World, 3 December 2020 -- Next Saturday, 5 December, the whole Salesian Family remembers the liturgical memory of Blessed Philip Rinaldi (1856-1931), the third successor of Don Bosco, one of the most genial sons of Don Bosco. Among the 32 groups of the Salesian Family, it is probably the VDB (Volunteers of Don Bosco) who treasure their founder and spiritual father with utmost devotion. Fr Rinaldi personally guided the first group of the VDB, born in the Valdocco FMA Oratory first as 'Zelatrici of Mary Help of Christians' who later took the name of 'Don Bosco Volunteers.
The almost prodigious heritage of Fr Rinaldi is not easy to grasp, since he was involved with a rather low-key profile in a large variety of Salesian charismatic enterprises since his first profession in 1880 until his death as the Rector Major in 1931:
Vocations: as a young priest he was in charge of 'late vocations' (Sons of Mary) since 1882, and as Rector Major he launched the network of missionary aspirantates (first in 1922 - Ivrea, Italy ) and strongly supported the Salesian Brothers vocation. During his Rectorate (1921-1931) the number of professed Salesians after the horrors of the First World War increased a lot: from 4638 SDB and 437 novices (1921) to 8059 SDB and 895 novices (1931).
Missionary zeal: thanks to the missionary aspirantates and accepting many missionary territories from the Holy See, as Rector Major he sent almost 2000 missionaries ad gentes! The 61st Salesan missionary expedition in 1929 was the most numerous in our history - 374 SDB and 103 FMA were sent at once on the Beatification year occasion to the missions from the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians!
Salesian Family growth: Aside from the VDB secular institute foundation, since his period in Spain (1889-1901) he promoted strong devotion to Mary Help of Christians, also through the ADMA (Association of Devotees of Mary Help of Christians), he consolidated the structure of the Salesian Cooperators and Past Pupils (both Alumni of Don Bosco and of Mary Help of Christians) with their International Confederations and International Congresses in 1920 (three in one year).
Spiritual guide: Even as Rector Major he was involved in the spiritual guidance of many, dedicated a large time to confessions. His care about interior life of the Salesians and SF members made possible all the great vocation and missionary movement. Thanks to the VDB-CDB Central Assistant Circular - 'Salesian Consecrated Secular Life no.12', December 2020: https://www.bosco.link/side_right/59682 we can share for his Feast day some of his 'Thoughts':
- In recollection, in interior silence, the voice of God is heard, and the consecrated soul is formed.
- Do all possible good, according to the spirit of Don Bosco.
- Take care of the interior life; have a good spirit, without getting worried or worrying about success.
- Love the Lord and, in the love of the Lord, love your neighbour. It is the true carrying out of consecrated life.
- A deeply humble and meek person willingly gives self to others, sacrifices generously, loves Our Lord more perfectly.
- When we obey the arrangements that God has made for us, day by day, we do God's Will.
- Life is to work. The one who lives works; when one does nothing, one dies.
- Stay united together in the same spirit, and you will understand each other more easily.
- Kindness and Gentleness in looks, in the dealings, in words: conquer everyone with goodness.
- Jesus shed all his blood in obedience to the Father, and to save humanity. Jesus, our model, was obedient to the point of death, and death on the cross.
- We must not expect to do extraordinary things in matters of the spirit. Be simple like children.
- Piety is like food, and it is the first thing that is given to the creature. It is the food of Christian life, therefore we must not stop feeding it, so that the spiritual life does not fail in us.
- The essence of true piety is, Holy Communion, good works and, better still, the imitation of the one we want to honour: Mary Most Holy.
"You do not have a habit, but you must have a religious spirit, because the Lord looks at the heart and not at the exterior."
Happy Feastday of Blessed Philip Rinaldi!