Giving Thanks for Our Salesian Family

Message of the Provincial 11.23.21

Dear Confreres,

A very happy Thanksgiving Day to everyone, even if Thanksgiving Day is not celebrated everywhere this Thursday. As believers, we strive to live St. Paul’s admonitions, "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thes. 5:18).

This weekend, we begin Advent, a beautiful liturgical season that invites us to a certain inner silence imitating Mary, whom Pope Francis calls "woman of listening… woman of decision…woman of action" (Prayer to Mary at the Conclusion of the Recitation of the Rosary, May 31, 2013). We can journey with Mary through Advent and learn from her how to welcome the Word of God and how to bring the Word to others so they, too, can rejoice as Mary did during the Visitation (the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent).

To help us on our spiritual path during this special liturgical season, I am happy to share with you five Lectio Divinas on the Our Father written by Fr. Juan José Bartolomé, SDB. You will also find these Lectios in the book entitled Salesian Spiritual Direction: Accompaniment and Prayer (Don Bosco Publications, United Kingdom). Fr. Fabio Attard shared them with me a few years ago, and now I share them with you in the links below:

Lectio 1: Teach us how to pray
Lectio 2: «When you pray ..., do not pray like... » Neither like hypocrites, nor pagans
Lectio 3: This then is how you should pray
Lectio 4: When you pray, say this
Lectio 5: Be preoccupied about what is necessary

Besides helping us deepen our understanding of the text of the Our Father, which we find in Matthew 6 in one form and in Luke 11 in another, these Lectios guide us to make the Lord’s Prayer our own. We can pray as Jesus taught us. A constant theme throughout the reflections, meditations, and prayers is the overwhelming love that God the Father has for each one of us and for all of us. It is this message I feel we need to hear over and over again. In our broken and fragile world, we need to share the Good News. That is why I thought, during these few weeks of Advent, that studying, meditating, and praying the Our Father would prepare us to welcome Jesus, the Father’s love incarnate, and transform us to live as brothers and sisters with Jesus.

I have another motive for sharing these prayer resources with you at this time—I hope you would use them with a group of young adults. To come together to pray during the short liturgical season of Advent leading into Christmas does not require a longtime commitment, which can intimidate some young adults. Many young adults are returning home from college and are available for a good part of December and January. The text is already prepared and so the prayer leader doesn’t have to do much additional work. By using a familiar prayer—the Our Father—as the basis for the gatherings, the young adults can renew their spiritual lives when they return to college or go back to work, simply by praying the Lord’s Prayer. By gathering a few young adults for spiritual purposes during this holiday season, they can stay in contact with each other through social media in the new year. You can also take advantage of these gatherings to introduce them to Valdocco: A Salesian Family Podcast, available on Apple and Spotify.

On Monday, November 29, we begin the Immaculate Conception Novena. Among our many intentions, I invite you to remember our young adults, that like Mary, they too welcome the Word of God and bring Christ to others.

Fr. Tim Zak

November 23, 2021 - 8:00am
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