The participants entered the “guided retreat” of eight days in a spirit of total silence and recollection, assisted by five guides. Each participant was accompanied personally by his guide every day of the retreat, and was thus put in a position to travel the spiritual path that the Holy Spirit was inspiring in his relationship with the word of God, prayer and personal life.
Why begin a course on spiritual accompaniment with a personalised and silent retreat? One of the guides says: “In reality, there is no other way. Every guide, before speaking about God and Jesus Christ, must speak with the Lord in the intimacy of his being. The mystery of God and the love of Jesus Christ must pervade the person of the one who helps other brothers and sisters to follow, in discernment, the path of God in their person and the development of their vocation.”
“The retreat experience was a great gift from the Lord,” says one of the participants. “We were invited to seek a real encounter with the Lord Jesus who, personally, has shown his light and made me feel his voice again in many signs and in the contact with his Word which has been renewing, consoling and attentive to the personal situation with which I came to this School.”
The Retreat is a key step in the formation of spiritual guides. The more one attends to the presence of the Lord in one’s life, the more one will be able to discern that presence in the lives of others. Don Bosco was able to recognize the spiritual experiences of Dominic Savio no doubt because he had similar experiences of his own.
There are plans to repeat this program in future in order to continue to encourage other groups of Salesians from the whole congregation. There is no doubt, in fact, that it is an initiative with a long journey ahead of it, which will bear great fruit in the renewal of Salesian Formation.