Rome (Italy). The Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, engaged with the General Council in the meetings of the summer Plenum, at the opening of Circular No. 1029 thanks the FMA “for the care, attention, involvement, and preparation of the visits and the open and trusting welcome, the lively sense of belonging” with which she, the Councilors, the Visitors, and the Sectors were welcomed in the Provinces visited.

Still in the liturgical atmosphere of the Feasts of Corpus Domini and of the Sacred Heart celebrated in the month of June, dear to Salesian spirituality, she shares a reflection on the style of prayer of the FMA, and invites, according to the Letter of Pope Francis Desiderio Desideravi of 22 June 2022, “to enter into the reality of prayer, above all liturgical, a place of encounter with Christ where we too are given the possibility of a true encounter with Him.”

The breath of life

Taking inspiration from Benedict XVI’s homily at the opening of the Year of Faith, Mother warns of the risk of “desertification” of the soul, of being lost “in a thousand interests and activities, overwhelmed by a flood of information, of images that can weaken the freedom and depth of the inner life to the point of anesthetizing with surrogates, the innate desire for the Infinite that dwells in our heart.”

The first remedy for desertification is to turn towards the source which is God’s promise to “give water to the desert” and to “quench the thirst of his people” (Is 43:20):

“By grace and by vocation, we are called to collaborate with the saving action of God who transforms the desert into a place of gushing water. We are called to arouse true joy in our young people, helping them to discover the mystery of God in their life (cf. C 69) with the vital force of prayer and total self-giving for their good.”

To experience “the mysticism of the moment” and unify what is human in a profound encounter with God; “to live the present moment and live it in love,” Mother Chiara gives some indications. “Find moments in the day to open your heart to God and, above all, knead daily life with prayer because prayer is the breath of the soul.” Also implore the grace of fidelity to preserve perseverance, and bring life back to the “unitary center of gravity” of prayer, which in the FMA Constitutions is indicated as “simple, essential, capable of influencing everyday life” (C 38).

Simple and essential prayer

Clarifying what is meant by ‘simplicity’, as a virtue that characterizes maturity and leads back to the essentials of spiritual life, Mother underlines that a prayerful attitude is vital for the FMA, “dedicated to the apostolic mission and committed to building community-communion,” which in union with God and in the grace of unity find the driving force of daily action.

Living “constantly in the presence of God, in full conformity to His will” is the style of prayer imprinted from the beginning by the Founder. “By the expression ‘spirit of prayer’ Don Bosco means an attitude of the heart turned to God, an attitude that is certainly not reduced to prayer formulas or devotional practices.” A style which, in the impossibility of being ‘perpetually’ in the presence of God, takes concrete form for the FMA, according to the indications of Don Bosco himself, in “renewing the intention of doing everything for the greater glory of God every time we change occupation. As you can see, it is not all that difficult to form the habit of continuous union with God” (Cronistoria II, 247).

This is what Mother Mazzarello also recommends to the missionaries “exhausted by work, often hard and tiring.” With her realism and constant tending to God that characterizes her she writes, “Keep as far as you can, the spirit of union with God, stay in His presence continuously” (L 23.3).

The “grace of unity” central to the spirit of Mornese, combined with the anthropological and theological synthesis of St. Francis de Sales – welcoming the love of God who creates in love and for love, to express it fully – make the experience of love the unifying principle of the spiritual experience, which is also the style of the FMA educational mission.

Thus, Mother Chiara says that prayer, “is nothing other than harmonizing with the very heart of God, having at heart what He has at heart” to be immersed in the world and in history, as “mystics with open eyes on the many forms of poverty of the young people and of our contemporaries.”

Some essential conditions

In the last part, Mother leaves to the FMA some conditions that she considers essential for truly living the “grace of unity”. There is silence that prepares the heart to listen; faith that “is renewed every day and grows with our humble response to the grace and call of God;” humility, the sacramental dimension, the personal and community awareness of conversion. “Thus, as contemplatives in action, we can all be ‘missionary communities’.”

At the conclusion of the Circular, she recalls Don Bosco’s name day which was celebrated on 24 June and, in union with the Salesian Family, expresses together with the Council her “best wishes” to the Rector Major Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime. “Like Don Bosco, he too guides us towards an ever more authentic willingness to discover the mystical dimension of our life, the secret of apostolic efficacy in every part of the world.”

As the solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul approaches, she recommends intensifying our prayer for Pope Francis, invoking for him “health and strength, so that he may continue to lead the Church with wisdom and love.”

Circular no. 1029


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