Thursday, January 31, 2008

Saint John Bosco

My sons, in my long experience very often I had to be convinced of this great truth. It is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself, and to threaten a boy than to persuade him. Yes, indeed, it is more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct the boys. We must be firm but kind, and be patient with them.

See that no one finds you motivated by impetuosity or willfulness. It is difficult to keep calm when administering punishment, but this must be done if we are to keep ourselves from showing off our authority or spilling out our anger.

Let us regard those boys over whom we have some authority as our own sons. Let us place ourselves in their service. Let us be ashamed to assume an attitude of superiority. Let us not rule over them except for the purpose of serving them better.

This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized and still others to hope for God's mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.

-from a letter by Saint John Bosco

In this post I'll just say some some favorite parts of his childhood. :-)

Son of Venerable Margaret Bosco, John Bosco (1815-1888) had a father that had died when he was just two years old.

At a young age he had a dream that he was in a large field with many savage boys fighting each other. He started to fight too, but then he heard a voice saying, "Be gentle with them. You'll not win their friendship that way--not with blows but with kindness." Then (still in his dream) the rough boys turned into beasts, and all of a sudden little lambs. They began to play peacefully and happily. Then the voice came again and said, "Teach them right from wrong. Teach them the beauty of goodness and the ugliness of sin." John Bosco asked how he could do that, for he never been to school or knew anything. Then the man said, "Try to do as I have told you. If you make the effort and keep trying, I will help you. First I will give you the best of all teachers. She was my first teacher. She will show you how to do all things with love, patience, and strength." Then John saw the most beautiful lady he had ever seen. "I shall teach you...Someday you will understand." John never forgot that dream and told his family about it. He took this dream as a calling to be a priest. His mother felt sorry for him, for they had no way to get the education needed. She only taught her sons prayers and teachings from the Bible that she memorized.

Often times while his mother was off to buy their few needs on market days, he always went off and watched the traveling players put on a show. He usually sat in front, and learned their tricks by careful attention. When John got home, he would start practicing these tricks he learned and play them for other children. He did not ask for money in payment for his shows, but prayers. At least a decade of the Rosary and then he would start his little show for them. His practices at home had paid off. John was performing for the children who were quite naughty sometimes, and now they were actually willing to pray with him!

When John was ten years old, his mother talked to the pastor about receiving the Holy Eucharist since he knew his catechism well. When she walked John home while telling him about her visit, he replied to his mother, "Oh, Mother, if only I can receive Our Lord, I'll be the happiest boy in the world." He started skip ahead with high hopes. When John visited the pastor who wanted to talk with him, the pastor questioned him about what he learned and what he knew. To the pastor's amazement, he answered well, and later learned that he did not know how to read or write well. John quickly explained that his mother taught him. The pastor then welcomed him to join the First Communion class, then blessed him. When the great day finally arrived, John Bosco did feel as if he was the happiest boy in the world.


God of mercy, You called Saint John Bosco to be a father and teacher of the young. Grant that inspired by his ardent charity we may serve You alone and never tire of bringing others to Your Kingdom.

prayer and pic from here, and the info came from the book, Saint John Bosco and Saint Dominic Savio, by Catherine Beebe. Another great vision book! :-D

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