Rome (Italy) Circular 995 of Mother Yvonne Reungoat comes at this particular time that all the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in the world find themselves living. It is a time, as Mother defines it, “in which we are experiencing a slowdown in activities and we are surrounded by an unusual silence.”
Mother Yvonne invites the FMA to universal solidarity, as she already expressed on March 21, 2020 in the letter sent as President of the Union of Major Superiors of Italy (USMI): “We are invited to live this hour of trial with the contribution of incessant prayer and daily offering. They are very precious gestures of solidarity which, together, we want to witness to and are very concrete signs that express our closeness to our brothers and sisters infected by Covid-19, to those who are taking care of them, putting their own lives at risk and who are the ‘heroes’ of this time; to families so very tried and in trepidation for their loved ones.”
In this scenario, preparations continue for the World Feast of Gratitude, which will be held virtually in Rome, in the Roman Province of St. John Bosco (IRO) on April 26, 2020 with the slogan Your life is a tree that bears fruit. Thank you, Mother ! An event that, although it will not be celebrated according to all the modalities initially foreseen, for Mother Yvonne “this year has a special meaning, because it gathers the experience lived together in these twelve years characterized by the family spirit, by the growth in communion and with missionary ardor.”
Gratitude is an essential element of the identity of the Institute, since it “is part of our DNA”, but it is also a prophetic sign for society. I think “Cultivating and expressing gratitude, a very rare value in today’s culture, is the secret of our happiness.”
Within the Circular, two metaphors are given, that of the tree, which characterizes the logo of the Feast taken up in the course of the text through the symbols of seeds, new shoots, flowers, and fruits. “If there is a mother there are daughters who abundantly sow seeds of life and who, together enjoy the fruits of a ‘flourishing tree’. There is also the metaphor of the monument that recalls, instead, the expression of Don Bosco: “In our heart lives the joy of knowing that we are ‘A living monument of gratitude to Mary Help of Christians’ wanted by Don Bosco as ‘perennial gratitude for the singular favors obtained from such a good Mother’.”(MB X, 600)
A monument that – as Mother points out – over the years can become covered with dust or that requires restoration, but which is made from the ‘living stones’ of each Daughter of Mary Help of Christians who, on the occasion of the Feast of Gratitude, is called to bring it back to its splendor. As educators, the FMA cannot lose sight of the young people, and the metaphor is completed as follows: “The Monument of gratitude is a ‘building site’ that is always under construction and is complete if there are young people with their dreams, hopes, openness to the future. They are the ones who can also show us the way to educate ourselves and educate to gratitude.” To be communities that generate new life, Mornese in outreach, “Mornese that fills the ’empty jars’ with the ‘good wine’ of gratitude, Mother invites us to continue to deepen and share the theme of the Chapter and the Letter of Convocation In Preparation for GCXXIV – Circ. n 985.
The specialty of this Circular 995 of Mother Yvonne resides in a special space reserved for the expression of her gratitude to the educating communities and to the young people for these twelve years, which is also an unprecedented space in which she simply wants to say: thank you to each Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, “like an ‘open letter’ addressed to each one, where I would like to write my gratitude in golden letters” for having been faithful “travel companions”.
The final word is the Easter greeting: “May the Risen One be our joy and our sure hope, especially in this time of hard trial. We live the transition from death to life with Mary, the ever-present Mother. The Lord bless you!”
Rome, 24 March 2020 Affectionately, Mother