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The second point of the training course which the ADMA Primary at Valdocco, Turin proposes to aspirants, refers to Article 2 of the Association’s Regulations which has as its theme the nature and purpose of ADMA.

We all know that there are many different types of Associations. Therefore, it is very important to understand even some aspects that may appear more formal, such as the nature of our Association, in order to safeguard its identity, maintaining its specificity and originality, and avoiding in the first place any interference or intermingling of a political nature or other interests that are not consistent with its aims. Bearing in mind that we have a history of more than 150 years behind us, it is important that the Association knows how to always renew itself, while at the same time remain faithful to the aims that Don Bosco gave it so as not to risk losing the charismatic identity desired by our founder.

The Church recognises ADMA as a public Association of the faithful which enjoys ecclesiastical juridical status and, according to the legislation in force in the individual states, can also obtain civil juridical recognition. In particular, the Association is configured as a group of people called and guided by Mary Help of Christians, Mother and figure of the Church.

As far as the Association’s aims are concerned, the first is to propose a path of holiness to the faithful. In this regard, Pope Francis reminds us that “all Christians, as baptised, have equal dignity before the Lord and are united by the same vocation, which is that to holiness. [...] Holiness is the most beautiful face of the Church: it is rediscovering oneself in communion with God, in the fullness of his life and his love [...] each one in the conditions and in the state of life in which he finds himself”. In Don Bosco, holiness is identified especially in pastoral charity and in apostolic and educational commitment, in the family spirit, in service and help, especially to the most needy, and in pious practices lived in simplicity. For this reason, following in the footsteps of our founder, the path to holiness offered to ADMA members is distinctly apostolic and aimed at involving the people in the spirituality and mission of the Salesian Family.

The Association’s aim of proposing a path of holiness to all is pursued in particular through two special means: to spread the devotion to the Blessed Virgin and adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

In other words, we can recognise ADMA as a Eucharistic-Marian group. The Eucharistic life and devotion to the Immaculate-Help of Christians are the founding points of the spirituality and life of the Association. The reference is to the two pillars of the Salesian educational system and spirituality, as seen by Don Bosco in his famous dream. He saw a ship, representing the Church, guided by the Pope on a stormy sea and surrounded by enemy ships trying to sink it. Suddenly “two strong columns rise from the waves, very tall, not far from each other. Above one of them is a statue of the Immaculate Virgin, at the foot of which hangs a large sign with this inscription: ‘AUXILIUM CHRISTIANORUM’ (‘Help of Christians’); on the other, which is much taller and larger, stands an OSTIA of a size proportionate to the column, and below another sign with the words: ‘SALUS CREDENTIUM’ (‘Salvation of Believers’)”. The situation for the ship of the Church seemed to turn for the worst. The Pope was struck down, but immediately another was elected, and finally: “The new Pope, overcoming every obstacle, guides the ship between the two columns, then with a chain hanging from the prow, he ties it to an anchor of the column on which the Host stands, and with another chain hanging from the stern he ties it on the opposite side to another anchor hanging from the column on which the Immaculate Virgin is placed. [...] the enemy ships flee, scatter, collide and smash each other [...] while the ships that have fought valiantly with the Pope also come to bind themselves to the two columns. A great calm now reigns in the sea. Don Bosco commented: “The ships of the enemies are the persecutions. Very serious travails are being prepared for the Church. What has happened so far is almost nothing compared to what is to come. Only two means remain to save oneself amidst such turmoil: Devotion to the Blessed Mary and frequent Communion”.

The letter of the Rector Major, Fr Angel Fernandez Artime, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of ADMA, reminds us that:

In Don Bosco’s experience, love for Mary and love for the Eucharist always go together. They are the two pillars which support the life and mission of the Church. In Don Bosco’s Marian imagery which we can particularly draw from his dreams, Mary is presented as the Lady or Queen who awaits the young people at the end of life’s adventurous journey and invites them to take part in the heavenly banquet. Like a good hostess, Mary welcomes the guests, having carefully prepared everything. The heavenly banquet, like the Eucharistic banquet that continuously anticipates and prepares it, is the place of perfect communion. Communion with God and each other is the ultimate goal of Christian worship”.

The Charter of Charismatic Identity of the Salesian Family also reiterates the importance of remaining united to Jesus and Mary in order to aim at holiness:

“The Eucharist sacrifice and sacrament, the Eucharist eaten and adored, is in Don Bosco’s life, strength and consolation, source of peace and fire of activity. For himself and for the young, holiness is unthinkable without the Eucharist. [...] Mary Help of Christians is a reminder of the universal motherhood of Mary who intervenes in the work of the foundation of her Family. It is Don Bosco’s deep and unshakeable conviction: ‘She has done everything’. Mary can be trusted. Therefore, to her one can entrust oneself".

The centrality of the Eucharistic Jesus and the devotion to Mary make ADMA an ecclesial and Salesian group, as Don Bosco linked in an indissoluble way his Marian devotion to the sense of the Church, to the ministry of Peter, to the simple faith of the People of God, to the urgency of the needs of the youth”.

Gian Luca and Mariangela Spesso

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