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Archives January 2007

From the desk of the Rector Major


by Pascual Chávez Villanueva

«In the beginning God created heaven and earth … The earth produced seed-bearing plants … and fruit trees… wild animals and cattle...  And God saw that it was good. God said: let us make man » (Gen1, 1 passim)

Dear friends, readers of the Salesian Bulletin, at the beginning of this year  2007 I am happy to offer you every blessing for a full life. This year, in fact, I want to speak about “God lover of life,” as a passage from “Wisdom” significantly describes him. We read there: «Yes, you love everything that exists, and nothing that you have made disgusts you … since all is yours, Lord lover of life! For your imperishable spirit is in everything!» (Wisdom 11,24 passim).

The subject of life is constant theme in the whole of Scripture which from the first to the last page speaks about it showing that ours is a God who loves life, who creates it and even after death re-creates it. If from the beginning the Bible presents creation as starting from primeval chaos, and at the end speaks about “new heavens and a new earth,” at the centre as the key element is to be found the resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, the only one to really believe in life is the God who created it. And for the believer, the truth of this is found in love for life, its promotion and defence. This vocation/mission becomes the more necessary and demanding the more provocative and cynical is the “culture of death” which is spreading and putting at risk creation, human life, its dignity and inviolability, its fullness. Reading Genesis we cannot but be aware of how life is a gift: it precedes us, giving ourselves existence is not something in our own hands, we don’t discover on our own its ultimate meaning and above all we don’t hold the key to open the doors of death. No one can appropriate it to himself; no one can fully understand it except Him.

Certainly, nowadays thanks to the power of science and technology man is able not only to understand life and make it more easier, but also to create it in the laboratory, so that in the eyes of unbelievers it is no longer a gift but the result of chance that can be produced in a laboratory. Therefore it can be lived according to our personal wishes and criteria. But this is only a sophism, because we are faced not with a creation from nothing but with a manipulation of one’s own or other peoples’ lives. Life is a gift from God, and He is the only one capable of creating it and giving it. It should be welcomed with gratitude and responsibility: it is in our hands not as our own property to do with as we wish, according to the scientific rational and /or cultural possibilities, but as a gift to be made to bear fruit

The sacredness of life flows from its divine origin and it is destined to be given to one’s brothers and sisters and at the end returned to God. I want to invite you to read with reverence, amazement and gratitude the first chapter of Genesis,  a real masterpiece which shows us a God victorious over primeval chaos, who through a stupendous process of organisation, directs creation towards human beings the masterpiece of creative imagination, made in His image and destined to be united to the Creator. It is good to see that God, with intelligent and loving care builds this dwelling place which is the world so that mankind may live there. Nothing that exists in creation is God, everything is made by Him: water, the sun, the moon, the stars, plants and animals... everything is at the service of mankind and directed towards God. In fact, after mankind God created nothing else. He entrusted to him the care of creation, so that His design might be brought to its completion, and man himself might turn to God and so reach the fullness of life.

I cannot finish in a better way than quoting the Canticle of Creation by Saint Francis of Assisi which is a hymn to life:

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour,
and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.”

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