Xavier de Verchère

For this year 2023, the Strenna is entitled: Like Levain in the human family today.

It develops the Salesian intuition of the commitment of the laity of the Salesian family in the Church and in society. He specifies: the first committed are the young people themselves, called to become “salt of the earth and light of the world”. How ? By becoming “leaven”. Beautiful biblical image that is this leaven. Image of growth and fruitfulness which perfectly suits the lived Salesian charism through young people. Whatever their weaknesses or difficulties, each young person, each adolescent helped by their educators, has a mission to accomplish on earth. “He is a mission” similar to leaven as Jesus was: the living ingredient that uplifts the world and transforms it from within.

The young people who are connected with our family know that we have a positive, rooted relationship, open to today’s world. Even if we are in more than ¾ of the countries of the globe, we remain a small number, and this, with regard to all humanity! This should not discourage us, the Strenna tells us: the mission of being leaven has only just begun. It reminds me of this quote from John XXIII: “What counts is the man, each man, even all of humanity.”

This mission begins with an “I” and it becomes a “we”, spreading like the fermentation of bread when the leaven is in contact with the flour. This fermentation is the sanctification of the world. Sanctifying the world does not mean withdrawing from the worldly dough. This would form lumps, small masses or small coagulated communities that are useless! Yes, it takes time, a living spirituality and responsibilities to shape human history so that justice, peace, God’s love transform it and make it grow. Holiness is a journey, an unnoticed process that begins deep in the hearts of young people. It continues and unfolds through them and will affect other young people in their class, in their movement, in their neighborhood. It is essential, because our humanity needs God, recalls Fr. Ángel again.

Many young people in the Salesian family were authentic saints and true apostles in the midst of human beings. We know Dominique Savio, Laura Vicuna, Zeffirino Namuncura well. Finally, Fr. Angel quotes this more recent pupil, from a school of Don Bosco in Pakistan, Akash Bashir, whose beatification process is in progress. On March 15, 2015, Akash sacrificed himself to prevent a massacre by a suicide bomber at St John’s Church in Youhannabad.

“What the soul is in the body, Christians are in the world” says the letter to Diognetus. To be a Christian is to be that leaven of holiness which makes human life grow in faith and charity. With Don Bosco and St Francis de Sales, the Church has the spiritual resources to rediscover the breath essential to her mission: the universal call to holiness, the complementarity of vocations, the responsibility shared between young people and adults. This dynamic is irreversible in the Salesian family. This is what we have to live and bear witness to.

Xavier de Verchère – To be like leaven in the human family | RCF