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(ANS – Rome) – A month after the theme for the next General Chapter – the 27th in the history of the Salesian Congregation – was announced, the Rector Major's Circular Letter has been published, commenting on and presenting this theme. The text offers an opportunity for study and deeper understanding not only in view of GC27 but also for the life of every Salesian and for Provincial Chapters faced with the many challenges today.
GC27 is intended to be “is meant to be a response to such challenges so as to help the Congregation to follow the paths which the Spirit is pointing out to us at this time in our history”, Fr Chávez says in the introduction to his Letter, dated 8 April, Easter Sunday 2012.
The Rector Major explains: “Often referred to during the Team Visits, the theme appeared to me and to the General Councillors to be an essential element of our spirituality; a radical style of life in fact represents Don Bosco’s inner frame of mind; it was the support of his untiring work for the salvation of youth and enabled the Congregation to flourish”.
GC27 offers another element in the charismatic definition of the Salesian “GC22 and 26 dealt with the “project of apostolic consecration”: the first by drawing up the definitive text of our Constitutions and Regulations; the second aimed at “strengthening our charismatic identity with a return to Don Bosco, by reawakening in the heart of every confrere the passion of the 'da mihi animas'. In these two Chapters we find all the other elements which characterise the Salesian apostolic project: GC23 outlines the features of the Salesian as educator and pastor of the young; GC24 as animator of communion in the spirit and in the mission of Don Bosco; GC25 as a responsible member of a community”.
GC27 focuses on a more authentic, therefore visible, credible and fruitful Salesian life. “This will be possible when it is based profoundly and vitally on God, when with courage and conviction rooted in Christ and in his Gospel, its charismatic identity is strengthened. It is for this reason that during the last six-years period we committed ourselves to returning to Don Bosco, re-awakening in the heart of every confrere the passion of 'da mihi animas, cetera tolle'”.
Getting into the heart of it, Fr Chávez reminds us that the Salesian mission is challenged today by various cultural, ecclesial, institutional and personal challenges, and no less important finally, those bound up with the contemporary circumstances of young people.
The third part offers a specific understanding regarding the question of “witnesses to the radical approach of the Gospel” understood from a Salesian perspective. “To face up to current and future challenges to Salesian consecrated life and to the mission throughout the Congregation, the need arises to trace out the profile of the new Salesian” called to be a mystic, prophet and servant.
Recovering the authenticity of the the evangelical counsels should help the Salesian to remember his call “to the radical approach of the Gospel in Consecrated Life”. Commenting on the articles of the Constitutions the 9th Successor of Don Bosco offers a thematic understanding of areas imbued with the fascination of our apostolic consecration “and so, called to be a radical Gospel approach”: vocation; the spiritual experience of being disciples of Christ and people who seek God; fraternal life and our mission to the young.
The world needs “a mystical, prophetic and servant religious life with the radical approach of the gospel both personal and communitarian, a life therefore full of humanity and of spirituality, the source of hope for mankind.”. The specific nature of Salesian religious life is indicated by a comment on the “Dream of the Ten Diamonds” which Don Bosco had at San Benigno in1881; this icon links GC27 to the most recent General Chapters.
In order to make the theme more practical and to fulfil the objectives of GC27 certain conditions need to be ensured, processes put into place, which will foster conversion of our way of thinking, and bring about changes in certain structures.
The Rector Major reminds us that “Today as yesterday God is calling us to holiness in Salesian life. And this is possible if we live as Christ did, as our beloved founder and father lived with great joy, attractiveness and a smiling face, but with the great radical approach of the gospel, expressed in his twofold motto 'work and temperance'”.
The letter concludes with the prayer to be used in preparation for GC27, the same one which was offered for the Bicentenary of Don Bosco's birth.
The complete text of the Rector Major's Letter is already available in digital form on sdb.org, and also included in the section dedicated to GC27, in Italian, English, Spanish and Portuguese; it will soon be available also in French and Polish. It will be available in printed form in the Acts of the General Council 413.