Santiago (Chile). In the first two weeks of July 2023, at San Francesco di Sales Retreat House, in Lo Cañas, Santiago de Chile, two groups of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and Salesians of Don Bosco, from the Chilean Provinces of St. Gabriel Archangel (CIL), lived the Spiritual Exercises together, interrupting their daily occupations and dedicating time to reflection, meditation, and prayer in an atmosphere of silence which favored the encounter with the Lord.

For various years, even in times of pandemic, this experience has been maintained as a moment of common spiritual growth, and is promoted by both Provincial Councils, led by Sr. Ximena Oyarzo Mansilla, the FMA Provincial and by Fr. Carlo Lira Airola, SDB Provincial, within shared work guidelines.

Furthermore, both for the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and for the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Spiritual Exercises are a time of vital importance, as expressed in the Constitutions of both Congregations:

“… In addition to times set aside by the Church, the monthly spiritual retreat and the annual retreat, will be particularly effective times of spiritual renewal. Don Bosco considered them to be of great importance to our journey towards holiness” (Art. 46 FMA Constitutions).

“The annual spiritual exercises are times of spiritual recovery, which Don Bosco considered as the fundamental part and the synthesis of all the practices of piety” (art. 91 SDB Constitutions).

The Exercises in Lo Cañas took place in two shifts: the first from 2 to 8 July, while the second from 9 to 15 July. Both groups were accompanied by Fr. Juan José Bartolomé, SDB, a Spanish biblical scholar who helped the religious to look at their own life, at their own history, at their relationship with God and, above all, at the path of discipleship contained in the theme by following the theme “Come after me”, a fundamental motive and “synthesis of all the practices of piety (Art. 91 of the SDB Constitution).

According to the preacher, in fact, “religious life lacks vitality because it lacks radicalism in its daily life. This radicality would be lived better if we approached and lived the Gospel more.” And he illustrated the theme thus, “What I have tried to do is to present the stories of Jesus’ vocation and the requests of His disciples in a way closer to the biblical text.”

Both the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians expressed their gratitude for the depth of Fr. Juan José’s reflections and for the atmosphere of sharing that was created during the two weeks of Spiritual Exercises.

Source and Photos: FMA and SDB Communication


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