Rector Major's Goodnight to ADMA
On the evening of Sunday
24 September, during the ADMA meeting in the Church of St. Francis
de Sales in Valdocco, the Rector Major and his Vicar, Fr Francis Cereda,
joined in the time of prayer. At the end the Rector Major gave a really
encouraging and meaningful "Goodnight":
"I had some free time and I was close by. Believe me when I tell
you that the Association of Mary Help of Christians is a light for
the whole Salesian Marian world. Many people have their eyes on this
house. There are many visitors here wondering what they do because
they have heard that at Valdocco there is something very beautiful,
and that Adma is a movement that is capable of involving families,
young people and parents, children and teenagers. I must say that
I personally am very happy that new opportunities arise not as a result
of a programme drawn up in an office, but because life calls, and
because life shows what can be done. I really want to encourage you.
The value of this reality according to me, and according to many of
us, is the fact of the faith that is alive in the family and that
Out Lady is accompanying families and parents, and the many young
people present who are future parents. This has exceptional value
for the Church. We talk so much about families ... we talk about pastoral
care for families ... and I encourage you to continue this and I encourage
you to show others the way and to guide others in our Salesian Family.
Finally, let me share a deep conviction that I carry in my heart.
Going around the world I see that very often we make great efforts
to do things, to do them well more often than not, also in the social
sphere... all this is very good and very Salesian ... However, we
miss out on moments of true relationship, talking about God, talking
about Jesus ... with one another and with God ... We fail to celebrate
our faith, to express the faith that sustains us. We talk about something
else, but not about what has deep roots. In this sense, the Association
has many beautiful elements, but prayer and faith are a priority.
It is something truly exceptional to see families, children, and young
people in the Association. I thank you on behalf of the whole Salesian
Family. You will enjoy the Lord's protection and the maternal presence
of Mary Help of Christians and the intercession of Don Bosco.
Thank you for your witness as we continue to journey with families.
God bless you! You should know that I pray for you often. One of the
easiest thing a Rector Major can do is to pray for others. I'll tell
you something else. I have had a wonderful experience during these
four years. I enjoy a real sense of peace that is not the fruit of
my prayer, which is very poor, but the fruit of the prayer of many
who pray for others. I believe deeply that I am only a novice. Pope
Francis believes deeply in prayer for one another and I am convinced
that it is a guarantee of the happiness of our lives and also of your
lives ... with God you will never miss out on happiness. I do not
say that there will not be difficulties, but there is the strength
that comes from God and that is certain. Thanks and good evening,
indeed good night! I'm glad to have had this hidden opportunity even
though it's unlikely to stay hidden!
2017-2018:Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis of Sales
2. CLARITY AND GOOD WILL:
THE FIRST ELEMENTS FOR A JOURNEY TO HOLINESS! / Fr Gianni Ghiglione
We need to say two words
on the title in order to understand the goal that Francis is proposing
to the reader. The book is meant to be an introduction, that is, the
beginning of a journey towards a "new" life that is called
"devout". Today, this term sounds strange and is likely
to evoke images of the neck to one side and a vein of bigotry. Here
there is no trace whatsoever of all this: devout and devotion are
the opposite of mediocre and mediocrity. The devout life is then a
life that aims high and aspires to the heights. And Philothea? We
are not talking about a woman, but a soul, a person who wants to become
"a friend of God", as the etymology of the name suggests.
To this person, who wants to become progressively the friend of God,
Francis offers an uphill journey, so we must leave our comfort zones
of mediocrity and warmth, and "launch out into the deep"
as St. John Paul II taught us.
When you are setting out on a journey, you need clarity about the
destination, the equipment you need and the will or desire needed
if you are to reach the goal. Let us try to understand what Francis
proposes and demands.
1. Get rid of hypocritical ways of acting, which are puppets and caricatures
of a "true" Christian life. You will notice the irony with
which Francis immediately stigmatizes double faced behaviour!
" There are those who consider themselves good (or devout) because
they fast and do penance, but don't worry about speaking ill, slandering
others on all sides ...
" There are those who show off with endless parades of prayer
and have a clear conscience because of this, while acting arrogantly
and offensively towards their neighbour.
" There are those who gladly give money for good causes, but
maintain grudges and do not forgive offences or do not pay debts contracted.
"[These] are nothing more than statues and illusions of devotion"
according to Francis. (I, 1)
2. Aiming high is quite
another thing! (I, 2)
What then is the true "devotion", the will to aim high?
We read: "Dear Philothea, devotion that is true and living presupposes
the love of God, rather it is nothing else than a true love of God
But when it grows to such a degree of perfection that it makes us
not only to do good but rather moves us to do it carefully, frequently
and promptly, it is called devotion... True and living devotion, Philothea,
demands the love of God, but is nothing but a true love of God ...
when God's love has come to such a level of perfection, so not only
does it give us the strength to act well but pushes us to act with
care, often and promptly, then it is called devotion ... [it] is nothing
else than a spiritual agility and liveliness by means of which charity
realizes its actions in us, or we do so by charity, promptly and lovingly
to be good one must have charity. To be devout one must not only have
charity but a great liveliness and promptness in doing charitable
The goal is to develop gradually a heart that desires to love God
more and more, with more and more enthusiasm; a heart inhabited by
generous and joyful love for God and the world.
I emphasize three words
that make a difference:
o Carefully: do things well, not just any old way!
o Often: not just once as a generous concession, because I'm in a
good mood or coming back from a day of retreat ... but sicut erat,
as it was in the beginning! "Often" means whenever it occurs,
whenever there is need or opportunity.
o Promptly: with a bit of enthusiasm, not merely with resignation,
with a long face, grumbling, repeating things a thousand times ...
In other words, you can have faith but not devotion, if you are negligent,
niggardly, legalistic, inwardly angry ....
3. The call is for everyone!!!
Aiming for a "holy" Christian life, is a task for all the
baptized, not just for religious, according to Francis. And this was
a novelty for those times, when there was a large number of vocations
in monasteries and priestly life, but real vocation was lacking. With
great balance and common sense, the Bishop of Geneva writes: "Devotion
is to be practised differently by the nobleman, the workman, the servant,
the prince, the widow, the young girl, the wife. Even more than this,
the practice of devotion has to be adapted to the strength, life-situation
and duties of each individual
It is an error, or rather, a heresy,
to try to exclude the devout life from the soldiers' regiment, the
workmen's shop, the court of rulers or the home of the married
No matter where we are, we can and we should seek a life of perfection"
which means a life generously oriented towards God. Francis repeats
today what St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "The Lord wants
you to be holy", that is to open the doors of your heart to His
love with willingness and joy.
4. The most important
recommendation. (I, 4)
You will be amazed at reading what is said to Philothea who is about
to begin her journey to the heights: "If you want to set out
earnestly on the path of devotion, find some good person to guide
and direct you. This is the most important advice." And Francis,
an expert in the field, adds:
¢ Pray very earnestly to God to give you one (a guide) after
his own heart.
¢ In your dealings with him [or her] open your heart, with complete
sincerity and fidelity.
¢ This friendship should be strong and gentle, entirely holy,
entirely sacred, entirely divine and entirely spiritual.
¢ The spiritual director must be full of charity, of knowledge
and of prudence.
¢ When you find one give thanks to God. Be faithful and do not
look for others.
¢ Your journey will be full of happiness.
Francis always had a spiritual
guide. We do not know the name of the one who accompanied him in his
years in Paris. In Padua he chose Fr Antonio Possevino, then it was
the turn of Fr Fourier and of Michael Favre, his secretary. Don Bosco
also had various spiritual guides: Don Calosso, Canon Maloria, Don
Cafasso, Don Giacomelli ... and he insisted very much with his young
people on a "stable confessor" who would guide their heart
with kindness and firmness to a relationship with God that would become
increasingly lively and serene.
5. First step: purify
"Whoever seeks the honour of being a spouse of Christ has to
strip off the old self and be clothed in the new (I, 5). This requires
effort and time. There is great wisdom and practicality in this: "The
illnesses of the heart, like those of the body, come on horseback
very fast, but they go away on foot, slowly."
Courage and patience are required. Francis warns that when faced with
the effort, there is a risk of giving in to the temptation to give
up on everything and go back, as sometimes happens when mountain-climbing.
We can become tired and discouraged by the climb, and start going
downhill. Rather, "let us not be disturbed by our imperfections,
because our perfection consists in fighting them
the only thing
that matters is that they should not make us lose courage. We have
a happy condition in this warfare that we shall always be victorious
as long as we want to fight."
We must begin by making a purification from mortal sin and the means
to realize it is the holy sacrament of Penance. Look for the best
confessor you can find. Detest [sin]with all the contrition and regret
that your heart is capable of. (I, 6).
Here Francis is speaking of a general confession, that is, of one's
whole life. "I am sure that it will be of very great help to
you, now in the beginning... it is necessary to give a shock to the
soul". Personally, I think this type of confession is important,
especially at certain moments of life: before marriage, on the occasion
of a significant anniversary (25 years, 50 years ...) or before a
difficult and risky operation. It does not have to become a habitual
practice. Pay attention also to what Francis says about ordinary confession:
prepare well and have the necessary repentance. We need to eradicate
from the heart all attachment to sin (I, 7).
¢ There are penitents
who in fact leave sin but do not leave their attachment to it. They
regard as happy those who sin.
¢ If this purification from attachment to sin is lacking and
the heart is still linked to sin, there is the danger of falling again
and not having the strength to do good frequently and with promptness
¢ A strong resolute contrition detests all the attachments, consequences
and ways of sin. Note that word "ways". We all know the
ways that lead to sin. I am thinking of those who are unable to overcome
certain vices (alcohol, smoking, internet, phone calls, etc). How
hard it is to abandon the ways of sin!
For personal reflection:
Think of the enormous evil caused by sin compared to the trivial way
the world speaks of sin: "What harm is it? They are all doing
it!" This kind of thinking renders the Cross of Christ irrelevant.
" Have I a sense of sin? Not just an intellectual sense but a
real felt sense?
" Do I really want to detach my heart from sin? What is my attachment?
" How are my confessions? Have I a regular confessor? Do I prepare
well to receive God's mercy?
Fr Tom Uzhunnalil released
On 12 September, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary, Fr Tom was
released after 18 months in prison in South Yemen. Joy at his release
was felt all around the world. Thousands of people expressed gratitude
to God for this gift. We in ADMA had been praying for his release
and we proposed a special novena to Mary Help of Christians by the
whole Salesian Family.
When he arrived in Rome, Fr Tom did nothing other than repeat words
of thanks, first of all to God and to Our Lady. One of his first requests
was to pray in the chapel of the Salesian community in the Vatican,
to celebrate Mass and make his confession. Fr Uzhunnalil said that
throughout the period of his detention he continued to celebrate Mass
spiritually every day, recalling from memory the readings and the
parts of the Mass, as he did not have either the liturgical texts
or the species to celebrate.
He confirmed that when the assailants kidnapped him he was in the
chapel of the community of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden. He
said that he had never been mistreated following his kidnapping. "I
never thought I would be killed," he said. He also recalled an
episode on 3 March 2016, the night before the massacre. The Directress
of the House of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden commented on the
difficult situation they were in as religious in the war territory,
and said that it would be good if they were all martyred together
The Assembly of ADMA in Venezuela was held in San Antonio de los Altos
from 1 to 3 September. It was convened by the National Coordinator,
Fr Orlando Gramcko, SDB. During the Assembly experiences were shared,
activities evaluated, and a new council was elected for the period
Brazil - Meeting of Delegates
for the Salesian Family of the Southern Cone
A Meeting of Delegates for the Salesian Family of the Southern Cone
was held in Brasilia from 4 to 6 September, with representatives from
the Salesian Provinces of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
It was coordinated by Fr Eusebio Muñoz, Delegate of the Rector
Major for the Salesian Family. There were 30 Salesian participants
who conducted a study of the role and mission of the Delegate in the
task of animating and creating communion among the various branches
of the Salesian Family, which is growing and showing a desire to be
faithful to the charism of Don Bosco. Fr Pier Luigi Cameroni, Postulator
for the Causes of the Saints of the Salesian Family, participated
in animating and spoke of the fruitfulness of holiness in Salesian
Brazil - Fourth National
Congress of ADMA
The Fourth National Congress of Mary Help of Christians was held from
7 to 10 September at the Catholic University "Dom Bosco"
in the Salesian Province of Campo Grande (BCG). It was led by Fr Pier
Luigi Cameroni, World Animator of the Association of Mary Help of
Christians (ADMA) and Tullio Lucca, Chairman of the Primary ADMA.
The event was attended by 250 members of ADMA and the Salesian Family
of Brazil, with the presence of Fr Asídio Deretti, Provincial
of Porto Alegre (BPA), and Fr Gildasio Mendes, Provincial of BCG.
On 8 September Fr Gildasio said, "We are gathered for this national
congress in this Marian year, celebrating the 100th anniversary of
Our Lady of Fatima, the 300th anniversary of the appearance of Our
Lady of Aparecida, Patron of Brazil, and the Feast of the Birthday
of Our Lady."
They were days of intense fraternity, deep communion and sharing of
the new lines of ADMA with attention to families and young people.
The presence of all the SDB animators of the different provinces of
Brazil was significant, in particular that of the national animator
Bro. Antonio Carlos, a Salesian Brother. The presence of ADMA youth
offered great hope and witness, especially the newly formed group
in Campo Grande, a group rich in vitality and testimony.
Porto Alegre (Brazil)
- Provincial Meeting
The provincial meeting of the ADMA in Porto Alegre was held on Sunday
24 September in the Salesian College of Itajai. It was a real experience
of God ... People of faith and joy with great Salesian spirit! Two
words summarize this encounter: hope and renewal (Leandro Brum Pinheiro
SDB, Provincial Spiritual Animator).
dos Campos (Brazil) - ADMA children and youth
The ADMA of the Holy Family Parish in São José dos Campos
(São Paulo - Brazil) welcomed the ADMA children and young people
in a family atmosphere. Loving and serving God with Mary is what motivates
this work. The main goal is to introduce the "little ones"
to the love and devotion to Mary Help of Christians according to the
The members have embraced the cause of the Help of Christians with
love. They attend monthly formation activities with Fr Silvio Cesar
(spiritual animator) and Tânia Campos (coordinator). These are
moments when they learn the teachings of Don Bosco in simplicity.
The parish community joins the group of children and young people
with daily intercession for them to be steadfast and faithful in courageous,
joyful search for Jesus. Through the recitation of the Holy Rosary,
the children's choir, formation activities, moments of leisure and
socialization, Mary Help of Christians is teaching each one to love
Jesus as She does, being forever present in the life of the little
ones! (Tânia Maria Costa Esteves de Campos - Coordinator).