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  ADMA :  ASSOCIATION OF MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS  
         ADMAonLine        |             Monthly Message:   May 24th, 2011       

"This is the Mother." Let us all entrust ourselves!

As this month's message from Mary Help of Christians, I propose the seventh question asked during Pope Benedict XVI 's interview on Good Friday, 22nd April 2011. Such message is also a powerful call along our journey to Czestochowa. Q. Holy Father, the last question is about Mary. Under the cross we witness a moving dialogue between Jesus, his mother and John, in which Jesus tells Mary: "Here is your Son." And to John: "Here is your mother."

In your last book, "Jesus of Nazareth", You define this as "Jesus' last instructions". How should we understand these words? What did they mean at that moment and what do they mean today? And speaking about entrustment, are you planning to renew your consecration to the Virgin at the beginning of this new millennium?

A. " Jesus words are above all a very human act. We see Jesus as a real man acting like a man would, performing an act of love for his mother, and entrusting his mother to young John, so she may be safe. At that time, in the East it was impossible for a woman to be alone. He entrusts his mother to this young man, and he gives this young man to his mother. Therefore, Jesus truly acts like a man, with deeply human feelings. I think this is very beautiful and very important, the fact that before any theology, we see here Jesus' real humanity and his humanism. But naturally, his act is not only about that specific moment: on the contrary, it concerns the whole of history.

Through John, Jesus entrusts all of us, the whole Church and all future disciples to his mother, and entrusts his mother to us. And this was fulfilled in the course of history: gradually, Christians as well as the whole of humanity, have understood that Jesus' mother is their mother. And gradually, more and more people have entrusted themselves to the Mother: let's just think about the great Marian shrines, lets' think about this great devotion for Mary, where more and more people feel that "This is the Mother".

And even some people who find difficult to approach Jesus because of his greatness as the Son of God, naturally entrust themselves to his Mother. Some people say: " But this is not in the Bible!" Here I would answer like Saint Gregory the Great : " As we read, the Scriptures words grow." This means that the Word develops and grows along the course of history. We see how we can all be grateful because we really have a Mother, how we were all given a mother. And we can go to this Mother (who is the Mother of every single Christian), full of trust. And on the other hand, it is also true that the Mother also represents the Church. We can't be Christians alone, with a personal form of Christianity shaped according to our own idea.

The Mother is the image of the Church, of the Mother Church, and by entrusting ourselves to Mary we must also entrust ourselves to the Church, experience the Church, be the Church together with Mary. And here I come to entrustment: the Popes, (both Pious XII and Pious VI, as well as John Paul II), have made a great act of entrustment to Our Lady, and it seems to me this was a very important gesture in front of the whole of humanity and of Mary herself. I think it is important to let this act enter and penetrate our heart, and let this act become a part of us. In this respect, I have visited some great Marian shrines around the world: Lourdes, Fatima, Czestochowa, Altötting…, always with the idea of letting this act of entrustment penetrate my heart, so that it may truly become our act. I think the great public act has already been done.

Perhaps one day it will be necessary to repeat it, but for the moment I think it is more important to live it, fulfil it, to enter this act of entrustment so that it may truly be ours. For example, in Fatima I saw how the thousands of people present have accomplished this, they have entrusted themselves and this act has become very concrete for them. So this act becomes reality in the living Church, and the Church also grows. The collective act of entrustment to Mary, the fact that we all let ourselves be penetrated and shaped by this presence, that we enter in communion with Mary, makes us the Church, really makes us the bride of Christ together with Mary.

Therefore, at the moment I am not planning to make another public act of entrustment, but I would like to encourage everyone to join in the acts of entrustments which have already been made, so that they may become a reality experienced by us every day, and a truly Marian Church, the Mother, Bride and Daughter of Jesus may grow".
Let us make the Holy Father's extraordinary message become part of us, and let us experience it within our groups, our families, the Salesian family, all setting off to Czestochowa and the Black Madonna. Happy Feast of Mary Help of Christians!

                                                              Fr Pier Luigi Cameroni SDB, Spiritual Animator

Towards Czestochowa


9. Mary is the Help of Christians (Fr Roberto Carelli sdb)

Entrusting ourselves to Mary means finding help and protection at times of danger and necessity for our life and for our faith. (cf. LG 66). The title of "Help of Christians" expresses precisely the knowledge that believers have had since Christianity's beginnings that Mary is a very tender and energetic mother. Among the most ancient prayers dedicated to the Virgin, is the famous Sub tuum presidium (III century), which Don Bosco repeatedly made his community recite, and immediately connected it to Mary Help of Christians: Under your protection we look for shelter. Holy Mother of God: do not despise the pleas of those of us who are being put to the test, and free us from every danger, oh glorious and blessed Virgin. Mary Help of Christians is the one who maternally protects the Church and Christians from the enemy, with that care and vigour which make her the magnificent and terrible woman of the Song of Songs: Who is the one that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?( Song of Solomon 6,9).
It is remarkable that God should have put his children under the protection of the sign of the Woman. It is remarkable but also understandable: God's power is to be found in the order of love, and love in the order of humility. This is why God put enmity between the Woman and the serpent, and she will "strike his head"(Genesis 3,15). God's people address Mary full of trust, which is well expressed in Coletta' s prayers to Mary Help of Christians: God, who has made of your Son's Mother Mary the sign of our defence and help, grant your Christian people to always live under her protection and to enjoy unfailing peace. Always grant your Church the strength to win with patience and love all external and internal trials, so that Christ's mystery may be revealed to the whole world.
Entrusting ourselves to Mary Help of Christians is the best way to increase spiritual intelligence and the courage to bear witness like the Lord's true disciples. As is mentioned in the Gospel by Jesus the Good Shepherd, and as Grignion de Montfort points out in relation to Mary's children: God has not put only one enmity but several: between Mary and the devil, between the Holy Virgin's descendants and the devil's descendants. In other words, God has put enmity, dislike and hatred between the holy Virgin's true children and servants and the devil's children and slaves. They cannot love each other!!

1. MARY HELP OF CHRSTIANS AND TEACHER OF THE FAITH
Mary Help of Christians, at difficult times is known by the Church as Our Lady, at times when the Church is attacked for being what it is, at times when Christians are persecuted for being Christians, because they openly speak about God, because they give witness that Jesus is the Lord, because they become a sign of contradiction by refuting current beliefs.
The Virgin's maternal mission leads God's people to address the one who is always ready to grant our wishes with the affection of a Mother, and with the powerful help of a Helper. This is why God's people usually invoke her as Consoler of the afflicted, Health for the sick, Shelter for sinners, in order to have comfort in the midst of tribulations, relief in sickness, to be set free from our wrongdoings. As she, who is free from sin, leads her children to firmly eradicate sin. And we need to remember that such a liberation from sin and from evil (Matthew 6,13), is the necessary premise for any renewal of Christian costumes (MC 57).
We are asked to firmly believe in Mary Help of Christians' presence and help: it is a gift of comfort and consolation, of protection and encouragement which comes from God! The Eucharistic prayer of Mary Help of Christian's mass states: You have given the Immaculate Virgin Mary your Son's Mother to the Christian people as a mother and helper, so that it may intrepidly face the battle of the faith, and firmly anchored to the Apostles teaching, may proceed among the storms of the world, until the perfect joy of our celestial homeland is reached.
Don Bosco had already understood what we currently see more clearly: that through the spread of wrong ideas and religious practices, (particularly through the dictatorships of rationalism and now of relativism), the forces of evil are waging a direct attack at the Church and the foundations of the faith, in the face of which believers find themselves defenceless. Don Bosco's idea is that Mary Help of Christians first act in the face of such a wave of secularism is to defend God's rights, to protect the Church, to promote the authenticity of the doctrine of the faith and to preserve the purity of the Christian hearts. Nowadays this is all the more necessary and urgent than at Don Bosco's time. Let us consider the profound similarity between Don Bosco's words and Mons. Crepaldi words, (the Secretary of the Pontificial Council for justice and peace) in defence of the Pope: The need which is felt today to invoke Mary is not particular but general: it is no longer about the people who are tepid who need to be filled with enthusiasm, the sinners who need conversion and the innocents who need protection. Of course these things are always good, but it is the very Catholic Church that is under attack. Its role, its sacred institutions, its Head, its doctrine, its discipline are under attack. It is under attack as the Catholic Church, as the centre of truth, as the teacher for all believers… May the Holy Virgin help us all to live anchored to the doctrine and to the faith, of which the Roman Pontiff, Jesus Christ's vicar is the Head. May she grant us the grace to keep serving her here on earth, so we may one day join her in the glory of Heaven .
To the persecution of many Christians, literally crucified in various parts of the world, to the numerous attempts to aggressively eradicate Christianity from the legislative, educational point of view from societies which have always been Christian, we need to add the constant attacks against this Pope, Benedict XVI, whose providential greatness is for all to be seen. To these attacks we can add all those who do not listen to his words, whose pastoral and cultural initiatives openly go against his teachings. The situation is serious, because the gap between the faithful who listen to the Pope and those who do not is visible even in weekly magazines and theological institutes, which are animated by very different pastorals, almost as if they were the expressions of two different churches, leading many faithful to be confused and lost .

2. MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS AS THE TEACHER OF GRACE
Mary Help of Christians' gift carries with it an educational legacy, " the extremely delicate task of being " teachers of the Grace", meaning to be able to proclaim to young people and to let them grow in the knowledge of the mystery of Christ and his Spirit" . In actual fact, the Salesian spirituality, inspired by Mary Help of Christians' sweetness and strength, leads us to deepen and experience the preventive educational system, which is characterised by two factors: on the one hand the force of good and man's goodness, and on the other hand the frailty of good and man's weakness.
First of all, Mary is a Help for Christians because she was and will always be the most humble creature, whose thoughts are all for God, both as a Mother and Queen! Without humility we could not put up with the weight of our cross, nor would there be room for joy: those who are not humble only worry about themselves, of their success and of other people's opinion. Without humility there is no love: the soul is not fully occupied with God, does not put God's will before everything else, and does not have the courage to live the mission entrusted to her by God. Without humility there is no light-heartedness and energy which are necessary to serve the Lord, and which are to be found clearly in the life and in the fruitfulness of the saints works and lives. Grignion de Montfort explains that Mary helps us go through all the different stages of humility: The humble Virgin will give you a share of her profound humility, so that you will despise yourself, you will not despise anyone else and you will love being despised .
Secondly, Mary Help of Christians does everything in her power to help us grow in a true, firm, active and living faith. God alone knows how threatened young people's faith is, what insidious obstacles are put before them, how distressed and powerless parents and teachers feel. According to Monfortano: The Holy Virgin will give you a share of her faith: a faith which, here on earth, was superior to that of the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles and the saints…a pure faith, which stops you from thinking about how extraordinary it is. A living faith, animated by love, which makes you act out of pure love. A faith as firm and unshakable as a rock, which makes you remain firm and steady in the midst of storms and hurricanes. An active faith which, like a mysterious key, allows you to open yourself up to all of Jesus Christ's mysteries, to man's and to God's heart. A brave faith which makes you do great things for God and for the salvation of souls .
Thirdly, Mary is a Help for Christians because she comes to our help with regards to all our needs with a mother's heart: she knows what is in our heart, she knows what is good for us and she actively comes to our help. In one of his books, Fr Livio Fanzaga says something very encouraging: We would not be able to understand Mary's maternity towards us if we didn't address her when we are put to the test. She is always waiting for us to comfort us, encourage us and especially to help us carry any burden so we are not overwhelmed by them. Those who entrust themselves to Mary do not walk alone along life's paths. Our Mother walks with us holding our hand. She considers as her own our suffering, problems, anxieties and fears. Everything about us concerns her directly and she takes it to heart. This maternal care would not surprise us, if we trusted Our Lady unconditionally, as she expects from her children. Unfortunately, very few people abandon themselves to her like children, and instead of presenting to our Mother their problems, they keep them for themselves, wallowing in their misery. Entrusting ourselves means learning to put all our worries and afflictions on Mary's heart. Nothing should be left out: let us entrust to her our problems, trials, worries and all our crosses. Let us not leave out even every day's minor troubles which we think we can sort out alone. Let us entrust to her heart even our daily needs, because the Mother takes care of everything. Do not let us be embarrassed about tell her everything: Our Lady will listen and understand like no other mother could. In the same moment we are able to entrust a cross to Mary, we will feel more relieved. The weight will no longer crush us because we can now see a glimpse of hope where there used to be nothing but darkness… .
Fourthly, Mary Help of Christians can help us to win against any temptation like no other creature could, in particular in areas where we are more inexperienced, more naïve, more fragile, capricious, and where we need above all a protective and discerning Mother. Grignion de Montfort rightly states that The devil's greatest enemy ever created by God is Mary, his holy Mother. Right from the earthly paradise, (even though she was only in his mind at that stage), the Lord inspired her with such hatred against that cursed enemy of God, and gave her the ability to bring to light the serpent's cunning, strength to achieve victory, to crush the proud and impious one, that the devil fears her, not only more that all of mankind and all angels but, in a way, more that God himself .
In order to win against temptations we need grace, but in order to obtain grace we need Mary's help. Temptations are so insidious, that we often don't realize we are being subjected to them, and we rarely know how to face them: they appear as harmless, even good, but they aim at our eternal ruin. Fr Livio Fanzaga explains, When temptation strikes, all is left for us to do is to invoke Mary, if we want to avoid being overwhelmed. Our loving Mother promptly runs to our help, and obtains from the heart of Jesus the graces we need. She knows better than we do the seriousness of the situation, and the wickedness of the one who is luring us with his flattery. Every temptation has a specific intensity and duration, and is never superior to our strength and to the graces God grants us to overcome it. During this time he is granted, Satan tries to get us to give up, leading us to believe it is impossible to resist evil. His ability to persuade us is such, that we would easily give up if we had no handhold to grab…If we entrust ourselves to Mary, she helps us to avoid temptations, or face them not as a soldier who is unaware he is about to fall into an ambush, but as a brave fighter who has brought the enemy to light. As a matter of fact, Mary always foresees the traps the devil has set for us, and she prepares us spiritually, by encouraging us to pray, and by infusing us with the light of discernment and the strength of firmness .
Lastly, Mary helps us to face the crucial moment of death in a Christian way, the moment where our need for help, comfort and protection is greatest. If we invoke her countless times, as many as the Hail Marys we recited during our life, she will surely be present at that hour. All the great spiritual teachers have taught us to live our life keeping in mind the prospect of death as the crucial meeting with our Lord. And Don Bosco wanted his young people to experience retreats as " exercises of the good death". For Christians, death should not be exorcised, but we should rather prepare for it, entrusting ourselves to Mary is part of this preparation.

FOR PRAYER AND FOR LIFE


We have meditated on Mary Help of Christians as the teacher of the faith and of grace. 1. Is my faith authentic, firm and full of fervour? Is it fostered by the reliable sources of the Word of God and the teachings of the Pope and of the Church? Do I hold dangerous and wrong beliefs? 2. How is grace growing in me? Do I fight against pride? How do I face temptations? How much do I entrust myself during life's trials? How do I see death, and how often do I think about eternal life? Let us appeal to Mary Help of Christians, so that our faith may be proclaimed with courage and integrity. Let us ask her that the faith in the believers' hearts may not grow cold or be extinguished. Let us entrust to Mary our commitment to evangelisation and education, which (as Salesian Family), we are called to experience at this time of educational emergency and deep secularisation.

John Paul II
and his entrustment to Mary help of Christians, Mother of the Church


The life of blessed John Paul II gives witness to his coat of arms and to his motto: I belong wholly to Mary in order to belong wholly to Jesus. With Mary at the foot of the cross, in order to be with Mary, Jesus Christ's true disciple and passionate apostle of Jesus Christ, as well as faithful and generous servant of the Church. Immediately after being elected Pope in September 1978, he himself confided to some Salesians that his last visit to a Marian shrine was to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Valdocco, while he was on his way back from Rome to Warsaw, following the beginning of John Paul I's pontificate. On this occasion he came to Turin, prayed in front of the Holy Shroud, during its exposition in 1978 for the Jubilee, and then stopped in child like prayer in front of Mary Help of Christians, in this Basilica, and then went through the Way of the Cross alone. On two occasions he came as Pope to these places of Salesian tradition and holiness in Turin and Piedmont: in April 1980 and on the centenary of Don Bosco' s death in 1988.

In particular, three of Pope John Paul II's Angelus are extremely significant, which he delivered in 1988, a Marian year as well as the year of the jubilee on the anniversary of Don Bosco' s death, which illustrate the importance for Don Bosco , for the Salesian family and for the whole Church of the devotion to Mary Help of Christians.

Here we relate the one of the 31st January 1988:

"1. Along our spiritual pilgrimage to Marian shrines, we now go back with our mind to Turin, to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians. And we do so with a specific intention, which is very dear to my heart: as a matter of fact this shrine is a monument to Our Lady set up by Saint John Bosco, whose centenary since his death we celebrate today. Don Bosco, as he is fondly known throughout the world, not only by the Salesian Family he founded, profoundly venerated, loved and imitated Our Lady with the title of "Auxilium Christianorum", consistently spread her devotion, as he regarded her as the foundation of all his work in favour of young people and for the promotion and defence of faith. He used to say that "Mary built her house herself," as if he wanted to stress how Our Lady had miraculously inspired his whole spiritual and apostolic path of great teacher and, even more importantly, how Mary had been chosen by God to help and protect his whole Church.
2. I remember the big picture placed over the altar of the basilica. Through this painting Don Bosco wanted to express his vision of Mary's ecclesiastical function, which is of being "Mother of the Church and Help of Christians." ("Wonders of the Mother of God invoked with the title of Mary Help of Christians", 6). In the painting the holy Virgin stands at the top, lit up by the Holy Spirit and surrounded by the Apostles. The saint had asked the painter Lorenzone to reproduce the most significant moments of history, in which Mary Help of Christians showed her extraordinary maternal protection of the Church. The artist told him the painting would have taken up all the walls of the church, and that it was impossible to convey through pictures Don Bosco' s grand proposal. In any case, this is how the saint saw Mary, in her immense ecclesiastical role.
3. We know very well that Mary's veneration as Help of Christians goes a long way back before Don Bosco; as a matter of fact, such a title is to be found in the "Lauretanee litanies", and stresses Mary's active presence during difficult times for the Church throughout history. During these times, she was always the unexpected source of salvation, the miraculous sign of the Spirit of truth and grace's help.
Today, when faith is constantly put to the test, and many of God's children are exposed to tribulations because of their faithfulness to the Lord Jesus, when humanity, along its path towards the great Jubilee of the year 2000, shows signs of a deep crisis of spiritual values, the Church feels the need for Mary's maternal intervention: to strengthen its belonging to the only Lord and Saviour, to carry on with the evangelisation of the world with the courage of its Christian origins, to light and guide the faith of communities and individuals, in particular to teach young people about the Christian meaning of life, to whom Don Bosco gave his whole self as a father and teacher… "Maria Auxilium Christianorum, ora pro nobis".

      FAMILY CHRONICLE


VENEZUELA:
We follow closely all of ADMAonline publications in Spanish, and we spread them at a national level. On Saturday the 9th of April 2011, we organised a retreat for Lent. The Theme was "Come and see: how ADMA can assimilate and promote a vocational culture." In this we were helped by Fr Luis Azzalini, by the Senior Rector's message and by article 14 of our Rule. The day was led by Fr Robert Senior, headmaster of Don Bosco's Vocational School in Boleìta, (Caracas). The members of the following groups took part in the retreat: La Dolorita, La Vega, Boleíta, Sarría, y Los Teques (Pan de Azúcar y El Vigía. We have also sent a message to all other groups in Venezuela, encouraging them to organise the same retreat for Lent, in order to work together in harmony. (Ingrid González de Gómez - President).


PANAMA:
We are going through with our educational program for 2011. Aside from the themes of the Congress, we have added some new themes with the idea that we are all working towards the same goal. It is with great joy, that I inform all that a member of this group has joined the National Seminary, and we hope the Lord will stand by him, so that he can be a light for all those who are following his journey closely. As part of our activities for Lent, we had a retreat under the guidance of Fr Carols, and we read the Word through the Lectio Divina, meditation, silence, the rosary and the Eucharist. There have been many moments of joy, brotherhood, and great concentration. Our National President and his wife Ivette are experiencing a very special moment as their first child was born on the 9th of April, after waiting for 10 years. The wonderful thing is that the couple prayed Don Bosco to grant their wish for many years, and it was during their visit to Don Bosco' s urn in Panama, that the great miracle took place. The whole group gathered together to share in their joy for the event, (here we call it Baby Shower), during which we offered the new parents a pushchair and a car seat for the new Christian, whose name is Juan de Dios. For the month of May we are preparing as ADMA the crowning of Mary Help of Christians' statue, which is to be found in the hospital "24th December", which has just been inaugurated. We are preparing for the event with pictures, commemorative plates, brochures outlining the Virgin Mary's story, as this is a new neighbourhood, with many poor people, and we would like them to get to know Her and to become her devotees, just like we are. The picture we are donating is over 90 years old, and was passed on from one generation to the next within the Mayroa family, where it was cherished and treasured, but who decided to give it to us, in order to spread Marian devotion. These events bear witness to a strong communion with Jesus and Mary. (Xiomara ).

FR SEBASTIANO VIOTTI
(*Rivalta Bormida (AL) 25/07/1921 † Torino 09/05/2011)

On 9 May, the Lord called to Himself Fr Sebastiano VIOTTI 89 years of age, 71 years of profession and 60 years of the priesthood. Between 1988 and 2007 Fr Viotti was the Spiritual Animator of the ADMA Primary Association, showing great commitment in the animation and the spreading of devotion to Mary Help of Christians throughout the world. We entrust him to Mary, as we pray for him.
(We shall remember him in a special way in the next issue)


We warmly invite all the groups of Spanish language, particularly those of America, to make known and spread the Review of Mary Help of Christians in the Spanish Edition.

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                                  THE President OF ADMA:
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     Don Pier Luigi CAMERONI / Istituto Salesiano | Via S. G. Bosco 1 - 25075 NAVE - BS
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