Thai College Band -
spirituality involves the whole being....
Fr. Mick Court,
even in Fiji!
symbols for prayer
Day of prayer - at the
WAY OF LIFE LIVED IN DON BOSCOS STYLE - note-form only
Not the Church asking young
people to come close to it, but the Church (through Don Bosco) coming close to the young.
The salesian presence in the world today only makes sense if it is seen as proposing to
young people a way to holiness. It is a proposal for every young person from the moment of
entry into a salesian environment, but only explicitly to some, according to their
capacity to receive it as such.
The salesian presence in the Church takes on
meaning from that moment in which it is understood as an original spiritual experience
which relives the Gospel in our time. Don Bosco understood this, giving life to a method
of living the Christian life open to all young people, but more especially to those
otherwise deprived culturally and religiously.
Salesian youth spirituality is the living out of
the Salesian spirit, rethought for the young of today, and with reference to the
theological understanding of the second Vatican Council.
a re-reading of the Gospel in a
something able to hold together all those
attitudes and actions which characterize Christian existence
the possibility of a God-experience in
the context of ones own life and history
a path to holiness; a specific project of
life in the spirit.
Gospel applied to the young; a new
aimed at the lowest rung (the most
deprived), but therefore available to all above, and with a view to advancing each to a
better rung * effort to approach the individual in freedom and faith, helping him to
become progressively more involved in his own growth
aimed at making a young person a
protagonist for good amongst his or her peers.
SALESIAN YOUTH SPIRITUALITY:
Inspired by the intuitions, life and
teachings of Don Bosco, not just in the sense of repeating his words and actions. The
Gospel according to Don Bosco!
Inspired by the history of the Salesian
phenomenon after Don Bosco
Centred on the Preventive system which is
a pedagogy, a pastoral method and a spirituality.
1.1 MOST BASIC
UNDERSTANDING IS: YES TO LIFE!
The cardinal virtue of Salesian youth
spirituality can be discovered in Don Boscos wish that educators teach young people
to "serve the Lord in gladness".
Don Boscos holiness is a happy holiness.
Happiness says "yes" to life, has a love, even a passion for life.
Not all spiritualities in the Church today can be
said to be spiritualities of the love for life. Some seem to take a step back from life,
or put in first place the belief that we are sinners and therefore little able to meet
Often, the "yes" that young people give
to life seems a long way from the Gospel. Salesian spirituality offers important elements
that enable one to keep the Gospel and a youthful "yes" together:
God as Father..he comes close to us by his own
A viewpoint about God which excludes distance.
Jesus seen as a model for daily life.
Daily duty as our most important appointment with
Importance given to work enlivened by charity
Faith in human intelligence, education, culture
Strict relationship between gladness and service
of the Lord.
An intuition about holiness as happiness (Dom.
We can say that Salesian spirituality recognizes
in the "yes" to life the most important meeting place for Gods gratuitous,
saving action, and our free, responsible response.
To meet God:
it is not necessary to refuse life, or to ignore
life in order to take on "sacred" activities.
rather is it appropriate to welcome life and all
We can love life as Jesus loved it. He is the
prototype and model for every spiritual event. Jesus loved life by placing himself at the
service of its growth around him (Kingdom of God): in miracles, words of hope, solidarity
with those who had sinned, friendship with disciples, passionate struggle against abuses
of all kinds.
Every time a young person welcomes life, and
struggles to be constructive about it, this continues Jesus work: it becomes a
spiritual event. "Yes" to life is like a seed that contains its own plant:
its first and most basic direction is
that of discovering ones own self-awareness and that of others.
a second direction is the acceptance of
finitude as a decisive dimension of life; this enables one to hand over things
a third direction is the meeting with
Jesus as Lord of life. This becomes an openness to the Gospel, the building up of the
a fourth direction is to allow oneself to
be transformed by this, by taking on Jesus own attitudes and ways of being and doing
as revealed in the Gospel.
a fifth firection is to consider life as
a "call" to work for the Kingdom.
1.2 THE MAIN THEMES OF
SALESIAN YOUTH SPIRITUALITY
On the basis of this "yes" to life,
Salesian youth spirituality can be presented as follows:
a) Life as a place for meeting God.
Daily life for the young is a mix of duty,
socializing, games, the tension that comes from growth, family life, development of
personal abilities, future perspectives, cries for help, hopes. This is the material on
which Gods light can be shed. To discover God as Father in all this is the very
first proposal of Salesian spirituality. Holiness belongs to these situations.
According to Don Bosco, it is enough to do well
what one must do to become a saint. He considered diligence and devotion to duty as the
measure of virtue and a sign of spiritual maturity.
Behind this understanding of daily life and the
positive evaluation of life in general lies faith and the Incarnation. In Jesus, God
became man. The human condition is able to reveal Gods presence. Jesus, man, is the
sacrament of the Father. Jesus has taught us that the place to meet God is in our
All this implies the taking up of daily life,
challenges and questions, its growth
difficulties. Life becomes a
sacrament in which the young person can meet God.
It means an openness
to the beyond contained in life. Don
Bosco taught that one does not
have to detach oneself from life to find the
Lord. He demonstrated this
with a welcome for all young people
with his passion for the total salvation of the
with his conviction that God was present in every
young persons heart, even those that seemed to be in the grip of evil
with his capacity to unite himself with God
joyfully and in the midst of work
with that ascesis of duty which is prayer and
with his genuine humanity
b) A life that conforms itself progressively to
Spirituality means to live under the action and
inspiration of the Spirit. Christ is the man of the Spirit. There is no Christian
spirituality without the person and the mystery of Christ. We are all equal when we come
to Christ, but all different when we grow in Him. His person is inexhaustible.
Jesus is also the revelation of God. To know and
reveal the riches of Christ is not only an end, but a daily journey to the point where we
are part of His paschal mystery. Word, sacrament, prayer, liturgy are all in function of
Jesus is presented by Don Bosco
as the friend of young people
as master of life and wisdom
as the model for every Christian
as redeemer who hands his life over to
the point of death
as present in the small and the needy.
Don Boscos constant preoccupation was to
educate to the faith, to walk with the young so as to lead them to the person of the risen
Christ. He wanted them to discover in Jesus and in his gospel the supreme meaning of their
Life in Christ for Don Bosco develops especially
through growth in love, but its privileged moment of grace is in the sacraments:
the eucharist is the grand memorial of Gods
love for mankind in Christ, in His joining our history so we could enter into communion
Reconciliation is the sign that celebrates the
God and, through conversion, that transforms us
Both are a sure foundation for
c) Life of Jesus Christ: joy and
The basic desire of human beings is the desire
for happiness. Joy is its most noble expression.
In the history of education, of spirituality,
there are those who have tied our spiritual maturity only to commitment, task,
responsibility. But God loves us and has said in Christ: "Happy are you!" The
discovery of the Kingdom and the encounter with Christ are mans happiness. Life is
best understood as developing from a sense of fullness.
The Gospel is permeated with the fullness of joy,
and expresses this especially through the beatitudes. Don Bosco understood this
intuitively and helped his boys understand it. He linked joy and commitment, holiness and
As a boy at the Becchi he spontaneously linked
the proclamation of Gods Word to the vital experience of games; as a seminarist at Chieri, in the "Happy Company", he put forward a unique programme of piety,
devotion to duty, study and joyful outings. In his proposal for Christian life to the
youngsters of the Oratory he joined in a unique experience of life the courtyard, the
study, the chapel, commitmnet and, through it all, joy.
d) An experience of Church: communion and
Each group cultivates in its members an image of
the Church and an attitude towards it. The Church could be seen as a collection of
religious services, or as a closed group of believers, as an agency for good initiatives
The Salesian group helps its members to see in it
the visible Body of Christ, His continuing Incarnation. Don Bosco taught his boys to know
the Churchs mystery through its visible components: the building, the community, the
Bishops, the Pope, the history of the People of God, the apostolate.
A spirituality that wants to call itself Salesian
will want to ensure that from our love for God arises necessarily our love for his church,
the people of God, the centre of unity and communion of all the forces working for the
Kingdom. It will educate young Christians to an authentic understanding of the Church and
to work assiduously for its growth.
e) A journey towards vocational choice.
Life seen as an encounter with God, a journey of
identification with Christ, commitment to the Kingdom, the Church as communion and service
where each has a place and a role - all this says that life carries on through a calling;
it is a project to be discovered and realized.
Vocation is Gods initiative. The reading of
reality that is done through eyes of faith helps us to see that at the origins of life as
it is there lies Gods call.
To understand lifes meaning is not enough.
Gods call demands to be heard and responded to. It becomes dialogue, communion with
the Lord, conscious participation in His work.
Finding ones direction in life is partly an inner
process, but it is also the combination of other factors of environment and by other
people that help a young person to choose and respond generously. Don Bosco understood and
lived out his own existence as a call which began from the dream at nine years of age.
As a priest he became the guide for many a young
persons choice of life; in particular he nurtured vocations to priesthood, religious
and lay life, and left a legacy of such nurturing with his Congregation.
f) A life inspired by Mary, mother of Jesus.
Mary is the first and most perfect disciple of
Christ. She gave him his humanity. All that happened then and subsequently happened in her
daily life. The Lord chose her to collaborate as woman in the salvation of mankind, but
this did not change her style of life.
For Don Bosco the presence and
intervention of Mary in his life and work was extraordinary. She was
truly Help of Christians for him.