Becoming a Salesian Saint
St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello founded our Sisters with devotion to St. Francis de Sales as the driving force of their spirituality. In St. John Bosco, St. Mary Mazzarello found a kindred spirit, and when Don Bosco came to Mornese, her home town, she said, "Don Bosco is a saint...I know it!" She recognized saintliness in a priest who spent as much time playing as praying.
Both St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello had deep devotion to Mary Help of Christians, and love for Mary is one of the elements of Salesian spirituality. From the age of nine, St. John Bosco had dreams of Our Lady, in which she directed his life and his future. At the end of his life, St. John Bosco affirmed, "I have done nothing by myself. It is the Virgin Mary who has done everything." Still today, all the work of the Salesian family is accomplished with the powerful intercession of Our Lady Help of Christians, who remains our principal patroness.
In the mind of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of the Salesian family, holiness was everyone's vocation, and not limited to priests and Sisters. He knew holiness is attainable by everyone, regardless of their station in life. He believed that the things of every day - work, joy, sacrifice, sadness, play, and all aspects of human life and daily struggle were meant to bring us closer to God. This is why Don Bosco's sons and daughters throughout the world are known as "Salesians" instead of "Bosconians" or "Mazzarellians"!
Knowing that holiness was for everyone, St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello encouraged the Salesians and the young people they work with to become saints by living simple virtues. In fact, Don Bosco said, "build solid holiness by practicing small acts of virtue." He discouraged his spiritual children from prolonged prayers or unusual acts of penance. He taught that small acts of virtue can be practiced by men and women in all walks of life.
Salesian spirituality is attractive, and like Christianity, has charity at its core. Christ the Good Shepherd is our model, and as He looks after and tends the lost sheep with great kindness, every Salesian Sister is called to do the same, looking after the young people who are most in need. Love, kindness and generosity are the fundamentals of Salesian holiness. In a practical way, Salesians look to meet the human needs of others, offering love, service, and prayer in an atmosphere of happiness and optimism.
Doing things in joy is critical to becoming a Salesian saint and joy was present in Don Bosco's life from his youth. In fact, as a boy, little John Bosco began the "Society of Happiness." Even as a young boy, he realized that holiness and happiness go together! When he became a priest, he told St. Dominic Savio, who later repeated these words, "here we make holiness consist in always being cheerful," and Mother Mazzarello said, "Happiness is the sign of a heart that loves the Lord very much." Salesians today are still often recognized for their smile, for their laughter, and for the fun that goes on when they are around.
For the Sisters, belonging to the community gives us great joy. Our communities are like our family, and being part of a family is how God made us; we love having Sisters for support. In community, we become channels of God's love for one another and for the young. The community is also a place of welcome, where others are accepted and encouraged to grow in holiness!