Thursday, January 31, 2019

Saint John Bosco, Confessor

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At the close of the month dedicated to honoring the infancy of our Savior, St. John Bosco leads to the Child Jesus—to Jesus the worker—the multitude of young people and workers to whom he dedicated his life.

Let us turn our attention to the Lessons which abbreviate this holy man’s life and work.

Joannes Bosco, humili loco natus apud Castum Novum in Astensibus atque sanctissime, patre amisso, disciplina materna institutus, mira de se vel a prima ætate portendit. Ingenio enim mitis atque ad pietatem pronus, singulari se gerebat auctoritate inter æquales, quorum lites dirimere, faciles rixas componere, turpia verba jocosque lascivos compescere mature cœpit. Tum verbis eos jucundis ad se advocare, laudis preces inserere, quæ sacra eloquia in templo audivisset mirabili sermonis copia ac dulcedine referre, ad Pœnitentiæ et Eucharistiæ sacramenta rite suscipienda puerulos quam primum quamque creberrime inducere sategit. Oris quoque decor verecundus, morum suavitas, atque innocentissimæ vitæ candor omnium animos ad eum pertrahebant. Licet vero, familiaris rei angustia pressus laborum ærumnarumque plenam adolescentiam egerit, in id tamen unum hilaris ac Deo fidens contendit, ut sacerdotio augeretur.

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.

Voti tandem compos effectus, Cheriensem civitatem primum, ac deim Augustam Taurinorum petiit, quo acrius, beato Josepho Cafasso magistro, et in scientia sanctorum proficeret et ad sacram morum doctrinam addiscendam animum adjungeret. Ibi autem, cum voluntatis inclinatione tum superno instinctu incitatus, suum in adolescentulos animum convertit, ut prima iis christianæ sapientiæ traderet rudimentia. Quorum cum fieret in dies major numerus, sedem ad eos coadunandos stabilem ac firmam, haud sine cælesti afflatu, asperis et diuturnis difficultatibus speratis, in illa urbis parte collocavit, quæ vulgo Valdocco appellatur, in eamque rem totus incubuit. Paulo vero post, Virgine Deipara auxiliante, quæ ei puerulo per visum in somnis futura innuerat, Joannes Salesianorum Societatem instituere decrevit, cujus esset præsertim juviniles animas Christo lucrifacere; item novam familiam suscepit constituendam sacrarum virginum, quæ, ab Auxiliatrice Dei Matre nuncupatæ, adolescentulas dirigerent in vias Domini; quibus demum pium Cooperatorum cœtum adjecit ad Salesianorum opera studio ac pietate fovenda. Itaque brevi factum est, ut permagnam et christianæ et civili societati utilitatem afferet.

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.

Animarum enim studio flagrans, nulli pepercit labori nullique impensæ, ut festorum dierum asceteria pro adolescentulis, pupillorum hospitia, pusionum operatorum scholas, ædes pueris alendis, instituendis, templa Deo longe lateque per orbem excitaret. Simul Christi fidem in Subalpinis verbo et exemplo fovere, per totam Italiam optimos libros conficiendo, edendo, divulgando tutari, Evangelii præcones ad gentes infideles sæpius mittendo propagare non desiit. Simplex ac rectus homo Dei, ad omne opus bonum instructus, omnigenis virtutibus floruit, quas incensissimæ caritatis ardor alebat. Mente in Deum constanter erecta ac supernis charismatibus cumulatus, nullis sanctissimus vir, nec minis terreri, nec laboribus fatigari, nec curis opprimi, neque rebus adversis pertubari videbatur. Tria autem pietatis officia suis maxime commendavit: ut quam sæpissime ad sacram exhomologesim sacramque synaxim accederent, ut Mariam Auxiliatricem peramanter colerent, ut Pontifici maximo ceu filii addictissimi obsequerentur. Nec silentio prætereundum est eum, in difficillimis rerum adjunctis, præsto non semel Romano Pontifici adfuisse, ut mala ex legibus contra Ecclesiam eo tempore latis derivata temperaret. Vitæ cursum, tot tantisque operibus ac laboribus refertum, confecit pridie Kalendas Februarias anno salutis millesimo octingentesimo octogesimo octavo, ætatis septuagesimo tertio. Quem multis clarum miraculis Pius uncedimus, Pontifex maximus, anno millesimo nongentesimo vigesimo nono Beatorum, quinquennio post, die solemni Paschæ, decimo nono exuente sæculo a peracta humani generis Redemptione, gentibus ex orbe universo in Urbem confluentibus, Sanctorum ordinibus adserebat.

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.

We hasten to you, after so many others, acclaiming together with the Church, to implore your favor and seek your counsel. Your exhortations are nourishment for the soul, yet sweet as honey: “You who work and are burdened with pain and fatigue, if you want to find an inexhaustible source of consolation, if you want to be happy, be holy. To become saints, we need only one thing: to desire it. The Saints are sanctified in their own state. How? Doing well what they had to do.” Beseech the Lord, then, O humble and glorious Saint! that we may finally understand a lesson so simple, pure, and true; and give us at last a sincere willingness to put the lesson into practice, that so we may ourselves become saints.

Untiring and zealous, you always nurtured priests and missionaries: “The first thing I advise you, to become a saint,” you said to young Dominic Savio, the boy destined to precede you in the heavenly Choir, “is to win souls to God, because there is nothing more holy in the world than to work together for the good of souls. Jesus Christ has paid for them with the last drop of his Blood.” Would by your prayers that this zeal burn within all the Faithful, as all are called in one way or another to cooperate in the great work of redemption begun by our Savior.

Great mentor of youth! teach us to turn often to Mary, Help of Christians, whose intercession had ​​you perform wonders and miracles, and gave you the faithful Grigio for protection against those who threatened your life and mission. Obtain for us by your prayers the grace to follow your example, that we likewise may be so set on fire of love that we may seek diligently after souls, and give ourselves wholly unto the service of our Lord. Pray that we may remain faithful to the lessons of Bethlehem and Nazareth, to keep you as a childlike trust in divine Providence and live only to praise the glory of our heavenly Father and make it a perpetual thanksgiving.

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