gone aside" - and Jesus reminding us that his Father is working and that he is working still). It goes on to recall some words that have meant much to me in these last two and a half years: mission as revelation; our identity as salesian consecrated persons; formation as permanent, as learning from experience, as an attitude of permanent discernment (recall Conrad Saldanha, and Bartolomé's comments on the Our Father: we are called to live as sons); communion. It goes on to draw out implications for formation, mostly following from Rupnik's comments on communion, but tying in well with the emphasis on mission as revelation and, ultimately, with the stress on our identity as consecrated persons, eschatological signs.
  • the era of functional religious life, of the para-statal church, is over. We are called to be theophany, and the question is how we can reveal God. GC27 hinted that we might be running the risk of functional religious life, taking refuge behind "responding to social needs and demands," running the risk of being one more NGO, too shy to speak about God, too hesitant to be seen for what we are. 
  • formation cannot be unwittingly based on the modern assumption that we are first individuals who must then construct community. We are not self-made men; we have been regenerated in baptism, and baptism creates communion. Formation begins from this fact, that we have been regenerated, that communion has been given, that we have been transformed. Formation begins from faith. We do not first find recruits and then teach them to pray. It is within the life of prayer that the question of vocation can arise and should arise. 
  • a new formation presupposes a new youth ministry, and a new vocation ministry. 
  • communion has certain practical implications: sense of congregation, qualification of personnel, knowledge of languages. Implied also are certain questions about culture: cultures are not absolute but relative. 
  • the key formation skill is the ability to listen. 

The other inspiration is from Pope Francis' new interpretation of Emmaus in his address to the Bishops of Brazil in 2013. in the two disciples who leave behind the "nakedness" of God in Jerusalem, Francis sees "the difficult mystery of people who leave the Church." "Perhaps the Church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas," he suggests. "Perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age."

The question is, What are we to do? "We need a Church unafraid of going forth into the night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning."

Perhaps many of our young people in this continent fall into this category, of people who are disappointed and disillusioned by the Church. Or perhaps many of them simply belong to a generation that is truly post-Christian, in the sense of not having been touched in any significant way by Christ and his gospel.

"We need a Church capable of walking at people's side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on the journey; a Church able to make sense of the 'night' contained in the flight of so many of our brothers and sisters from Jerusalem; a Church which realizes that the reasons why people leave also contain reasons why they can eventually return. But we need to know how to interpret, with courage, the larger picture. Jesus warmed the hearts of the disciples of Emmaus."

Are we capable of warming hearts? Are we capable of leading people back to Jerusalem, of bringing them home? "Jerusalem is where our roots are: Scripture, catechesis, sacraments, community, friendship with the Lord, Mary and the apostles... Are we still able to speak of these roots in a way that will revive a sense of wonder at their beauty?"

I would ask: are we at home in Jerusalem? When one is in love, it cannot fail to show. Are we in love? If we are, then we will be able "to speak of these roots in a way that will revive a sense of wonder at their beauty."

People leave because they are searching for something more lofty, more powerful, and faster. But what could be more lofty than the love revealed in Jerusalem? What could be more powerful than the strength hidden within the weakness of love, goodness, truth and beauty, as Francis says, and as Benedict XVI liked to say?

As for the "faster," Francis makes a comment that is by now typical: people want speed, but at the same time they have a desperate need for calmness, and even slowness. "Is the Church still able to move slowly: to take the time to listen, to have the patience to mend and reassemble? Or is the Church herself caught up in the frantic pursuit of efficiency?" (See EG 169 and perhaps AL.) The image of the slow Salesian, who knows how to waste time, to deviate from his path like the Good Samaritan, like Don Bosco who knew how to lose a train to catch a boy (see Teresio Bosco's wonderful take on Don Bosco and Micky Magone). If mission = work, we will have the superfast Salesian. If mission = revelation, perhaps the slow Salesian, slow like the Lord who wastes 30 years in silence before dedicating just 3 years to the "active life." Time is greater than space, and people - including our young people - need time.

Francis goes on to say, in this light: Formation is a priority. We need ministers and pastoral agents who are capable of warming people's hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness.

What kind of formation will give us people capable of stepping into the night "without being overcome by the darkness and losing their bearings?" How can we "produce" Salesians who are able to listen to people's dreams "without being seduced and to share their disappointments without losing hope and becoming bitter; able to sympathize with the brokenness of others without losing their own strength and identity?"

The pope calls for "a solid human, cultural, effective, spiritual and doctrinal formation." He asks us to have the courage "to undertake a thorough review of the structures in place for formation."
"What is needed is the practical wisdom to set up lasting educational structures on the local, regional and national levels and to take them to heart as Bishops, without sparing energy, concern and personal interest. The present situation calls for quality formation at every level. Bishops may not delegate this task. You cannot delegate this task, but must embrace it as something fundamental for the journey of your Churches."
Our mission is the "casa e causa della formazione." among other things, our target group will determine our formation. If we think we are sent to a little flock, to those who feel already touched by the gospel and are searching for significant deepening of the faith, we will have one kind of youth ministry. If we think we are sent for the many who are leaving the Church or who have never been in any significant way part of the Church - and here we can think also of the many young refugees and migrants who are flocking to our continent - we will have another kind of youth ministry. My Salesian heart tells me that we are called to these latter groups.


Communion is central - and it is an enormous challenge at this moment in Europe. How we face this is going to be central to our life and work as Salesians.

In this context, we remember Aparecida, "the method of gathering diversity together" - "not so much a diversity of ideas in order to produce a document, but a variety of experiences of God, in order to set a vital process in motion." Once again Emmaus is exemplary: the disciples returned to Jerusalem, full of enthusiasm about their encounter with the Lord. "There they came to know other manifestations of the Lord and the experiences of their brothers and sisters." So a wonderful diversity, like the many-coloured coat of Joseph - but a diversity of experiences of the one Lord. The question of identity underlies it all.

The urgency of mission derives from its inner motivation - if I have met the Lord, if I have been touched, I will be driven, practically, to return to Jerusalem, and to go, from Jerusalem, to the ends of the earth. And formation: mission is about handing over a legacy, a baton, like in a relay race: "one needs to hand it over personally, to touch the one to whom one wants to give, to relay, this inheritance."

And regarding pastoral conversion: "pastoral care" is nothing other than the exercise of the Church's motherhood. We need a Church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy. "Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of 'wounded' persons in need of understanding, forgiveness, love."

And family: the essential cell of society and the Church. Subjects of evangelization.


So two sources of inspiration. 

I feel so much at home with the pope's invitation. Perhaps because I recognize that this has been my formation: a solid human, cultural, effective, spiritual and doctrinal formation. Pune and the efforts to rediscover Christ, to appropriate the faith - with all the riches that come from having wandered into the highways and byways of the world, through contemporaries as well as neighbours, through Nietzsche as well as Krishnamurti and Osho, to the discovery of the startling strangeness of grace, and Christ, and the church, and Don Bosco, and the riches of the congregation. 

So the pastoral task - to young people who are on the margins, at risk, rather than to an elite group. A salesian who is neither Herald nor Legionary but humble footsoldier, knowing that he is on a hospital in the battlefield, or else dealing with the orphans of war. 

Knowing that many of my confreres have a more abundant gift of parrhesia, of boldness, of comfort in being with young people. 
Knowing also that they will need to be slow Salesians, capable to listening, with a formation that has already helped them to know the birth pangs of this world in which we are living. 
Slow Salesians who have been touched marvellously by the Risen Christ, and who are driven, like Don Bosco, to a passioante offering of their lives, in contexts that are new. 

in all this, a new Youth Ministry that calls for LISTENING. 
and a new Formation that equally calls for LISTENING to the stories of our young candidates, our formees. 
a formation capable, by listening, of forming people who are in their turn able to listen, to themselves, to their own experience, to the voice of hte Spirit, and to the experience of young people, to see in them God, and to walk with them. 

a formation that presupposes communion. a communion that is a multi-coloured coat, that cuts both ways: Rome open to the provinces, the provicnes to rome. 

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Formation or Probation?

Rupnik is proposing to drop the word 'formation' because too external: the imposition of a form. However, once again, as in the case of the word preventive, we might lose all the echoes and connotations. Form is not necessarily external, as any good Thomist knows. The Germans talk about Bildung, from Bild, which is image, or picture, or form. Gadamer has great things to say about this in the first chapter of his Truth and Method

Wednesday 16 November 2016

EAO CRF Batulao 2016 lines of action

Batulao, the Philippines, 14 November 2016 -- Annual gathering of EAO Formation delegates animated by Fr. Ivo Coelho, Gen. Councilor for Formation and his assistant Fr. Silvio Roggia, and moderated by Br. Raymond Callo (FIN) - EAO coordinator for formation was concluded yesterday in Batulao, Batangas - Philippines with multiple fruits.
The delegates studied various topics and shared experience about 'Aspirantate and Prenovitiate' stage of formation, Letter about Salesian Brother Vocation (ACG 424), Sharing about inter-provincial formation houses, Formation of formators, Statistics of the initial formation.
First of all the Formation delegates worked out with the Youth Ministry delegates concrete JOIN LINES OF ACTION for next years:
  1. There will be formal and systematic collaboration between the formation and youth ministry commissions at provincial level (especially by means of periodic meetings) regarding the aspirantate and all levels of initial formation.
  2. The two commissions will ensure that the Salesian Youth Ministry: Frame of Reference (2014) is studied at the initial and on-going formation levels in a systematic way.
  3. The two commissions will work together to prepare a program of pastoral activities for the whole arc of initial formation, beginning from the aspirantate, paying special attention to the young who are poor and at risk.
  4. They will work out ways of preparing formators for the processes of pastoral and spiritual discernment and accompaniment.
  5. The two commissions will promote knowledge and implementation of the document produced by the Sectors for Youth Ministry and for Formation about “Aspirantate Experience” (26 July 2011).
Some other important guidelines were confirmed for the benefit of the Salesian Mission - Formation
  • The importance of Formation and Youth ministry delegates committed full time.
  • The importance of formators to be involved in the formation of youth animators and leaders.
  • The importance of periodic evaluation of these lines of action.
The Formation delegation delegates lines of action for the following one year (2016-2017)
  • The importance of attending possibly different formation courses in Rome and learn Italian.
  • The importance of evaluation and monitoring of provincial formation plans
  • The urgent task of capacity building for Salesian religious identity.
Some formation occasions during next one year offered in our EAO REGION
  • All provinces agreed to have a formation of the Pre-novice directors in Cebu, FIS, October 29 - November 11, 2017.
  • 2017 annual Salesianity (teachers) formation course offered in DBCS Paranaque, Manila, April 26-May 13
  • 2017 annual formation delegates meeting will be hosted in Myanmar, November 13-15, 2017
  • 2018 the EAO Salesian Brothers' Congress will be hosted in Vietnam, August 8-13, 2018.

Galilee Center, Tagaytay

During our Batulao meeting (Youth Ministry and Formation delegates, East Asia - Oceania region, Batulao, November 2016), Fabio Attard and I visited the Galilee Centre, Tagaytay, run by the Filipino Bishops' Conference.

The centre offers three kinds of courses: (1) therapeutic renewal programs (2) proactive renewal programs, (3) formation of formators. All the courses are meant for priests and religious. The first – the Assisted Intensive Renewal or AIR Program – is for priests and religious in difficulty and in need of healing and therapy. The second is aimed at seminarians and formees. The third – AIR for Seminary Formators – is for formators.

The formation of formators courses aim at the renewal of the person of the formator, by assisting and encouraging him or her to do their own personal work. So if there are three types of formation of formators programs – theory; skills training; personal growth – Galilee offers the third type. I believe there are two related modules of two weeks each, and another longer one of 3 months.

They have a resident team of 10 professionally qualified priests and religious. 

Formation as ongoing

When we say "formation" we tend to think of initial formation. But our Constitutions - written way back in 1986 - are suprising, because by "formation" they intend what we usually think of as ongoing formation - with the proviso that such "ongoing formation" covers the whole of life, and includes "initial formation" as one of the moments.

Formation, in our Constitutions, is our daily and ongoing response to the call of God which is not an event in the past but an ongoing reality. Every day God calls me, and every day I respond, and that is formation.

The key word in C 98, entitled "The formative experience," is "learning by experience" - fare esperienza, in Italian. Formation is a question of "learning by experience the values of the Salesian vocation." Such learning is done in the light of Christ and the gospel, read through the eyes of Don Bosco. It is, as C 119 specifies, not different from discernment: listening to the voice of the Spirit in the events of daily life, whether good or bad. And it is connected to C 95, "Life as Prayer."

How to do formation in this sense?

A basic skill is attending: paying attention. Lonergan would talk about the first transcendental precept: Be attentive.

A related skill is processing. A formator who knows how to process, is one who attends and helps the formee attend to his experience, without haste to come to conclusions and to make judgments. He helps him explore the complexity of experience and of feelings, to go to the roots of this experience and feeelings, to take responsibility for one's part in them, to see whether one desires to change, and only then to work out lines of action.

All this from the point of view of faith and charism.

This is done in personal spiritual accompaniment.

It is also done in group spiritual accompaniment. We have just returned from the Philippines, where in our theologate at Paranaque, we found our young salesians engaged in group spiritual accompaniment, in groups of 5. (They were initiated into this by Fr Danny Torres, SDB.)

It can be and should be done in pastoral accompaniment, which is not so much reporting "what happened" but rather "what happened to me." Raymond Callo was talking about the training in hospital ministry: they make you process your experience. "What happened to you when the patient rejected you, told you to get out, slammed the door in your face?"

The aim to be become men with the attitude of discernment: with the ability to pay attention to the voice of the Spirit in the events of daily life.

Goodnight to CRF Europa, Skofja Loka - Slovenia, 3-7 November 2016

Three words + one.

1. Communication. The principle of all advertisement is repetition and branding. The more we speak about something, the more likely it is to be bought. So: let us not despair about "merely talking." It helps to talk. I remember Josef Ratzinger saying that after the Council, many topics had died "the death of silent neglect." There is a place for words, theory, talk, meetings. Let's not despair about them.

2. Communion. This, according to Pope Francis, is the central question before the Church. It is not a marginal issue. He invited religious, in his letter of indiction of the year of Consecrated Life, to expand communion in concentric circles - expanding in an expansion that recognizes no limits, except God, the God who is communion-love.

3. Discernment. The question is not what we want to do, what we would like to do, but: What is God calling us to do? What is the Spirit telling us? This is the core skill of formation. C 98, the formative experience, talks about "learning from experience," fare esperienza dei valori della vocazione salesiana, and C 119 specifies that such learning is a question of listening to the voice of the Spirit in the events of daily life, whether good or bad. Ongoing formation is a question of such attentiveness and discernment.

And communion is a principle of discernment. Every time we are tempted to close in on ourselves, we are going against communion.

4. Hope. Ecclesia in Europa is a great call to hope. Hope is a theological virtue, a gift, and it is, with faith and charity, the substance of our life in Christ. Without hope we cannot be educators. If we are without hope, we are without God, and we might as well stop being Salesians (Rossano Sala, at the Giornate di Spiritualità Salesiana 2016).

Di Caprio on the Environment

Note from Silvio Roggia:

I just received a link with the movie/documentary of Leonardo di Caprio on climate change and related environmental issues “Before the flood”. This morning with the Delegates of formation of Centre North Europe and Mediterranean Regions here in Ljubljana we were discussing on the way to attune our formation to all what Pope Francis is telling us in ‘Laudato sii’.

I believe this could be a good input to create awareness in our formation houses.

You can watch/download from this YouTube link

Or from the following drop box link

Saturday 12 November 2016

Henry Bonetti's proposal to introduce a strong spiritual theology component into the theology curriculum

Here there is something precious!
Without knowing yet the work since it has just published last year in Italian is going exactly in the same direction of Rupnick (‘vedo un ramo di mandorlo’ …about the renewal of religious life).
If not for other reason surely the following will convince you:
But even Lonergan says that the pre-condition for theological study is “orientation to transcendental mystery.” I would say that this alone distinguishes theology from other subjects. Theology must be pursued with humility, docility and asceticism (for it is a “training”, askesis). It requires metanoia, for some ideas (of God, the scriptures, etc.) must be dropped. Everything is brought to the light and scrutinized. One must die to oneself. Theology can be an uncomfortable study. (The bible is not free of errors?! Dogmas are not free from culture?! etc., etc.) If theology is not uncomfortable, then maybe we haven’t yet studied it deep enough. Getting rid of the false self and building up of a true self, a true priest, is the work of theology that can only be accomplished through a heavy dose of spirituality.
I think we have to get him involved in some way in our effort to help the Congregation to rediscover our religious identity, especially the one of Salesian Priests…..

I have gone through what Bonetti wrote to the Curatorium, perhaps an older version. He makes a good point, though it would need balancing a bit. 

the point that Lonergan makes is well known: at the heart of theology is the spiritual, moral, cognitive, emotional expereince - "interiority" in all its dimensions - of the person in community - as illuminated by the history of the world with its many cultures and traditions, in which God has intervened in different ways, and most especially through the Son...

Which work are you talking about, published in Italian last year?

I would add to Bonetti's proposal - which still remains academic, with the addition of spiritual theology to what we are already doing - though reading in a meditative way the spiritual classics can itself be transformative - I would add, really, some effort to touch the hearts of formators and teachers. formators with the capacity to LISTEN to their own experience, so that they will grow in the ability to listen to the experience of their formees. "fare esperienza" dei valori della vocazione salesiana... la capacità di imparare dall'esperienza, di ascoltare la voce dello Spirito negli eventi di ogni giorno...

Perhaps another great point is that made by Karl Rahner many years ago: he pleaded for a distinction between two types of theology curriculum: (1) preparing researchers and scholars, (2) preparing pastors. All the official recommendations - including Vatican II, I guess? - call just now for the first: "scientific study of theology" - and all our centres, led by the UPS, are totally sold on this model. I think we need to move in the diretion of preparing pastors and, for us, pastors-educators. In a similar way, but different perhaps, the specific formation of the SB.

Pope Francis invites homeless people to be great teachers in society

Posted by Rocío Lancho García on 11 November, 2016
Pope kissing baby
“Be passionate and dream,” was Pope Francis’ invitation today to persons living “in precarious conditions.” The audience, and his 20-minute off-the-cuff address in Spanish, were part of the activities for the Jubilee for the Socially Excluded.
Today’s audience brought some 6,000 people to Rome, men and women from various European nations, who have lived, or are even now, living on the street.
The Jubilee further welcomed not only the homeless, but also disadvantaged persons and people living in poverty.
The event was made possible with the help of “Fratello,” an association which organizes and hosts events with and for people in situations of exclusion, in partnership with associations assisting these people.
Following testimonies from two of the participants, Pope Francis addressed the crowd, thanking them for coming to Rome to meet with him and to pray for him. The Holy Father reflected on some of the ideas brought up by the two people who spoke before him.
The Holy Father spoke to them of the passion that sometimes makes us suffer, puts internal and external obstacles in us, the passion of sickness, but also the passion to go forward, the good passion that leads to dream.
Moreover, he assured them that for him a person is poor when he loses “the capacity to dream, to lead a passion forward.” Therefore, the Pontiff asked them to not cease dreaming; “dream that one day the world will change.”
In that same line, he stressed that “poverty is at the heart of the Gospel.” Only one who feels he is lacking something, looks up and dreams, he said. One who has everything cannot dream.”
Thank you
The Pontiff asked those present to teach “all of us who have a roof, who do not lack food or medicine.” “Teach us,” he exhorted, “not to be satisfied.”
Another concept to which the Pope made reference in his address was dignity, that is, “to find a beautiful life in the worst situations.” Only a man or a woman with dignity has the capacity to find beauty even in the saddest and most distressing things. “Poor yes, but not dragged-down. That is dignity,” said the Pope.
This is “the same dignity that Jesus had, who was born poor, lived poor.”
“Poor yes, dominated no, exploited no.” This sentiment of seeing that life is beautiful, “this dignity has saved you from being slaves,” he noted. “Poor yes, slaves no.” Moreover, he reflected on the meaning of solidarity. “To be able to help, to give a hand to one who is suffering more than I am.”
“The capacity to be solidaristic is one of the fruits that poverty gives us,” he continued.
“When there is much wealth one forgets to be solidaristic because one is accustomed to not lacking anything,” he warned. While “poverty makes one solidaristic and one stretches one’s hand to one who is going through a more difficult situation.” Therefore, the Holy Father thanked those present for the example they give and he asked them to teach this solidarity to the world.
PeacePope with socially excluded
The Pontiff also spoke of peace: “the peace that for us Christians began in a stable, in a marginalized family.” Therefore, Francis assured those present that they are “architects of peace.” In this connection, he noted: “wars are carried out between the rich to have more.” So, he continued, “it’s very sad when war is carried out amon
g the poor.” From their poverty, the poor are more inclined to be architects of peace, and, he affirmed: “all religions need to grow in peace because all religions are messengers of peace.”
In the last part of his address, the Pontiff asked for forgiveness, if at some time he offended them with his words or he did not say things he should have said. He also asked them for forgiveness in the name of Christians who read the Gospel, “not finding poverty at the center.” I ask for forgiveness — said the Pope — for Christians who before a poor person or a situation of poverty look the other way. At the same time, he assured the participants in the meeting that their forgiveness “is holy water for us.” It is, he added, to help us to believe again that poverty is at the heart of the Gospel as a great message.
At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father made this prayer: ”God, Father of us all, of each one of your children, I ask you to give us fortitude, that you give us joy, that you teach us  to dream to look ahead. That you teach us to be solidaristic because we are brothers and that you help us to defend our dignity. You are the Father of each one of us. Bless us. Amen.”
zenit Friday 11.11.2016

Friday 11 November 2016

Pope Francis on Christian Unity

Pope explains what Christian Unity is not
Zenit, 10 November 2016

“Christian unity is an essential requirement of our faith, a requirement that springs from the intimacy of our being as believers in Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis affirmed today as he received in audience participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which is on the theme “Christian unity: what model for full communion?”
During the audience Francis also referred to the important ecumenical meetings he has attended throughout the year, both in Rome and during his apostolic trips. which enabled him to confirm that the desire for communion, one of his main concerns, is living and intense.
“We wish to live unity, because we wish to follow Christ, to live His love, to benefit from the mystery of His being one with the Father, which is the essence of divine love. … According to Jesus’ priestly prayer, what we yearn for is unity in the love of the Father, which comes to us as a gift in Jesus Christ, love that also informs thought and doctrines,” he said.
The Pope said that agreement on how we understand the Gospel is not enough, because there must be union in Christ.
“It is our personal and community conversion, our gradual conformation to Him, our living increasingly in Him, that enables us to grow in communion between us,” he said, adding that this communion is the “soul that also supports sessions of study and every other type of effort to arrive at more closely aligned points of view.”
False models
The Pope went on to list some “false models” of communion.
— Unity is not the fruit of our human efforts or the product constructed by ecclesiastical diplomacy, but is instead “a gift that comes from on high.” From this point of view, Francis said, unity is a journey rather than a destination.
— Unity is not uniformity. “The different theological, liturgical, spiritual and canonical traditions which have developed in the Christian world, when they are genuinely rooted in the apostolic tradition, are a wealth for and not a threat to the unity of the Church. Seeking to suppress this diversity is to counter the Holy Spirit, Who acts by enriching the community of believers with a variety of gifts.”
— Unity is not absorption. “Christian unity does not lead to a ‘reverse ecumenism,’ for which one would have to deny their own history of faith; neither does it tolerate proselytism, which is instead poisonous to the path of ecumenism. Before seeing what separates us, it is necessary to perceive also in an existential way the wealth of what we have in common, such as the Sacred Scripture and the great professions of faith of the first ecumenical Councils. In this way, we Christians are able to acknowledge we are brothers and sisters who believe in the one Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, committed together to finding the way of obeying today the word of God, Who wants us to be united”.
Pope Francis concluded by reiterating that Ecumenism is true when it is able to move attention away from itself, from its own arguments and formulations, to the Word of God that demands to be heard, welcomed and witnessed in the world. Therefore, the various Christian communities are called not to compete with one another, but to collaborate.
“My recent visit to Lund,” he said, “reminded me of the relevance of the ecumenical principle formulated there by the Ecumenical Council of Churches in 1952, which recommends that Christians ‘should act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them to act separately.'”

Updating of Don Bosco's Preventive System

The updating of the Preventive System has been going on: in the general chapters since the SGC 1972; in the magisterium of the Rectors Major; in the successive editions of the Youth Ministry Manual / Frame of Reference.

Some of the elements:
  • LISTENING. Wonderful that, in his account of his meeting with Bartholomew Garelli, Don Bosco presents himself as a friend who listens. One of the very first photos we have of Don Bosco is of him hearing confessions - he is not looking directly at us; he is listening to the boy making his confession. 
  • A listening that is ROOTED in Christ and the Church.
  • With a clear IDENTITY as Salesians of Don Bosco.
  • With a clear CHARISM - the Preventive System.
  • As COMMUNITY, not as individuals. Romano Guardini speaks of the death of individualism and the birth of the person - a theme taken up now by Marko Rupnik, SJ. 
  • With PROCESSES rather than isolated events.
  • In a varied set of EXPERIENCES - the settings of youth ministry.
  • And with clear LEADERSHIP - the structures of youth ministry, including the provincial formation delegates and their commissions. Improvisation is one of our enemies, and one of its children is superficiality.

These are, in fact, the various chapters of Salesian Youth Ministry: Frame of Reference (2014).

Obviously, we are in the process of recovering and re-emphasizing certain elements in the praxis of Don Bosco. I am thinking here of LISTENING and of the EDUCATIVE PASTORAL COMMUNITY - the sharing of our mission with a large number of people, including laypeople and other members of the Salesian Family. Listening probably is the key to the handling of cultural differences. EDUCATION AND EVANGELIZATION is a new way of expressing the lay dimension and the spiritual finality - good citizens and honest christians? 

But P. Chavez's Bari lecture would still be worth reading for the calls it makes to take into account the various revolutions that have taken place since the time of Don Bosco, in the church and in the world. 

Featured post

Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary