Fr Anthony Tran Duc Dau (VIE)
Salesians received the treasure of Marian devotion from our Founder, Don Bosco and our early Salesians. The Marian month of October invites each Salesian to revive his own faithfulness, increase his love - to foster his devotion and trust in Mary, our beloved Mother. Some humble thoughts on Mary may help us imitate her, improve our filial love for her and our fidelity to her teachings.
Mary, the Virgin attentive - Virgo audiens - when the Archangel Gabriel announced the will of God, listened in prayer and obeyed with these humble words: "I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said" (Lk 1: 38). Further, she attentively listened and treasured in her heart the words of Simeon prophesizing the future of her child (Lk 2: 33), the messages of the angels at the birth of her Child Jesus (Lk 2: 19) the words of her Son, after three days of searching (Lk 2: 51). Her whole life is devoted to listening to and realizing at any cost the word of God.
The Salesian, looking forward to Mary, imitates her in listening and living out the will of God through daily reading the word of God. The Salesian, based on the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI and our Rector Major, needs to listen to the word of God. Only His word can be the light and the help to the Salesian in his daily labor. As the word of God helped Mary to find out and live out the will of God, it will help us to to find God's will in our vocation and mission.
Mary, the Virgin in prayer - Virgo orans - She is the model of the prayer of the church. According to the teachings of the Fathers, she was praying when the archangel came to her, she prayed on the journey to her cousin Elizabeth and she prayed when she dialogued with her. The Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55), comes from the depths of her prayerful being, it presents her strong faith in God. St Augustine said that she conceives Jesus in her faith before conceiving him in her womb. It is her prayer which enables her to endure all kinds of thorns in her life for the sake of our salvation, especially her great "thorn" when she witnesses the agony of her son on the cross. Then, after her Son's ascension, she prays and leads the group of eleven to pray while waiting the descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14).
For the Salesian - prayer is as important to us as is water for a fish. Don Bosco told his children and the Salesians too, that prayer brings us God's graces: more prayer more graces, less prayer less graces, without prayer without graces. Without prayer, the Salesian cannot draw spiritual support from heaven and overcome his daily difficulties, temptations and challenges which hinder him from religious perseverance. Jesus did warn us that without him we can do nothing. Prayer should be our breath and our strength. Let us look to Mary to learn and imitate her praying because she is most faithful disciple of Jesus in this prayer lesson.
Mary, Virgin Mother - Virgo pariens - Our dogma teaches that God lavishes special graces on Mary: Immaculate conception, mother of God, virginity in giving birth, and the assumption of body and soul. All these graces help her to fulfill her virginal motherhood - giving birth to the Son of God. In the agony on the Cross, Jesus does not want his mother to be alone without a son and his disciple John alone without a master, so he gives John to Mary and Mary to John (cf.Jn 19: 26-27). From that moment, Mary continually cooperates with the Holy Spirit to give birth to thousands of new children to God through her presence in the beginning of the Church. Therefore, she was officially called the Mother of the Church by Paul VI.
The Salesian who, by being chaste and celibate for the kingdom of God, is sterile in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes God he is fertile, it means that, he can give spiritual birth to thousands of children to God, to Mary and to the Church. It means that, like Mary who gave Jesus to the world, the Salesian should give birth to Jesus in the hearts of the young through his pastoral charity. This pastoral charity is the kernel of the mission of Jesus, Mary and the Salesian. This kind of charity, through the action of the Holy Spirit, demands that the Salesian be physically present among the young in order that Jesus can be born in their hearts.
Mary- the Virgin offering - Virgo offerens - After accepting the invitation to be the mother of Jesus, she offers herself totally to God as His handmaid and His instrument. Her total self offering is not realized only at the moment of the annunciation through her "fiat" (cf. Lk 1: 38), but it is continually repeated at any moment of her life- a life completely living out the will of God at any cost. In her motherhood, she offers Jesus to the Father in the temple (cf. Lk 2: 22-35) The summit of her offering is her standing at the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25). There she becomes the intimate collaborator with her dearest Son in his immolation offering. Therefore, she ultimately completes her offering as her total surrender to the will of God.
For us Salesians, our vows mean our "fiat" and our total offering to God in imitating the "fiat" and the offering of the Virgin Mary. Mary who, offers His unique Son to God in the temple (cf. Lk 2:22-23) predicts her total offering when she stands at the foot of Jesus' cross (cf. Jn 19: 25). We Salesians, following her example, offer ourselves to God as a holocaust, then we can offer Him those who are entrusted to us.
Mary is truly our model of the consecrated life in four dimensions: listening to the word of God, union with God in prayer, bearing God to the young, and total self offering to God through commitment to the mission. To be true Salesians, we need to entrust ourselves to her, look up to her and imitate her, then she will lead us to Jesus, our life’s goal.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us