By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis has contributed a preface to a book of reflections on the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium.
Reading Evangelii gaudium in the spirit of St John Bosco
The book, Evangelii gaudium con Don Bosco, is a collection of essays by members of the Salesian Order, which was founded by St John Bosco. It offers the complete text of the Exhortation, with contributors’ point-by-point analysis of the text, as well as testimonies based on lived experiences in different educational environments.
In his preface, Pope Francis tells the Salesians that they are lucky to have a founder who had a face that reflected the joy of Easter Sunday, rather than the sorrow of Good Friday. St John Bosco, he said, “was always joyful, welcoming, despite the thousands of labours and difficulties that besieged him every day.”
A revolutionary message
The Holy Father described Don Bosco’s message as “revolutionary” at a time when many priests were living lives “detached” from the people. He was able to bring “the joy and care of the true educator” to all the boys he saved from the streets of 19th century Turin.
Pope Francis reflected on his own experience at a Salesian school as a young boy, where, he said, he found that same “climate of joy and family.” The Salesians, he said, trained him to appreciate beauty, work, and cheerfulness – and this, he says, “is your vocation.”
The "white loves" of Don Bosco
The Pope also recommended to Salesians the three “white loves” of their founder: love of Mary, love of the Eucharist, and love of the Pope. And he encouraged them to be “concrete,” like Don Bosco – a good Salesian, he said, “knows how to look around, sees critical situations and problems, faces them, analyses them, and makes courageous decisions.”
He explained that young people must be “brought to this good news,” that Christ is truly risen. In doing so, the Pope said, a Salesian becomes “a witness to the Gospel, the Good News, which in its simplicity must confront the complex culture of each country.”
Pope Francis concluded by saying he is convinced “that reading these pages will do good to all the sons and daughters of Don Bosco spread throughout the world, and to all those who share the Salesian educational charism.”