Beloved confreres, fathers and brothers in Don Bosco, good evening. It is my joy and pride to speak to you tonight and deliver this sermonette as the first of the year. It brings me much pressure to make it really good so as to set an example for the others who would follow after me. But honestly, the past days have been quite heavy for me the thought of this sermonette slipped my mind.
As we begin, however, this new academic year, as our first year brothers would now begin their formal Philosophical studies, I have no other thought than to connect our Blessed Mother to Wisdom, Sophia. Being the mother of the Incarnate God, whose womb is the Most Holy Tabernacle of the Word made Flesh, she is the Seat of Wisdom, or sedes sapientiae. Who could bring us closer to Wisdom whom we will study much in Philosophy other than our Blessed Mother, who so lovingly held Wisdom in her arms? The Help of Christians would also become our Help of those who study Philosophy.
Sedes Sapientiae is one of many devotional titles for the Mother of God. The phrase, which was characterized in the 11th and 12th centuries, by Peter Damiani and Guibert de Nogent as likening Mary to the Throne of Solomon, refers to her status as a vessel of the incarnation, carrying the Holy Child. As the phrase associates the Blessed Virgin with glory and with teaching, Madonna-images in this tradition are especially popular in Catholic imagery. In September 2000, at the close of the Jubilee Year, Pope John Paul II commissioned the Slovenian Jesuit artist Marko Ivan Rupnik to create in mosaic an icon of the Virgin sedes sapientiae for the world’s Catholic universities; it has since been passed reverently among Catholic institutions in a number of nations.
Basically, Christ, who is the LOGOS, the Word of God, was made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, later sat at the lap of Mary in His childhood. Thus Mary is literally the Seat of Wisdom, where Wisdom sat as a baby, and where He was enshrined in her womb months before. The image of this is beautiful, since like so many icons of the Madonna and Jesus, she hands to us her Son. This is significant for us who study Philosophy for this means that Mary is a foremost help in understanding of Wisdom.
Later as we go through this academic year, we will go through the rigorous discipline of correct thinking. Our professors will train us to achieve that certitude of our knowledge, to a confidence in a real, absolute, One, True, and Good Being. We will come to know that everything that is, flows from this Eternal Being, that the Cosmos shares in His Existence and Essence, and that Man whose First Cause is God, has God as his Last Cause. As we the first years begin to have a dose of the definitions and notions, and as our second year brothers will attempt to master all sixty plus theses, there comes a time when we meet a wall that will blankly ask us, why all these?
We would remember our motto, “Pro vobis studio”, for you I study, are the same words that John Bosco used to express his love for his boys in forming a sound mind to lead him prepare and execute a ministry dedicated to the young, and embody the Preventive System which has Reason as one of its pillar. We will do our best to grasp the Wisdom and Reason of it all so that we will be able to wade through the Skepticism and Relativism of our times. Like Mary, we will begin to contemplate Wisdom, Christ himself, that we will be able to propose Him and His Church to the young, as the One, True, and Good Way to Happiness.
So, when we feel drowsiness creeping up our spine during the late afternoon air, sitting in the Study Hall, eyes set staring blankly on the wall, and trying to chug the gears that slowly turn inside our skulls, we call on Mary who lovingly thought of her Son. She who knew Him most will lead us to understand Him better. For from our Constitutions #92, she is a model of prayer and pastoral love, the teacher of wisdom and guide of our Family.
Building on the Socratic image of intellectual midwifery which is ideal of real education, where the teacher helps the students bring out what is already inside them, we call on Mary to be our own intellectual and spiritual midwife. One who coaches us how to bring out the Christ within us. One who will help us understand God in our limited way through the use of our Reason. One who will help us bring out that charity of reason and religion that Don Bosco wanted to give his boys. One who is motherly teacher, handing out to us her Son to be our reason and meaning, the Wisdom of Religious Life.
In the Salesian Directory, we have 208 FIN Confreres listed, and 97 FIS Confreres. 9 of them are named after our Blessed Mother. And I believe, all of them, as they have gone through their own intellectual studies, have made Mary their Help and Guide. As we continue on the formative year 2011 to 2012, we put faith into our studies, and make it a philosophical journey where we will meet Christ, the Wisdom Incarnate, and integrate in our being that complementariness of Faith with Reason, with the guidance of our Blessed Mother, the sedes sapientiae, the Seat of Wisdom, the Help of Christians, and the Help of those who study Philosophy.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us.
SDB Constitutions #92
Br. Jose Maria Castillo, Br. Jose Maria Ferrer, Fr. Jose Marie Legaspi, Fr. Roberto MAC Roxas, Br. Jose Maria Aberasturi, Fr. Mario Baclig, Fr. Jerome Mario Dublois, Fr. Fidel Maria Orendain, Br. Mario Pardillo,
*** This sermonette was given on June 24, 2011 during the monthly commemoration of Mary Help of Christians before the Post Novitiate Community