It is a historic detail, confirmed by each of the four evangelists, that from the outset of his evangelizing activities (cf. Mark 1:14-15), Jesus called some to follow him (cf. Mark 1:16-20). These first disciples of his thus became “companions throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us” (Acts 1:21-22).
Evangelization and vocation thus become two inseparable elements. Furthermore, a criterion of the authenticity of good evangelization is its ability to give rise to vocations, to see to the growth of projects of gospel living, to involve completely those who are evangelized to the point where they become disciples and apostles.
Following on from the Strenna for 2010, “Lord, we want to see Jesus,” about the urgent need to evangelize, I am making a heartfelt appeal to the Salesian Family now to feel the urgency of the need to call others.
Dear brothers and sisters, every member of the Salesian Family, I therefore invite you to be true spiritual guides for the young, like John the Baptist pointing out Jesus to his disciples and telling them: “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36), so they can follow him to a point where Jesus, aware that they are following him, turns to them directly with the question: “What are you looking for?” and they, overcome with the desire to get to know profoundly who this Jesus is, ask him: “Rabbi, where do you live?” (John 1:38), and he invites them to share the experience of being with him: “Come and see.” They will have experienced something immensely beautiful from the moment they “came and saw where he was staying and they remained with him” (John 1:39).
Here, then, is the pedagogical direction we must take:
- Return to Don Bosco:
- Make the Valdocco experience our own; it creates a family environment of great spiritual worth, one of apostolic involvement and spiritual accompaniment sustained by intense love for the Church and the world.
- Show the beauty, the appropriateness of our Salesian vocation for today and its variety: a life completely given to God in the service of the young is well worth living.
- Live our lives and help the lives of others to be understood as vocation and mission. And all this as a great gift which is experienced with God at the center, in fellowship with all consecrated men and women dedicated to the poorest and neediest.
- Become Don Bosco for the young people of today
- Be aware of the central, obvious place of consecrated persons in the carrying out of the Salesian mission. This was Don Bosco’s belief and experience.
- Create a culture of vocation as was the case at Valdocco, one marked by seeking the meaning of existence, with transcendence as its horizon, sustained and supported by profound values, a planning mentality, and aimed at a culture of fellowship and solidarity.
- Ensure accompaniment through the quality of our personal lives, our education to love and chastity, our responsibility for history, starting them out in prayer and apostolic involvement.
- Make the Salesian Youth Movement a privileged place for the journey of vocational discernment: where young people experience and show how the current of communion flowing around Don Bosco, his pedagogical values, and Salesian youth spirituality results in a volunteer movement and projects of life.
Rome, May 31, 2010
Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva