Don Bosco’s 200th Birthday!

Don_BoscoIIThe Salesian Family celebrates St John img_03905Bosco’s 200th Birthday this year with many events! As Visitandines we celebrate along with them, especially as Don Bosco also chose our Founder, St. Francis de Sales, as the patron for his new congregation.

In an article available here:

the author speaks of the spiritual relationship between these two saints, St John Bosco and his patron St. Francis de Sales.

Don Bosco and Francis de Sales were actually co-nationals. This is a fact that is usually overlooked, though it is one of the reasons why they were so closely related. Francis was not born in France, but in the duchy of Savoy; and from the mid-sixteenth century up to the Treaty of Turin in 1860 (which ceded Savoy to France) Savoy and Piedmont belonged to the Sardinian States with Turin as the capital. During young Bosco’s formative years, Francis de Sales was venerated as the national saint; clergy and aristocracy spread his culture and the knowledge of his enterprises.

Don Bosco began to know and revere Francis in the Seminary at Chieri, and then at the ecclesiastical boarding college in Turin. These institutes had been placed under the patronage of St Charles Borromeo and St Francis de Sales; and it was here too that the learned and saintly Fr Joseph Cafasso taught – a man imbued with the spirit of St Francis and who encouraged Don Bosco’s apostolate and was his confessor for twenty years.

Memoirs of the Oratory of St Francis de Sales Don Bosco made it abundantly clear why he had chosen Francis as patron and model. His words are important and deserve to be perused. In 1844 Don Bosco was appointed chaplain to the institution of the Marchesa Giulia di Barolo, and she agreed to give him the use of two large rooms – which Don Bosco transformed into his `first Oratory church’. In the saint’s own words, `The name St Francis de Sales was given for two reasons:

  1. because the Marchesa di Barolo had in mind to found a Congregation of priests under this title and with this intention had a painting of this saint that even today hangs at the entrance of the building; and
  2. because our ministry demanded great calm and kindness, and had therefore been placed under the protection of this saint. We wanted Francis to obtain from God the grace that would help us to imitate him in his remarkable gentleness and zeal for souls. A further reason was to place ourselves under his protection, so that he would help us from heaven to imitate him in his combating the adversaries of the Church, who were gaining numbers in Italy and especially in Turin’. In his Regulations of 1847 Don Bosco was to speak of the imitation of Francis `in his charity and kindly demeanour’, an attitude so necessary for the success of his educative work.

Don Bosco tells us that he was attracted by two essential aspects of the moral and spiritual characteristics of Francis de Sales:

  1. his apostolic energy, his zeal for the salvation of souls, his defence of the truth, his fidelity to the Church; and
  2. the Christlike gentleness that imbued his zeal: his charming manner, his patience, his extraordinary sensitivity.

The vital source of both these qualities is a deep, solid and decisive conviction, namely, that love is the totality of God and the totality of man.”

Sun Chat: Ways of prayer

img_0390On Sunday we will take the opportunity to chat about “Quiet prayer”. St Francis de Sales had a lot to teach us about this form of being in the presence of God, and so did St Theresa of Avila.

Read their sentiments and come and discuss YOUR experience on Sunday Feb 1st.

St. Francis de Sales wrote in his Treatise on the Love of God:

“You also wish to know if a soul, still very imperfect, can with profit to itself remain in prayer before God, with that simple attention to His divine presence of which I spoke.

I tell you that if God places you there, you can certainly remain there, for it happens not unfrequently that Our Lord gives this repose and tranquillity to souls which are not thoroughly purged. While, however, they still need purgation, they should, outside the time of prayer, occupy themselves with the reflections and considerations necessary for their amendment. Indeed, even if God should keep them always in deep recollection, they still retain sufficient liberty to discourse with the understanding on many indifferent subjects- why, then, should they not be able to ponder and form the resolutions needed for their amendment and the practice of virtues?

There are very perfect persons to whom Our Lord never gives this sweetness and repose, who do all in the higher region  of their soul, and who by the sheer force of the higher reason, make their own will die and God’s will live in them. And this death is the death of the cross which is much more excellent and generous than that other, which for the following reason should rather be called a slumber than a death ; namely, because a soul which has embarked in the vessel of God’s Providence, lets itself be carried gently along, like a person who though asleep in a boat upon a quiet sea, is all the time making progress. This manner of death, so gentle and so sweet, is given as by a free gift, the other by merit.”

St. Francis also makes reference to St Teresa of Avila’s opinion in the Treatise, which we share as another way of joining in the Carmelites’ celebration of her birth this year:

220px-Peter_Paul_Rubens_138“The Blessed Mother (S.) Teresa of Jesus, also, in good truth, a quite angelic virgin, speaking of the prayer of quiet, says these words:—“There are divers souls who come up to this perfection, but those who pass beyond are a very small number: I know not the cause of it, certainly the fault is not on God’s side, for since his divine majesty aids us and gives us the grace to arrive at this point, I believe that he would not fail to give us still more if it were not for our fault, and the impediment which we on our part place.” Let us therefore, Theotimus, be attentive to advance in the love which we owe to God, for that which he bears us will never fail us.”

Sister pronounces First Vows in Tyringham Visitation Monastery

On the Feast of our Founder, St. Francis de Sales, Saturday January 24, 2015, one of the novices of our Tyringham Massachusetts Visitation Monastery pronounced her first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the presence of her Sisters, family and Bishop Thomas of Toledo.

Now she is known as Sr Margaret Joseph. Please pray for her as she deepens her spiritual journey and intercedes for all.

First Vows