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Don Bosco’s successor: Young people need gentleness and love to fulfill their dreams

Cardinal Ángel Fernández, 10th successor of St. Don Bosco. / Credit: ANS

ACI Prensa Staff, Jan 9, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, the 10th successor of Don Bosco as rector major of the Salesians, recently released a video message in which he encouraged fostering young people’s dreams but “not with blows,” just as Christ himself asked the saintly founder of the Salesians in a prophetic dream-vision.

In 2024 the Salesian family commemorates the 200th anniversary of a dream that St. John Bosco had when he was 9 years old. The saint said that he saw himself surrounded by young boys who were laughing and playing. When several blasphemed, little John pounced on them to hit them and stop them from insulting God.

Suddenly Christ appeared and told him: “Not with blows, but with gentleness and charity.” Little John insisted that the person speaking to him tell him his name and the Lord introduced him to his Mother, who showed him that the boys had turned into ferocious animals and then into lambs. Finally, the Virgin told him: “In time you will understand everything.”

In this context, the Spanish cardinal introduced a theme for reflection for this year, traditionally known in the Salesian world as “the gift,” which says: “The dream that makes you dream. A heart that transforms ‘wolves’ into ‘lambs.’”

In his message, Don Bosco’s successor pointed out that “each person is a dream of God,” noting that the secret of personal happiness will be “discovering the correspondence and encounter between these two dreams: ours and God’s.”

The rector major of the Salesians explained that to understand what God’s dream is in oneself, it is necessary to realize that he has given us life because he loves us.

“We must believe, then, that our God wants to do great things in each one of us! We are all precious, of great value, because, without each one of us, there is something that cannot be done, people that only I can love, words that only I can say, moments that only I can share,” he said.

In the video (click on settings and subtitles till you get to the English option) of the presentation of “the gift” he noted that young people are influenced by the dreams of others, whether by their parents, friends, gangs, or social trends. He therefore said that it is necessary to “explore their dreams with young people themselves.”

The video also pointed out that “what seems like a dream is not always a dream,” such as addictions, crime, child labor, terrorism, and sexual slavery. Therefore it’s important to accompany young people, be by their side, offering them an alternative and helping them make the right choice.

Not with blows

Fernández Artime, who in February 2023 spoke to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, as well as the Spanish edition of EWTN News about the defense of human rights, emphasized that “not with blows” means “consciously fighting, without any excuses, all types of violence.”

Among the main types of violence that he described are physical violence, psychological and verbal violence, emotional-sexual violence, economic violence, cyberbullying, and social exclusion.

The successor of Don Bosco, who in mid-2024 will resign from his position as rector major as Pope Francis made him a cardinal last year, concluded his last video of “the gift” by highlighting that “it’s time to walk, it’s time to dream, to transform the world starting with the young, it is time to build eternity.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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