from various sources
Made in God's Image
Made in God's image and likeness, all of us are called to the same
end: union with God. Recognizing this, we treat each person with respect,
even reverence. In the midst of a violent society -- guns and gangs in the streets, spouse
and child abuse in homes, the angry thoughts and words that begin in our own hearts -- Salesian
Spirituality calls us to gentleness.
We are gentle, first of all, with ourselves. Francis
reminds us not to become upset and discouraged by our failings.
Rather, to pick ourselves up after a fall. He
counsels: "Be patient with everyone, but above all with
yourself." Gentleness with ourselves leads to gentleness
with others. We learn to let go of judgmental attitudes and become more compassionate. The
desire for retaliation or revenge -- the source of so much violence in our world -- gives
way to forgiveness. We become peacemakers in
our homes and in society.
Salesian Spirituality recognizes that
each person is unique and unrepeatable. Since each has a different character and different
will be different for each of us. How, then, do I become holy?
Quite simply, says Francis de Sales, by doing God's
will. He exhorts: "Do not
wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly."
Recognizing that God's will is found in our
vocation or state in life, Salesian Spirituality
stresses the importance of carrying out the ordinary duties of our vocation -- a challenge
indeed, for today's men and women. Stretched by the demands of family and job, beset by
financial concerns, worried about the future, we may want only to run away -- in our
imagination, if not in fact. Perhaps we will find God
in some less hectic setting! Francis reminds us, however, that God is near to us in the busyness of our vocation.
"It is not tranquility which brings God close to our
hearts; it is rather the fidelity of our love," he says.
Following God's will calls for ongoing,
prayerful discernment. In Salesian thought, discernment often involves a certain
balancing. On the one hand, we need a certain openness, or flexibility, to respond when
the Holy Spirit calls us to new ways of
thinking and acting. On the other hand, perseverance in one's vocation is essential for
spiritual growth. Francis reminds us: "Just
as a shrub that is often transplanted cannot take root and as a result cannot come to
maturity and yield the desired fruit, so that soul and transplants its heart from plan to
plan cannot profit or gain proper growth in perfection, since perfection does not consist
in beginnings but in accomplishments."
Do All Through Love
Salesian Spirituality challenges us to
become holy -- to become saints! Salesian
Spirituality is often described as a "spirituality
of the heart," the divine
and the human heart
caught up in passionate love for each other.
Love alone motivates and sustains our quest
for holiness. "Do
all through love, nothing through fear," urges Francis.
But love is hard work. It requires sacrifice and letting go. In an age that
over-emphasizes self-actualization and self-fulfillment, Salesian
Spirituality points in a different direction. It calls us to interior
discipline, to a consistent practice of the "little virtues":
patience with aging parents or rebellious
teenagers, gentleness and humility with friends and co-workers, and simplicity in our
lifestyle. In the quiet of our hearts we
learn to turn everything over to God, to die to self, to live totally for Jesus. Salesian thought
recognizes that spiritual progress come slowly and, often, at great cost. Yet it also
recognizes that in turning our hearts to God, in doing God's
will, we find our greatest happiness
The Present Moment
We only have the present moment, the here and now, in which to respond to God. But focusing on the present can be difficult.
We may regret past actions, or fret about an uncertain future. Even positive memories, or
daydreams about happy times to come, can distract us from present opportunities. How is God showing Himself
to me right now? How can I respond with a loving
word or deed? If we are unduly preoccupied with either the past or the future we may miss
how God is calling us to be with Him, right now. Instead, Salesian
Spirituality invites us to trust in God's
providence. Either God will protect us from misfortune;
or He will give us the strength
to bear it. With
confidence we can "cast our cares on God, because He cares
Spiritual Growth Through Relationships
Salesian Spirituality is profoundly
relational; it realizes that spiritual progress comes in and through
relationships. Within the family, for example, we are challenged to grow daily in the
little virtues. As we perform ordinary tasks
-- cleaning, cooking, helping with homework, planning a birthday party -- with
extraordinary love, we find God. We truly become like Jesus,
as we follow His example of generous
Personal spirituality grows within the
Christian community. As we gather to hear God's word
and celebrate His presence, we are energized
by the faith and commitment of others. They challenge us to offer our gifts to the community, to move us beyond
self-preoccupation to a concern for the common good.
Within this community certain spiritual friendships may develop. Salesian
Spirituality values such friendships as a gift
from God. Already
in love with God,
the friends grow in love for each other, and
express this love in generous, often
creative, service to the community -- indeed, to the world. In their own enduring
friendship, Saint Francis and Saint Jane gave us a model
of truly fruitful love that touched the
lives of countless people. Spiritual friends challenge and support us; they bring out the
best in us; they show us the face of God.
When fear and doubt
close in on us, Salesian Spirituality points
to signs of hope -- yes, even joy. True, sin
and its terrible effects have entered the
world. But sin is not the final word. God has spoken His
final word in Jesus. Jesus
offers us the grace to fulfill our human potential; to become lovers
of God and
neighbor, to grow in holiness -- to become saints! Trusting in God's
providence, knowing that God
will ultimately turn everything to the good,
Salesian Spirituality radiates optimism.
Whether in the midst of great trials or great joys our hearts
can be at peace, secure in the knowledge
that "the same God Who takes care of us today will take
care of us tomorrow and always."