Turin (Italy). After the 1st Day, dedicated to the presentation of the Strenna “Do everything through love, nothing through constraint” by the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, the 2nd of the Salesian Family Spirituality Days, 14 January 2022, is dedicated to a round table to study in-depth the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales.
The moderator, Fr. Michele Molinar, SDB, Provincial Vicar of the Special Circumscription of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta (ICP) and Delegate for the Salesian Family of Piedmont, invited the speakers to the stage for a meeting “with several voices, because the proposal of St. Francis de Sales is too broad to be exhausted by a single sensitivity” and he left them the word to present, with different aspects and great competence and passion, some contributions on the personality and spiritual heritage of the Saint.
Dr. Vania de Luca, RAI journalist and Vatican expert, in her speech spoke of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, as an example of lay spirituality and a way of holiness accessible to all. Dr. she tells of having known and appreciated him through the UCSI (Catholic Union of the Italian Press), which on January 24 of each year celebrates the Saint with the Eucharist and with meetings on the theme of World Communications Day. Francis “communicated the faith through the ‘new media’ of the time, to heal religious and political fractures in a Europe in search of peace in culture and society“, which is why he remains an example for those who spread the Christian truth using the means of social communication. Vania de Luca finished her presentation by reading the Journalist’s Beatitudes.
Sr. Maria Grazia Franceschini, of the Order of the Visitation of Saint Mary, which this year celebrates the 450th anniversary of the birth of the Co-founder, St. Jane Frances di Chantal, outlined the vision and renewal operated by Francis de Sales in the field of consecrated life. The Saint of Annecy found himself dealing with situations of decadence in religious life, which he faced with “Acuity of judgment in identifying the evils to be remedied and the goals to be achieved, combined with a great ability to accompany by adapting to the step of the other and to the concrete contingencies of his life, imposing nothing by force, but trying to arouse the taste for good and to bring back to the fidelity felt as a need for love.” With the foundation of the Order of the Visitation, Francis de Sales can express and experience his concept of religious life, “a laboratory of friendship in action: towards God and neighbor, starting with the sisters.”
To Fr. Giuseppe Roggia, SDB, Lecturer at the Salesian Pontifical University of Rome (UPS), was given the task of deepening the synthesis between apostolic action and the lived and transmitted spiritual life of Francis de Sales, “whose fundamental principle is all through love and nothing through constraint. It is love that gathers and brings together all aspects of the action. The Bishop of Geneva becomes the teacher and the fruitful inspirer of this synthesis of action and contemplation.” “Our whole life is full of opposites,” explains Fr. Roggia. It is a call to the perfection of love with the ability to absorb the traits and behaviors of the person, to launch them into God and His will and therefore it is transformed into ecstasy of action and life, that is, of something more than love, faith, and hope.”
Fr. Eunan McDonnell, SDB, Provincial of St. Patrick of Ireland Province (IRL), spoke of the spiritual affinity between Francis de Sales and Don Bosco, an affinity that revolves around sweetness and loving kindness, “May the charity and sweetness of St. Francis de Sales guide me in everything” was the resolution made by Don Bosco before priestly ordination. Finally, the speaker focused on the aspect of friendship as a privileged channel for the encounter of God with the human heart, “in Salesian spirituality, it is the Holy Spirit, ‘the deepest source of all love and ‘the author of spiritual friendships’, who brings people into our life, transforming friendships into a sacrament of encounter with God.”
The questions to the speakers, formulated by the representatives of the seven Regions that are following the SFSD, further enriched the contributions, completed by the intervention of Fr. Pier Luigi Cameroni, SDB, Postulator General for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family, on the universal call to holiness.
Fr. Pierluigi highlighted some elements that can help to update the Strenna proposal and underlined the tradition of holiness of the Salesian Family, recalling the causes of beatification and canonization in progress in the 32 Groups that compose it, “to know, pray, and draw from inspiration” to orient one’s life towards holiness, according to the multiplicity of vocations present in this charismatic Family. Among the FMA remembered were Blessed Magdalene Morano, on the 175th anniversary of her birth, and the Servant of God, Rosetta Marchese, this year marks the 100th anniversary of her birth.