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|   Monthly Message : 24th january 2018      

Mary invites us to witness to the graces received

Dear friends, with this issue of January 2018 we want first of all to extend our wishes for this new year of grace in which we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the consecration of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin. This year also we begin the journey in preparation for the 8th International Congress of Mary Help of Christians (Argentina November 2018) and the 150th anniversary of the founding of ADMA.
These recurrences are not only a historical memory, but above all a memory of thanksgiving and praise to Jesus and Mary for the wonders accomplished with the construction by Don Bosco of the Shrine of Turin and with the founding of the Association of the Devotees of Mary Help of Christians. Article 1 of our Regulations reflects these two events: One year after he had built the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Valdocco, Turin in 1868, Don Bosco founded the "Association of the Devotees of Mary Help of Christians" (18 April 1869), to spread devotion to Our Lady under this title to the rest of the world.
One of the characteristics of Don Bosco's life and holiness is that he was a founder, that is, the initiator in the Church of a particular school of holiness and apostolic action that places him among the saints who were founders. In order to respond to the grace and signs that came from above and in his desire to give consistency and continuity to his work on behalf of youth, he felt the call from God to give rise to new apostolic forces.
The purpose of ADMA is to spread devotion to Our Lady under the title of Help of Christians. In the mind of Don Bosco devotion means: trust, imitation, and apostolic and educational passion. "Spreading the devotion" recalls the commitment to be "light of the world" (Mt 5,14), to "bring fire on the earth" (Lk.12, 49), to cooperate in the mission of Christ for the salvation of souls under Mary's motherly guidance, recognizing in the Eucharist the source and summit of one's whole life.
Aware of the gifts and graces received, we recognize the beauty of these gifts and we pray that the Holy Spirit will give us the strength to be joyful witnesses of peace and hope.
Happy month of January and a holy feast of our father and founder Don Bosco.

Renato Valera, President / Fr Pierluigi Cameroni SDB, Spiritual Animator

Formation Programme 2017-2018:
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales


We have gone directly to the third part of the Philothea. But what about the second part?
In the second part Francis leads the person, who has promised solemnly to journey towards God and to give himself totally to God, to live the celebrated expression of Saint Teresa of Avila: God alone is enough! The total gift of oneself must be brought to God and this is realized through prayer and the sacraments. I would like to highlight two elements that I consider fundamental in this second part. Here they are:
1. Prayer is opening our understanding to God's brightness and light, and exposing our will to the warmth of his love. Nothing else purifies so well our understanding of its ignorance and our will of its sinful attachments. (II, 1). As you can see, we are back to Salesian anthropology and integral humanism, so that in the relationship with God we offer our whole selves and we use all our faculties and gifts. Too often we either emphasize the intelligence at the risk of falling into sterile reflections (which sometimes satisfy our pride) or we emphasize the heart at the risk of being content with pious feelings. Salesian balance brings both heart and mind, feeling and reflection, into play. Don Bosco educated his young people simultaneously in three areas: Reason implies a commitment to study or work, play and fun, (in workshop and school). Loving Kindness includes relationships, friendship and affectivity (in the playground). Religion includes the encounter with God and the spiritual life (in church).

2. The heart of the teaching of Francis de Sales: during the day remain in the presence of God, who always has his eyes turned towards you. This is called spiritual recollection. The holy Bishop of Geneva used to go to confession if he let a quarter of an hour pass without thinking of the Lord!!! How can we reach this level? Through ejaculatory prayer! Long for God again and again, Philothea, by short and ardent desires of the heart: admire his beauty, ask for his help, adore his goodness, give him your heart (II,13).
In the practice of spiritual recollection and ejaculatory prayer we find the deep root of devotion: it can make up for the lack of all other forms of prayer. But if this is missing, there is no way to make up for it!
Francis offered Philothea some suggestions to enrich her heart and her spiritual life with prayer and the sacraments. Now this love of God must bear fruit in the form of virtues. However, before talking about the virtues to be practised, the Saint offers some simple and concrete criteria, as is his style, to guide the choice of these virtues: there are many virtues so which of them are we to choose? (III, 1)
"In the practice of virtues, we must prefer that virtue which corresponds more with our duties than with our tastes." Every vocation has its own special virtues: the virtues that a Bishop must have are not those of a soldier or a married woman ... "Each one must devote oneself to those virtues much needed for the state of life to which one is called." Note how Francis immediately favours the concrete situations of life: it is there that the Lord is calling us to aim high, avoiding easy shortcuts or distractions.
b. "We are to prefer the most excellent and not the most showy." Prefer spiritual almsgiving to material almsgiving, avoid strange bodily penances and practise sweetness, kindness, modesty and the mortifications of the heart! Choose the most consistent and most effective virtues.
c. Those that are contrary to the defects that afflict you: if you yield easily to anger, choose the virtue of patience and goodness; if you are proud, choose humility.

d. Let us simply, humbly and devoutly exercise ourselves in small virtues the conquest of which Our Lord has entrusted to our care and toil: such as patience, humility, poverty, chastity and obedience.

In conclusion, the fundamental criterion that gives peace to the heart and courage to our commitment is to bear in mind always that "this King of Glory does not reward his servants according to the dignity of their duties but according to the love and humility with which they carry them out."(III, 2).

The first virtue that Francis presents is PATIENCE:
Control of self is the highest aspiration of man. Control of self is commensurate with the practice of patience.
The basic principle of patience: Do not complain or complain as little as possible about the wrongs you receive! If you really have to complain, be careful whom you confide in! Choose a person who is calm and full of love for God.
"The truly patient person does not complain of evil and does not want to be pitied!"
Francis is not content with a submissive attitude which accepts whatever comes. He urges a positive aspect of offering, after the example of Jesus: "Offer your sufferings for the service of the Lord and ask him insistently to unite them to what He has endured for you." And this applies to all the virtues. (A little bit of paradise makes everything right, as Don Bosco used to say). The good must be paid for! This is the way of the Gospel; but there is no need for great things or extraordinary penances. It is a matter of offering one's everyday life with its joys and sorrows, hopes and trials.

We offer some valuable advice on this virtue. These are excerpts from his letters.
"As long as we remain down here, we must be resigned to put up with our lives until God takes us to heaven [...]. We must therefore have patience and never think that we can correct in one day the bad habits we have contracted by taking little care of our spiritual health [...]. We must admit it and have patience with everyone, but first of all with ourselves."
To Madame de Limojon he wrote: "It is not possible to arrive where you aspire in one day: you have to earn one point today, and another one tomorrow. In this way step by step, we will become masters of ourselves; and this is no small conquest."
Patience brings one to love one's weaknesses and imperfections; even these become or can become precious material of growth: "Hate your imperfections, but love them insofar as they put you in touch with your nothingness. They are a reason for the exercise and perfection of your virtues and of God's mercy".

The message does not change even if the recipient of the letter is the Abbess of Puits-d'Orbe whose spiritual guide Francis became. "You need to have a heart capable of patience: great designs are realized only with a lot of patience and a lot of time; and the things that grow in one day are also lost in one day ". "Have patience with your inner cross: the Saviour permits it so that, one day, you may know better what you are by yourself. Do you not see that the agitation of the day is calmed by the repose of the night? This means that our soul does not need anything other than to abandon itself completely to God and to be willing to serve him both among roses and among thorns."
To a religious sister he wrote: "Do not trouble yourself! There is no more unbearable annoyance than that made up of small but persistent troubles. Our Lord allows us to be unable to overcome these little inconveniences, so that we may humble ourselves and understand that, if we have been able to overcome certain great temptations, we do not owe it to our strength, but to the particular assistance of His divine Goodness."

Aristotle considered humility a vice. Today's world has no esteem for this virtue. Indeed, humility is considered synonymous with weakness, cowardice and an inability to assert oneself. But remember that this is the virtue Jesus chose for himself.
Francis reminds us immediately that in order to receive God's grace in our hearts, we must empty our hearts of ourselves. The image of the empty vase often returns in his writings and in those of Jane de Chantal, his faithful disciple. For example: "Keep your heart and soul always like an empty vessel before his goodness so that He alone will fill them with whatever pleases him, be it fear or joy, peace or war. In short, it is necessary that you remain always and without reservation, totally dependent on his divine guidance."
Read and enjoy the fine irony with which he presents examples of false humility, which are extremely relevant.

The basic criterion is the following: "To know if a man is truly wise, learned and generous, we need to see if his good qualities tend towards humility, for then they will be really good. If instead they are put on display they are false "(III, 4). So don't act the peacock!
Francis distinguishes between interior and exterior humility.
Interior humility is reached in three steps:
1. Be thankful: think of the gifts you have received, the good that is in you and has been given to you. "Serious reflection on the gifts received makes us humble; knowledge leads to gratitude." The Virgin Mary acknowledges the love of God in her life and sings her Magnificat!
Humility must be sincere and without pretence. Sometimes we show we want to take the lowest place, sitting at the bottom of the table, but only to pass with great honour to the head of the table.
Humility means putting our trust in God who is pleased to manifest his power in our weakness.

2, Recognize and accept your own inadequacy. It follows that the good that is found in others is appreciated more. The best humiliations are those related to our work, living conditions and relationships. And this is because we have not chosen them, but it is the good God who sent them to us (III, 6).

3. Endure Offence. Slander hurts only those who worry about it. Sometimes the best technique is to leave it alone and pay no heed to it. Even if one's good name is lost, the important thing is not to lose virtue. The root of one's good name is the goodness and honesty of one's life.

Conclusion: let the dogs bark at the moon!
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ crucified, let us walk in his service with trust and simplicity, accompanied by wisdom and devotion." (III, 7).

For your reflection.
o Are you in the habit of meditating on the Word of God? Do you prepare for Sunday Mass by reflecting beforehand on the Readings?
o Do you practise recollection or do you always have the TV or mobile phone switched on?
o Are you aware of your positive qualities and the aspects of your character you need to improve?
o Are you always (or often) complaining?
o Do you appreciate the good qualities of others?


The messages of the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, are important. He has given us the Strenna for 2018 on the theme: "'LORD, GIVE ME THIS WATER". LET US CULTIVATE THE ART OF LISTENING AND ACCOMPANIMENT". Here are ten points to help us to appreciate it more:
1. Many people are thirsty. There are many empty glasses and empty, tired lives waiting to be filled with meaning. There is plenty of good land with good seed waiting to be "awakened" by the inexhaustible source of Life that flows from Jesus.
2. Don Bosco is full of the living water of Jesus. He is a "reservoir" that gives water to all, especially to the young, in order to give life, commitment and hope.
3. The Samaritan woman: foreign, rejected, confused, tormented ... She meets Jesus and everything changes.
4. Jesus, source of Living Water.
5. Mary Help of Christians is always attentive. As our mother she tells us: "Do what Jesus tells you".
6. From the side and from the heart of Jesus flows the inexhaustible Water of Love. The meeting with the Samaritan woman took place at the sixth hour, the same hour when Jesus died on the cross and blood and water came out of his pierced heart.
7. The task of adults is to collaborate, accompany and cultivate.
8. Water quenches, irrigates, washes, makes seeds sprout, vivifies, changes the desert into a garden.
9. The Spirit of God works and gives strength of will.
10. Different ages, different experiences, different races, languages and cultures, but the same humanity, the same thirst, the same intense joy in receiving Jesus the Living Water.

The representatives of the Salesian Family and the leaders of the local ADMA groups of the Province of Our Lady Help of Christians were happy to meet at the Sacred Heart High School in São Paulo for Mass on 2 June 2017, during which the first ADMA Council at Province level was introduced.
The Provincial Fr Edson Castilho presided at the Mass. Fr Narciso Ferreira, spiritual animator of ADMA and Fr Justo E. Piccinini, newly appointed Provincial of São Paulo, concelebrated. Groups from Guarujá, Pindamonhangaba, Campinas, São Paulo, Sorocaba and São José dos Campos were present.
The Council relies on Salesian enthusiasm and the intercession of Our Lady Help of Christians and is inspired by the teaching of Don Bosco. Fr Edson gave the group its mission to direct all its activities to support the young and to pray constantly for priestly and religious vocations.
The provincial council elected at the last ADMA meeting of the Province in the city of Guarujá to develop the activities of the Association for the next 4 years, is composed of:
1. Tânia M Costa Esteves de Campos - ADMA of SJ dos Campos - Provincial Coordinator
2. Marli Cesario Israel - ADMA of Pindamonhangaba - Secretary
3. Dinéia Custódio Santos da Silva - ADMA of Itaquera - Formation
4. Valderez Gonzalez - ADMA of Guaruja - Communication
5. Lucia Helena Natto Chahin - ADMA of SP - Santa Terezinha - Treasurer

On 21 October 2017 the ADMA centres of the province of Our Lady of Guadalupe in southern Mexico, accompanied by the FMA, took part in the seventh provincial meeting at the Laura Vicuña College in Coacalco. We came from the centres of the region of Michoacán, Puebla, Mexico and the State of Mexico, for a total of 64 participants.
In an atmosphere of fraternity and reflection, we studied the document "Youth, faith and vocational discernment" with the help of Sister Maria Guadalupe Villicaña, FMA.
After getting to know this beautiful message of Pope Francis, the commitment we have in our lives and in our families consists in the effort to help our children and any young person with whom we are in contact, to choose with certainty the vocation to which God is calling them, but above all, to be happy to serve others with an oratorian heart in the style of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.
Holiness is possible. ADMA in our province relies on the Help of Christians, the Morena of Tepeyac, to continue to accompany us with her maternal love, allowing us to continue joining forces to fight for life before and after birth, spreading devotion to such a tender Mother with the firmness and love of sons and daughters, and the worship of her Son Jesus in the Eucharist, source and support of the whole Salesian vocation.
Many thanks to all those who made this event possible. We continue to ask for these annual meetings, as they are spaces for sharing and friendship and also nurseries of experiences that enrich the work of each centre in spreading devotion to Mary Help of Christians. (Saraí Patricia Otero Muñoz, Member of ADMA of the Laura Vicuña Centre, Coacalco).

From November 9 to 12 in Genzano (Rome) there was a regional meeting of the Delegates for the Salesian Family (SF), attended by 26 Salesians from Italy, Portugal and Spain, together with the members of the Secretariat of the SF. At the meeting, the Provincial Delegates for the SF were joined by some Salesians working with groups of the SF. Fr Eusebio Muñoz, Delegate of the Rector Major for the SF, led the meeting. The participants presented the situation of the SF in the world, studied the figure of the delegate for the SF, strengthened the work with the SF in the Region and in the Province and reflected on the present situation of the SF.

On 24 November 2017 in the Chapel of Mary Help of Christians in the Province, ADMA members prayed for peace especially in Congo and South Sudan. They invoked the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Rosary, and also adoration and Mass. We also prayed for the new council of Primary ADMA in Turin. We encourage the participation of young people with the new ADMA delegate, Fr Aurélien. The Mass was presided over by the Provincial, Fr Albert Kabuge.

On Sunday 26 November 2017, the feast of Christ the King, at the Shrine of St Maria Domenica Mazzarello in Mornese, an ADMA meeting took place with the presence of the world Spiritual Animator, Fr Pierluigi Cameroni. During the Eucharist two people who had been preparing throughout the year, expressed the desire to be part of the Association by making their COMMITMENT to live and promote devotion to Mary Help of Christians and to the Blessed Sacrament. Fr Pierluigi gave a talk on formation. This was followed by the Rosary during which we remembered the whole Salesian Family, the Rector Major, and the sick. Finally, we shared a good meal. We thank you Lord for the GRACE offered to all the participants at different times of the day ... Our task for the next year is to grow in DOCILITY TO THE SPIRIT ... (Sister Luigina Silvestrin, FMA, Animator).

The Congress was dedicated to studying the challenges facing Youth and Family Ministry. As well as celebration and reflection, ample space was dedicated to the exchange of experiences with group work and the presentation of Good Practices. Among the Good Practices (20 from all over the world), Mr Tullio Lucca and his wife Simonetta, on behalf of ADMA, presented their experience of Family Ministry open to Youth. Starting from the charismatic identity of the two columns (Eucharist and Mary Help of Christians), the Association at the present time sees Family and Youth as the privileged recipients of its ministry, shared by the different states of life (religious, priests and laity) and families. Today, no family can remain alone and Don Bosco offers us the paths to follow for the welfare of the young.

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   THE President OF ADMA: Signor Renato Valera
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