Rome (Italy). On 31 January 2022, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over the Eucharistic Celebration of the Solemnity of St. John Bosco in the chapel of the Generalate of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, in Rome.
“It is a joy and an honor for us to have you here today, on this feast so important for the Church and for our Salesian Family.” These are the welcoming words of the Vicar General of the FMA Institute, Sr. María del Rosario García Ribas, who presented to His Eminence the face of the Community of the Generalate, “unique in the world, because it is the House of all the FMA, open and available to the various requests, an international, intercultural, and intergenerational community, at the service of the Mother General and her Council”.
The Cardinal expressed the joy of celebrating the Eucharist in honor of St. John Bosco. “With this Salesian joy we celebrate the Holy Mass, the joy that is a sign of humility, only those who are humble really know how to rejoice. Others rejoice, celebrate, but only with humility of heart is there the joy that made the Virgin sing the Magnificat.”
“Who was really Don Bosco?” In his homily, Cardinal Semeraro, to underline some aspects of Don Bosco, starts from the words of Pope Francis at the Angelus on 30 January 2022:
“Let us think of this great saint, father and teacher of youth. He did not shut himself up in the sacristy, he did not shut himself up in his things. He went out on the street looking for young people, with the creativity that was characteristic of him”.
Look for young people. “It was really the beginning of his life as an educator and as a Saint,” began the Cardinal. “On Sunday morning, he would go out to look for young people, and this is how the oratory began”.
Creativity. “It is the characteristic that the Pope underlined, and which he frequently repeats, meaning an energy, an inner capacity to ‘cultivate dreams of fraternity and be signs of hope’ (Address to the members of Caritas Italian in the 50th anniversary of its foundation). Creativity is capable of making people dream, of opening up spaces, of going beyond borders. The Pope defines it as docility to the Spirit, which suggests new ideas”. The Cardinal emphasizes that creativity is not only novelty, it is also prudence, that is, the ability to adapt ideas to the times we are living, qualities that the Fathers of the Church called discernment.
Care of the young. Don Bosco devoted all his strength to the education of adolescents. From the Word of God (Mt 18: 1-6.10), His Eminence takes up the expression “He called a child to himself, He placed him among them”, taking up Don Bosco’s attitude of humility in approaching young people, in particular of the outskirts, the ‘discarded’, as Pope Francis would say. “Who knows if these youngsters only had a friend who would take care of them,” said Don Bosco, thinking of young people in prisons. The Cardinal observes:
“Don Bosco’s mission was not born in the pedagogical sense, but as compassion for the discarded, for those at risk. It is precisely in that harsh context that he was able to experience the effectiveness of what will later be called the preventive system. Times change, but the message is the same; today we need the Charism of Don Bosco”.
Contagious joy. From Pope Francis’ Gaudete et Exultate, “The supreme commandment of love must not only mark our lifestyle, but it must also transform our life into contagious joy” (GS 55), Cardinal Semeraro draws the meaning and the wishes of the Feast of St. John Bosco:
“From his memory, it is important that we also receive the contagion of his joy. In the contingencies of our times, it is important that we place this contagion of joy above all in education. And this is what we want to entrust to the maternal intercession of Mary, whom, like him, we too love to invoke with the title of Help of Christians”.