Rome (Italy). On December 8, 2018, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, a feast dear to Don Bosco and precious in the history of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and of the Salesian Family.
“Mary Most Holy inspired our Institute and continues to be its Mother and Teacher”. She is also the Mother of our community vocation and the Teacher of our spirituality (C 4). “In her we find a living presence, and the help to direct our lives decisively to Christ, and to make our personal relationship with Him ever more authentic” (C 79).
This was a special event for Mother General, the Sisters of the Council, and for the entire International Community of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, with the presence of Cardinal Msgr. Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State who presided over the Eucharistic Celebration for the Solemnity of the Immaculate.
At the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration, the youngest sister of the Community brought a bouquet of flowers to the feet of Mary as a reminder of the commitment to solidarity, love, and peace assumed during the Novena of the Immaculate.
The Vicar General, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, then addressed words of Welcome to His Eminence, saying: “It is a great joy for us to have you here today on this feast that is so important for the Church and for our Salesian Family. In fact, it was on the Solemnity of the Immaculate in 1841 that Don Bosco met Bartholomew Garelli, the first of an endless host of poor children, boys, and young people who are alone and need help. He prayed the Hail Mary with Bartholomew in the certainty that she, the Mother, would be able to help that boy and many others. This is what happened and so it is today in the whole world where we dedicate ourselves to the education of young people.”
In his homily the Cardinal in referring to the Word of God just listened to said: “Today we celebrate the thought of God’s love that preserved Mary from every stain of sin from the first moment of her existence. The words that today fill me with special amazement are “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you”.
Three humble words but dense with meaning: entering, arriving, presenting himself to Her, express the profound meaning of intimacy in Redemption. Mary, full of grace, is from always full of God’s love. She is the mediatrix of the salvation of humanity. He then suggested some steps to live daily, “To share Jesus means to share our intimacy. He wants us to be ready to find grace in Him; He wants us to conceive in the depths of our heart the new life of the Kingdom of Christ. Then, let us re-awaken the capacity to thank God for the intimacy of Redemption. The capacity to bless God is necessary both for our faith and mission, and for the authenticity of our joy. From Mary we learn the joyful contemplation of the mystery of salvation”.
At the end of the Eucharist, in an atmosphere of familiarity and joy, the Cardinal wanted to greet each Sister of the Council and of the International Community. He spoke briefly with each one in a simple encounter that gave him the opportunity to know the faces of the many Nations present in the Generalate.
Mother Yvonne then thanked Cardinal Msgr. Pietro Parolin for having accepted the invitation to share with the FMA this very meaningful day with the Institute. She shared the joy of this encounter with His Eminence during his first visit to the FMA Generalate and assured him of the prayer of all the Sisters for his precious and delicate mission of service to the Pope and to the whole Church. She then spoke of how the Immaculate had a significant role in the life of Don Bosco and of Mother Mazzarello. This is why the FMA are called to live the Solemnity of the Immaculate as an “occasion for growth in filial love for the Virgin”, following Don Bosco’s example for whom the Immaculate was a radiant and powerful presence, the ideal of life for his young people, fullness of donation to God and to others. Mother Mazzarello exhorted, “We are nearing the feast of the Immaculate. Our Rule wants us to celebrate it with great solemnity. In addition to this, it must be one of the most beautiful feasts for us who are Daughters of Mary”.
“Everything began with a ‘Hail Mary’.” From when Don Bosco met Bartholomew Garelli in that distant December 8, 1841, the Feast of the Immaculate became for the entire Salesian world, also the Birthday of the Oratory! There are now 177 candles to light this year!
In a special way, Mary is Mother for the FMA because she generates in Faith. We must take her in our home without fear in order to continue with the young the journey in the Church, to be a ‘home’ that evangelizes, a ‘school’ that educates for life, and a ‘playground’ to live in friendship.