Benedict XVI Urges Salesians to Study Founder

Says They Will Offer Aid in Overcoming Educational Emergency

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging the Salesians to know and study the spirit of their founder, making their own the apostolic passion that characterized him.

The Pope made this appeal in a March 1 message, made public today, to the rector major of the Salesians, Father Pascual Chávez Villanueva and the participants in the 26th general chapter of the congregation which begins today in Rome.

The Holy Father wrote that the theme chosen for this general chapter -- "Da mihi animas, cetera tolle" (Give me souls, take away all else) -- expresses "that same program of spiritual and apostolic life that Don Bosco made his own."

"It is vitally important for the Salesians to draw continual inspiration from Don Bosco, to know him, study him, love him, imitate him, invoke him and make their own that apostolic passion which flows from the heart of Christ," he added.

The theme to be studied over coming days "expresses in synthesis the mysticism and asceticism of Salesians" Benedict XVI wrote, indicating that "it is necessary to overcome the dispersive effects of activism and to cultivate the unity of spiritual life by acquiring a profound mysticism and a solid asceticism. This nourishes apostolic commitment and is a guarantee of effectiveness in pastoral activity.

"It is in this that each Salesian's path to sanctity must consist, and on this that the formation of new vocations to Salesian consecrated life must concentrate."

Priority frontier

The Pope affirmed that "evangelization must be the principal and priority frontier" in the Salesian mission. "In pluri-religious settings and in secularized ones, it is necessary to find new ways to make the figure of Jesus known, especially to the young, so they may become aware of his perennial attraction.

"It is important to help young people to turn their interior resources to account as dynamism and positive desire; to bring them into contact with ideas rich in humanity and evangelical values; to encourage them to become active members of society through work and participation in the common good."

Benedict XVI thanked the congregation "for the research and educational activities of the Pontifical Salesian University."

Going on to refer to the "educational emergency" that exists in many parts of the world, he wrote: "The Church needs the contribution of scholars to study the methodology of educational and formative processes, the evangelization of the young and their moral education, together finding answers to the challenges of post-modernity and inter-culturality, and of social communications, while at the same time seeking to come to the aid of families."

In this context, the Pope affirmed that "education is one of the key points of the modern anthropological problem, to the solution of which I am sure that the Pontifical Salesian University will not fail to make a precious contribution."

At the end of the Message, Benedict XV recalled that 2015 will mark the bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco, and expressed his hope that the anniversary may stimulate Salesians "to be ever more 'credible signs of God's love for the young,' and to ensure that the young truly do become the hope of the Church and society."