I remember reading in the Rosmini Letters a wise and serious letter that that philosopher and holy Founder wrote to his Religious who had been sent to do good works in England. As an able, pious and gifted man he wrote to his people to make themselves become perfect Englishmen, for the love of Jesus Christ. And he implored them to assume the manners, dress and language, and the actions, of the English, their ways and customs; and to do everything to attract souls, that is in visceribus Christi! [into the bosom of Christ]
In all that is not obviously wrong, wrote Rosmini, ‘accept and adopt, rather than create disagreements or placing yourself in positions where you are no longer able to all the good that you could do. Every people have its customs which are good in their own eyes, he added, and in everything that is obviously and clearly not sinful, become English’.
And did not the saints, the great saints, Cyril and Methodius, become Slavs, even in the Liturgy, in order to convert the Slavs? And recalled to Rome to defend themselves, they came with the humility of saints, and the Pope approved and blessed what they had done, and Rome welcomed them in triumph. Then the Vicar of Jesus Christ proclaimed them Saints, and gave them for their tomb one of the most venerated Basilicas in Rome, St. Clement’s.
Don Bosco was in the habit of saying: ‘Let us enter with theirs, in order to leave with ours’; that is, let us adopt their systems wherever possible in order to save their souls. St. Paul came to write that he would have loved to be anathematised, that is excommunicated, purely to save souls.
|Fr. Orlando and Fr. Facundo wearing Filipino Costumes|
And I tell you, my dear sons: if you are in Venice and wish to do good, become Venetians as much as possible, insofar as it is done for the love of Jesus Christ; and be Venetians, the better to educate and save Venetian orphans. Or rather, when the opportunity arises, praise Venice which really deserves to be, and always was Catholic, even in the time of Paolo Sarpi, and was the main defender of the Faith of Italy against the heresy of Luther. And you will see that you will do good. In Piedmont be Piedmontese, in Rome Romans, in Sicily Sicilians. In the years when I was in Messina I learned, or tried at once to learn, the language and the usage of the Messinese, and in Messina I used to wear the long Sicilian cloak.
We cannot be perfect in charity, unless we rid ourselves of the prejudices and the egoism of our own regions.
We love our country of birth. and how! But the whole world is homeland to the Son of Divine Providence, whose homeland is Heaven. And so let us go on, slowly; let us be prudent in our comparisons, our enthusiasm and in our judgments, and with any word that might alienate the respect of young people, families, administrators or the public.
We must never get completely involved in [political] parties, and so must not dabble in politics. Our policy must consist in bringing the poor young people and souls to God and to the Church. We are Italians and feel that we love this country of ours with a gentle, strong and holy love. Let us pray for it: let us labor to do good to its littlest, weakest and most neglected children. Let us teach our young people to respect, love and obey the civil and political authorities, as well as those religious ones.
We are ready to give our lives for our homeland. And, in fact, we are already sacrificing our whole lives to give Italy worthy and honorable sons.
But let us also love our Holy Mother the Church, the Church of Rome, and our Pope, with a much higher kind of love, a gentler, more filial, holier and divine love. This is because the Church is the real Mother of our Faith and of our souls, of that part of us which is most alive, most spiritual and eternal; and because the Pope is the Pope is the Vicar of Jesus Christ, our God and Redeemer, and the ‘sweet Christ on earth’ as St. Catherine of Siena called him; he is our sure guide, our infallible Teacher, our true Father and is the first and great Italian.
But we do not engage in politics: our
policy is the great and divine charity that does good to all. We only regard
others as souls to save. So that, if we must show any preference, we will show it to those who seem to us to be most in
need of God, since Jesus came more for sinners than for the just.
|Sr. Rosa taking care of some patients in Dalahican|
Souls and souls! This is our whole life; it is our cry, our program, our whole soul and our whole heart: Souls and souls!
But, in order to be more successful in saving souls, we must, however, know how to adopt certain methods, and not become fossilized in forms, if the forms are no longer suitable, or if they are becoming or have become antiquated or useless...
Let us christianize life; let us christianize the souls of the orphans and the youth entrusted to us: this is what God and the Church asks of us. And let us use every skill, every acceptable and suitable art to reach this goal.
Whenever we arrive in a town or at a
House, let us beware of making changes, because we run the risk of ruining
rather than adjusting, of losing ourselves in foolish enterprises; and then,
through the foolish ambition of changing things, offending those who were there before us,
and, worse still, losing souls, over superficial things. Watch
out for these dangers! Also, let us respect those forms and usages which might
seem to us to be a bit secular. Let us adopt them, if need be, without
scruples, without being narrow-minded; we must save the essence! That is everything.
|Mr. Taranco visiting a Dalahican Family|
The times are moving quickly and have somewhat changed; and in all that does not affect doctrine, Christian life or the Church we must move and walk at the head of the times and the peoples, and not at the tail, lagging behind.
In order to be able to draw and bring the people and youth to the Church and to Christ we must walk at the head. Then we will remove the abyss which is opening up between the people and God, and between the people and the Church.
Work, work, work! We are sons of the Faith and of work. And we must love being apostles of work and of the Faith. We must always run in order to work, and to work always harder. At Reggio Calabria we are called ‘the running priests’. Watch your health, but always work zealously and enthusiastically for the cause of God, of the Church and of souls.
Look to Heaven, pray, and then...go on courageously and work! ‘Ave Maria and onwards’ that holy and seraphic Friar, Father Ludovic of Casoria, used to say to Bartolo Longo. Always onwards, my sons in the Lord, always onwards! Onwards with Our Lady. ‘Ave Maria and onwards’. Onwards in the Lord.