On April 9 this year, the Holy Father authorized the promulgation of the decree concerning a miracle attributed to the intercession of Bl. Artemides Zatti, thus opening the way for Zatti’s canonization. The date of the canonization will be decided by the Supreme Pontiff during an ordinary consistory. In his message for the Salesian Bulletin this month, Fr. Ángel Fernandez recognizes Zatti as a true Good Samaritan who in everything and always is a Salesian. It is interesting to note that after St. John Bosco’s canonization (April 1, 1934), the next to be canonized among the SDBs were two martyrs,Sts.LuigiVersigliaandCallisto Caravario, a Salesian bishop and a Salesian priest, on October 1, 2000. Now Zatti, a Salesian brother, will be canonized. Once again, we are inspired by the holiness of the members of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
In fact, Salesian holiness has found expression in a great diversity of ages, vocations, and social and cultural contexts. Among the Servants of God, Venerables, Blesseds, and Saints, we meet women and men, consecrated and lay, a cardinal, bishops, priests, a sub- deacon, missionaries, and martyrs. In the list of Salesian Servants of God, Venerables, Blesseds and Saints, we find founders of religious orders as well as members of 15 of the 32 groups of the Salesian Family. There are mystics who offered their physical and spiritual sufferings as a way to live Da Mihi Animas. Although most are from Italy and Spain, they spread out to every continent except Africa (for the moment). Not surprising for Salesians, there are 46 young people under the age of 29, the youngest being Bl. Laura Vicuña (13 years old), then St. Dominic Savio (almost 15 years old), who inspired many other youths to follow the path of holiness. Most of these 46 holy youths were also martyrs in Poland or Spain.
Through these holy men and women in our Salesian Family, we recognize particular aspects of the Salesian charism brought into brilliant focus, such as ardent pastoral charity, special concern for vocations to consecrated life and ordained ministry, the urgency to announce the Gospel, education as our way of participating in the mission of the Church, the joy of having Jesus and Mary as our friends. We also see how often holiness is achieved together—saints helping others become saints.
Looking a little more deeply into these individuals who give witness to the Salesian path to sanctity, we can see that some causes for canonization seemed to have stalled. Fr. Pierluigi Cameroni, the SDB postulator general, poses some provocative questions: Who is promoting the cause? Who is interested in a particular cause? Who really wants the process to move forward? He answers his own questions, "The person responsible for the causes is not the postulator alone, but the ecclesial community which expresses interest, enthusiasm and participation." He goes on to offer a few suggestions on how to make the precious heritage of Salesian sanctity better known and appreciated, summarized here:
- Encourage prayers to our Servants of God, Venerables and Blesseds by distributing their holy cards and asking for the grace of a miracle through their intercession;
- Promote in print material and social media the biography, writings and other information about these holy men and women, including testimonies, graces, and favors received through their intercession; Organize study days, seminars, and special exhibits about these holy Salesians; and
- Spread the praying of a novena to a holy Salesian, invoking his/her intercession in specific cases of physical, material, pastoral or spiritual needs.
When we consider the diversity of our province, we acknowledge the great opportunity and feel motivated to promote the causes of our holy Salesians. For example, the Polish communities can feel particularly connected to Bl. Joseph Kowalski and the young men martyred in the concentration camp of Poznan. The Brazilians can feel a special connection with Servants of God Rodolfo Lunkenbein and Simão Bororo. In line with Amoris Laetitia, we can all pray to Mamma Margaret or Bl. Laura Vicuña for greater respect of the sanctity of family life. The Volunteers of Don Bosco should pray to Bl. Philip Rinaldi, and the Cooperators to Bl. Alexandrina da Costa or other Cooperators whose cause is in process.
The promotion of the causes of the Salesian holy men and women is a way to honor God, the true Holy One. The numerous saints in the Salesian calendar for May help us recognize that fidelity to the Salesian charism is an authentic path to holiness. We acknowledge how these believers have lived the Gospel with radical love and heroic virtue, and we are challenged to greater fidelity in our own vocation. May Mary, the Help of Christians, Queen of all Saints, be our teacher and guide.
Fr. Tim Zak