Even You Can
Salesian Youth Spirituality - SYS
(Source: Adapted from SCAFFOLDINGS Fr. Selvam SDB)
Section A – Called to be Perfect A1. Ice Breaker: Brain Storm
Request every participant to think of the following questions and be ready to share:.
• Remember one person who is living and is young, who you consider to be a saint – a holy
• What makes you think that this person is living a holy life?
• How can you immitate that person?
Merry Go Around
• After individuals have thought about the above questions invite them to share with each in
the following manner:
• Ask all participants to stand in a circle.
• They say numbers in two – one, two; one, two.
• All the one’s stand where they are. The two’s face the one on their left.
• Now they start sharing with each other their answers.
• After one or so when the signal is given, the one’s stand wherever they are (outer circle) but
the two’s (inner circle) move a step to the left in such a way that they meet a new person in
the outer circle. And now start sharing your answers with the new person.
Stop the sharing when you find that the participants are getting tired. After this sharing ask
participants to spontaneously react to the exercise. Then invite them to do the following activity.
A2. Activity: Who is a saint?
Even You can be holy?
Divide the participants into small groups and in each group let the
participants Read through the following cases of young people and answer
the questions below:
1. Edwin is a very intelligent boy; now in University. He is from a well-knit family, though of late
their father has been drinking a lot. Edwin believes God loves him, and he must respond to God
by using well the gift of life. He is a happy boy, has many friends, some of them girls. Now and
then he helps his sisters in the kitchen. Overall, Edwin is serious about life, friendly with all, and
sincere with himself.
2. Anne is from one of the pastoralists communities. She is still
in secondary school. In school, she is in charge of the choir, and
an active member of Youth-Alive. She is fun-loving, but her
companions know that she is serious about some issues;
sometimes they fool her that she is too “rural”. They think she is
wanting to become a nun, that is why she trying to be holy. She
herself feels that she is not called to be a nun. She just wants to be happy by being honest to
3. John has been brought up by his mum; he does not know his father. Having finished his Std
XII, he was lucky to get a small job, that has enough future. He wants to care for his mum, who
is unable to work now. In his spare time he is involved in peer ministry; he is very effective
among his fellow youth. In the evenings he even teaches the children of the neighbourhood.
Usually he goes for daily mass; spends time in personal prayer; he has a spiritual mentor and
makes frequent confession to him. He is attracted to girls, however, he believes that he should
wait for marriage. The question of his family background disturbs him, but he is working on it.
4. Faith is in Std VIII. She is not exceptionally good looking. She works hard with her studies.
She believes that God calls her to be a nun, but her father has asked her to decide after her
form IV. She participants very actively in liturgy, and deep in her prayer life. She is very
affectionate towards all, particularly kind to the weak and sick. Strong in expressing her
Questions to discuss:
a. Who among these young people are becoming holy? Why?
b. What common elements do you see among these young people’s journey towards holiness?
c. In general, what should one do to become holy?
A3. Input: Three points to Remember
After listening to the group reports let the facilitator give the
1. It is possible for young people to be holy. Then it is also
2. Young people are called to be holy as young people, while enjoying their youthhood.
3. Being holy is not necessarily being declared a saint by the church, but it is a journey
of becoming perfect (Mt5:48)
Here is a summary of the aspects of a youth spirituality:
From the above explanations we can summarise the asepcts of the journey of the young person
towards holiness in the following points. This is the content of Salesian youth spirituality:
i. Celebrate life in happiness
ii. Fulfill your daily duties
iii. Accept suffering in life
iv. Be united with God
v. Discover life as vocation and mission
vi. Be a participant in your society
vii. Be part of the church
6 Be Part of the
Socio Political Church
Celebrate Life 2
in Happiness Fulfill Daily
Part 2 of Section A – Celebrating life in Happiness
A3. Ice Breaker: Laughing Control
The purpose of this ice-breaker is to put the participants at
ease and to introduce the theme of the session.
The facilitator tosses a kerchief or a paper serviette up in the
air. All the participants laugh as loud as possible, as long as the
serviette in the air. When it reaches the floor they should keep
perfect silence. Anyone who is heard laughing is out of the game.
The facilitator continues to toss the serviette again up in the air. It
may be repeated until the facilitator feels that the group is warmed up
Introduce the following activity saying that we are already discussing
the first aspect of the Youth Spirituality – Celebrating life in happiness. In this part of the
session we would like to see what is the meaning of celebrating life and what is true happiness.
A4. Activity 2: True Happiness
Let the participants be divided into groups and to discuss the following sentences. Let them say
if they agree or disagree with these statements.
1. To be happy I must get all that I want.
2. People who crack jokes are not serious about life.
3. To be happy I should not take myself too seriously.
4. A holy person should not waste his time in jokes & fun.
5. Fun that is not offensive to people or go against moral principles is good.
6. Happiness is the inner state of my mind and heart.
7. Even amidst troubles someone can be happy.
8. To be happy I should be surrounded by people who understand me.
9. True happiness consists in being authentic and helpful to people.
10. Celebrating life is having fun.
11. Sin is an act that makes me unhappy.
12. Pleasure contributes to Happiness.
13. Recreation and leisure are important for healthy life.
14. Pleasure that does not contribute to my long term happiness is not
15. True humility is the ability to laugh at myself.
Before using the poem to conclude this part of the session, the facilitator may make the
• Celebration of life is the acceptance of whatever life – God – offers.
• It is acceptance of what cannot be changed, having courage to change what can be
changed, and wisdom to know the difference.
• Happiness is different from pleasure. Pleasure is external and shortlived. Happiness is
internal and more pervading.
Today upon the bus,
I saw a lovely maid with golden hair
I envied her.
She seemed so happy and wished I were as fair
When suddenly she rose to leave,
I saw her hobble down the aisle
She had one foot and wore a crutch but as she passed a smile
Oh God!. Forgive me when I whine
I have two feet - the world is mine.
And then I stopped to buy some sweets
The lad who sold there had such charm
I talked with him - he smiled to me: `It's nice
To talk with folks like you see',
he said, `I am blind'
Oh God!. Forgive me when I whine
I have two eyes - the world is mine.
And walking down the street
I saw a child with eyes of blue
He stood and watched the others play
It seemed he knew not what to do
I stopped for a moment then I said
Why don't you join the others dear?
He looked ahead without a word, and then
I knew he could not hear.
With feet to take me where I'd go
With eyes to see the sunset's glow
With ears to hear what I would know
Oh God! forgive me when I whine
I am blessed, indeed! The world is mine
Part 1 of Section B –
Section B – Spirituality of Daily Life Meaning of Work
B1. Ice Breaker: Work of My Hands
Ice-breakers are meant to put the participants at ease and to
introduce the theme of the session.
• Every participant uses a plain sheet of paper and pencil to
trace the silhouette of their hand by placing a hand over the
paper with fingers wide open and using the other hand to
draw the outline of the hand with the pencil. Once they
have the outline of the hand, the facilitator requests each
one to fill inside the figure of the hand, activities that they
are capable of doing. The participants are requested to
write skills like, cooking, singing, dancing, typing, cycling, etc, that they actually enjoy doing.
• After having filled in the space of the fingers and palms in the figure, they go to someone in
the group and share with each other what they have written. If time permits they may share
with more than one person. At the end of the exercise the facilitator asks everyone to go
back to their places.
B2. Activity 1: Meaning of Work
To make the participants discuss the meaning of work in their lives as young people,
pictures of Photo language can be used. . However, if the facilitator has no access to these
readymade pictures, s/he can cut large pictures from old magazines and have them stuck to A4
size papers. The pictures selected for this session should symbolically represent the meaning
of work, and lend themselves for reflection and directly. The facilitator spreads these pictures
all along the wall of the room or on some desks, in such a way that the participants can move
around looking at them. The facilitator poses the basic question: What is work according to you?
Is it a burden, is it enjoyable? What meaning do you give to work, especially manual work?
1. Personal Work
Every participant moves around the hall looking at all the pictures and answering within
themselves that basic question: what role/meaning does work have in my life? Let each
individual select a picture that symbolically represents his/her answer. Each one returns to their
place after choosing the picture.
2. Work in Groups
The facilitator helps the participants to form groups of 7 to 12 and requests each one
share why they chose the pictures that they chose. In so doing they answer the question of
What is the meaning of work for them.
Having listened to each other in the groups, now each group chooses one picture that
best represents their thoughts on work. They begin to brain-storm some thoughts on that picture
before they come to the larger group to share their ideas.
B3. Conclusion: Meaning of Work
After the group sharing, everyone comes back to their seats. From each group one
person comes up to present their picture together with appropriate explanation. After listening
each other the facilitator can give a brief input using the following guidelines:
a. By work we participate in the creative act of God. The imperative to till the ground
was given even before the fall of Adam, the pain of work was the result of the fall. Through
work we enhance the world.
b. Work brings fulfilment to human beings also because it is one of the ways human
being express their creativity. The most difficult part of an unemployed person is not only that
he has difficulties in finding his livelihood, but also that he has no way of expressing himself
c. Through work we also interact with other human beings. It is a way of socializing.
d. Humans should be able to justly enjoy the fruit of their labour or its equivalence.
Otherwise, human work becomes alienating, as it happens in unjust structures like slavery.
e. The invention of machines to replace the human effort in work is also part of the
creativity of human beings, however the use of machine should not be to the detriment of the
dignity of the human person.
f. Every form of work is meaningful, provided it is just. It is not good to consider some
type of work (like farming) inferior to other white collar jobs.
g. Even the Son of God (Jesus) spend his life in Nazareth working as a carpenter. St.
Paul too worked as a tent maker.
h. As young persons and especially as students, they should be helped to understand
that by work we mean here the fulfilment of daily duties.
Part 2 of Section B – Meaning of Acceptance of Suffering
B4. Ice Breaker: Midas Touch
The facilitator explains the exercise to the participants in
Midas was a king in Greek mythology who, when given a boon
by the gods, asked that anything that he touches turn into gold.
If there is a king Midas who has the capacity to turn anything
into whatever you wish by a mere touch, what aspect of your life would
you request him to touch.
1. What aspect of your life would you want to be changed....
personality, family, work, social environment, your friend, etc.
2. You wish the aspect that is touched to turn into what?
After every participant has answered the questions for themselves, they
find a partner in the group with whom they share their answers.
B5. Introduction: Accepting Suffering
After the ice-breaker, the facilitator introduces the topic
of this session with the participants in the following
Today we live in a “Panadol Culture.” We are
becoming obsessed with the task of avoiding pain. But
human life has inevitable difficulties. One of the
important aspects of holiness is the acceptance of
suffering in our lives. Often we young people try to escape from one difficulty and meanwhile
get into a more serious problem. While we don’t go looking for trouble, it is part of our maturing
process to have the right attitude towards pain and suffering.
In this session let us discuss about the meaning of accepting suffering.
B6. Activity 2: Aspirin Test
Give copies of Worksheet to the participants. If the copies are not
available, the problems may be read in common as every participant assigns
aspirins according to the seriousness of the problem in their life.
1. Difficulties with my personality……
2. The stress of my studies or work ..
3. My poor health…………………….
4. Disagreement with my parents….
5. Being cheated by my friends……
6. The problems of the world….
7. My family background……………..
8. Anxiety about the future ………….
9. Financial constraints …………….
10. Add your own……………………..
• Let each individual do the worksheet, in an atmosphere of silence. Give sufficient time for
• Form groups of 7 to 12 and share their answers to the worksheet. There is no need to come
to a common agreement on the answer, as this is only a sharing of how each one sees
problems in their life.
B7. Input: Meaning of Suffering
After the group sharing everyone comes back to their seats.
The facilitator now shares his/her opinion in similar lines as the
a.Why different people gave varying number of aspirins to the same
problems? This means that problems are very subjective. It mostly
depends on how one perceives pain & suffering.
b.Is there a difference between pain and suffering? Pain is mostly
physical and suffering may be said to be more psychological.
Doctors work towards the alleviation of pain, which is surely right.
c.However, an obsession to avoid pain is not good. Pain has its
meaning. If you have a headache, it is signal that there is something
wrong with your head. If one does not feel pain it is dangerous for
the overall well being of that person.
d. Pain often brings maturity. That is why, in many cultures in Africa some form of pain is used
in initiation ceremonies. There is no passage from childhood to adulthood without pain.
Sometimes it is necessary to undergo pain for the sake something greater. Child birth is a
painful experience, yet the mother is happy to go through it. A patient agrees to operated on
in spite of the fact that the operation may cause physical pain.
e. However, suffering is often a state of mind, caused by fretting and worrying about physical
pain or psychological loss. This can of course easily be avoided if one matures towards a
spirit of equanimity.
f. As young people we need to have the right attitude towards pain and suffering. We should
be ready to undergo pain and suffering for the sake of our right convictions. The obsession
of avoiding pain and suffering may lead to greater pain. For instance, a girl may decide to
abort her baby just avoid shame (a form of trouble/suffering), but she then inflicts pain and
causes loss of life not only on the child, but hurts herself in different ways. Similarly, in my
studies I may escape trouble for time being by not studying, but later I land myself in big
trouble when I fail in the exam.
g. Perhaps fulfilling my daily duties and building a disciplined life is form of suffering. But this is
how I can reach the peaks of sanctity.
Section C – Union with God and His Call Part 1 of Section C –
Meaning of Union with God
C1. Ice Breaker: Listening in Noise
Divide the participants into two or more groups. Each
group sends to two people for this exercise. Among the
two, one person from each team will act as the Reader and
the other as the Scribe. The Reader is given by the
facilitator a small passage from the Bible to read, and the
Scribe stands at a distance from the Reader with her pen
and paper. It is better to give different passages to each
reader. The passages may be concerning prayer.
• The Readers from every team line up on one side and the
Scribes on the other, with about 7 mts distance between
them. In the gap between them stand all the participants, different team members close to
different Reader and Scribe. At the signal from the facilitator, the Readers start reading their
text and the respective Scribes write down the text. Meanwhile the participants who are in
the gap are expected to make as much noise as possible making it difficult for the Scribes to
hear what the Readers are reading. The participants are not allowed to touch the Readers
and Scribes, otherwise, they can do whatever they want.
• After about two or three minutes the game is stopped. The participants go back to their
seats. But the Readers and Scribes stay on. Now each Scribe read what she has written,
and check how much she was able to capture by comparing it with the actual text from the
At the end of the game, the facilitator asks the participants: “what have you seen?” The
participants share their opinions on what they have seen in the game – about the effort of the
Readers to pass a message across but it was made difficult by the noisy crowd in between.
When the participants have talked enough (this section should be done very fast), the
facilitator makes a connection to the theme of prayer in the following words: “Our spiritual life
can often be like this game. God is wanting all the time to communicate with us. But we are
lost in the noise and din of our daily lives, that we are not able to listen to him. Being in union
with God simply means being disposable to listen to God. This is the attitude of prayer that we
need, to strengthen our spirituality. This is what, St. Paul means when he says, ‘Pray
constantly’. (1Th 5:17) Let us discuss more about this.”
C2. Activity 1: Search and Research
Part 1 - Brainstorm about Prayer:
• The facilitator Asks everyone to write a sentence in an attempt to
• Once the individuals have done it. The facilitator requests a
few people to share their definitions. As the participants give
their answers, the facilitator makes a summary of the views
writing them out on a blackboard or on newsprint. This should
be done without much criticism.
• At the end the facilitator offers her own definition, driving home
the following points: prayer is more than saying some fixed
prayers; there are many methods of prayer; including
community prayer and personal prayer; including also lively
liturgy and silent presence. The definition offered by the facilitator should offer alternative
• One sample of such a definition: “Prayer is becoming aware of myself in the presence of
Part 2 – Research in the Bible:
Divide the participants into small groups, preferably four groups. Give each group a Bible.
Assign every group to look fast into one of the Gospels and come up with passages that speak
• What passages?
• What is the main teaching of these passages about prayer?
They may share their findings in the larger group.
C3. Conclusion: Meaning of Prayer
Prayer is becoming aware of who I am in the presence of God. Now this can mean many
• When I sit in the presence of God, I become aware of my sinfulness, my unworthiness. And
I see the grace of God purifying myself. This is prayer of repentance and healing.
• When I sit in the presence of God, I become aware of my
creatureliness, my neediness. I become aware of my dependence
on the providence of God. Sometimes I express this vocally in
spontaneous simplicity. This is prayer of petition.
• When I sit in the presence of God, I become aware all the marvels
that the Lord is working for me in my life. I gratefully acknowledge
His action in my life. This is prayer of thanksgiving.
• When I sit in the presence of God, I become aware of the immense
love the God has for me. I just want to savour the sweetness of his
love. I sit near Him as a lover in timeless admiration and awe. This is prayer of
• Community prayer is, a community becoming aware of who they are in the presence of God.
In this process, the community prayer also takes the four major forms that I have mentioned
above: prayer of repentance, prayer of petition, prayer of thanksgiving and prayer of
contemplation. However, individuals’ attitude of prayer is very crucial even when a
community is gathered in prayer. Liturgical atmosphere can invite individuals to get into a
spirit of prayer, but it basically involves an individual’s choice. On the other hand, when
individuals are attuned to a personal relationship with God, the community prayer becomes
The important aspect that needs to be stressed is also the fact of “praying constantly”. That is,
always being in an atmosphere of prayer. It is more than just saying some prayers.
Part 2 of Section C – Meaning of Call of God
C4. Ice Breaker: I Love People
• All the participants are seated in a circle in chairs. The
leader, who is not seated, begins to say, for instance, “I
love people who are wearing black trousers.” Then those
who are wearing black trousers leave their seats and take
another seat. Meanwhile the leader occupies one of the
empty chairs. The one who is left without a place to sit continues the game by saying, “I
love people...” (mentioning another category of people who are forced to move from their
• If the participants are not seated in chairs this game has to be adapted or substituted by
C5. Introduction: God has a plan
• At the end of the game, the facilitator begins a discussion:
• When you were forced to leave your seat and move to another what were your feelings?
Why? Let the participants contribute answers. Perhaps you were afraid, anxious,
• This is the case with all those who were called by God. This is the case with us who may be
called by God to take risks in our lives in answering our specific vocation.
• Remember, being created human, each individual has a unique place in the universe and a
specific mission to accomplish. As young people, we need to give ample time to reflect
about and answer that vocation and mission. Only this way, we can be genuinely happy.
• This implies that one has to be particularly attentive to the will of God that is expressed in
one’s own deepest desires and in fulfilling it.
• We shall reflect about this in this session.
C6. Activity 2: Vocation in the Bible
Write in small bits of papers one of the following passages. You need to have as many
bits of papers as are the participants, with the passages equally distributed among them. You
may choose other relevant passages if the participants are too many.
Call of Jeremiah – Jer 1: 4-10
Call of Isaiah – Isa 6:1-8
Call of Moses – Ex 3: 1-14
Call of Samuel - 1Sam 3:1-16
Call of Mary – Lk 1: 26-39
As soon as the participants have their bit of paper with the
passage, each one shouts out the passage until those with the same
passages come together to form groups. They be given some copies of
the Bible, and sit to discuss that specific passage.
Let each group answer the question: What are the stages or steps that we recognise
when God calls someone? Each group is make a brief report of their discussion.
C7. Conclusion: Stages of a Vocation
1. God is the one who initiates the call
Vocation being the call of God, by that very fact, comes from God.
Often the individual is called by name, this only shows the specificity of the call
Mary : Angel was sent by God
Jeremiah: Before you were born…
2. One who is called expresses doubt
Mary was troubled and said, “How can this be to me since I don’t know my husband?”
Isaiah: Oh, poor me, I have an unclean tongue (6:5)
Jeremiah: I cannot speak … I am only a youth (Jer 1:7)
Moses says, I cannot speak in public.
This doubt is natural, since the human being called to do the
3. Sign & Mission
(One who is called is given a mission together with a sign)
God seems to respect human doubt, and is ready clear it.
To Mary, You will be the mother of God … mission!
And the sign… Your cousin Elizabeth is pregnant …
“Nothing is impossible for God.”
Moses is given Aaron as the mouth piece, and the staff as the “magic wand!”
Isaiah: Angel touches him with burning coal (6:6)
Jeremiah “God touches his tongue” (1:9)
Mission of Yeremiah 1:10 To plant and to uproot!
Ezekiel is asked to eat the scroll (Ez. 2:8)
But to recognize the hand of God in the sign you need faith.
Or you can say it is only a coincidence … “by chance”
Then the sign value is lost.
(One who is called says “Yes”)
Lk 1: 38 “I am the handmaid of the Lord …”
Isaiah: Here I am, send me!
(One who is called changes his according to his/her vocation)
Lk 1 : 39-40 Mary goes on a journey…”in a hurry”
You cannot delay the word of God.
• To say yes is not enough.
• It is important that our life is transformed according to that
• Because the life of the apostle, prophet, disciple, whoever is
called is itself the message. It is symbol of word of God
• Hosea is told: “Go and marry a woman who is a prostitute”
• Jeremiah is told not to marry, nor to have children.
• Some of demands are surely counter-cultural. But that is the
implication of the vocation.
Section D – Be a participant in Society and Church Part 1 of Section D
– In my society
D1. Ice Breaker: A’s and B’s
• Facilitator asks everyone to choose silently someone in the room that is their ‘A’ person and
another person who is their ‘B’ person. There are no particular criteria on which to base
their choices – and it is individuals’ secret. Once everyone has made their choices,
facilitator tells them to get as close to their respective ‘A’ person as
possible, while getting as far away from their ‘B’ person. People can
move quickly but should not grab or hold anyone. After a few
minutes, participants stop and reverse the process, getting close to
their ‘B’ persons and avoiding their ‘A’ persons.
• After the energizer-activity the facilitator asks the participants, “How
was the game? What was happening?”, etc. The participants may
come up with many interesting answers and often even unrelated.
The facilitator makes a connection to the theme of the session about Social Involvement.
Somehow the game brings out a truth about life in the society – if our energies are wasted
avoiding some people in the society, we also find it difficult to relate to people we really want
• One of the important aspects of holiness is being a happy member of the society to which
we belong. In this session we shall spend sometime discussing our involvement in the
social and political realm.
D3. Activity 1: Choosing a Metaphor
1. Individual Work
• Each participant is invited to choose a metaphor that
best represents her country. Metaphor is an image or
an object that somehow represents the idea I have of
something. For example, one may say, “My country is
like a mosaic.” Participants have to be creative and as
daring as possible in selecting the metaphor. The
metaphor does not need to be drawn on paper. The
participants also write a brief explanation for their
metaphor. For example, “My country is like a mosaic.
Because, it has so many cultures and people, yet living
in a harmonious manner. There is unity in diversity.”
• Let this part of the session be done by individuals in absolute silence.
2. Work in Groups
The Work in Groups has two parts for this session:
Part 1: Sharing of Metaphors
Once they are in the groups, (let the groups be made of 7 to 12 members), each
individual shares her metaphor with the brief explanation that they had previously written. The
other members of the group only listen carefully to each one, without criticising or having undue
Part 2: If we were members of the National Planning Commission?
Now as a group, imagining that they are members of the National Planning Commission,
they attempt to come up with a twelve-point plan for the country, to be implemented in the next
six years. They don’t need to go into the details, but only to list the priorities.
Newsprints (flipcharts) could be given to every group to put down neatly their Twelve-
Point Plan. If possible, they use very catchy phrases and empowering statements.
3. General Conclusion
• After the work in small groups, the participants come together for
the General conclusion. Each group now in turn presents their
Twelve-Point Plan, without much explanation. This section should
be done as quickly as possible.
• Once the presentations are over, the facilitator offers some general
observations about the group work. The facilitator, making use of
the handout, points out some of the important aspects of the
Church’s attitude to the society and politics.
• The session may be brought to a conclusion by a prayer. It may be appropriate also to
respectfully sing the national anthem
D4. Input: Church and Society
Some reflection may be made based on the following points
regarding the concern of the church and society. A spiritual
person today needs to have the same concern:
“The scandal of the shocking inequality between the rich and the
poor - whether between rich and poor countries or between social
classes in a single nation - is no longer tolerated. On the one
hand, people have attained an unheard-of abundance which is
given to waste while on the other hand so many live in such poverty, deprived of the basic
necessities that one is hardly able even to count the victims of malnutrition.”
Ratzinger, "Instruction on certain aspects of the Theology of Liberation". (September
“The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich, the rights of the workers over the
maximization of profits, the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial
expansion, production to meet social needs over production for military purposes.... The poor
people and poor nations... will judge those people who take these good away from them,
amassing to themselves the imperialistic monopoly of economic and political supremacy at the
expense of others.”
John Paul II, September 1984 in Canada:
“The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who
are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of
Christ as well. (n.1)
“In the event of economic-social disputes all should strive to arrive at peaceful settlements.
The first step is to engage in sincere discussion between all sides; but the strike remains even in
circumstances of today a necessary (although an ultimate) means for the defence of workers'
rights and the satisfaction of their lawful aspirations. (n.68)
“Christians must be conscious of their specific and proper role in the political community:
they should be a shining example by their sense of responsibility and their dedication to the
common good; ....
PASTORAL CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD Vatican II,
Gaudium et Spes, 7 December, 1965.
Part 2 of Section D – In my Church
D5. Ice-Breaker: Where Am I?
• The participants are given a handout of the above
diagram, or they themselves can draw it out in their
notebooks. The size of the diagram could be big
enough to cover a page of A5 paper.
• The facilitator gives the following explanation: If in the
centre of diagram is the church, where are you in
relation to the church? Indicate your position by
marking an ‘X’ in the diagram. If you mark the ‘X’ in the
inner circle you are very close to the church, if you mark it out of the circles you are really far
away. If you find yourself somewhere in the middle you could mark accordingly.
• After each one has made the marks individually, they turn to their neighbours and share how
they have marked and why they have done so.
After this sharing, the facilitator may invite some individuals to share in front of the whole group.
Then the facilitator raises the following questions:
a. Are you happy about where you are in relation to the church?
b. If you are not happy what could you do to move closer to the church?
c. How many of you have marked right on the figure of the church? If not many have done it
(may be none), why? Could there be the Church without us?
In this session let us clarify our own understanding of the church, and to recognize our rightful
place within the church.
D6. Activity 2: What Model?
• Give copies of Worksheets to the participants. If the copies are not available, the models
may be drawn on the black board or on a flipchart, brief explanation is offered for each of
the models, and the questions be asked.
Meaning of the Models:
Model 1: Pyramidal Church
• In this model Christ is the head of the church, and His followers are arranged in a
hierarchical manner: the pope, the bishops, priests & religious and the laity.
• The advantage of this model is that there is clarity of roles and line of command. But the
role of the laity is minimalized, hence it encourages clericalism, and non-participation of the
laity. This is not a type of church that we read about in the Acts of the Apostles. This model
came into the church due to political influence after the 4th Century. The council of Vatican II
invites us to move away from this model.
Model 2: Church of Individual Response
• Christ is in the middle of the circle. Each individual follower responds to the call of Jesus
personally, may be even in no uniform manner.
• The positive aspect of this model is that it encourages individual response and personal
experience of Jesus. However, it can easily lead to individualism and subsequent absence
of the church. Christian faith is a communitarian faith; hence it has to be lived and
expressed as such. Our liturgical celebrations are powerful expressions of the
communitarian aspect of faith.
Model 3: Church as the Community of Communities
• Christ is in the middle of the circle. The followers belong to
communities; communities are within larger communities:
families – Small Christian Communities – Outstations –
Parishes – Dioceses – Catholic Church.
• This is the model advocated by the Vatican II, and the
Synod for Africa (1994). This is the model of the church,
that is seen in the Acts of the Apostles. There are leaders
within these communities who are servants and shepherds
of the rest. There is a great sense of belonging in this
model and best suited for African context. The option for
Small Christian Communities by the bishops of AMECEA is
an invitation to the church in Africa to move towards this model.
1. Personal Work
Let each individual answer the questions personally, after reading the cursory explanation of the
models. The facilitator should discourage any discussion at this phase.
2. Work in Groups
• Form groups of 7 to 12 and ask participants to share their answers to the questions. Each
group could come up with a report which is the result of a consensus among members. The
facilitator should go around the groups, to help clear doubts, as there would be a variety of
understanding of the models. Even if there are wrong positions, the facilitator should
remember that the truth that is discovered personally is more impressive!
D7. Conclusion: What Model?
After the reports from the groups, which should be done very quickly, the facilitator explains the
positive and negative aspects of each model and accompanies the participants towards a
Questions to Discuss
1. What is the meaning of these models?
2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these models?
3. Which model of the church do you prefer? And why?
4. Which model is operative in your parish or diocese?
discovery of a meaningful model of the church.
1. The church has to move from a “mission-oriented” church to a missionary church.
That is, “mission-oriented” church is a type of church which is development oriented,
where services are offered varying from Education to Medicine. People come to the
church to receive these services. This model becomes too much money oriented and creates
dependency among the people. The pastor becomes a mere administrator.
Missionary church, on the other hand, is where the church leaders are able to reach-out
to people in their small Christian communities. The pastor’s time is spent in preaching the word,
administering sacraments, participating in the life of people, and less in administration of goods.
The laity themselves are trained to be animators of their communities, and able to reach-out to
2. Our understanding of the church should grow from being one of a hierarchical church to “a
community of communities”.
Hierarchical or pyramidal church offers a lot of false safety for the clergy since their
position is on the top; it gives safety for the laity since they don’t need to be doing anything.
However, this image does not reflect the image of the Kingdom of God, that Jesus wanted! It
only resembles the kingdom of the world.
As young people, we have a participatory role to play in the church, on our journey
The Four Pillars of Salesian Devotion
First pillar: devotion to Mary Help of Christians
For Don Bosco, the Immaculate Virgin, Mary Help of Christians, was the
ever-present Mother who helps her children daily, going to their rescue and
leading them to Jesus. "Be devoted to Mary Help of Christians", he would
habitually say, "and you will see what miracles are!".
For Don Bosco, Marian devotion had an intrinsically ecclesial dimension
since he saw Mary as the powerful Helper who defends the Church and the
Pope from every kind of danger. This is why in the Salesian tradition the
daily recitation of the Rosary is not only an element of Marian devotion,
but above all the contemplation of Jesus in the mysteries of his saving
Second pillar: devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist
The second pillar of Don Bosco's spirituality was devotion to Jesus in the
Eucharist, which he saw as the heart of every Salesian house. He used to remind young people: "If you
want many graces, pay many visits to Jesus in the Sacrament; if you want few graces, pay him few".
Don Bosco was a "vir eucharisticus", that is, a saint formed through and through by the Eucharist. He was
so passionate about the Eucharist that he communicated his passion to the young people he carefully
prepared for communion with the Lord through the sacrament of Reconciliation. For Don Bosco,
Confession and the Eucharist were the two sacraments that inculcated in young people the Christian
virtues and holiness.
On this topic he wrote in 1877: "Frequent Confession, frequent Communion and daily Mass are the pillars
that must support an educational building that we desire to protect from threats and scourges. Never force
youngsters to receive the holy sacraments, but only encourage them and make it easy for them to do so"
(John Bosco, Il sistema preventivo nella educazione della gioventù , n. 4).
The 15-year-old St Dominic Savio is a shining example of this sacramental pedagogy which strengthened
his virtuous habits and his union with Jesus, witnessed by his Eucharistic ecstasies during Holy
Third pillar: educational system based on joy, hope
The third pillar of Don Bosco's spirituality was his educational system
of joy and hope. Dominic Savio, who once said to Don Bosco: "I am the
fabric, you are the tailor; make me into a beautiful suit for the Lord!",
had fully grasped this when he suggested to his young companions:
"Let's make holiness consist in being very cheerful!".
Salesian holiness is the fruit of a pedagogy of joy based on Christian
hope in the eternal joy of paradise. Hope, which the Holy Father has
insistently asked the European Churches to recover, was for Don Bosco
the virtue that spurred him to embark on the most adventurous
undertakings, such as the construction of the Church of Our Lady Help
of Christians in Turin and of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Rome,
and the foundation of two religious congregations with barely a penny
in his pocket, overcoming unspeakable trials. He placed full trust in the Lord's provident presence in the
history of the Church and in his own life.
He often used to say that the saints, while taking the final judgment seriously, lived in supreme joy
because they trusted in the goodness of a Father who has infinite good things in store for his faithful
If Francis of Assisi made nature holy, Don Bosco made joy holy, remembering' what Philip Neri had said
to his young followers: "Run, jump, amuse yourselves as much as you like, but for pity's sake, don't sin!".
Like hope, which is a disposition given by God, joy too was not so much a methodological expedient but
rather a form of life, an evangelical constant that gives rise to happiness and optimism. He felt that there
was an affinity and harmony between serene young people and Christian life — a mutual appeal:
"The young person who feels he is in a state of grace with God naturally experiences joy in the certainty
that he possesses a good that is completely within his reach, and he expresses this state of pleasure in
cheerfulness" (John Bosco, Vita del Giovanetto Savio Domenico, in Opere Edite, XI, p. 236).
For him, Servite Domino in laetitia was the 11th commandment.
Fourth pillar: devotion to Church and Vicar of Christ
Don Bosco's fourth and last pillar is his devotion to the Church, to her
Pastors and especially to the Holy Father. His love for the Pope was
extraordinary and is an integral part of the Salesian formation and
Vivere in Ecclesia, sentire cum Ecclesia et agere pro Ecclesia vividly captures the spirituality of Don
With regard to the sentire cum Ecclesia that Don Bosco lived with a special reference to devotion to the
Supreme Pontiff and his Magisterium, his second successor, Don Paolo Albera (19101912), wrote:
"Let us remember that in following in the footsteps of the saints, and especially in those of St Francis de
Sales, Don Bosco was not content with a submission of the intellect restricted to ex cathedra definitions,
but wanted sincere submission to any teaching of the Pope imparted in any form. Nor did he merely
follow his orders and have them followed, but regarded as law and as a gentle command every
announcement, every piece of advice, every desire of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, and he wanted his sons to
do likewise" (P. Albera, Lettere circolari ai salesiani, SEI, Turin, 1922, p. 102).
"Knowing, loving and defending the Pope" was the gift of 1949, written by Don Pietro Ricaldone
(1932-1951), the fourth successor of Don Bosco.
Francis Desramaut, a French historian, synthesized this Salesian ecclesial dimension, a living legacy of
Don Bosco, in the following way:
"The Salesian mingles unostentatiously with Christians who can speak
lovingly of the Church, 'judging her fondly, almost as though she were
a mother'. They are aware that they have received the life of the Holy
Spirit in the Church and through the Church. They may well know her
limitations, her wrinkles and even her scandals, but attach little
importance to them. Instead, they duly evaluate the advantages of her
presence for each person and for humanity: the beneficial energies she
spreads, the experience of God expressed by the holiness she offers as
an example, the wisdom that emanates from the Word of God, the love
that unites and inspires solidarity beyond the boundaries of nations and
continents, the sense of life she offers, the values she defends and the prospects of eternal life that she
unfolds. The Salesian family loves and admires the Church of Jesus Christ" (Francis Desra
maut, Spiritualità salesiana, LAS, Rome, 2001, p. 151).
Preventive system: based on reason, religion, tender love
With these four spiritual indicators, Salesian education offers
to society and to the Church good Christians as well as
The climate in which this educational project is put into
practice is the so-called "preventive system", which attempts
to prevent rather than to repress, and is based on the famous
triad: reason, religion, affection.
These three words show that education is a task founded on
sound reason, on the grace of Baptism, and above all, on the
good, transparent heart of the educator.
May Don Bosco help us to preserve his precious heritage and
to promote it with creativity in the cultural context of our day
Please Note: These resources are to enable the Salesian Youth Animator to instill into the Members of our Salesian
Youth Groups into forming the SALESIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT and living the SALESIAN YOUTH
SPIRITUALITY. Fr. Glenford Lowe, sdb