In the final days of Advent, as our waiting draws to a close, we think of Mary, the first evangeliser, and, following Don Bosco's example, entrust to her our own vocation in life and our mission to bring the Gospel to others through our actions and words. On this last Sunday of Advent, we also pray for all expectant mothers.
Isaiah 7: 14 The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.
The teaching of our Church
May the great Mother of God, queen of the apostles, hear our prayers and call down upon the heralds of the Gospel the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pope Benedict XV, Maximum Illud 1919
Let us draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of Evangelisation. She welcomed the Word in the depths of humble faith. May the Virgin Mother help us to say our own “yes”, conscious of the urgent need to make the Good News of Jesus resound in our time. May she intercede for us that we can acquire the holy audacity to discover new ways to bring the gift of salvation to every man and woman. Pope Francis, World Mission Day 2017
Salesian thought We believe that Mary is present among us and continues her “mission as Mother of the Church and Help of Christians”. We entrust ourselves to her, the humble servant in whom the Lord has done great things, that we may become witnesses to the young of her Son’s boundless love. Salesian Constitutions, 8
Adapted from Baptised & Sent, Salesian Missions, Rome, by Salesians GBR
On the centenary of Maximum Illud, Pope Benedict XV's letter to the Church on carrying the Gospel message throughout the world, we focus this Advent on our mission as people baptised and sent into the world to each play our part in sharing the Good News.
On Sunday 13 October in Rome, Blessed John Henry Newman will become the first English saint to be canonised since 1970, and the first person who lived after the 17th Century to be made a saint. To celebrate this historic event, Don Bosco Publications has produced a new Pocketbook (out now!) and a prayer card.
The commemorative prayer card is available for the price of postage (UK 60p). The Pocketbook costs £1.60 including UK p&p, and can be ordered from our online bookshop here. (for overseas orders, contact Don Bosco Publications (see below).
During Lent this year, we will be reflecting on the Rector Major's Strenna for 2019, 'Holiness for you too'. We will present extracts from Fr Angel's commentary on his Strenna, and thoughts on holiness from members of the Salesian Family, along with scripture readings and prayers for you to pray and reflect on during each week of Lent.
We open with some thoughts from Hazel, a member of the Chaplaincy Team at Savio Salesian College, Bootle, written for teachers but speaking to all who aim to support young people following Don Bosco's example.
Does a saint sit in your front row?
God is truly marvellous! As teachers, we can appreciate this more than most. Our students come to us fresh-faced, eager, apprehensive; some bold, some a little afraid; some contemplative; some sporty; some law-makers, a few lawbreakers; some a mixture of them all. But all have one thing in common - potential.
Spiritual Gifts and Practical Gifts - The Porridge Club
The four weeks of Advent are increasingly busy in our commercialised world, and while we wrap gifts for our loved ones, we need to take a little time to unwrap some spiritual gifts for ourselves.
As we prepare the way for the Lord in our lives this Advent, each week, we offer you a scripture passage and a prayer, and present four stories showing some of the ways in which Salesians of Don Bosco and members of the Salesian Family in the UK are living their vocation to reach out to the young, and following the Gospel call to compassion and mercy.
We hope the stories inspire you to act in this season of good will:
Pray for the success of the work being done and the people who give and receive it?
Get involved in these projects, or others that support young people, by volunteering?
Make a donation to help this work continue?
In the first week of Advent, we hear from Share the Light, a charity run by young people, for young people, which began in Salesian School, Farnborough, and makes connections with young people in Zambia, providing friendship and practical support, including the Porridge Club, to give children a nutritious start to their day.
In Holy Week, we reflect with Juan José Bartolomé SDB on Mary's presence at the foot of the cross, and the legacy of his mother's love, left to us by Jesus.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.
Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, this is your son”. Then to the disciple he said, “This is your mother”. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
John 19: 25-27
The unlimited ﬁdelity of the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple was the cradle of the new Christian community. The beloved disciple was entrusted as a son to the mother of Jesus, and the mother of Jesus was the inheritance given to the disciple Jesus loved. From that moment, the mother of Jesus‘ belonged to the faithful disciple. She became part of his world and of his home. From the moment Jesus died on the cross, Mary makes her home ' wherever there is a disciple faithful to her son. But to have her as mother, the i disciple must bear the cross of Jesus, without betrayal or abandonment. Jesus ‘ chose twelve apostles to continue his work, but he entrusted his mother to only one of them, the one who was most faithful.
We have entered Passiontide, and as we prepare to accompany Jesus on the way of the cross, we reflect on two significant events in the Gospel of John, and look at the essence of Salesian prayer.
The Fourth Gospel is a richly veined mine in which we can uncover deep insights into the person and meaning of Jesus, and into the nature of discipleship. In John's story there are two events which occur in the last week of Jesus' life which are closely linked. The wider context for each is the celebration of Passover, the immediate setting a meal. Each event contains a symbolic gesture. Mary of Bethany anoints the feet of Jesus and dries them with her hair. Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and dries them with a towel. Together the episodes illustrate the generosity and self-giving of Jesus, and invite a similar response from his friends and disciples.
This week, we reflect on Don Bosco’s vision for our work with the young, by looking back to the beginning of the Oratory, a story retold by Rosa Navarro Durán.
God didn’t create paradise for it to be empty
It was 8th December 1841: the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Don Bosco was about to start Mass in the church of St Francis of Assisi when he saw a boy in the corner with his jacket covered in plaster from the walls. The boy was an apprentice builder and an orphan of just sixteen years old. Everybody laughed at him. But Don Bosco saw him for what he was—a defenceless young boy. He knelt by his side and said a Hail Mary. “Don't be afraid. You're my friend now and no-one is going to hurt you.”
Lent is a spiritual journey, in which we try to deepen our relationship with God. Fr Michael Cunningham SDB explores the role of silent prayer in becoming present to God, and growing in compassion towards our brothers and sisters.
Whenever we embark on the spiritual journey, we always encounter in some form or other the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. This is the pattern of death and life, which is at the heart not just of Christian experience but of all human experience. For new life to grow, something has to die. This is experienced most deeply in the spiritual life by the death of that ego-centred existence that is the false self. The issue is always one of giving up control and surrendering to The Great Mystery, The Great Love, The Great River of Life, which Jesus calls The Kingdom of God, the experience of deep love and communion. When we are working for others, or even saying our prayers, we are still to some extent in control. In silent prayer, we have to face up to an encounter with our wounded and broken selves. This is why many give up this difficult path. As Jesus said in the parable of the Sower, the seed falls among the thorns and stony ground of our human condition.
Fr Michael Winstanley SDB reflects on the challenges and the gifts that surround us as we begin the season of Lent, in the desert with Jesus.
As we set out on our Lenten journey, our annual desert safari, I'm wondering about the contours of my own desert. The Judean wilderness consisted of ravines and limestone hills, a bleak, unfriendly landscape. We are familiar with pictures of the seemingly endless, undulating miles of the sandy Sahara. Nearer home l recently gazed across the lonely barrenness of Bowes Moor, which reminded me of the flats and troughs of Kinder Scout, and the contrast of dry dust and mud bog. Wastelands assume a variety of forms. As individuals and communities too, sharers in Jesus' mission, we all have our desolate wastes. At times our lives can be dry and harsh, exhausting and barren. It is important to locate our points of vulnerability and weakness, and to seek to identify the shapes which the wild animals of our desert might adopt. Lent invites us to face our demons.