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23 febbraio 2022

Dear friends of ADMA,

Last month our Rector Major gave us the Strenna, inviting us to deepen our knowledge of Saint Francis de Sales by reviving his spirituality which inspired Don Bosco to offer us a path of sanctification. The very last chapter of the Strenna is entitled "All for love" and is an invitation to take care of our relationship with the Lord, especially personal prayer as the source of charity.

"Charity is the measure of our prayer, because our love for God is manifested in love for our neighbour. Here we meet the "prayer of life", so important for St Francis de Sales. It consists in carrying out all our activities in love and for the love of God, in such a way that our whole life becomes a continuous prayer. Whoever does works of charity, visits the sick, assists in the courtyard, gives time to others to listen to them, welcomes those in need, ... is praying. Commitments and occupations must not prevent the union with God, and those who practice this form of prayer are not in danger of forgetting God. When two people love one another - concludes Francis de Sales - their thoughts are always directed towards one another”

The simple means that he proposes to achieve the union with God - a theme so dear to our spirituality as sons and daughters of Don Bosco - can be recognised in the practices of piety that Don Bosco proposed to his boys and his first Salesians. To those who are occupied with temporal things, he advises to find moments, even very short ones, of recollection to unite the heart to God with short sighs, ejaculations and good thoughts, or to become aware of God in our spirit. While in the midst of conversations or activities, we can always remain in God's presence. In this way, true prayer does not neglect the obligations of daily life.

Precisely in this chapter the Rector Major invites us to turn to Mary, and invoke her maternal love for her. St. Francis de Sales established that the work of the Visitation, founded together with Joan of Chantal, would have as a symbol a heart pierced by two arrows, crowned by a cross, surrounded by a crown of thorns and with the sacred names of Jesus and Mary engraved on it.

First of all, Mary appears in the theology of Francis de Sales in a form similar to that which will be proper to the theology of the Second Vatican Council. Mary is in the heart of the Church. And her mission is to attract and bring us all to her Son. This is why Francis de Sales encourages us to join Mary, like her disciples, to receive the source of unity, the Holy Spirit.

«Honour, reverence and respect the holy and glorious Virgin Mary with special love: she is the Mother of our sovereign Father and therefore also our dear grandmother. Let us have recourse to her as grandchildren, let us throw ourselves on her lap with absolute confidence; at every moment, in every circumstance, we appeal to this sweet Mother, we invoke her maternal love for her and, making every effort to imitate her virtues, we have for her a sincere heart of children ».

Furthermore, the figure of Mary, model of all virtues, presented as "clothed in Christ", walks the path of humility like her Son. With her total dependence on God, her availability to Him, Mary abundantly receives God's generosity. When she sings the humility of her servant in her Magnificat, it is because she has attracted God’s gaze.

Finally, the Salesian trait of devotion to the Virgin, our mother and guide, corresponds to the trust that Don Bosco placed in Mary as the Consoler, Immaculate and Help of Christians of all the brothers of his Son. Mary cooperates in God's plan of salvation and, in the words of Francis de Sales, God "made Mary pass through all the states of life, so that everyone can find in her what they need to live adequately their own state of life" .

In her we see what God is ready to do with her love for her, when he finds hearts as available as Mary's. By emptying herself, she receives the fullness of God. By remaining available to God, she leaves room for God to do great things in her.

The contemplation of Mary, with her life and her yes to God, invites us to open ourselves to the love of God, in the awareness that the heart of Jesus, on the tree of the cross, contemplates and loves us. In Mary we see the true destiny of our heart, united with the heart of God.

Let us ask Mary for a filial heart, a heart that loves God in others with humility, that serves in a generous and trusting way, prolonging the prayer of life throughout our day.

Renato Valera, President ADMA Valdocco.

Alejandro Guevara, Animatore Spirituale ADMA Valdocco.

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