By Bro. John Rasor, SDB
(Don Bosco Tech, Rosemead) – What are Salesian brothers? How do they fit into the whole Salesian picture? That is the question I’ll try to answer in this series of little articles. Let me say right away that Salesian brothers, priests, Cooperators, alumni, and all the rest of the Salesian Family are there because God loves youth. We have no other reason to exist, and if we ever stop leading youth to God, He will find other people who do.
Brothers and Priests Together (Article 45)
Article 45 of our Constitutions does a good job of answering that question I just wrote about. It starts with our mission, our leading youth to God: “Each of us is responsible for the common mission, and participates in it with the richness of his own personal gifts and with the lay and priestly characteristics of the on Salesian vocation.” So, there is a lay way to lead youth to God, and a priestly way. Salesian brothers take the lay way.
How does that work? The next paragraph of Article 45 says it well: “The Salesian brother brings to every field of education and pastoral activity the specific qualities of his lay status, which make him in a particular way a witness to God’s Kingdom in the world, close as he is to the young and to the realities of working life.” Note how we brothers are connected with the world, with pointing out God’s Kingdom struggling to be born there. We make God’s Kingdom visible there. The Article follows with a similar paragraph for Salesian priests.
Then it talks about the Salesian community: “The significant and complementary presence of clerical and lay Salesians in the community constitutes an essential element of its make up and of its apostolic completeness.” This means the Salesian community, by its very nature, must have a lay and a priestly way of being apostles on mission to youth. Just being that kind of community is itself an outreach to youth.
Mission, Community, Consecration (Article 3)
That’s a lot about mission, community, and witnessing. Article 3 of our Constitutions lays groundwork for uniting those ideas. “Through our religious profession we offer ourselves to God in order to follow Christ and work with him in building up the Kingdom. Our apostolic mission, our fraternal community and the practice of the evangelical counsels are the inseparable elements of our consecration which we live in a single movement of love towards God and towards our brothers.” In other words, God calls us to follow Christ in a visibly radical way of life, and sends our community on a mission of love to young people. The community, having a lay element, can push the world of the young towards that Kingdom the community announces and celebrates with its priestly element.
This will stop happening if we don’t get vocations. We have to be ready to tell young people what Salesian brothers are, in terms much simpler than that theological stuff above.
For Personal or Group Reflection:
For reflection, think about how you would explain the Salesian brother’s vocation to a youngster. Something like “We brothers live together with priests like a family. We make the Gospel work in the shop or playground or wherever, while the priests help us announce and celebrate that Gospel. We make that our whole life, like Don Bosco did.”