Rome (Italy). At the opening of Circular No 1036, the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sister Chiara Cazzuola, recalls the figure of Saint Joseph, patron saint of the Institute, as “a continuous and constant presence in the daily life of the first communities” to whom Mother Mazzarello recommended devotion. She invites us, “to treasure the many references that we find in the Cronistoria of the Institute on the active presence of Saint Joseph and to invoke him with confidence and hope.”

Meditation, the breath of life

Meditation is the heart of Mother’s reflection, to be considered “not only as a religious practice, but as a privileged experience of our spirituality,” that comes first of all from a personal experience of a unique and personal encounter with Jesus.

In fact, she underlines that, “Communion with Jesus is the profound meaning of our life as consecrated women and of our educative mission.  If we separate ourselves from Him, we are like the branches cut off from the vine (Jn 15: 1-6) that without sap cannot bear fruit.”

Drawing on Pope Benedict XVI, she warns of the temptation, due to activity, not to find time to be with Him. “It would be serious, indeed mortal. You would cut yourself from your source, and you would no longer serve others.” From the teachings of Saint Teresa of Avila, she instead takes up the nature of meditation that consists “in being heart to heart with the Lord; letting oneself be deeply grasped by the Word, so that a true encounter takes place with Jesus who asks to become more and more part of our life” because “Where is your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

As the Saints teach, “to meditate is to taste an affectionate confidence with the Lord. It is to know how to go beyond our thoughts and plans to understand, recognize, and welcome what is pleasing to Him.”

Mother also highlights the “generative” power of meditation, where everything that is lived is exposed “to the fire of the Holy Spirit that illumines, purifies, and changes the heart.” From this “illuminating and transforming” encounter, a spiritual relaunch is born, an experience in which shines “the grace of unity that allows us to harmonize the various aspects of life” and makes us capable “of the healthy discernment that allows to make concrete choices according to the will of God and in fidelity to the charism.”

On “how” to get to see reality from God’s point of view, when perhaps the heart is weighed down, she suggests the words of Pope Francis, “in order to contemplate, it is necessary to enter into ourselves and make room for God.”

Mother Chiara rereads these first indications in a Salesian key, “In personal and community meditation and prayer, we grow as apostles and disciples of Jesus. We are formed at this school in love and action for the Kingdom of God, in fraternal communion so that young people may truly encounter the Lord.”

In the silence of our whole being

In Article 39 of the Constitutions of the Institute, meditation emerges as one of the strong points of the spirituality of the FMA, an indispensable moment of inner dialogue with God. Mother emphasizes the importance of agreeing as a community modalities and times, compatible with the mission (cf. Regulations 25).

From Mother Mazzarello she draws the invitation to “remain recollected in the silence of the heart,” to create a personal and familiar relationship with the Lord, also addressing Him in one’s own dialect, in the certainty that “the Lord understands you”.

Her life matured in the interiority and industriousness of an “intense but not dispersive” apostolate,the art of meditation” learned by drawing from the source of authentic spirituality learned from Fr. Pestarino and Frassinetti, a contemplative gaze from the window of the Valponasca that “penetrates the whole reality, especially the complex human reality, the people entrusted to her educative and maternal care, and becomes the capacity for discernment.” These are concrete expressions of “that spirit of prayer typical of Salesian spirituality which, according to the Founder, consists in living the presence of God in the simplicity and also in the fatigue of everyday life.”

Meditation in Don Bosco

Although in his numerous works there are no specific texts on meditation, there are in the writings and notes of Don Bosco indications that reveal its absolute necessity, along with prayer, ejaculations, and other practices of piety, as nourishment that strengthens the life of a religious, which benefits the heart, harmony and vocation. “Although each of these practices separately does not seem like much, nevertheless, it effectively contributes to the great edifice of our perfection and our salvation.”

Mother Chiara expresses her and the Council’s concern about the neglect in some communities of the practice of meditation, which emerged from the reports of the Canonical Visitations. This is due to lack of time, of the urgent apostolic work, or of the difficulty in finding suitable ways. “I ask myself how it is possible to accept making our day empty from the start.” And also, “I am convinced that we should reserve the best time of our day for God”.

Therefore, she leaves some questions, which she urges to share as a community, “also as a gift in preparation for the World Feast of Gratitude that we will celebrate in Mozambique on 26 April”:

Are we losing our enchantment with Jesus? What do we put in place of the daily encounter with Him? How can we teach young people the art of meditation if we neglect it ourselves? Do we ask ourselves why, as it sometimes happens, that young people after growing up with us, are looking for other religious Families or spiritual Movements to have a profound experience of the Word of God and meditation?

She closes with the Easter wish that in all the FMA “the joy of the Resurrection may shine to be ‘light’ that illuminates the present and any place and situation in which we find ourselves. Only the Light of the Risen One can open hope to the entire human family that has urgent and extreme need of it today.”

She joyfully communicates that on Sunday, 28 April the diocesan phase will close for Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Sister Antonietta Böhm (1907–2008) and encourages us “to deepen and invoke the intercession of Laura Vicuña and the FMA on their way to the honors of the altars” that can inspire us in combining action and contemplation

Lastly, she wishes a Holy Easter to each FMA, to the families, to the Educating Communities, to the Salesian Family, to young people and, in particular, to the Rector Major of the Salesians, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, “whom we accompany with prayer toward his Episcopal Ordination to be held on 20 April”.

The final thought is for peace. “Let us continue to invoke the gift of peace throughout the world and support with our prayers and offerings the communities sorely tried by war, violence, injustice, and poverty”.

Circular no. 1036


  1. Grazie Madre Chiara per la sua bellissima Lettera Circolare: VALE ORO. I giovani cercano FMA che profumano di Dio.

  2. Grazie infinite per la bellissima sottolineatura – di Madre Chiara Cazzuola – riguardo la preghiera, meditazione, S. Messa…un gruppetto di FMA mi pare di poterlo dire prende alla leggera quanto ha sottolineato la Madre. GRAZIE!!!


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