Italy – SF Spirituality Days 2022, the Rector Major: "Only in freedom can we draw close to God"

13 January 2022

(ANS - Turin) - Tatiana from Central America, Carlos from Spain, Antoine from Central Asia, Jonas from the Far East and Christopher from Africa ... and the globalization of the Salesian Family celebrating the opening of the 40th edition of its Spirituality Days, January 13, in Turin-Valdocco is immediately described. Via web, about 10,000 people will follow the four days of listening-prayer-confrontation taking place in the Mother House with the presence of 150 representatives of the 32 groups that make up the largest Catholic religious family.

It was Fr Egidio Viganò, the VII Successor of Don Bosco, who instituted the "Days", which have become an appointment in which one participates with enthusiasm. It is a moment of formation closely linked to the Rector Major's "Strenna", the orientation card for the new year that brings together the plurality of experiences on a common track. This 2022 is dedicated to Saint Francis de Sales, on the 400th anniversary of his transit: a recurrence that - much more than a tribute to the man who gave precious lymph to Don Bosco's charism - is a true return to the sources of a spirituality that is still fertile today.

Fr Ivo Coelho, General Councillor for Formation, opened the meeting by describing the connection between the "rediscovery" of Fr Paolo Albera (2021 being the centenary of his death) and that of St Francis de Sales. “Albera, a man of study, was appreciated for the depth and intensity of his preaching.” He was careful to leave a written record of his spiritual journey in his diary, which still today “bears witness to the dialogue between grace and freedom, the foundation of the charism of Don Bosco. Fr Albera, in some ways different from the popular image of the joking Salesian, was able to win hearts with his melancholic way of being. “We can be disciples by remaining ourselves,” stressed Fr Coelho, “we must not lose our originality in following.”

Here we find the direct link with St Francis de Sales, a man of culture and capable of approaching everyone. “It is goodness that distinguishes us,” began the Rector Major in his reflection on the figure of the saint whom Don Bosco proposed to his boys as the patron of the adventure to which they were starting, “Only in freedom can we approach God.”

After watching the video that summarizes the themes of the Strenna, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime insisted on the need to meditate on this truth: “God draws his creatures to himself without taking away the freedom He has given, because love does this. The Salesian intends to arouse enthusiasm for God, but he always does so with care and full respect for the person he meets.” With this premise, one can well interpret the motto of St Francis de Sales, which has become the title of the Strenna 2022: “Do all through love, nothing through constraint.”

The call to give oneself to others in the educational service and human promotion is nourished by the example of the elders and by the strength of the Spirit; it presupposes a movement of generosity on the part of the person which corresponds to a positive will, not an imposition. The Rector Major pleasantly but dutifully added a coda, a "guiño", as he said: “This freedom does not mean that I 'do what I want', but it is the discovery of a joyful responsibility.”

With the celebration of the Eucharist and the session that followed, knowledge among the participants grew, which will allow them to face the next intense days of mutual listening.

Photos of the first day can be accessed on ANSFlickr


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

This site also uses third-party cookies to improve user experience and for statistical purposes. By scrolling through this page or by clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies. To learn more or to opt out, click "Further Information".