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|   Monthly Message : 24th March 2017      

Mary invites us to live the faith deeply

We are on the journey that leads to Easter, the centre and summit of our faith and of the Church's life. Today it is not only our violent and immoral society that shocks us, but also the loss of faith and of true Christian life. The attacks on the Church are not only from outside, but sometimes the more insidious and devastating ones are from within. In the Easter Vigil, we are called to renew our baptismal promises, to renounce Satan, the world and sin, and to renew our faith in the Triune God and in the Holy Church. It is a moment of grace to be prepared and lived responsibly to revive our apostolic faith and to live an exemplary Christian life, in order to cooperate for justice and peace in the world. Don Bosco's dream of the two columns is relevant also today, when winds and storms of all kinds are lashing the boat of the Church, trying to destroy and sink it. But we know that "the gates of hell shall not prevail". Our Lady in Fatima announced the triumph of her Immaculate Heart. The path of prayer, the hope of eternal life and the work we do on ourselves lead us to accept the grace of God, so that through renunciation and the call to conversion we become men and women of faith and clear hope and perseverance.
The Lenten journey must rekindle in our hearts that fire, that passion and devotion that characterize every member and every group of ADMA. We are people who recognize that we are saved by the love of God and we place our lives at the service of the Gospel and the charism of Don Bosco for the salvation of young people. On 2April we will mark the 175th anniversary years of the birth of Saint Dominic Savio, a young man who received in his heart the gift of faith. He made Jesus and Mary his friends and was able to build true friendships "for the things of the soul". Let us invoke his intercession, especially for our young people and children of ADMA.
We wish all of us in ADMA a Holy Easter filled with joy and gratitude for the love of God who redeems us, and with renewed entrustment to Mary Help of Christians, our Leader and Queen.

Lucca Tullio, President / Fr Pierluigi Cameroni SDB, Spiritual Animator

Formation programme: Amoris Laetitia / Fr Silvio Roggia SDB

7. Family: Gospel journey

Proclaiming the Gospel of the family today

This is the subtitle that Pope Francis has chosen to present 'certain pastoral perspectives', in the sixth chapter of Amoris Laetitia. He says 'of the family' and not 'to the family'. With clarity and force the family is presented as the main pastoral agent of what concerns the family. The family is itself the Gospel, the good news, the primary missionary force for the Church and for the world.
The Synod Fathers emphasized that Christian families, by the grace of the sacrament of matrimony, are the principal agents of the family apostolate, above all through "their joy-filled witness as domestic churches". Consequently, "it is important that people experience the Gospel of the family as a joy that 'fills hearts and lives', because in Christ we have been 'set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness' (Evangelii Gaudium, 1). As in the parable of the sower (cf. Mt 13:3-9), we are called to help sow seeds; the rest is God's work. (AL 200 - Relatio Synodi 2014, 31)

This represents a Copernican revolution in the life of Christian communities: the family is no longer to be seen as 'the problem' to be cared for by experts who know what is best for it. The family is the 'main agent' and its gospel is first of all the joy in which Pope Francis recognizes the essence of the new life brought by Jesus: Evangelii GAUDIUM, Amoris LAETITIA.
This is not only to recognize that the family is to be consulted for advice on some few specific issues. The Church is a family, and by its nature is made up of families: the parish is a 'family of families' (AL 202).
The Gospel of the family responds to the deepest expectations of the human person: a response to each one's dignity and fulfilment in reciprocity, communion and fruitfulness. (AL 201).
A Gospel so rich is meant to be proclaimed, or better still, to be sown. We are called to cooperate in planting, with unfailing hope, knowing that 'the rest is God's work'. This is a request for 'missionary conversion' (AL 201) to all the Church, making the most of what already exists within the family.
John Paul II, to whom Pope Francis refers, sees in the daily lives of the spouses the sacramental signs of the great mystery of love that is embodied in them. Man and woman are the ministers of the sacrament of marriage not only during the hour before the altar on their wedding day.
In the baptized, words and signs become an eloquent language of faith. The body, created with a God-given meaning, "becomes the language of the ministers of the sacrament, aware that in the conjugal pact there is expressed and realized the mystery that has its origin in God himself" (AL 213 - John Paul II, Catechesis on 27 June 1984).
The procreative meaning of sexuality, the language of the body, and the signs of love shown throughout married life, all become an "uninterrupted continuity of liturgical language" and "conjugal life becomes in a certain sense liturgical". (AL 215 - John Paul II, Catechesis 4 July 4, 1984).
This mystery, ministry and service sees the couple as the only agents in a 'judgment' on which literally their life depends - theirs and that of their children, who are also the life and future of the church and the world. No one can replace them in this which is by far the most important task in the world. The Pope reaffirms this in the words of the Council:
"[The couple] will make decisions by common counsel and effort. Let them thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society and of the Church herself. The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God. (Gaudium et Spes, 50 - AL 222)

Ò We return to one of the texts used in the marriage celebration: Chapter 5 of the letter of St Paul to the Ephesians. The quality of the love between the spouses is by nature and vocation a mirror of quality of love between Christ and us his body, his Church. This is the Gospel OF THE family.

Gospel on a journey

The beauty and richness of the love of spouses, parents and children needs time to unfold, bud, bloom, and bear fruit. One of the basic principles of people's lives and of society expressed in Evangelii Gaudium is that "time is greater than space" (EG 222). This could not be more true than in the life of the family.
Learning to love someone does not happen automatically, nor can it be taught in a workshop just prior to the celebration of marriage. For every couple, marriage preparation begins at birth. (AL 208)
In this respect, the family is gospel. In fact, the four Gospels are an experience of pilgrimage. In an original manner and each with its own unique character, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John tell of the pilgrimage that leads from Nazareth to the Passion and Death of Jesus, to reach the boundaries of the world and of history. The family is a pilgrimage of salvation. Each step and stage has a gift to offer.
Hope is the leaven that, in those first years of engagement and marriage, makes it possible to look beyond arguments, conflicts and problems and to see things in a broader perspective. It harnesses our uncertainties and concerns so that growth can take place. (AL 219).
It is a journey that is not without toil and at the same time stimulates and requires steps of maturation. Pope Francis summarizes them in 7 steps and 7 skills, which are like the pattern of growth from A to Z, because 'the joy of love' is the fruit that follows planting and patient care of the tree of life, within the family.
This process occurs in various stages that call for generosity and sacrifice. The first powerful feelings of attraction give way to the realization that the other is now a part of my life. The pleasure of belonging to one another leads to seeing life as a common project, putting the other's happiness ahead of my own, and realizing with joy that this marriage enriches society. As love matures, it also learns to "negotiate". (AL 220)
Pope Francis is quick to add that negotiating is not intended as a defence of selfish interests, wanting things always to your own advantage. What he means is an exercise of mutual love, an interplay of give and take, for the good of the family. At each new stage of married life, there is a need to sit down and renegotiate agreements, so that there will be no winners and losers, but rather two winners. In the home, decisions cannot be made unilaterally, since each spouse shares responsibility for the family; yet each home is unique and each marriage will find an arrangement that works best." (AL 220).
With a phrase that could not be richer in its simplicity, he indicates the point of arrival, the mature fruit of the journey:
The greatest mission of two people in love is to help one another become, respectively, more a man and more a woman. (AL 221)
In keeping with the pilgrimage of the gospel the journey will necessarily have times of crisis. Amoris Laetitia teaches us to welcome these difficult times as a time of grace, inviting families who are further along on the path to be the first to support and encourage those who are in difficulty.
The life of every family is marked by all kinds of crises, yet these are also part of its dramatic beauty. Couples should be helped to realize that surmounting a crisis need not weaken their relationship; instead, it can improve, settle and mature the wine of their union. Life together should not diminish but increase their contentment; every new step along the way can help couples find new ways to happiness. Each crisis becomes an apprenticeship in growing closer together or learning a little more about what it means to be married. There is no need for couples to resign themselves to an inevitable downward spiral or a tolerable mediocrity. On the contrary, when marriage is seen as a challenge that involves overcoming obstacles, each crisis becomes an opportunity to let the wine of their relationship age and improve. Couples will gain from receiving help in facing crises, meeting challenges and acknowledging them as part of family life. Experienced and trained couples should be open to offering guidance, so the couples will not be unnerved by these crises or tempted to hasty decisions. Each crisis has a lesson to teach us; we need to learn how to listen for it with the ear of the heart. (AL 232)
What Pope Francis offers as an example of 'accompaniment' is very close to what the ADMA families, from Primary ADMA in Valdocco, are now experiencing. It becomes a strong encouragement and a new missionary stimulus to multiply this experience of Church and of Salesian Family started by Mary, which has as its agents the families themselves:
Young couples need to be encouraged to be essentially open to the great gift of children. Emphasis should also be given to the importance of family spirituality, prayer and participation in the Sunday Eucharist, and couples encouraged to meet regularly to promote growth in their spiritual life and solidarity in the concrete demands of life. (AL 223)
Emmaus: the Easter experience of the 'Gospel on a journey" and accompaniment transforming the crisis into the beginning of new life. Luke 24,13-35

Seeds to be opened:

" The Family as the agent
Changing perspective (Copernican revolution!) requires effort and time. I will try to look at the family (mine and ours) with this new vision to which the Pope invites us: family as Gospel and as mission, an agent of pastoral care. How can I take a few steps forward to be more in tune with the vocation / mission of the family as it is presented in AL?

" Family on a journey

We are all on the pilgrimage to Emmaus as individuals and as families. There are steps forward that I can take and there are some steps that I can help others to take, especially where there is a crisis that makes the journey more difficult. I trust that with hope and generosity I will allow the Lord to inspire those concrete steps that charity suggests.


Can the joy of love, which Pope Francis invites us to study in the apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia", become a reality? We believe that the answer to this question, which corresponds to the deepest and truest desires in the hearts of every married couple, is YES: of course, it is possible, but you have to learn how to achieve it. Just as children when they are born cannot walk or talk, so also the bride and groom have to learn the secrets of how to be happily married. They must know the grammar of relationship, of affection, of being a man and woman with their differences and their complementarity. The newlyweds must be trained and accompanied to be able to savour the beauty of marriage, and to live the grace that operates 24 hours out of 24. This grace helps them to overcome the inevitable hardships, to understand the importance of not isolating themselves and of building networks of relationships. It enables them to savour the joy of dialogue and forgiveness, to live with trust in the One who knows how to point the way for every family, and to be open to the gift of life and the joy of parenthood.
"First Steps in the family" is a programme designed for young couples in the early years of marriage or as they prepare for marriage (but it is not a prenuptial course). It is for couples who wish to learn, to share experiences, and to build relationships. In this programme, young people are accompanied by older married couples who are already journeying in ADMA and by priests who are experts on Family. Together they help them to deepen the gifts they have received or will receive in the sacrament of marriage. The sacrament is alive and effective and it actually works in their lives. The response to this proposal was really beautiful: more than thirty couples were present at the first meeting and they participated with great attention and interest. We entrust their journey gratefully to Jesus and Mary. We are confident that Jesus and Mary will support them and we are certain that in the end all these young couples will experience joy.
The first meeting of "First Steps in the family" took place in the Institute of the Sacred Heart in Turin on 14 January. It is a programme for young couples organized by primary ADMA in collaboration with the Salesian Youth Ministry team in Piedmont and Valle D'Aosta. With a talk by Fr Andrea Bozzolo, 60 young people were accompanied by five couples from ADMA families and helped to learn the grammar of relationship, of affection, of being a man and woman with their differences and their complementarity.

Our Toronto ADMA group had another year filled with grace and blessings under the guidance and intercession of Mary, Help of Christians. On January 24th we renewed our commitment to our Blessed Mother and her Association by reciting our solemn promise during the celebration of mass in honour of St. Francis de Sales. We celebrated afterwards with a reception and socializing. Our time together was filled with great joy and unity as we shared in the blessings of the day.
We continue to meet on a monthly basis and hold three retreats each year under the guidance of our spiritual animator, Fr. John Puntino, SDB. Our meetings consist of the recitation of the rosary, spiritual learning and formation and scripture reading with faith sharing. We conclude our meetings with the Blessing of Mary, Help of Christians. It is encouraging and rewarding to see how the spirit of our group is growing under the protective guidance of our Blessed Mother. Fr. John reviews all material that we study at our meetings, shares his spiritual maturity and insight with us and guides us in our faith formation. We are very grateful for all his love and support
Since our group has chosen to study material that promotes greater self-awareness, this year we continued on this journey by studying different traits and qualities that make up a healthy spirituality. As we become more aware of our areas of weakness we cannot help but come to a deeper understanding and acceptance of Jesus' great mercy and love, and in so doing, help us to more readily share His love and mercy with others. And, of course, we do all this through the intercession and guidance of our Blessed Mother, Mary, Help of Christians. May we continue to grow in love for God and one another and may Our Blessed Mother direct and sanctify us as we continue on our journey here on earth. (Margaret Pupulin - President, ADMA Toronto)

In conjunction with the celebrations planned for the Venerable Father Francis Convertini, the ADMA groups of Puglia celebrated their regional assembly in Cisternino on Sunday 12 February. There were over 130 participants accompanied by the Provincial President Michelina Fares, and our spiritual animator Fr Angelo Draisci. The presence of the world animator, Fr Pierluigi Cameroni, was an opportunity to present the spiritual profile of Fr Convertini, and also the programme of ADMA on family ministry in harmony with the Rector Major's Strenna. In the afternoon, the President officially conferred on the groups the Diploma of Affiliation to Primary ADMA and the Decree of erection of the Salesian Southern Province of "Blessed Michael Rua", as a token of communion and the desire for renewal of the Association. (Michela e Dino Fares).

The ADMA group of Cruzeiro (Brazil) is happy to receive the Diploma of Affiliation to Primary ADMA, Turin.

On 18 April we will commemorate the 148th anniversary of the foundation of the Association of Mary Help of Christians.

Mons. Ortiz Arrieta declared Venerable
ANS - Vatican City) - On 27 February 2017, the Holy Father Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the following decree: - The heroic virtues of the Servant of God Ottavio Ortiz Arrieta, Salesian of Don Bosco, Bishop of Chachapoyas; born 19 April 1878 and died on 1 March 1958;
He was born in Lima on 19 April 1878. In December 1893, he entered the vocational school opened by the Salesians for very needy young people as a trainee carpenter. Later he changed and became a student. He made his novitiate in Callao and in 1902 he made his perpetual profession in the hands of Fr Paolo Albera, the extraordinary visitor. He continued in the same house as an assistant, teacher, student of philosophy and then theology. In 1906 he was sent to found a new professional school in the city of Piura. On 27 January 1907, he was ordained priest. After his time in Piura, Fr Ortiz was called to direct the works of Cuzco and Callao.
Here he devoted himself to working with young people. On 21 November 1921, he was appointed bishop of the remote diocese of Chachapoyas in the Northern Andes. He was ordained bishop in the Temple of Mary Help of Christians in Lima on 11 June 1922. The town of Chachapoyas is 2300 metres above sea-level. The diocese at that time had a territory of 95,200 square km and a population of 250,000. After a journey that lasted one month, the new Bishop reached his episcopal see which had been vacant for five years. His life was a continuous journey: for long days on horseback, on foot, on mountain range, in the forests, and on the rivers. He climbed up the icy peaks and went down into the torrid valleys.
From the beginning, he organized missions and spiritual exercises for the people and for priests. He extended this intensive programme which varied from year to year, to all the centres of his diocese. Catechesis and preaching, care of priests and seminarians and promoting vocations were the simple and practical work of all his 37 years as bishop. He always retained the Salesian style: loving, warm, habitually cheerful, and close to the people. Young people used to fill the halls of his old episcopal palace. With a passion for the catechism in his heart, he taught it as often as time permitted. He was a born organizer. He carried out eight pastoral visits, celebrated three diocesan synods and organized a successful Eucharistic Congress. He reorganized the parish archives; started associations and confraternities and published a newspaper.
When the Archdiocese of Lima became vacant, the Apostolic Nuncio on behalf of the Pope offered it to him. Monsignor Ortiz thanked him but declined the offer, saying that he was "married" to his diocese, and he wanted to stay among his people until death. He died in Chachapoyas on 1 March 1958, aged 79.

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