Mary helps the Church to come
out of itself
I had the grace and the joy
of being present in St Peter's square for the announcement of
the election and the first blessing of our new Pope Francis.
It was a big surprise, a sign of the love of God that always
surprises us and of the perennial newness of the Church. We thank
God for the gift of the new Pope Francis. A Pope who began his
pontificate by reciting with us the prayers of the good Christian
and who asked us to pray for him. At that moment there was a
deep silence in the square, sign of an intense prayer. A Pope
who, as his first act, went to seek the help of Our Lady to assist
him in his ministry as Bishop of Rome, who presides over of the
universal Church in charity. A Pope named Francis and who wants
to embrace all people as brothers. We are grateful to Mary Help
of Christians and to St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church,
for this gift to the Church and to the whole world.
Indeed, the Church is going through a time that is difficult,
but at the same time full of promises. Peter's boat is tossed
about by waves that are threatening those who have a weak faith.
Our Lady has been urging us to follow the Pastors and pray often
for them. Especially in times like these we need to be aware
of our belonging to the Church, because the Church is our family,
without which we would be without God and without hope in this
world. We must be devoutly proud and grateful for this membership
and live it as a great grace. For us it must be not only a duty
but also a joy to be faithful to the Church, love it and help
it. We contribute to the renewal of the Church with our personal
sanctification. The Church is renewed in the hearts open to God
and his love. Let's make Jesus Christ shine in our lives so that
the world may believe and be converted.
With Mary, we live the Paschal Church: we ask you, Mother of
the Church and Help of Christians, that "through the contemplation
of Jesus Christ, help the Church to step out of itself towards
the suburbs of existence to become a fertile mother who lives
the sweet and comforting joy of evangelization "(Cardinal
Bergoglio, General Congregation March 2013). We make our own
the words addressed to Pope Francis by the Rector Major, Fr Pascual
Chávez: "At this moment, while we want to express
our joy on your appointment, we renew our loyalty and assure
the filial respect we inherited from Don Bosco. He often used
words full of love and faith towards the Successor of Peter:
"He who is united with the Pope, is united to Christ"
(MB VIII, 567); "We will be most obsequious towards the
Apostolic See in all things, at any time, in any place, where
the Lord will call us "(MB XV, 249), "The Pope's prayer
is my command "(MB V, 874); "His word must be our rule
in every way" (MB VI, 494). Thus spoke our Founder Don Bosco
and so our hearts want to be today. "
Lucca Tullio, President
Don Pierluigi Cameroni, SDB, Spiritual Animator
Francis: his devotion to Mary Help of Christians and the relationship
with the Salesians.
Pope Francis had in his life
different expressions of emotional closeness to the Salesians.
In 1949 Jorge Mario Bergolio attended, with his younger brother,
the Salesian College "Wilfrid Barón" Ramos Mejía,
in class 6th B. As the list of winners of that year demonstrates,
he received the first prize in good conduct and in Religion and
He had close relations with the Salesian Community of Almagro,
where at the age of 17 he had as his spiritual director Father
Enrico Pozzoli, a priest who, before taking the charism of Don
Bosco to Tierra del Fuego - really at the end of the world -
was able to leave an indelible mark on him. It was Don Pozzoli
who suggested that the young Bergoglio should travel to the mountains
of Tandil to recover his lungs, and it was with him that the
future Pope decided his admission to the seminary in Villa Devoto,
and in the preface of the first book written as card. Bergoglio
- Meditations for the religious - he recalls him because of the
"strong influence" that the Salesian had in his life
and his "example of service to the Church and of religious
consecration." Also in that community Bergoglio knew Father
Lorenzo Massa, founder of the football team San Lorenzo, to which
Pope Francis is affiliated and of which he still keeps its first
sport ID card. In the celebration of the centenary of the Sports
club he said that San Lorenzo "does not take the colours
from anywhere, but we ask them from the Virgin "and asked
that" Mary Help of Christians be never separated from the
club, because she is the mother, as the San Lorenzo was born
in the Oratory San Antonio, under the protection of the Virgin.
He mainly cultivated a strong devotion to Blessed Artemide Zatti,
Salesian Brother. In fact, during the period when he was Provincial
of the Jesuits, he invoked Zatti's intercession for vocations
of lay brothers in the Society of Jesus and the response was
amazing! He wrote: "Since we had begun the prayers to Bro.
Zatti, 18 young brothers came who persevered and another 5 that
came out of the novitiate and the juniorate. In total, 23 vocations.
The novices, students and young Brothers have done several times
a Novena in honour of Bro. Zatti, asking vocations of Brothers.
I did the same. I am convinced of his intercession for this problem,
since, given the number, it is a rare case in the Society. In
gratitude, the 2nd and 3rd edition of "Devotion Book of
the Sacred Heart", we put the Novena to ask for the canonization
of Bro. Zatti".
It is worth remembering his paternity, as Pastor of the Archdiocese
of Buenos Aires, towards the Salesians. During the General Assembly
of the Latin American churches in Aparecida he asked for the
beatification of Ceferino Namuncurà, Salesian student,
to be done not in Buenos Aires but in Chimpay in Argentinian
A special trait is the well-known devotion to Mary Help of Christians,
remembered by many Salesians. Of all the memories, the strongest,
the most significant, the most indelible: a man of faith, that
every 24th of the month, early in the morning before they open
their doors, went to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians
in the Almagro neighborhood, celebrated mass and remained a good
hour in prayer before the image of the Virgin, blessed by Don
Bosco. On 21th March 2013 the Rector Major had the grace to meet
with Pope Francis and made him a gift of a statue of Mary Help
of Christians, which the Pope immediately kissed, recalling his
devotion to Mary Help of Christians and also that he had been
baptized in the Sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians in Almagro.
When they were leaving, Don Adriano Bregolin asked him to keep
the statue of Mary Help of Christians in his studio as Help of
Christians and Mother of the Church and the Pope said, "I
formation 2012-2013: The grace of faith
8. Faith and love (Don Roberto
We have already seen how the
primacy of love can't be affirmed without the priority of faith:
love is the form of faith, but faith tells the truth of love.
Truth and love are inseparable according to the teaching of St.
Paul: truth stands in charity (veritas in caritate), and charity
is exercised in truth (caritas in veritate) and you must recognize
that "only charity shines in truth" and that "without
truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality" (Caritas
in Veritate, 3).
Separated from faith, love becomes anything, the most used and
abused word, the name of God and the biggest idol, the greatest
desire of man and its maximum frustration. Without faith, love
makes a bad end, "becomes an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily"
(ibid.). C.S. Lewis rightly observed: "when love is no longer
God, or when love is elevated to a god, it becomes a demon"!
Only God knows how often this happens every day, but we know
a little, too. Out of the bond of faith, the mystery of love
is overturned into a peaceful assumption everybody declares to
know extremely well: love then ceases to be a summary of the
commandments, and becomes the legitimacy of any discretion. And
Jesus said love is the supreme commandment - "his"
commandment! - for two very good reasons: that there's nothing
so necessary as love, and so to fail in love is to fail in life,
and that there is nothing free in love; in fact where there's
no freedom there is no need for laws.
Outside faith, love becomes the greatest heresy: it ensures an
element of truth, but other ones are forgotten. With the exception
of those, ancient and modern, who deny the existence of love
as a spiritual phenomenon, peculiar to mankind, and those who
naturalize it reducing it to bio-psychological coordinates that
can be studied and are predictable as all natural phenomena,
in the history of thought there are the most diverse interpretations.
For some it is instant and eternity, for others it is life and
fidelity. Many frame it in the system of needs; others recognize
it only in terms of pure love, of disinterestedness. There are
those who think of it as desire, aspiration, lack, longing, and
those who think it more as possession, fullness, rest, and enjoyment.
People are inclined to think of love today as an irrational force,
while Christians see it as the reason for everything. Some associate
it with effort and sacrifice, while others consider it true only
if it is spontaneous. It is even seen as a contradictory phenomenon,
unable to get out of the alternative between affirmation and
self-denial, disguised selfishness on the one hand, and an inevitable
alienation on the other.
On the subject of love, there are ideas and attitudes even within
faith. The debate has always been between those who see an irreparable
rift between human love (eros) and divine love (agape), and those
who would rather see continuity. In the first case, prevalent
in an evangelical view, eros and agape are opposed as flesh and
spirit, as lust and benevolence, love of desire and love of fullness,
ascending love and descending love, spiritualization of love
and embodiment of love. In the second case, prevalent in the
Catholic perspective, human love comes from divine love and tends
towards it. In other words, eros and agape are unmistakable and
inseparable, eros tends to agape, agape is the truth of eros.
In this sense, as pointed out by Benedict XVI in his first encyclical,
"eros and agape can never be completely separated from each
other," because in the end "love is a single reality,
but with different dimensions" (DC 7.8). However, if you
miss the reciprocal belonging, it is now very difficult not to
identify eros with the eroticism and agape with mysticism, but
then the ecstasy of eros stops being ascent and becomes degraded,
and the ecstasy of agape, forgetting the concrete forms of love,
can no longer be exodus, elevation, effective maturation of the
heart (see DC 6.7). The Pope even suggests, in a very bold way,
that eros does not only move from agape towards agape, but also
agape is intimately crossed by eros, in the sense that the perfection
of the love of God is not without passion, and its fullness is
not without desire: his love 'may certainly be called eros, yet
it is also totally agape "(DC 9).
Out of the bond of faith, today love lives two unknown threats.
They are the bitter fruit of a long historical process, which
in the Middle Ages has gradually replaced the figures of Christian
love, which is both spiritual and incarnate, with the figures
of romantic love, which is erotic but not sexual, passionate
but not spousal. So love, separated from the concrete forms in
which it occurs, develops and matures, loses all its dimensions
and proportions. The most striking is the sentimental, erotic
and economic reduction that love has suffered in the transition
from modern to postmodern: the delivery of love to the variations
of the emotion, the mechanisms of instinct and logic of exchange,
deprive love of those aspects of loyalty, freedom and generosity
that constitute it. The other phenomenon, evident in view of
the faith, is the reversal of the one and three-fold commandment
of God, who asks us to love God with all your heart and your
neighbour as yourself. There is an order in love that cannot
be subverted with impunity: love of God, love of neighbour and
love of self. What happens when the primacy of God is denied
or marginalized is there for us all to see: irreligion unleashes
selfishness and produces narcissism. Yes, because when self-care
takes the place of the worship of God and the love of neighbour,
it is not surprising that young people are guilty of weak identity,
feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, little fortitude to
make decisions of life and in dealing with conflicts. The wisdom
of God is clear: first, you can not love the creatures as we
love the Creator, because that would be idolatrous, deceptive
and overwhelming and second, to love is to properly give life
to others, not to withdraw into themselves, and thirdly, there
must be a measure in the relationship between love of self and
of others, because otherwise it will not prevent the opposing
temptations of domination and dependence, manipulation and resentment.
What then is love according to faith? Here are the essential
1. Love is a gift and commandment. Marked by limitations and
sin, we are not in a position to define love and establish its
needs. "God is Love". It is He to say what love is,
it is He who makes us capable of loving, it is He who will judge
us according to our love!
2. Love is pure donation, reciprocity and fruitfulness. It is
always and everywhere, in heaven and on earth. In fact, since
man has been created in the image of God, "to the monotheistic
God corresponds a monogamous marriage. It becomes the icon of
the relationship between God and his people and vice versa, God's
way of loving becomes the measure of human love "(DC 11).
Love cannot therefore be reduced to attachment or sentiment,
nor can we know love separating it from the first forms of proximity:
the love between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers
and sisters. The family ties are so both sacred and natural ties:
they are based on the love of God and return to the love of God!
3. Love is the gift of self and acceptance of others. It is mutual,
but does not respond to the logic of the exchange: it becomes
mutual only if it dares to be free, it becomes bilateral only
if it has the courage to be unilateral: "There is no greater
love than to lay down his life for his friends "!
4. Love is affection and service. Love goes beyond the rights
and duties, includes and outdoes justice, has its apex in mercy.
If love doesn't become service, self-love and the limits of the
other prevail, our rights and the others' wrongs. At the Last
Supper, Jesus has called us friends and became a servant, has
shown us that the power of love is manifested in service!
5. Love requires humility and sacrifice. Those who are full of
themselves, do not leave space to another, and those who just
want to feel good can not be responsible for others. Without
humility, God's gifts do not find a home, and without willingness
to sacrifice the testimony of the Gospel is not effective. Therefore,
Jesus says, "Who wants to follow me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily and follow me"!
6. Love is poor, chaste and obedient. So was the love of Jesus
and Mary. The evangelical counsels are not added to love, they
belong to it, they qualify it: you can not love where there is
greed in relation to things, cupidity in affection, pride in
the exercise of freedom!
7. Love is joy and peace; it is no coincidence that they are
the first two fruits of the Spirit, which is the Love of God
himself, the reflection of His presence in your heart and on
the human face. Joy and peace are the fruit and the thermometer
of love: where they are missing or in short supply, there is
little love, or is very imperfect; where they grow and abound,
there the love of God is perfected!
- VATICAN - STEPHEN SANDOR, MARTYR FOR THE FAITH
ANS - Vatican City) - Wednesday
27 March 2013, Pope Francis has given an audience to Cardinal
Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
During the audience the Supreme Pontiff authorised the Congregation
to promulgate the Decree of Martyrdom for Servant of God Stephen
Sándor, a professed Brother in the Society of St Francis
de Sales; he was born at Szolnok (Hungary) on 26 October 1914
and put to death out of hatred for the Faith at Budapest (Hungary)
on 8 June 1953.
Stephen Sandor came to know about Don Bosco through the Salesian
Bulletin, and immediately felt attracted to the Salesian charism.
In 1936 he was accepted at the Clarisseum in Budapest where he
did a two year aspirantate. He attended courses in printing technology
at the Don Bosco Press. He began his novitiate but had to interrupt
it as he was called to military service. In 1939 he was able
to take up his novitiate again and eventually made his first
profession on 8 September 1940 as a Salesian Brother.
He was assigned to the Clarisseum, and was actively involved
in vocational education. He was also an assistant at the oratory
and promoted the YCW (Young Catholic Workers). At the end of
the Second World War he began working for the material and moral
rebuilding of society, giving special attention to poor youth.
His interest was in gathering them up and teaching them a trade..
In 1949 the State, under Mátyás Rákosi,
confiscated all ecclesiastical goods and began persecution of
Catholic schools. Bro. Sándor tried to save what could
be saved. Almost overnight religious found themselves reduced
to nothing and had to disband. Stephen Sandor had to leave his
printing operations - which had gained recognition - and "disappear",
but instead of fleeing to the West he stayed in the country so
he could keep working for Hungarian youth. He managed to find
employment in a detergent factory in the Capital, and fearlessly
but clandestinely kept up his apostolate, while knowing that
it was a strictly forbidden activity. In July 1952 he was taken
into custody at his workplace and was never seen again by his
confreres. An official document shows that he was condemned to
death and hanged on 8 June 1953.
"Let us give thanks to God for this gift of the Church to
the Salesian Family during the Year of Faith", Fr Pierluigi
Cameroni, Postulator General for the Salesian Family, said. "The
new martyr, Stephen Sándor, a Salesian Brother, is a shining
witness and intercessor who followed in Don Bosco's footsteps
by offering the young the Gospel of joy through a pedagogy of
kindness and by giving his own life. Let us be grateful to Pope
Francis for this special gift at the beginning of his papal ministry"
The Decree of Martyrdom will now be prepared by the Congregation
for Causes of Saints in collaboration with the Postulator General.
Following this a date will be set for the Beatification, given
that a martyr does not need a miracle. His complete sacrifice
in the act of martyrdom, as the highest testimony to the Christian
Faith, is considered to be the supreme act in his "sequela
May 15 to 23: Novena to Mary Help of Christians
We would like to invite our
entire Association to participate in a special prayer campaign
for the Salesian Congregation's General Chapter XXVII. It will
begin in February 2014. We wish to invite all the groups to have
Masses said and to pray the rosary for this intention. This is
a very special event which touches the entire Salesian Family.
May 24: Feast of Mary Help
you gave the Virgin Mary Immaculate, Mother of your Son,
as help for the christian people,
in order to fight fearlessly the good fight of faith,
and that safely anchored to the apostles teaching,
they might proceed surely among the world's tempests,
up to the final perfect joy in heaven.
Make us stay unshaken under her protection
so that in the trials of life
We might always feel her close, rescuer and mother.
Through Christ Our Lord. Amen!