Rome (Italy). On 14 January 2023, the 3rd of the Salesian Family Spirituality Days began, as usual, with the celebration of Morning Prayer and Holy Mass in the Basilica of of Mary Help of Christians, presided over by the Rector Major, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime. In his homily, Fr. Joan Lluís Playà, Central Delegate of the Rector Major for the Secretariat for the Salesian Family, after taking up the readings of the day and in particular the Gospel of Levi’s call (Mk 2: 13-17), concluded by saying:
“Our Days want to be just this: to commemorate our encounter with Jesus, to recall the Charism to which we have been called, to remove the obstacles that prevent us from experiencing true communion among ourselves and with those to whom we have been sent, to revive the mission of being yeast in today’s human family. Like the many grains of wheat that make up the bread of the Eucharist, we are all called to unite intensely so that Christ, through the gift of our life, may be nourishment for the children, young people, and adults that He Himself places before our eyes.”
After the Eucharistic Celebration, the participants in the Days then gathered in the courtyard in front of the statue of Don Bosco, for the traditional group photograph together with the Rector Major. The morning continued with work in groups for vocations: laity, religious, consecrated seculars.
In the afternoon session, at the Teatro Grande in Valdocco, Fr. Pierluigi Cameroni, SDB, Postulator General for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family, shared in the light of Strenna 2023, the experience of Holiness of “Artemide Zatti, an exemplary figure who calls us to live everyday life.”
There are various aspects presented by Fr. Pierluigi, which call for a holy life every day. There is the family of origin, poor, but united and very rooted in religious values, which had a very positive effect on his human and Christian formation. There is the Salesian community of Viedma, where Zatti finds in Fr. Evasio Garrone a good shepherd who accompanies him in his vocational choice, and where he is an example for everyone and a man of cordiality and unity. Then there is the mission in the hospital of San Josè, where he is “yeast in the dough of the bread of humanity”, living with the sick and with his collaborators, letting himself be enriched by the lay state of these brothers and sisters and bringing his specifics as a Salesian Coadjutor.
“Zatti lives his being yeast inspired by Don Bosco, doing things with love and for love, in the style of goodness and joy, in great trust in God and in His Providence and in filial entrustment to Mary Help of Christians.” Fr. Cameroni underlined this while also recalling the communion of Salesian Holiness where, together with Saint Artemis, Don Bosco, Zefferino Namuncurà, Laura Vicuña, Sr. Antonieta Böhm meet.
“It is also beautiful to think that Artemide Zatti is a proposal for today’s young people: to be, as he was, builder of communion and architect of works of mercy, at the service of the young and the needy. Like Artemis, we too are called to take our bicycles and go out to meet others who need help, bringing the Word of God and Mary. Each young person can be a true protagonist and have an authentic mission alongside Jesus.”
Young people were the protagonists of the second part of the evening. Prompted by the question “What would Artemide Zatti say to a young person today?” some young people from the SDB Lombard-Emilian Province of Italy (ILE) – presented by Fr. Erino Leoni, SDB – approaching the sources on the Saint, allowed themselves to be provoked in the creation of the panels of an exhibition, linked to the symbolism of the bicycle, where participants in the Days were then able to visit the rooms of Casa Don Bosco Museum in Valdocco. On stage, each of them shared a concrete lesson from Zatti for life:
“I am struck by the fact that he lived a life full of commitments and relationships, but everything was fueled by an intimate and personal relationship with God, starting from the early hours of the day, in the Chapel. His testimony encourages me to live holiness in my life concretely, to give a smile, to visit, to get close to others, to sick people, to those who live alone, to become aware of the people who are by my side, to bear witness to my faith with courage, to entrust myself to Providence” (Nicola).
“Hearing about Artemide Zatti, I was struck by the fact that he lived next to the sick, in the Viedma hospital, as if he had ‘forgotten himself’. I asked myself: ‘how can I forget myself’? Looking back, at my goals, every time I’ve done things for myself, there’s always been a bit of dissatisfaction, as if full joy hadn’t arrived. Artemis shouts to me that Christ, my neighbor, must be placed at the center in order to truly find my calling, my vocation” (Simone).
“I was struck by his faith, which can be read on his face, on his hands which helped so many sick people, and also on his feet which made many pedal strokes to reach those who could not go to the hospital. A dedication that was 24 hours a day and capable of reaching the farthest. Artemis also experienced ‘brakes’, mainly linked to his health. If I think of my discernment, the strength of Artemis was to reorient his dream in the drawer” (Emanuele).
“I am struck by the simplicity of Artemis’ holiness, made up of faith in God and help to others (…) and also the aspect of his studies, which he carried on with difficulty, but without becoming demoralized, with a spirit that generates holiness even in others” (Mark).
“Looking at the story of Artemide Zatti, I found myself hurrying between commitments on bicycle. It is beautiful how he then truly stops in front of that person who for him is the image of God, who asks you for love. That’s what I’m trying to experience among the children, to see ‘a Jesus’ who asks you to love Him. A sentence of his also strikes me, ‘How can we not always be happy if God loves us so much’? (Samuel).
Another moment with the recently canonized Salesian Saint at the center consisted of the presentation of the short film Zatti, our borther by Fr. Ricardo Cámpoli, SDB of the Dicastery for Communication, who oversaw its production. While the photos were scrolled on the screen, he recounted phases and some significant episodes related to Zatti’s life.
The afternoon program then continued with the division of participants into groups, who in rotation were able to live the different experiences: watching the film; the visit to the exhibit on Zatti; listening to the testimony of the Youth Service Foundation of Casa Bosconia, in online connection with Bogota, in Colombia; “Voices from the Middle East”, lived with some young Salesian Cooperators from the Middle East; the parish experience of some young people from Slovenia and “Discovering talents!”, with the educational work of a semi-residential community for disadvantaged young people of the Salesian Work of Vallecrosia, Imperia.
The intense day ended with an evening of fraternity conducted by the young people of the SDB Novitiate of Colle Don Bosco, who presented the performances of some groups of participants with great pleasure and joy and in turn performed in “Don Bosco’s got Talent”. At the end, there was the Salesian Good Night from the Rector Major.