Don Bosco’s Circular letters to the Salesians and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians are small masterpieces of spirituality. The Saint expresses in them a vigorous view of consecrated life: by the vows we give ourselves completely to the Lord, ready to follow him through tribulations until death, courageously facing up to fatigue and difficulty in order to win souls for God. Seen this way the Salesian and the Salesian Sister are encouraged to remain firm in their vocation; to flee worldly spirit; to practise obedience and poverty magnanimously; to cultivate union with God and confidence in their Superiors; to know how to put up with all kinds of inconvenience serenely to “save souls”; to faithfully observe the rules.
Here we include just a selection of circulars which more explicitly show evidence of themes on spiritual life.
Particularly expressive is the letter to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of 24 May 1886 (no. 237), in which Don Bosco writes: “I have asked for the grace that you always be kept faithful to your holy vocation, that you be religious who love perfection and holiness; that by practising Christian and religious virtues, and edifying and exemplary life you may honour Jesus Christ your heavenly Spouse, and honour Mary your most loving Mother”. Then he lists the qualities of the Salesian Sister: exact obedience, mastery of her own shortcomings, heart turned to God alone; no regrets about the world’s goods, joy in practising poverty and enduring hardships, to “follow Jesus Christ who humbled himself on earth, was crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross, so you can then be with him, exalted in heaven, clothed in glory amidst the splendour of the angels and saints”; of good physique, good-natured, a “truly cheerful spirit”; desiring to become holy through ordinary works of good example and encouragement to the young; desiring to “become adept instruments of God’s glory by carrying out the tasks and fulfilling the occupations that are proper to the institute.”
Reference time period: 1867 – 1886
Salesian Historical Institute, Salesian Sources 1: Don Bosco and his work. Collected Works, LAS – Kristu Jyoti, Rome – Bangalore, 2017, 935-960.
Istituto Storico Salesiano