05 Dec 2019
Message of the Provincial | December 5
Dear Salesian Family,
Just before Halloween, the Salesian community was in the dining room in New Rochelle and we heard some songs for Christmas on the radio. At first we were surprised, but since Christmas decorations already were being sold in the stores, we let the music on the radio drift into background noise. After the initial surprise, no one paid attention. Maybe the Christmas music on the radio and the decorations in the stores didn’t require our full attention, but with such an overload of the senses, we can become dull too easily to the things that are really important. We can miss the quiet voice of the Lord when he speaks. We can overlook his presence in the simple and ordinary.
In Mary, the woman of great faith, we encounter a different model. As a young woman, she was attentive to words of the Angel. She was attentive to the needs of her relative, Elizabeth, and to the newlyweds in Cana when they ran out of wine. There was no need for words as she stood by the Cross. Her faithful presence expressed her sharing in the sufferings of her Son. Since the first Pentecost until today, Mary is a model for believers, united in prayer, open to the outpouring of the Spirit, enthusiastic about giving witness to the risen Lord and ready to intercede for those in need.
We are in the middle of the novena to Immaculate Conception, a time of spiritual preparation with great meaning in our Salesian tradition. The novena and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception help us enter more fully into the liturgical season of Advent, with attitudes of listening, attentiveness and receptivity. Even if we are inundated with advertisements for holiday sales, or distracted by social gatherings, in our hearts we feel the need for peace and quiet. The short moments of reflection during the novena of the Immaculate Conception, together with the readings at Mass, can help us imitate Mary, with our inner gaze turned toward the Lord.
At the conclusion of the Marian month of May, on May 31, 2013, after the recital of the Rosary, Pope Francis prayed, “Mary, woman of listening, open our ears; grant us to know how to listen to the word of your Son Jesus among the thousands of words of this world; grant that we may listen to the reality in which we live, to every person we encounter, especially those who are poor, in need, in hardship…” What a beautiful petition for us in this busy season: Mary, grant us to know how to listen to the word of Jesus.
December 5 is the Memorial of Bl. Philip Rinaldi, who had unlimited trust in Mary, the Immaculate Help of Christians. He inspires us to renew the Salesian charism in the reality in which we live today. A special greeting to the members of the Secular Institute of Don Bosco Volunteers.
Trusting in Mary’s intercession for all the members of Don Bosco’s Family,
Fr. Tim Zak