Unlike the conciliar revolutionaries who occupy the offices and the seminaries and the parishes and the schools that were for centuries under the control of the Catholic Church as they seek to exercise authority falsely in her name, Saint John Bosco, father and teacher of the young and the founder of the Society of Saint Francis de Sales, was zealous for souls until the very end of his life on January 31, 1888. Indeed, Saint Francis de Sales, whose spirituality was adopted by Saint John Bosco early in his priestly life that began after his ordination in 1841, was himself zealous for souls, seeking with great urgency to convert thousands of Calvinists in Switzerland with his clarity of preaching and by the example of his priestly life of selfless service in behalf of Christ the King. This is indeed quite a contrast with the false ecumenism of the counterfeit church of conciliarism and its diabolical penchant for the madness of "inter-religious prayer services" and "dialogue."
Saint John Bosco was born into a life of poverty in northern Italy, having to work hard to help support his family after the death of his father when he was but a two year-old boy, suffering much for a very long time under the hard hand of his jealous, twelve years' older stepbrother, Anthony, who was the son of his father's first wife, who died when Anthony was around eight years old. The readings for Matins in today's Divine Office only hint at the difficulties that little Giovanni Bosco had to endure with such Christian bravery and fortitude before he left home to engage in the preparatory studies prior to entering seminary:
John Bosco, born in the poor town of Castelnuovo d'Asti, and having lost his father at the age of two, was raised by his mother in a most saintly manner, and from his earliest years gave evidence of an extraordinary future. Docile and pious, he had a remarkable influence over those of his own age, whose fights he soon began to settle, and whose indecent words and improper jokes he stopped. Then he busied himself with drawing them to him by good stories, by including prayers in their games, by repeating in an attractive way the complete sermons he had heard in church, and with persuading them to receive the sacraments of Penance and of the Holy Eucharist without delay and frequently. His unassuming manner, his affability, and his innocence drew everyone to him. Although pressed with difficulties at home, and forced to work hard in his youth, he ardently desired with trust in God to become a priest.
His wish was fulfilled, and he went first to Chieri, and then to Turin, where under the direction of Blessed Joseph Cafasso, he made rapid progress in the science of the Saints and in the learning of moral theology. There moved by divine grace and personal liking he began to take an interest in the youths, whom he taught the rudiments of the Christian religion. Their number increased day by day, and notwithstanding great and persistent difficulties, under divine inspiration he made a foundation for them in that section of the city called the Valdocco, on which he began to spend all his energy. Shortly after, with the help of the Blessed Virgin, who in a vision to him when a boy had revealed his future, John founded the Society of the Salesians, whose principal purpose was to be the saving of youthful souls for Christ. In like manner he founded a new family of nuns, who were called the daughters of St. Mary Auxiliatrix, and who would do for poor girls what the Salesians were doing for boys. To these he finally attached the Third Order of Salesian Cooperators, who by their piety and zeal were to assist in the educational work of the Salesians. And so in a short time he made great contributions both to the Church and to the State.
Filled with zeal for souls, he spared himself no labour and no expense to build recreational centres for the young, orphanages, schools for working children, schools and homes for the training of the young, and churches far and wide throughout the world. At the same time he did not stop spreading the Faith throughout the Subalpine country by word and by example, and throughout the whole of Italy, by writing and editing good books and by distributing the same, and in the foreign missions to which he sent numerous preachers. A simple and upright man, bent on every good work, he shone with all manner of virtue, which was fostered by his intense and ardent charity. With his mind always on God, and showered with heavenly gifts, this holy man of God was not disturbed by threats, nor tired by work, nor overwhelmed by care, nor upset by adversity. He recommended three works of piety to his followers : to receive as frequently as possible the sacraments of Penance and of Holy Eucharist, to cultivate a devotion to St. Mary Auxiliatrix, and to be the most loyal children of the Sovereign Pontiff. It should also be mentioned that John Bosco in very difficult circumstances went to the Pope more than once to console him in the evils coming from laws at that time passed against the Church. With a life of such accomplishments he died on the 31st day of January, 1888. Illustrious for his many miracles, the Supreme Pontiff, Pius XI, beatified him in 1929. Five years later, in the nineteenth centenary of the anniversary of our redemption, he was canonized among a vast gathering come to the Eternal City from every part of the world. (Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of Saint John Bosco.)
As recounted in Mother F. A. Forbes' Saint John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian Fathers and the co-founder with Saint Maria Domenica Mazzarello of the Sisters of Mary, Help of Christians knew from the first of his famous dreams that he was destined to be a shepherd of souls:
During his whole life John Bosco was to be inspired and guided by strangely vivid dreams, God's revelation of what his work in the world was to be. The first took place about this time when he was nine years old. He seemed to be in a large yard near the cottage, where a great many boys were playing together; some were laughing, some were playing games, some fighting, some swearing and using foul language. John shouted to them to stop and, in dashing in, began to strike at them. Suddenly, by his side, he was aware of a shining figure in white, of unparalleled dignity and with a face so radiant that he could not bear to look at it.
"Not with blows, but with gentleness and charity, you must take are of them and win their hearts," he said, "teaching them the beauty of virtue and the ugliness of sin."
"How can I teach them, who am ignorant myself?" asked John.
"By obedience and knowledge, you will do the impossible," was the answer.
"How can I get knowledge?"
"I will give you the wisest of teachers; she will teach you true knowledge."
"Who are you who speak thus to me?"
"I am the Son of her whom your mother has taught you to salute three times a day."
"My mother has also taught me to be careful of strangers. What is your name?"
"Ask My Mother."
At that moment John saw beside his interlocutor a beautiful Lady clothed like her Son in shining raiment. She took him by the hand. "Look," she said. "The boys had vanished, and in their place he saw a crowd of wild animals.
"This is your work," she said."Be humble and strong. I will show you now what you must do with my children."
As she spoke the animals vanished, and in their place he saw lambs gamboling and frisking, about the Lady and her Son. John began to cry, "What does it mean?" The lady laid a gentle hand on his head. "You will understand later," she said, and John awoke. he slept no more that night.
So that was to be his work--to teach the beauty of goodness and the ugliness of sin. How as he to do it? Little John had an idea. The great entertainments in those days in Italy were the performances of the traveling jugglers and acrobats who were always to be seen on the market days in the villages and towns. It had not escape John's keen eyes that people would even stay away from church to look at them. From henceforth, whenever a juggler was to be seen, there was John watching. Then he went home and practiced. he was black and blue for a while, but he was a supple little fellow and soon he began to get the knack of it.
Before very long, he had acquired most of the tumbler's tricks and could even walk on a tightrope rigged up between two trees--not too far from the ground. Then he planned his program. The children of the neighborhood were invited to a performance, only it was prefaced and ended by prayer, and somewhere in the middle John gave them what he could remember of the Sunday sermon, all with the inimitable energy and spirit that was his. It was made quite clear from the beginning that "No prayers, no performance" was to be the order of the day, and John was inexorable on that point. It was for their souls' welfare the had had been black and blue all over, not to give them a pleasant afternoon. To the circles of admirers it was as good as a first-class circus, and they never failed to appear. They were intensely proud of John.
At ten years old John Bosco made his First Communion. In those days, before the happy pronouncement of Saint Pius X, children did not approach the Holy Table until 12 or 13. But Margaret Bosco, understanding all that it would mean for her little son, sent him to the preparatory class at Castelnuovo in the Lent of 1826. Though younger than all the rest, he was the most understanding, as well as the one who knew his catechism the best. Margaret herself prepared him for the great act. "My little son," she said, "God is about to give you the most precious of His gifts. Make ready your whole soul to receive Him and promise Him to be faithful to Him all your life." On the morning of the great deal she herself took him to church as Castelnuovo and they made their Communion together. The Master entered into lasting possession of the soul His young servant.
John had told his mother of his dream, and to her it seemed a clear indication that he was meant for the priesthood. (F. A. Forbes, Saint John Bosco, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, pp. 25-27.)
Saint John Bosco's path to the Holy Priesthood was a tortuous one, somewhat similar to that of Saint John Mary Vianney although different because of Don Bosco's superior native intelligence and ability to retain, assimilate and teach what he learned, a gift with which he was endowed from his earliest days and one that impressed Don Calosso, the parish priest at Murialdo, a town near where the Boscos lived in Becchi. Although the future Father John Bosco had to deal with and overcome the constant interference that bordered on persecution and overt disapproval of his stepbrother Anthony with his own desire to be a priest, forced to interrupt his studies on many occasions before his beloved mother, who would later help him with his "boys" at the Oratory in Turin, sent him away to work on a farm. Throughout it all, of course, Don Bosco persevered with the help of Our Lady, Help of Christians.
The young John Bosco, after enduring many trials, received the assistance of an uncle to resume his studies once again, winding up eventually at a school in Chieri, Italy, where he developed sustained habits of study and distinguished himself in his teenaged years as a leader of the students, assembling many of them into what he called his "Merry Company" as he took them on hikes and performed his acrobatic feats for them. Resolutely opposed to even the slightest hint of sin or sinful behavior or words, Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, was concerned also about the salvation of the souls of the non-Catholics in his Merry Company, including the Jews among them:
There were in John's class, at the school in Chieri, several Jews who were in difficulties about their Saturday's work. For them it was the Sabbath, when all work was forbidden. But the older boys used to laugh at them as if it were an extra vacation day. John, who saw that it was a question of conscience, used to send them a list of the work given out, with the explanations. In consequence, they vowed him an eternal friendship, and one of them, who used to frequent the restaurant where John worked, became very intimate with him. One day this young fellow, whose name was Jonas, got mixed up in a school scrape and, anxious about the consequences, came to consult his friend.
"If you were a Christian," said John, "I should take you straight off to Confession, but that can't be done."
"Why not? We can go to Confession if we like."
"Perhaps, but you have no Sacrament of Penance, no power to forgive sins, no guarantee of secrecy."
"I will go to a Catholic priest if you like."
"You can't unless you are baptized and believe in Jesus Christ."
"What would they say at home?"
"If God calls you to this, He will protect you."
"What would you do if you were in my place?" asked the young Jew.
"I would begin to study the catechism," said John.
The advice was taken; John prayed. Light and conviction came to Jonas, but the catechism was discovered. Irate parents took it to the Rabbi and accused John of betraying the friendship and ruining the soul of their son. Both friends had a good deal to suffer; there were even threats of violence. Jonas had to leave home, but he stood firm in his determination to become a Catholic. In the end, friends came to his assistance, the young Jew was baptized and the tumult died down. Several others followed him into the Church. (F. A. Forbes, Saint John Bosco, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, pp. 25-27.)
Such zeal for souls would be condemned in most places in the counterfeit church of conciliarism today. Indeed, the priest who is still the Preacher to the "Papal" Household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Cap., said the following in 2005 for which was never corrected by "Pope" Benedict XVI or by his successor, Jorge Mario Bergoglio/Francis, who is prone to hiding his pectoral cross whenever he greets one of his Talmudic masters and of making it a point to convert no one, especially Talmudists, to what he thinks is the Catholic Church but is in fact her counterfeit ape:
If Jews one day come (as Paul hopes) to a more positive judgment of Jesus, this must occur through an inner process, as the end of a search of their own (something that in part is occurring). We Christians cannot be the ones who seek to convert them. We have lost the right to do so by the way in which this was done in the past. First the wounds must be healed through dialogue and reconciliation. ("Appropriate Attitude Toward the Jewish People" Zenit, September 30, 2005.)
By the way this was done in the past?
Saint Stephen the Protomartyr?
Saint John Chrysostom?
Saint Vincent Ferrer?
Fathers Maria-Alfonse and Theodore Ratisbonne?
Saint John Bosco?
Pope Saint Pius X?
Saint John Bosco knew even as a teenaged boy that he had an obligation to seek the conversion of souls to the true Faith no matter what it might cost them in their own families and amongst their own friends.
Motivated solely by a pure love of God as He has revealed Himself to us exclusively through the true Church that He founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope, Saint John Bosco was willing to die a death of many white martyrdoms throughout the course of his priesthood as he was misunderstood, reviled, calumniated, and even persecuted by some jealous ecclesiastical rivals because of the great gifts that God had given him to deal with souls. Among those gifts, of course, were the ability to read souls, something that gave him quite an upper hand when dealing with shifty characters in the Masonically-controlled government of the City of Turin, Italy, and when outwitting two brother priests, who believed that he was crazy for ministering to the needs of the young urchins who flocked to his Oratory and to whose eternal and temporal welfare Don Bosco was entirely devoted, tried to send him off to the insane asylum:
Even many of Don Bosco's best friends thought it [the Oratory and its apostolate to the homeless and hopeless boys of Turin] thought it a crazy undertaking. "You see that circumstances are against you," they said. "Cut down your numbers, take only a few of the worst cases." And when they failed to convince him, they looked at each other and touched their foreheads. "It's a monomania," they said, "and it's growing." They told him he was an idealist.
"Not at all," he said, "I see things plainly as they are. Soon we shall have churches, vast playgrounds, priests, helpers of all kinds and thousands of boys."
"Poor Don Bosco," they said, shaking their heads, "such a good young priest, what a pity! We really ought to do something!"
One day, two clerics of Turin, one a revered canon, came to visit him in his little room at the Refuge. "Come for a drive," they said, "we have a carriage at the door. It will do you good."
"Delighted," said Don Bosco; "wit till I get my hat."
He escorted them downstairs, opened the door of the carriage and bowed.
"You get in first," they said.
"I could not think of it," said Don Bosco politely.
they insisted--so did he; they had to yield. No sooner were they in than he closed the door sharply.
"To the lunatic asylum quick," he called to the coachman, who had had his orders and set off at a gallop.
"My goodness!" said the attendants who were waiting at the door. "Two of them, and both violent!" It was only with the greatest difficulty that the head doctor was persuaded of their sanity was no longer mentioned. (F. A. Forbes, Saint John Bosco, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, pp. 48-49.)
Throughout it all, however, Saint John Bosco knew that there was only one path of salvation, the Catholic Church, and he was unstinting in his efforts to convert non-Catholics and to bring back those who had lapsed from the practice of the Holy Faith.
Don Bosco's "crazy" idea, based on his dreams, to build the Oratory, was a stunning success. So much so that he requested the assistance of his saintly mother, Marguerite Bosco, to help him with the work there. A good and devoted son, filled with a true and tender love for his mother, had to serve as his mother's teacher, though, when she got exasperated when dealing with the often unruly and disrespectful boys at the Oratory:
"John," she said, "I am at my wits' end. They hide my saucepans, they pull my washing off the lines, they trample down the poor little bits of vegetables I am trying to grow, they tear their clothes into rags and they lose the things we have got for them with so much difficulty. Let me go back to Becchi and live in peace.
For his only answer, Don Bosco pointed to the Crucifix on the wall, and there was a moment's silence. Margaret's eyes filled with tears. "You are right, John, you are right," she said, and she put on her apron.
And now her son had conceived the idea of building a church. In a dream he had had in one of his most hopeless moments, the Lady whom he had seen before had shown him this very sport at Valdocco. A church stood there, and workrooms of every kind around a large courtyard. She had led him to the church, and over the door read the words, "This is my house, and the place of my glory." "You will understand," she said, "when you see the reality of what you now see only in a dream. (F. A. Forbes, Saint John Bosco, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, pp. 63-64.)
Don Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco's new church and his very successful work for souls agitated the devil greatly. The adversary inspired his minions in the dens of Judeo-Masonry in Italy, many of whom had taken control of the municipal government in Turin, to seek to kill him on several occasions. Although Don Bosco was able to arrange a modus vivendi with some of the civil authorities, he was still an enemy to the firm anticlericalists. In the midst of the plots against him, however, God sent the good shepherd of souls in Turin the mysterious dog, Grigio, who appeared at the most opportune times to protect him from the dangers that lurked about him:
Among all the strange episodes in the life of Don Bosco, one of the strangest was the appearance of the dog "Grigio"--a huge grey hound that appeared suddenly at a moment of danger, reappeared on many occasions and disappeared some years later when the danger was over. He asked for neither food nor shelter, was savage as a wolf against an enemy, but gentle as a lamb with the boys of the Oratory, who gave him the name of Grigio--"the grey one."
Don Bosco was passing through the thickly populated quarter which lay near Valdocco late at night. It had a bad reputation; shady characters could skulk behind the tufts of scrub and brushwood and burst out upon the passerby. Margaret Bosco was always anxious when her son was out late at night. Don Bosco had passed the last of buildings of the town when a huge grey dog appeared and walked by his side.
He was startled at first, but as he found that the creature was friendly, he accepted its company and went on to the Oratory. When he reached the door the dog turned around and trotted off in the direction whence it had come. Every night henceforward, when Don Bosco was out late, the same thing happened. He found the dog waiting for him whenever there was a lonely part of the town to be traversed.
One night, he became aware of two suspicious-looking men who who were following him, matching their pace to his. When he tried to avoid them by crossing the road, they crossed too. He decided to turn back, but at the moment he did they were on him. A cloak was thrown over his head and a handkerchief thrust into his mouth. He struggled to free himself and call help, but it was useless. Suddenly, and with a terrific howl, Grigio appeared and rushed upon them. Leaping on the one who had the cloak, he forced him to let go, then bit the second and flung him onto the ground. The first tried to escape but Grigio was after him, rolled him too in the mud and stood over them both, growling furiously.
"Call off your dog!" they cried to Don Bosco.
"I will call him off if you will let me go about my business," he replied.
"Anything you like, only call him off!"
Come, Grigio," said Don Bosco, and the dog immediately obeyed, while the two men made off in double quick time.
Another night, he was on his way home when a man hiding behind a tree fired twice at him, at such close range that there world have been short shrift for him had not both shots missed. Then, throwing away the pistol, the man rushed upon him. But at this moment Grigio appeared again, seized the man and dragged him off. He fled in terror, and the dog once more escorted Don Bosco home.
On another occasion it was from an whole band that this mysterious companion saved him. He had reached a lonely spot when, hearing steps, he turned to see a man close to him with an uplifted stick. Don Bosco was a swift runner in those days, but his enemy was swifter and soon caught up with him. Don bosco, with a well-direct blow of the fist, sent the man sprawling. His howl of pain brought several others out of the bushes when they had been hiding. They were all armed with heavy sticks, and things looked black for Don Bosco. Once more, at the crucial moment, the terrific howl of Grigio was heard. He ran around and around his master, growling and showing his formidable teeth until one by one the ruffians dropped off and disappeared.
One night, instead of accompanying Don Bosco, Grigio went to the Oratory and refused to let him go out, lying down across the door of his room, for once growling and showing ill-temper when he made the slightest attempt to dislodge him.
"Don't go out, John," said his mother; "if you won't listen to me, at least listen to that dog; he has more sense than you have."
Don Bosco gave in at last, and a quarter of an hour later a neighbor came in to warn him that he had overheard two rogues planning to attack him.
Another evening after supper the dog appeared in the playroom, and all the boys gathered around him and made much of him. They patted him, pulled his ears, stroked his head; the little ones rode on him. He guarded them with grave eyes until at last they brought him into the refectory where Don Bosco was still at supper. "Why, Grigio, old fellow, what brings you here?" said he. Grigio went up to him, put his great head on the table, looked at him, and wagged his tail.
"What do you want, old boy? A bit of cheese or polenta?" No, he wanted neither. "Then, if you won't have anything," said his master, stroking the great head, "go home to bed." Grigio him one long look, turned around and solemnly trotted out. The reason of this unusual visit suddenly dawned on them. Don Bosco had been spending the evening with his kind friend the Marquis Fassati. In the ordinary course of affairs he would have walked back alone, but that night his friend had induced him to let him drive him home in his carriage. Grigio, waiting in the dark corners, had missed him and, anxious about his safety, had come to see if he was at home.
The last time Don Bosco saw him was one night in Castelnuovo. He was going from Murialdo to Monucco and it was growing dark. He had to pass some farms and vineyards that were guarded by savage dogs. "I wish I had Grigio here," he said to himself. As if the wish had suddenly produced him, Grigio appeared with every sign of delight at meeting his friend and walked the whole way with him. It was lucky he was there, for two fierce dogs at a farm they passed rushed out upon them, but Grigio soon sent them flying with their tails between their legs. When Don Bosco reached the friend's house to which he was bound, they were astonished where Don Bosco had picked him up. When they sat down to supper he was lying beside them, but when Don Bosco rose to give him some food, he was not to be seen. That was the last of Grigio. The enemies of the Saint had grown tired of plotting against him. (F. A. Forbes, Saint John Bosco, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, pp. 141-146.)
Don Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco may have had a modus vivendi with some of the anticlerical authorities in Turin. Others hated him. Having failed in their efforts to kill him, they sought ways of accusing him of committing various crimes, going so far once as to ransack his office as he sat patiently waiting for them to admit defeat in their search. None of this deterred the zealous pastor of souls, whose very first urchin, Giovanni Cagliero, was ordained to the priesthood and then rose to the rank of a bishop, was sent by Pope Leo XIII to Patagonia in Argentina, in 1884 (a date that is given mistakenly in the Mother F. A. Forbes book as 1875; the actual date was December 7, 1884) and was created as a cardinal by Pope Benedict XV in 1915. It was when sending off the first group of Salesians to Argentina in 1884 that Don Bosco said the following his his priest-sons:
"Think of nothing but souls," he said to them as he sent them off, "and make no account of all the rest. Be very kind to children, the sick, the old and the wretched. Submit loyally in all things to your ecclesiastical and civil superiors. Trust in the power of the Holy Eucharist and our Blessed Lady. Do what you can, and leave the rest to God." (F. A. Forbes, Saint John Bosco, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, p. 186.)
Unlike Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who reaffirms hardened sinners in their paths of perdition and non-Catholics in their false beliefs and practices, Saint John Bosco did indeed have great zeal for souls. He taught Saint Dominic Savio, who had an intense hatred for sin before he came to work at the Oratory, to teach the boys to "never be mean to their souls." Saint Dominic Savio told the boys, "Death rather than sin! Death rather sin!" He was the mirror image of Saint John Bosco during his short life.
Although he wrote over fourteen hundred years before the birth of Giovanni Melchiorre Sarto, Saint John Chrysostom, on whose feast day, January 27, I was baptized in 1952 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Queens Village, New York, after spending sixty-four days as a pagan baby, gave a sermon that described Saint John Bosco's concern for the salvation of the souls of all men without regard to their station, whether high or low, in life:
Do ye see in how many ways the Lord leadeth us on to the care of our lesser brethren? Therefore do not say : He is only a taxpayer, or a shoemaker, or a farmer, or that he is foolish, that ye may in that way look down on him. So that ye will not fall into such evil, reflect on how many ways he leadeth you to act humbly and take care of them. He placed a child in their midst and said: Become like little children ; and : Whosoever receiveth one such little child for my sake, receiveth me; and: Who causeth one to sin, will suffer the severest penalties. If therefore God so rejoiceth over a little one that hath been found, why do ye despise those for whom God is so solicitous, when ye should trade your own life for one of those little ones? So great indeed is God's care for a soul that he did not spare his own Son. Wherefore, I entreat you, the first thing in the morning when we go out of the house, let us have in mind this purpose and this concern, to save someone in danger. I do not speak here of a visible danger, for this is not danger at all, but of danger to the soul, which the devil prepareth for men.
Ye say it is hard to tolerate the bad. Ye should be joined to him in love, to lead him away from vice, to convert him and lead him back to virtue. But he doth not follow, say ye, nor taketh he advice. How know ye this? Have ye exhorted him and have ye tried to correct him? I have often exhorted, ye will say. How often? Once or twice. Do ye call that very often? Even if ye were to do it for your whole life, ye should neither stop nor despair. Do ye not see how God always encourageth us through the Prophets, through the Apostles, and through the Evangelists? What followeth? Do we act right? Do we obey in everything? Not at all. Should there be an end, then, to admonishing?
There is indeed nothing as precious as a soul. For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? But love of money hath destroyed and cast down everything, it hath thrust aside the fear of God, taking possession of the soul as a tyrant occupieth a fortress. And so we neglect our own salvation and that of our children. Great is that folly, and our children are worse than servants. Why do I speak of servants? If ye have a mule, ye take care to give it the best groom, one who is not worthless, nor a thief, nor a drunk, and one is not inexperienced in his work. If, however, it is necessary to have a preceptor for your son, ye take anyone ye may meet by chance and ye give no thought to selection, although there is no profession greater than this one. What is equal to that profession which is concerned with directing the soul and forming the mind and character of the young? He who hath such a task should shew more diligence than any painter or sculptor. (As found in Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of Saint John Bosco.)
There is nothing as precious as a soul! Nothing.
Don Bosco was everything that so many of us, including me most especially, are not: meek, humble, cheerful in all circumstances, kind, charitable and unfailingly patient even with the most troublesome people and the most difficult of circumstances. In other words, he exhibited the qualities of the Good Shepherd Himself, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Whom he served so selflessly until the very moment that he died on January 31, 1888, two hundred twenty-eight years ago day.
Although Saint John Bosco was mild and meek in his dealings with the boys, he was also firm in securing their salvation, having been warned in one of his dreams to take extra efforts to guide his boys home to Heaven and away from sins that were leading some of them to Hell:
Three other boys of ours, screaming in terror and with arms outstretched, were rolling down one behind the other like massive rocks, I recognized them as they too crashed against the portal. In that split second, it sprang open and so did the other thousand. The three lads were sucked into that endless corridor amid a long-drawn, fading, infernal echo, and then the portals clanged shut again. At intervals, many other lads came tumbling down after them. I saw one unlucky boy being pushed down the slope by an evil companion. Others fell singly or with others, arm in arm or side by side. Each of them bore the name of his sin on his forehead. I kept calling to them as they hurtled down, but they did not hear me. Again the portals would open thunderously and slam shut with a rumble. Then, dead silence!
"Bad companions, bad books, and bad habits," my guide exclaimed, "are mainly responsible for so many eternally lost."
The traps I had seen earlier were indeed dragging the boys to ruin. Seeing so many going to perdition, I cried out disconsolately, "If so many of our boys end up this way, we are working in vain. How can we prevent such tragedies?"
"This is their present state," my guide replied, "and that is where they would go if they were to die now."
"Then let me jot down their names so that I may warn them and put them back on the path to Heaven."
"Do you really believe that some of them would reform if you were to warn them? Then and there your warning might impress them, but soon they will forget it, saying, 'It was just a dream,' and they will do worse than before. Others, realizing they have been unmasked, receive the sacraments, but this will be neither spontaneous nor meritorious; others will go to confession because of a momentary fear of Hell but will still be attached to sin."
"Then is there no way to save these unfortunate lads? Please, tell me what I can do for them."
"They have superiors; let them obey them. They have rules; let them observe them. They have the sacraments; let them receive them." (St. John Bosco's Journey into Hell.)
A miracle worker after death, Saint John Bosco worked many miracles during his life. Having the favor of and a great intimacy with Pope Pius IX, who supported his work at every step of the way, Don Bosco's miracles during life prompted the great pontiff who proclaimed solemnly the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and presided over the [First] Vatican Council, which convened five years after he had issued The Syllabus of Errors that is held in such contempt by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, to tell a couple seeking a cure for a deaf, dumb and mute five year old boy who was also unable to walk:
"Take the child to Don Bosco at Turin and see what he will do." At the sight of the poor little creature, the Saint, moved with pity, blessed him. Then, taking him by the hand, he tried to coax him to walk. The child put first one little leg and then the other, stood up and, holding Don Bosco's hand began to trot beside him. Don Bosco now got behind the child and sharply clapped his hands. The little fellow turned at the sound.
"He hears it, he hears it! cried the parents, wild with joy.
"Now," said the Saint gently to the boy, "say after me, 'Daddy, Mommy.'" And for the first time the parents heard the words from the lips of their little son. Weeping with joy, they led him to the church of Our Lady to return thanks for the miracle obtained through her intercession. "We do things together," the Saint had said." (F. A. Forbes, Saint John Bosco, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, pp. 123-124.)
"We do things together." Isn't that how it should be with us, my good and very few readers. Shouldn't we do all things well for the honor and glory of God and the good of souls together with Our Lady?
Saint John Bosco was no less favored by Pope Pius IX's successor, Pope Leo XIII, whose election to the Throne of Saint Peter was prophesied by our Saint just prior to the papal conclave that was held after the death of Pope Pius IX on February 7, 1878:
He was in Rome once more at the time of the Conclave which was to elect Pius IX's successor, and in a corridor of the Vatican he met Cardinal Pecci face to face. He looked at him fixedly for a moment and then knelt. "May I kiss Your Eminence's hand?" he asked.
"Who are you?" asked the Cardinal.
"I am a poor priest," said Don Bosco, "who wants to kiss your hand before--in a few days . . . I hope to kiss your feet."
"I forbid you to pray for anything of the kind," said Cardinal Pecci.
"You can't forbid me to pray for God's Will," said Don Bosco.
"If you are not careful," said the Cardinal, "I will have have you suspended.
"Oh, Your Eminence, you can't do that at present. When you can, I will be all submission."
"But who are you, to go on like that?"
"I am Don Bosco."
"Be quiet," said the Cardinal, "it is not the time for joking but work," and he went on his way.
A week later he was being proclaimed as Pope Leo XIII. (F. A. Forbes, Saint John Bosco, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, p. 132.)
Saint John Bosco always credited Mary, Help of Christians as the reason for the vast success of his work for souls in Italy that blossomed in many other parts of the world, especially in South America, during the last few years of his life. We must always implore Our Lady to help us to recognize that nothing we suffer in this passing, mortal vale of tears is the equal of what our least Venial Sins caused her Divine Son to suffer in His Sacred Humanity during His Passion and Death and caused her Immaculate Heart to suffer as those swords of sorrow were plunged through and through it. We should never feel sorry for ourselves no matter what should befall us. The Cross is our victory. We must embrace each cross that is sent to us with love and gratitude and joy.
Saint John Bosco embraced his crosses, including frequent financial uncertainties in the early years of the Oratory, with unfailing hope in Mary, Help of Christians. So must we. So must we. And we must also imitated Saint John Bosco's fidelity to Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary that he used to teach the sacred mysteries of our salvation to the wayward boys whose waywardness he sought to correct with gentleness and love but without ever once reaffirming them in their sins. Saint John Bosco taught his boys something that each of us needs to learn: to have a true and deep interior longing for the happiness of Heaven.
Our family is very, very tenderly devoted to Saint John Bosco. We pray the following Novena every day, including in our spoken intentions the needs of each one of you who have been and/or continue to be generous to us, especially in times of dire circumstances such as the one that we are facing at this time, asking the Saint for the return or conversion of your own relatives to the Holy Faith. Here, yes, yet again, is the Novena to Saint John Bosco:
Saint John Bosco, father and teacher of the young, in need of special help, I appeal with confidence to you, Saint John Bosco, for I require not only spiritual graces, but also temporal ones, and particularly...
(add your personal intentions here)
May you, who on earth had such great devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary Help of Christians, and who always had compassion for those who were suffering, obtain from Jesus and His Heavenly Mother the grace I now request, and also a sincere resignation to the Will of God.
(Recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be)
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint Dominic Savio, pray for us.
Saint(s) of the day, pray for us.
Please join us in reciting this simple novena every day of your lives for the rest of your lives as you entrust yourselves as always to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart out of which that Sacred Heart was formed in the Virginal and Immaculate Womb of Mary, Help of Christians.
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us!
Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint John Chrysostom, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint Dominic Savio, pray for us.
Saint Maria Domenica Mazzarello, pray for us.