In order to fulfil her mission, the daughter of Mary Help of Christians must possess the religious perfection defined by the life, examples and writings of the Father and Founder. For he is the infallible model and master of our perfection.
The elevation of our Father and Founder Don Bosco to the honour of the altars,1 which aroused unspeakable universal enthusiasm and total confidence in his power of intercession, has heightened in my heart the already lively desire to see the good Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who are also his daughters, make great progress in religious perfection.
Since our Blessed was already proposed to us as an incomparable model and master at the beginning of this year which will soon be drawing to a close, now with even more reason will this sentiment endure forever in our hearts. […]
Keep this captivating model constantly in mind
First the anxious expectation; then the triumphal and unsurpassed commemorations; later the growing devotion to the new Blessed which soon became almost universal by the great outpouring of graces and favours, expressed in the ex-votos, in the hundreds of candles continually lit before the urn of the relics in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, and in the unceasing requests for prayers to obtain graces or to give thanks for the graces received. I am sure that for every daughter of Mary Help of Christians all of this made virtually alive and palpable the immense gift we received during this year which is now almost over.
It is impossible for a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians not to keep this captivating model of educator and teacher of religious life habitually in mind. Under the halo of Blessedness, he shines with all the virtues proper to this mission, because in order to fulfil her vocation the Daughter of Mary Help of Christians must possess the religious perfection defined by her Founder. This is outlined in the rules and in the manual of piety, but is found above all in his life, his examples and his writings.
I ask you therefore, Rev. Mother, to urge every daughter of Mary Help of Christians to draw from this source the life-breath of her own perfection, that is, the charism of the Institute, which cannot be found elsewhere, not even in books which aim to lead the soul almost step by step along the path of holiness.
In these books, we can find general principles, but not the applications which are in keeping with the spirit of the Founder who, with greater authority now, repeats to his daughters: “I have given you the example to follow; in so doing you will certainly attain the perfection to which the Lord calls you.”
Oh, what a great thing it is to have in the Father and Founder of our Institute the infallible model and master of perfection!
Each one will become a gem of her own Institute
The supreme Magisterium of the Holy Church assures us of this; and his life – read, meditated upon and studied with loving dedication – will be for the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians the luminous mirror in which they will be able to see the progressive development of their perfection, based on charity and activity, like that of our Blessed Father.
It is up to you, Rev. Mother, to provide your Daughters with this mirror of perfection. How? By giving them, or at least facilitating their access to biographies of the Blessed, which are already very numerous; by giving them time to make a good daily reading, individually or, better still, together; by encouraging them to value in every way and at every opportunity the abundant teachings contained in them.
In this way, each daughter of Mary Help of Christians will become a gem of her own Institute, she will be the “saviour” of souls in the field of education and a perfect religious in the heroic practice of all the virtues that lead to holiness.
Seeing herself in this mirror, she will soon succeed in eliminating evil inclinations, personal criteria, and self-love – which flickers in a person’s every pore, and knows how to camouflage itself even under the appearances of zeal – along with shrewd self-seeking, which is more insidious, by silently revolving around one’s own “I”, devising every kind of justification for making one’s personal rights prevail.
She will succeed in overcoming all of this by finding abundant examples and norms in the Blessed’s life to fight effectively against these enemies through prayer, mortification and tireless labour for the good of souls, even to the complete immolation of herself. […]
Our perfection consists in uniting ourselves to God
But, above all, the daughter of Mary Help of Christians must learn from our Blessed Father’s life the path of continual ascent in religious perfection, that is, of union with God. For, in the final analysis, our perfection consists precisely in uniting ourselves to God and identifying ourselves with Him, unceasingly and with all our strength.
Now, union with God is nothing other than the fruit of love for God and those whom He loves – our neighbour – as our Blessed taught us with his characteristic simplicity and now teaches us all the more from the throne of his glory.
Let us not become lost in the complexities of so many incongruent methods and formulas, but turn instead to the simplicity of the Gospel. Let us decisively and without delay remove the obstacles that impede this union, which are sins and bad habits, and then begin to run along the path that has been mapped out for us, doing works of love and accepting the sacrifices inherent to our apostolic mission.
Like Don Bosco, we need to reach union with God by the shortest route and as quickly as possible, so as to be able to consecrate everything to the good of our neighbour, wherein lies the true proof of our love for God and union with Him.
Our Blessed fixed his gaze on the ultimate end of our perfection and seized upon it as a means, so to speak, to progress in perfection at every moment. He seems to say: “Since perfect union with God is the goal of our eternal happiness, let us begin this divine union right here, without wasting time, living solely in the presence of God, consecrating to Him all our aspirations, our words and our deeds in the apostolate with the souls He has entrusted to our care. Whatever we do, let it be done in union with God, without any consideration for ourselves or for creatures: all for God in the work of the salvation of souls!” ◊
Excerpts from: Letter to Superior General
of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, 21/9/1929.
In: DALCERRI FMA, L. Un maestro di vita interiore:
Dom Filippo Rinaldi. Roma: FMA, 1990, p.109-121
1 St. John Bosco was beatified by Pope Pius XI on 2/6/1929, a few months before this letter was written.