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This year i spent the last day of May at Loreto, in the national shrine of Our Lady, built on the transfered house of Nazaret some 700 years ago.
Loreto is a small town of 12.000 population, five parishes, 14 religious congregations and also one salesian retreat house. What surprise to see pilgrims from many European countries, also families with children on the weekday in the Basilica!
Cammino di fede! Path - Journey of Faith!
Actually we are here together 6 councilors for our 2012 annual spiritual retreat together with one Salesian historian, who offers meditations based on Don Bosco's inspiration for the future. For sure, the radical way of living the Gospel is the only way to the future. I am very grateful also for the daily evening sharing of our prayer and reflections. A passionate and deep insight in our daily life and work is really inspiring. Six days at Loreto, living only some 1000 meters from the Marian Shring is a wonderful grace.
Yesterday, on the 31st of May was just one meditation and until the evening followed a DAY OF THE DESERT. It means, everybody is free to go for some 8 hours to walk, to pray out of the box, out of the retreat house compound to listen...
After walking in the outskirts of Loreto i was almost drugged by some inner instict to spent more time in the 'CASA' - in the House of Mary which is at the center of the Shrine. The stones were brought in 1294 from Holy Land and re-assembled at Loreto. For past seven centuries millions of pilgrims from all of Europe came here to meet Jesus Christ through his Mother.
I spent some four hours at the floor of the small house. After lunch were not many people around. But what struck me most,is the presence of many young couples, of young families with children. I can't forget one young father who was whispering to his son ears about Mary. A true catechesis made in the family, in front or our Lady...
And I verified again, that Philip Jenkins in his book 'God's Continent' is right! Amidst of the old but fast securalized Europe one of the faith pointers are the Shrines of Mary. From Fatima to Medjugorle, there are every year some 80 - 100 millions faithful who come to pray, give thanks and strenghten their faith! One of the few realities not easy to understand! Really the Mother of the Church is always present and helps her children to keep their faith.
I would wish to see more Salesians walking with the youth as pilgrims.
It is for sure one of the roads of Project Europe for us. I still can not forget the sharing of a youth ministry delegate in Krakow, Poland - who pointed that during many summer activities, the most numerous number of youth is participating in the pilgrimages. But unfortunately there are only few Salesians walking for one week with them.
Let's walk towards Jesus, with Mary and the youth!Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church,
thank you very much for this Loreto faith experience
and your graces!
Come of Holy Spirit, into the hearts of European Salesians and lead them to meet the youth in their ways, also in the pilgrimage!