The present article is not concerned with the new constitutions. No comparative study will be attempted, nor any reference will be made to them. This would be carrying coal to Newcastle. I shall instead attempt simply to identify and briefly discuss some of the spiritual insights and principles for religious life and action which Don Bosco embodied in his constitutions.
To this end, I will first briefly describe the development of Don Bosco’s constitutions, as he laboriously worked and re-worked the text in response to critical observations by the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, over a period of some 15 years (Part I).
I will then try to identify and discuss Don Bosco’s chief proposals for the religious life and the apostolate of his Salesians (Part II).
This latter part of the work will require a fairly close examination of a number of foundational articles from key chapters of those early constitutions.
Part I. Brief History of the Textual Development of Don Bosco’s Constitutions
I. From the Earliest Extant Text to the Decree of Commendation (1858-1864): Stages 1-3
- 1. Stage 1: The Earliest Text of 1858
- 2. Stage 2: The Text of 1860
- 3. Stage 3: The Text of 1864
II. From The Decree of Commendation to the Approval of the Institute (1864-1869): Stage 4
- 1. Stage 4: The Text of 1867
III. From the Approval of the Institute to the [Definitive] Approval of the Constitutions (1869-1874): Stages 5 and 6
- 1. Stage 5
- 2. Stage 6: The Definitively Approved Text
- 3. Stages 7 and 8: Printed Latin and Italian Editions for Salesian Confreres
Conclusion to Part I
Part II. Spiritual Lineaments of Don Bosco’s Early Constitutions
I. The Purpose of the Salesian Society as an “Oratorian Congregation”
- 1. The Work of the Oratories and the Salesian Society
- 2. The Special Purpose of the Salesian Society as a Religious Congregation
- 3. The General Purpose of the Salesian Society as a Religious Congregation
II. Personal Sanctification Through the Work of Charity-in Imitation of Christ’s Pastoral Charity
- 1. Articles 1 and 2 of the Chapter On Purpose in Their Earliest Drafts of 1858 and 1860
- 2. The Rewriting of Article 1 of the Chapter on Purpose in 1864
III. Religious Consecration for the Exercise of Charity in Articles 1 and 2 of the Chapter on the Form of the Society
- 1. Article 1 of the Chapter on Form
- 2. Article 2 of the Chapter on Form: Civil Right[s]
IV. The Primacy of the Active Life: The Exercise of Pastoral Charity and the Prayer Life of the Salesian
- 1. Foundational Articles
- 2. Single Practices of Piety
Reference time period: 1858 – 1879
A. Lenti, Community and mission. Spiritual insights and salesian religious life in Don Bosco’s Constitutions, in «Journal of Salesian Sudies» 9 (1998) 1, 1-57.
Institute of Salesian Studies