Dare, Timor Leste, 14 November 2020 -- On the two remaining days of our annual retreat, the preacher leads us to delve into our personal and communal vocation where Christ himself is the model of our consecration, the importance of prayer in our life and mission, the reality of sin, our needs of God’s mercy and the call to a continuous conversion.
As stated by our Constitutions, three key elements of the Salesian vocation are brotherly love, apostolic mission and Evangelical counsels. These are the bonds of unity indicated by our Founder in the Rule he himself wrote.
Another important aspect in our Salesian vocation is prayer. If the question was even raised about Don Bosco himself as to whether he prayed during his lifetime, how much more is it a question for us nowadays. It is maybe because some of us have become more work-alcoholics, falling into activism and losing the depth-dimension of our lives. Some of us may find an excuse to justify it, or in Fr. Eunan McDonnell, sdb's words, “an escape clause for Salesians, quite often, is my work is my prayer”. If we don’t set aside some time for prayer, we will never be able to pray all the time as Jesus commands us to do. For in this regard, as indicated by GC 26 no. 20, each Salesian is recommended to “ask God each day for the grace of unity between contemplation and apostolic activity and commit himself to realizing it, thus avoiding the risk of fragmented and superficial activity.” When we do not skip prayer at any moment in our lives, we may become just like what Don Bosco defined as “union with God” (C. 12). Blessed Phillip Rinaldi, the third successor of Don Bosco added “Not many practices of piety in common, but the exercise of union with God in the fullness of the active life which is distinction and the glory of the sons of God”. As the usual practice during the annual retreat, we have a chance to visit Santa Cruz cemetery where our two deceased confreres are buried, Fr. Joaquim Marques Marvão, sdb and Brother Joaquim Pinto, sdb. Both are Portuguese missionaries who joined the return of the Salesians to Timor Leste way back in 1946.
On the last day of our retreat, TLS Provincial Vicar, Fr. Manny Pinto, sdb presided at the Eucharist and the renewal of vows of the confreres. In the name of the provincial superior, he thanks the preacher for facilitating the retreat and the confreres for creating a good ambience during the retreat. He encourages the confreres to go down of Tabor to Galilee, from the retreat house to the real life of the community and pastoral activities with an interior change. He is exemplifying the life of Our Lady as the model par excellence for our consecration, mission and commitment. Our Lady’s consecration starts from her “yes” or fiat until her assumption and even nowadays with her apparitions around the world, she continues to remind and to proclaim God’s will to each and every Christian. She does not offer herself only to give birth to Jesus, but with her whole life and total commitment for God’s will. He quoted the words of Don Viganò, the seventh successor of Don Bosco, in line with the perspective of Vatican Council II which says that our consecration has two characteristic namely God’s work and it is all embracing. It is God who consecrates us through our yes, total commitment to God’s will and all-embracing our lives. The retreat, for him and for all of us, may become a great opportunity to renew ourselves, most especially our consecrated life offered to God with whole life and total commitment.