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|   Monthly Message : 24th november 2015      

Mary calls us to choose holiness

In our journey of faith we are always accompanied by the solicitous and motherly presence of Mary. She is the Help of the Church and of families in these difficult times when the faith is under attack. It is a question of being more docile and attentive to what Mary wants from us, so that we may not allow ourselves to be easily fooled by a way of life that does not involve listening to the will of God and does not respond to his call.
Mary reminds us that our fundamental vocation is to holiness, that is, to live in friendship with God, to live as his children. For us, who are inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, this is something dear and familiar. Indeed this great saint invites all to holiness, especially in his Introduction to the Devout Life: "In creation God commanded the plants to bear fruit, each according to its kind: in the same way, he orders Christians, living plants of the Church, to bring forth fruits of devotion, each one according to their nature and their vocation. Devotion has to be practised differently by the gentleman, the workman, the servant, the prince, the widow, the maiden, the bride; but that is not enough, the practice of devotion must be proportionate to the strength, the occupations and duties of each individual. If devotion is genuine it does not ruin anything, rather it perfects everything. When it goes against one's legitimate vocation, without hesitation, it is undoubtedly false. It is an error, or rather a heresy, to pretend to exclude the devout life from the barracks of soldiers, from the workshop of the artisan or the court of Princes, or from the intimacy of spouses. It matters little where we are: we can and should aspire to devotion everywhere". In this way the path of holiness makes us discover how each of us is loved by God, as each of us is unrepeatable and irreplaceable in his eyes.
In this aspiration we are not alone, but we are accompanied by the example and intercession of many men and women even in our own time who give shining witness to holiness. Think of the parents of St. Therese, Louis and Zelie Martin, who were recently declared saints. Think of the very many martyrs who courageously bear witness to their faith, even to the shedding of their blood.
Let us feel united in this wonderful adventure, as it says in the letter to the Hebrews: "Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."

Lucca Tullio, President
Fr Pierluigi Cameroni SDB, Spiritual Animator

With Mary and like Mary. Rigenerated in his Mercy

3. The mission of the church is the fruit of Divine Mercy / Sr Linda Pocher FMA

Sent by the Father, as Jesus was sent

In this Holy Year, the Pope invites us to take personally "the mission of proclaiming the mercy of God, the heart of the Gospel" which "must reach the hearts and minds of all people" through us (12 MV). The word "mission" is not by chance. Indeed it reminds us that this is not our initiative nor an initiative of the Pope, but a task which the entire Church receives from God. There can be no mission, in fact, unless there is someone who sends and someone who is sent. The sender par excellence is God the Father, the Creator of the world, in whom everything in heaven and on earth has its origin, who so loved the world that He sent us the Son and the Spirit (John 3:16). It is part of God's plan from the beginning that men and women who have received this gift, be made collaborators of his mercy, since, in the deepest recesses of the divine eternity, the Father decided to create men in the image the Son, and the Son was willing to become incarnate for their salvation. This understanding between Father and Son was sealed by the consent of the Spirit, which is nothing but love and gift. From then to now, every mission in the Church is a participation in the mission of the Son and the Spirit, and is the fruit of the Father's mercy. The first missionary, the first collaborator of the Holy Trinity is precisely Mary. The Father had thought of her from the beginning, that it might be possible with her consent for the Son to enter the world. Our 'yes' rests in the shadow of her 'yes'. Gazing upon Mary, we learn what it means to become missionaries of mercy. Indeed it was from her flesh that the Son found feet, hands and voice to meet mankind and bring them back to the Father.
Reading the Gospels we see that from every personal encounter with Jesus brought forth a stream of mercy that passed through the person directly encountered by Jesus and touched many more. In some cases there was an explicit "mandate" to Jesus' disciples who were chosen to be with him and to be sent by Him with full powers (M3, 14-15). The leper who was healed was sent to the priests as living testimony to the work of Jesus (Mk 1:44). The possessed man who was set free would like to have followed Jesus, but instead he is sent to his own people to show them "what the Lord has done for him and the mercy he has shown him." (Mk 5.15 to 20). Mary Magdalene is comforted by the Risen Lord and sent to proclaim the resurrection to his disciples (Jn 20:17). But there are also cases in which the person met by Jesus turns spontaneously to help others. Zacchaeus, benefited from Jesus' visit, and decided to benefit the poor with his possessions (Luke 08.19); The Samaritan woman, whose thirst was quenched by the Lord, left her jug and ran to invite villagers to come and be satisfied by Him (Jn 4.28 to 29). In short, the encounter with the mercy of God in Jesus has as its natural result the urge to reach out to others. They don't have to be far away - they can also be family members, neighbours or co-workers. What matters is to perceive the inner urgency to make them taste of the Lord's mercy and see "how good is the Lord" (Ps 33.9).
Let us ask ourselves: Do I feel the urge to witness to the love of God in daily life, or am I turned in on myself, always waiting for someone else to take the initiative?

Decide, like Mary
Our involvement in the mission of the Son, however, is conditioned by our readiness to mature in attention and alertness, like Mary. Like her, we have to become one with Jesus, to the point of having in us his feelings of welcome to everyone, without exception (Phil 2, 3). To define the Church as the "Bride of Christ" is to recognize that it is founded on this very mysterious and profound communion of doing and feeling. The bride, in fact, although having in herself the ability to generate life, remains sterile if she does not join the bridegroom. Similarly the projects and initiatives of the Church are destined to infertility if believers do not take care, first of all, to allow themselves to be made fruitful by the workings of God. Being chosen as Bride is also for the Church - as it was for Mary - a gift, not something earned on merit, and an eloquent sign of the mercy of God who has taken charge of a sinful people to make it a community of people who are saved (Ez 16.8 to 12). The more we get into this way of seeing things, the closer we are to achieving what Pope Francis calls "pastoral conversion" and "an outgoing Church".
When Mary said yes to the angel, there developed between her and the Trinity a form of relationship that had never before been seen between God and a creature. "In the Old Testament" writes Balthasar, "the heavens opened and often the Word and the Spirit of God came forth, but the spirit never spread its shadow on the womb of a virgin." At the time of her consent, the Spirit and the Son really come to dwell in her. During her pregnancy, while the baby Jesus - the Word of the Almighty Father! - like every little human, allows himself to be formed, helpless and silent in her womb, the Spirit is working actively in her, while she never ceases to ponder in her heart the words of the angel, and in obedience to them, she decides and acts. In particular, from the mouth of the angel, Mary learned a fact: "Elizabeth has also conceived a son ..." She quickly grasped the meaning of the words "nothing is impossible to God" (Lk 1:37), and she decided to act accordingly, setting out on her journey (Lk 1:39). The news of the pregnancy of her cousin, in fact, was an implicit appeal to her: "Elizabeth needs you."
We can imagine the reactions of the relatives of Mary opposing this strange sudden departure. Elizabeth, in fact, was "kept hidden" until the fifth month, and they were not aware of her condition (Lk 1:24). "How can you think of leaving right now when you're getting married?" they would have said to her. "Think of yourself, think of your own preparations." But Mary is so determined to put into practice what she has decided on that nobody can stop her. St. Ambrose tells us that she went "in haste" to Elizabeth and he comments: "The grace of the Holy Spirit does not allow for hesitation." "It's as if we were told" wrote Cardinal Martini "when something has been decided in the depths of the heart, it must be done, because otherwise it rots within us. This also applies to the little things ... a visit that costs us, an initiative that weighs upon us, or a job that we decided to do but keep on putting off. The postponements and, the delays wear us out, they are rotting within us ... it is dangerous not to do what must be done and what is right and true."
At the Congress, we were lucky enough to hear the testimony of the children of the venerable Attilio Giordani, a Salesian cooperator. He was a 'normal' man, an employee at Pirelli. His life was uneventful. He was an exemplary husband and father, and very committed to the oratory. At fifty-nine years of age, following the example of his son Pier Giorgio, he decided to join a missionary operation in Mato Grosso and, together with his wife and his daughter Paola, he set off to join his son in Brazil. To explain his decision he wrote: "In life we don't need to say much about the things we need to do. We don't need much preaching, what matters is what we do. We have to show what we believe by our lives. There is no need to preach sermons. The sermon is the way we live." Death took him by surprise, in Campo Grande, while he was speaking at a missionary gathering: When he felt he was about to die he had the presence of mind to pass on the baton to his son who was beside him: "Pier Giorgio, you continue." His daughter Mariagrazia comments: "There was never a break in my father's life. Anything he decided to do, he saw it through to the end. It was fitting the way things went and that he met the Lord while he working with young people. "
We can ask ourselves: is there is a decision, however small, that I know I have to make, but keep putting off?

Seized by the Spirit, like Elizabeth
There is beautiful mosaic by Fr Rupnik which invites us to see in the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth an anticipation of a future meeting between their sons: Mary is wearing a medal with the face of Jesus over her womb. John the Baptist is just behind Elizabeth, with his right hand pointing to Jesus and his left holding a shell, the symbol of baptism. His mother is pointing in the same way to Mary's womb and raises her left hand towards Mary's head in a gesture of blessing. Mary, in response, raises her right hand to heaven, to God who "has regarded the lowly estate of his handmaiden" (Lk 1:48). Jesus alone does nothing for now: he allows himself to be carried and blessed as he will allow himself to be baptized.
The angel who appeared to Zacharias in the temple had described the mission entrusted to John: "He will be filled with the Spirit ... and he will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God" (Lk 1, 16-17). His testimony will really be an important sign for Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, but his ability to recognize Jesus as the Messiah promised for centuries, is already evident while he was still in his mother's womb. Elizabeth felt startled and, seized by the Spirit, she recognized in her cousin the Mother of the Lord. This was the same Spirit, who came upon Jesus on the day of his Baptism "in bodily form like a dove" (Lk 3:22) The Spirit is the protagonist of the hidden meeting between the two mothers and the children they are carrying. Fr Rupnik's mosaic makes the point: a column of gold falls from the sky illuminating John and Elizabeth, and covering Mary in light.
At the Congress of Mary Help of Christians, Fr Patrick Rota Scalabrini commented on the meeting of generations that took place in the presentation of Jesus in the temple. He pointed out that "the text is not only an illustration of the necessary generational dynamic in families and the wider community, understood precisely as a network of families, but also reveals how God's salvation passes through the generations and brings them together at a more profound level than a purely biological or social fact. People are called to become sons and daughters in the Son." The same thing can be said of the encounter between the young Virgin Mary and the elderly spouse Elizabeth: "This type of communication is the paradigm of how the entire community should pass on witness to the faith and hope to the new generations." We are interested, therefore, as educators - parents and consecrated persons- to see how the Spirit directed the exchange of faith and hope that took place between the two women, so that we can be more docile in cooperating in his project, in the certainty that, where the Spirit is the director, interpersonal relationships will find the strength to escape from the usual clichés and be renewed by the creativity of charity.
The Spirit first opens the eyes of the cousins to recognize in one another the presence of God and the work of his mercy. Now God's mercy passes through their wombs, but, as Mary sings in the Magnificat, it comes from further away and, with a preference for the poor, expands beyond measure "from generation to generation" (Lk 1:50). This attitude, this ability to see the action of God in the other is what prepares us for Christian service. Mary does not go to Elizabeth to show how good she is, nor to exercise power over her. And Elizabeth does not praise Mary in order to get something from her. This unselfish way of seeing the other is what Don Bosco refers to as "the point where they are open to what is good", or the point where goodness breaks through, where goodness has already begun to work, perhaps without the person even realizing it. This is where the educator must start if they want to collaborate with the Spirit that we believe is present in the heart of every person. When we approach others with reluctance, or pessimism, or feelings of rivalry, with emotional blackmail or a secret wish to dominate, then we can rest assured that it is not the Spirit who is guiding us, but the "enemy of our salvation." Therefore it is right and good to clear our minds and our hearts of thoughts and feelings that do harm to ourselves and others, in order to make room for the Spirit!
The prophet Jeremiah has written: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases … [his mercies] are new every morning" (Lam 3, 22-23). A small "spiritual exercise" can help us to grow in this awareness: every night before bed, I ask the help of the Spirit and of Mary and I go back over the day, looking for the signs of God's presence and his work in me and in the people who are close to me.


On Sunday 25 October 2015, in a Marian climate of communion and joy, the ADMA groups of Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta and Lombardy celebrated the 25th Marian Day. Before about 300 people, Sister Linda Pocher, FMA, introduced the second catechesis of the programme for this year in the life of the association, in tune with the Jubilee which will begin on 8 December 8, on the theme of Mercy: With Mary and like Mary, reborn in His Mercy . Mercy is the womb of faith. This was followed by a time of prayer and reflection on the formation programme.
Then Mr Tullio Lucca, President of the Primary ADMA, explained the meaning of being "Devotees of Mary Help of Christians", referring to the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, in the light of his fundamental work Introduction to the Devout Life. Two testimonies followed from Frederick Rissone and Teresa Furlan. They described their experience as young people from ADMA during the world meeting of the Salesian Youth Movement marking the end of the bicentenary year of Don Bosco. Then Sergio and Cecilia Durighello, a married couple from the Primary ADMA, shared their experience of the International Congress of Mary Help of Christians. Five young people had joined the Association. The atmosphere at the Shalom Community of Palazzolo sull'Oglio was one of openness and service.
In the afternoon, at the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, after the community recitation of the Rosary, there was the solemn Eucharist at which Fr Franco Lotto, Rector of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, presided. During the celebration twenty-six people joined the association: in the Primary (6 young people, 5 couples, 3 senior members), Arese (1), Ivrea (1) and the Shalom Community of Palazzolo sull'Oglio (5 young people).
This Marian Day confirmed how Mary Help of Christians accompanies and supports her Association by renewing it and demonstrating the mercy of God from generation to generation.

The first meeting of prayer, meditation and mutual understanding to start ADMA in the Province of Congo (Central Africa) took place on 24 September 2015. The meeting was coordinated by Father Albert Kabuge. It included a formative moment on the theme: "Mary invites us to pray for families and for the sanctity of the family." An introduction to the Regulations followed and some sharing on the monthly activities and the frequency of the meetings. The participants stressed the need to get established first of all with a core group of well-formed members before starting local groups.

A meeting of the local councils of ADMA in Sicily, was held at the San Cataldo Institute of the FMA on 4 October 2015. During it the elections of the new Provincial Council took place. Among those present were Fr Pierluigi Cameroni, world spiritual animator and the Provincial animators of Sicily, Fr Angelo Grasso and Sister Carmelina Cappello. There were more than 120 participants representing almost all the ADMA centres on the island.
It was a particularly busy day and it was exciting to hear, in the early morning, Fr Pierluigi Cameroni speaking about the Seventh Congress of Mary Help of Christians which took place in Turin from 6 to 9 August. He recommended giving greater attention to families as the primary place of education and evangelization. We need to educate families to educate young people. ADMA should not be reduced to devotional practices, but should be a shared experience of faith that changes lives. This means working for Our Lady, bringing joy to people's heart and doing so in the spirit of the Magnificat; serving our brothers and sisters for the good of society that is losing the essential values of human existence.
These are the commitments he left us:
o Renewing the preventive system in families through dialogue, mutual love and prayer.
o Being docile to the Spirit in order to be used as the Spirit wants.
In the first part of the afternoon there was the election of the new Provincial Council of Sicily, consisting of four members at the regional level and six at zonal level.
Those elected at regional level are: Auteri Giuseppe, Calvino Angela Rita, Fichera Grazia Maria and Petitto Venera.
At zonal level, eastern Sicily: Anticonome Lucia, Gravagna Maria and Leonardo Anna.
At zonal level, Western Sicily: Martiradonna Maria, Puccio Agnese and Valdes Teresa.
(Venera Petitto)

"Spouses and parents - Experiencing the joy of the Gospel in a family" was the title of the retreat organized by ADMA on 11 and 12 October at the Priory of Saint-Pierre. A hundred people came to hear two talks given by Fr Roberto Carelli (SDB, professor of theology and expert on family issues). He offered couples a few thoughts on "Happily married: the grace of marriage" and on "Bonds of freedom: the education of children in the light of faith." On these two important topics Fr Carelli proposed two different 'Decalogues' - practical suggestions and spiritual reflections to strengthen the relationship between spouses and, as a consequence, the relationship between parents and children.
The Family ADMA offers a programme to help the love between spouses to be renewed every day, to promote their spiritual growth as individuals and as families, and a training course for parents in the difficult task of education, developing a friendship with their children that will enable them to share their faith and to witness it to others. Being at the school of Don Bosco implies cultivating different aspects of the Salesian charism in the family: the joy of living, attention to prayer, union with God in daily life, service to others, particularly the young and the poor, trust in God, who is our provident Father and entrustment to Mary, who is our Mother and Teacher.

On 17 October 2015 ADMA started its programme for the year at the Salesian House of Bilbao-Deusto with 110 members present. It all started with a fervent Eucharist to give us strength and encourage us on our journey.
We reviewed the programme of last year: the different places where we were, the programme, the area meetings, the retreats and the pilgrimage.
Then we were presented with the new stages proposed for the current year 2015-2016. This year we intend to focus our attention on the Congress of Mary Help of Christians recently celebrated; on the Year of Mercy that is about to begin; on the Synod on the family and on the Rector Major's Strenna. We have plenty of material to draw upon depending on the interests and needs of each centre.
We finished with a shared meal and a lively exchange of ideas.
May Mary Help of Christians bless our good intentions and our work, as she always does! (P. Arcadio, SDB, Spiritual Animator).

The Salesian Family of the Northern Province of the Philippines held a Marian rally on 24 October 2015 at the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians. ADMA was the main organizer of this event. There were several branches of the Salesian Family: students of the SDB and FMA Schools and Training Centres, young people from the Youth Centres and youth of the SDB and FMA parishes, and lay collaborators of the Salesian Family. This event was intended to deepen devotion to Mary Help of Christians in the hearts of those who belong to Salesian centres, following the example of St John Bosco and encouraging everyone to be active in the spread of the devotion among the people they meet. The subject was the life of Don Bosco, highlighting his devotion to Mary, in line with the Strenna for 2015: "Like Don Bosco, with young people and for young people."
The ADMA animator, Fr Nestor Impelido, SDB, gave greetings on behalf of the authorities. Sister Maria Asela B. Chavez, FMA, Cl. Keith Amodia, SDB and Mrs. Angie Ebriega led the group in the recitation of the Holy Rosary. The Laura Vicuña Club of San Ildefonso Parish, Makati City, led the opening prayer with the song "Mary's Song of Love".
The five decades of the Rosary were accompanied by five reflections based on the life of St John Bosco with Mary, our Mother.
1: The Casa Biglione where his life began.
2: The Becchi where he took his first steps.
3: The seminary at Chieri where he made the leap of faith.
4: The Convitto where his ministry began.
5: The Pinardi shed: the light of the mission.
After every decade there was either a hymn inspired by the young people or a testimony from an individual or group.
The Auxilium choir of the parish of St. Dominic Savio sang "In the Beginning" after the first decade. The Jimenez family from the San Juan Nepomuceno ADMA group gave a testimony to Mary after the second decade. After the third, Sr. Mylene Sanchez, FMA and Sister Leila Montero, FMA told the stories of their vocation. After the fourth, Mr. Stephen Borja gave his personal testimony as an educator of youth. And after the fifth decade Fr Remo Bati, SDB, spoke about his ministry among Filipino migrants in Italy.
After the recitation of the Holy Rosary, the Hulag Dancers of the College of Mary Help of Christians, Canlubang, Laguna, and the young people of the Don Bosco Youth Centre, St. John Bosco Parish in Tondo, performed their tribute to Mary, to the delight of all.
This was followed by the offering of flowers by all present. This tribute was accompanied by Marian songs by the pre-novitiate and post-novitiate communities of Canlubang. Fr John Tamayo, SDB a missionary in Thailand, presided at the Eucharistic celebration. Among the concelebrants was Fr. Paul Bicomong, Provincial of the Northern Province of the Philippines. VIVA MARIA!

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