“May the Holy Spirit help you to respond to the expectations and the challenges of our time, especially [those] of young people, and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel and of your charism.” These were the words of Pope Francis when he met with participants of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco on Monday morning in the Vatican.
The Holy Father began by thanking the newly elected general council and acknowledging the chapter’s theme as “Witnesses of Evangelical Radicalism.” He added that Don Bosco’s program was reinforced in the two elements: work and temperance. He said these elements make the congregation flourish.
The Holy Father gave an example of temperance referring to his own education: “I remember that in school it was forbidden to have a siesta! …Temperance! For the Salesians and for us!”
Pope Francis underscored that when one works for “the good of souls, one overcomes the temptation of spiritual worldliness; one does not look for other things, but for God alone and his Kingdom.”
The Pope said that the Holy Spirit has entrusted the Salesians with the mission of the evangelization of young people. He wished for them that Don Bosco and his “preventative system” would assist them in this mission.
Pope Francis noted that knowing a certain language in particular would be fundamental to get close to the youth and become their friends, namely “the language of the heart.”
The Holy Father emphasized the vocational dimension. He explained how vocations to consecrated life can be misunderstood as calls to a choice of volunteer work. He stated that care of vocations requires “specific attention.” He added that its demands are changing. Prayer, family support, and personalized courses are important elements.
The Holy Father continued: “Thank God you do not live or work as isolated individuals, but as a community.” He said that fraternity lived in a community bears witness to the Gospel, noting Don Bosco left them with a “sense of family.” He said this helps foster perseverence and creates attraction for the consecrated life.
Pope Francis closed by acknowledging the bicentenary of Don Bosco’s birth and his charism and by calling upon Mary, Help of Christians, saying, “[she] has never failed to give her help in the life of the Congregation, and she certainly will not fail to do so in the future.” (D.C.L.)
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