(ANS – Panjim) – A solemn Eucharist and at the same time a moment of great spirituality and fraternity between the Rector Major, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, and the members of the Provincial Councils of the South Asia Region, as part of the Spiritual Exercises that began for all of them yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, September 7: is the one that the 10th Successor of Don Bosco presided over at noon today (UTC+5:30 a.m.) at the Basilica of the Good Jesus (Bom Jesus) – a World Heritage Site – in Old Goa, where the mortal remains of the Patron of the Missions St. Francis Xavier rest.
“We truly have an extraordinary opportunity of grace at the beginning of our Spiritual Exercises: we are not here as tourists, attracted by a historical fact, but to look together into the depths of the First Evangelization of this land. Today we bring here, to this place, all the missionary nature of our presence in South Asia,” said the Rector Major at the opening of the celebration.
Later, in his homily, Fr. Á.F. Artime traced a single thread linking the figure of Mary, whose Feast of the Nativity falls today, with that of St. Francis Xavier and that of Don Bosco. “We can say that the spiritual depth of several people changed the lives of many others,” he summarized in a single sentence.
Of Mary, the Rector Major emphasized “the depth of heart, able to say ‘yes’ to God’s superhuman proposal.”
Referring to St. Francis Xavier, “a young missionary from a young congregation,” the Rector Major recalled the humble origins of the Society of Jesus, which was born from some young university students in Paris and the experience of a Spanish soldier, Ignatius of Loyola, united by the desire to find new ways of living and spreading the Gospel.
“What was the passion of this noble Spaniard’s heart to do something so crazy as to go so far, even to death?” And he added another reflection, thinking about the five centuries of the Society’s life: “When something comes from God, it lasts a long time; when it is a human project, it soon decays.”
Finally, the Rector Major outlined the figure of Don Bosco “another great missionary, although he never went to mission places.” “How much passion Don Bosco had for dreaming of a Congregation for the salvation of boys!” the Rector Major recalled, going on to cite Don Bosco’s desire to leave for the missions and the fact that already 15 years after the founding of the Congregation he sent Salesians to Argentina.
“If we are all present here today it is because Don Bosco had a great missionary heart,” he significantly added, before concluding with an appeal for all present: “Let us all ask God for a heart filled with passion for the mission there where we are.”
At the end of the celebration, the Rector of the Basilica, Fr. Patricio Fernandes, SJ, took the floor and sent a message of greeting to all present, explained the history, beauty and messages contained in the works of the basilica, and emphasized the common commitment as religious for evangelization.