100 Keywords of Salesian Spirituality


EAO Boscolink, 7 August 2023 — Fr Francis Desramaut (1922-2014), noted Salesian scholar and author of many books and articles on Salesian spirituality, completed a Dictionary of Salesian Spirituality in 2000, which he published in French in three installments of Cahiers salésiens (1998-2000), the journal at the time of the Salesian Studies Centre in Lyons (France) which he was the director of. It was always his wish that this work appear in a single volume in English and other languages. Other than appearing in a single volume in Italian some years back, only the Introductory essay to the work ever appeared in English (in the spring 1999 edition of the Journal of Salesian Studies) meticulously translated by Fr Arthur Lenti.

The entire work, nearly 800 pages of it, is now available in English. EAO readers can find it on Boscolink at Salesian Spirituality. This is an interactive pdf version, lacking the extensive subject index at the end, but because the text is eminently searchable, such an index is not in fact needed in this version. Should any province be interested in publishing it in a print edition, the index can be added without too much difficulty. The digital edition can also be found on SDL in the “Salesian Spirituality” collection under Desramaut’s name, and will shortly be available also on the sangiovannibosco.net site managed by the archivist general of the Congregation, Bro. Marco Bay SDB.

While we can call it a dictionary in general terms, Fr Desramaut himself explains in the Preface that it is “halfway between a simple list of terms and a dictionary proper” with “no other aim than to give an insight into often difficult and delicate topics”.

Of course, 23 years have now passed since the original work was published, and surely a set of one hundred keywords of Salesian spirituality might well look different today. Nevertheless, Fr Desramaut’s understanding of Salesian spirituality, and especially his historical appreciation of the development of what we might call the Salesian Knowledge System up to the turn of the millennium, is unparalleled. Readers today would also need to appreciate that a number of the documents he cites have since been revised (for example the Regulations of Apostolic Life for Cooperators have now become the Project of Apostolic life; the Ratio Fundamentalis he cited from 1985 has undergone several revisions and is currently undergoing yet another iteration; the Common Identity Card of the Salesian Family has now been supplanted by the Charter of Charismatic Identity). But none of these developments detract in any way from the author’s basic aim – to introduce a reflection around the words he has chosen.

Download PDF file: Desramaut-keywords.pdf

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