Joseph Boenzi – “Paolo Albera presenting the teachings of Saint Francis de Sales to young Salesians in formation” in “La parola e la storia: uno sguardo Salesiano. Studi in onore del prof. Morand Wirth”

Explicit references to the life and teachings of Saint Francis de Sales figure greatly into Don Albera’s retreat instructions during the eighteen years he served as Catechist General (1892-1910). Although Don Albera quoted other writers more extensively, he developed a number of “Salesian” themes typical to the spiritual teachings of the gentle Bishop of Geneva. He complemented patron’s teaching with ideas that he derived from the founder, that is, from Saint John Bosco.

In this paper we briefly examine some of the essential elements of spirituality and religious life as Don Albera mined them from the writings and teachings of his patron and founder. From Francis de Sales he pulled the words “devotion” and “sweetness.” From John Bosco he pulled the text of the Salesian Constitutions and the founder’s concern that his sons faithfully observe its directives. How Don Albera integrated the teachings and examples of his spiritual mentors with his own experience was perhaps the most impressive gift he had to share with his confreres.



1. Devotion as Sweetness

  1.1. “Sweetness” Applied to Action

  1.2. Learning “Sweetness” from Experience

  1.3. “Sweetness” as Strength

  1.4. “Sweetness” is God’s Gift to the Faithful

  1.5. The Bosco Dimension

  1.6. The Jesus Dimension

2. Devotion as a Faith Response

  2.1. “Devotions” as a Means to Inculcate “Devotion”

  2.2. Devotion as the Ideal of Religious Life

  2.3. Holiness Consists in Doing God’s Will

  2.4. The Call to Holiness Comes from God

3. The Rule

  3.1. Don Bosco’s Spirit and the Constitutions

  3.2. Monastic Ingredients in a Recipe for Active Life

  3.3. The Rule: The Book of Life

  3.4. The Rule and the Word of God

4. Religious Life as a Lifestyle

  4.1. Religious Life as a Sacrifice

  4.2. Radical Basis of Religious Life

  4.3. Spirituality of Daily Life

5. Religious Observance

  5.1. Observance and Community Bonding

  5.2. Observance and Perfection

  5.3. Observance and Filial Devotion to the Founder

  5.4. Salesian Characteristics in Don Bosco’s Sons

  5.5. Observance as Family Loyalty

  5.6. Living the Founder’s Spirit

6. Conclusion: Articulating the Salesian Spirit


Reference time period: 1892 – 1910

J. Boenzi, Paolo Albera presenting the teachings of Saint Francis de Sales to young Salesians in formation, in La Parola e la Storia: uno sguardo Salesiano. Studi in onore del prof. Morand Wirth, a cura di Aldo Giraudo, Roma, LAS 2017, pp. 410-454.

Reference institution:
Centro Studi Don Bosco
Centro Studi Don Bosco

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