The purpose of this document is to
illustrate that the life and work of St. John Bosco was, and continues
to be, a living example that the fundamental teachings of Our Lord
Jesus Christ: With Faith and Trust in God, all is possible without the necessity (1) to acquire temporal
(political and financial) powers.
God is the true Master of Creation and
even satan must serve Him, thus, man's whole objective should be to "be one with God" [John 10:30], and God will
then see that all that is good for man will come to him through the
vehicles chosen by God.
The following reminder left by Our Lord,
a reminder that has been called to our attention by His Holy Mother
Mary, should be the standard against which we should measure our Faith
and any work that we may undertake for the Honor and Glory of God.
No man can serve two
masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else
he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and
mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your
life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body,
what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than
raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither
do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth
them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by
taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take
ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they
grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto
you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of
these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which
to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more
clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Don Bosco lived the above Evangelical
injunction by putting into practice what Our Lord recommended to St.
Teresa de Jesús (de Ávila): "Occupy yourself with My interests and I
will occupy Myself with yours."
Don Bosco practiced this in the midst of a most anti-clerical 19th Century Italy and, thus, laid the enduring foundations of the third largest religious order in the world. As if that was not enough of an example of God "making His Word good", it was the Italian Minister Rattazzi, arch-enemy of the Church and promoter of an 1855 Law outlawing the religious orders of the time, who encouraged Don Bosco to establish such order - The Salesians. Obviously Rattazzi was not the enemy of the true Faith. (2) There is much to be learned from that. Unfortunately, the Church Administrators did not and continue to confuse God with Caesar. (3)
Don Bosco was born in 1815, just about 30
years after the French Revolution. During the preceding century, the so
called Age of Enlightenment, faith had undergone attacks and mockery in
a programmed offensive that was conducted against everything that was
called superstition. (4)
It is not possible, even if we tried, to convey the sad reality of the
times of Don Bosco. They were times of the beginning of
industrialization, of uprising, of restorations and revolutions; theses
were times of such trouble and upheaval which we cannot even
dream or imagine - but which we will soon experience ourselves (5) in the 21st Century.
Amongst his friends would be Pious IX,
Leo XII as well as
the staunch and powerful anticlerical such King Vittorio Emanuele II,
Count Cavour, Rattazzi, Crispi, Rosmini.
This was a time in which the Church was considered an ally of the oppressors and more often an enemy to be oppressed, and during which anticlericalism reached unbelievable extremes; yet, a different phenomenon was to be seen, a phenomenon that would even make the heads of the enemies of the Church bow: true Piety.
While political Italy was taking away the
temporal powers of the Church of Rome and Don Bosco was making no
secret about his communion with the Pope of Rome (this was an epoch in
which everyone – even the anti-clerical – acclaimed: “Long live Pious
IX”, because their hopes were for a liberal Pope, Don Bosco taught his
boys that they should acclaim “Long live the Pope” instead), political
Italy was encouraging and protecting Don Bosco's work and, in many
cases, assisting him financially with governmental grants.
This brings to mind the reality that
Jesus Christ never ran afoul with the authorities of Imperial Rome; His
enemies were the fanatics within the "Church Administration" of the
time - the Temple Masters. A lesson which the Roman Church
Administrators have not learned even after 2,000 years (6).
We can take, as a point of reference, the
year 1848; a year that went down in history as the year of great
tribulations, the year of the war for independence. In Turin, the
seminary was empty.
The following year, the Archbishop was
arrested and imprisoned to be later sent to exile. In the city the
anti-clerical bands attacked the convents and mocked the faithful.
Priests are divided in two groups, patriotic and reactionary. In the
meantime, the government prepared a law to suppress all convents. The
law, which will suppress 331 religious institutes and a total of 4.540
religious men and women, is signed in 1855.
These are just some of the terrible
episodes among thousands of others; even though in these same years in
Turin, Don Bosco and his close associates, Don Giuseppe Cafasso
(Saint) and Don Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo (Saint) lived and
work with very little state interference.
Another young priest, Don Federico Albert, was also one of his key collaborators. Today that preacher has also been proclaimed “Venerable”. There are already eight Saints officially recognized by the Church who sprung from Don Bosco's Fountain of Holiness, not to mention the dozens of others who will remain anonymous.
In Don Bosco's life every type of miraculous phenomenon was present: prophetical dreams, visions, bilocations, capacity to perceive by intuition the secrets of the soul, multiplying of bread, food and hosts, healing and even resurrections of the dead. (7).
So who was Don
To speak of Don Bosco, we must first speak about his mother: A poor peasant, who could neither read or write, who had become a widow when John was two years old and who had to strive in times of hunger and trouble to keep her family united. Her knowledge was elementary, yet fundamental: Some phrases of the Scriptures learned by heart and the episodes of the Gospel, the fundamental principles of a Christian life (“God knows our thoughts”), heaven and hell; the redeeming value of suffering (8), a frequent trusting glance to the Providence; the sacraments and the Rosary.
Turin at the time was caught in the fever
of the beginning of industrialization. The emigrants in
1850 are counted to be between 50.000 and 100,000. Houses begin
to be built. The city is invaded by gangs of boys offering themselves
to do any type of work, peddlers, shoe shiners, chimney sweepers,
safety match sellers, stable boys, errand boys… and they have no one to
protect them. Gangs are formed who infest the city suburbs, especially
during the days of festivity. The boys who Don Bosco approaches
in the beginning are builders, chiselers, pavers and such.
Many of these boys would turn to robing and end up in the city prisons
if their souls were left unattended.
The Oratory was kept under vigilance by
the police. Some “good thinking” citizens believe that the oratory is a
center of immorality, the parish priests of the city are anxious
because they think that the ‘parish’ principle is being destroyed. The
twin enemies of God: Fanaticism (9).
and Envy at work!
Another battle was against the so-called
patriotic priests (the Theology of Liberation version of the 19th
Century), who will try with all their strength to politicize his boys,
in order to engage them in the Renaissance battles. "In the year 1848"
– he writes – "there was such a perversion of ideas and opinions that I
could non longer even trust my domestic help."
On another front, the battle was against those who (and they were many, at a certain point even his friends) were convinced that Don Bosco was really and truly crazy.
"I must admit" – Don Bosco writes – "that
the affection and obedience of my boys reached incredible
levels". To the amazement of the Minister Rattazzi, who
authorized it, and all others associated with the event, Don Bosco took
over 600 prisoners from the jail of Turín for a day of outing in
the countryside. They had a grand time, and with only Don Bosco and the
Holy Angels as their guardians, they all returned to prison that
afternoon without a single
one having been lost!
Another important episode to clearly highlight: It was the important statesman Rattazzi himself who spontaneously explained to Don Bosco how to found a religious congregation, even if it was he who had ordered the suppression of religious orders through the infamous Rattazzi law of 1855. "Rattazzi"– says Don Bosco – "wishes to combine, with me, various acts of our Rule, regarding the way of behavior respecting the Civil and State Code".
Rattazzi, with great ability, showed Don
Bosco how to form a congregation that will internally, be governed by
the normal ecclesiastical laws and which externally – respecting the
State – be governed according to the civil laws that regulated the
different mutual aid associations or other types of associations. The
genial intuition in creating a religious society that according to the
State was a "civil society" was given by Rattazzi in person to circumvent his own 1855 Law!
The idea surprised even the Bishops themselves. It was born from the
natural affection, respect and admiration that Rattazzi had, convinced
anti-clerical though he was, for Don Bosco.
Giuseppe Lombardo Radice, in 1920, a famous anticlerical and
faithless but honest, pedagogist, wrote to his fellow men:
Bosco was a great man whom you should you try to learn about. The
church ambit, he succeeded in creating an important educational
movement, giving back to the Church that contact with the masses which
it had lost. For us, who
are not part of the Church and also of all Churches, he is a hero, a hero of preventive education and of
the school-family relations."
So, in the Catholic educational regime
founded on authoritarianism, Don Bosco's method was a true revolution,
a regime founded on love and respect - the fundamental teachings of
In 1883 a correspondent for a French
newspaper “Pèlerin" wrote in one of his articles:
have not seen this system in action before. In Turin the students form
a huge college, in which queues do not exist, but the students move
from one place to another as in a family. Each group surrounds their
teacher, without being noisy, patiently, without contrasts. We have
admired the serene faces of those boys and we could not keep from
exclaiming: God's finger is here".
The "imposition" of anything on his
boys, Don Bosco abolished. Even in matters of the
Sacrament: Confession and Holy Communion were not obligatory. Don
Bosco confessed and gave communion to all the boys, but no one was obliged to take
part of the Sacraments - including the 600 + prisoners he took
for a country outing.
This was the genius of Don Bosco: It was
not enough to love, but you must show your love, make it be perceived.
"A love that is expressed in words acts and even in the expression of
the eyes and face". This requires a total and daily involvement.
But in the end - What was Don Bosco
accomplishing besides apparently baby-sitting the homeless boys of,
first Turín, and then in many other places of the world?
Don Bosco and his Divinely inspired system was forming souls and minds through nourishing their love, not fear, but love of God and His Most Holy Mother. Those boys would become fine citizens of Heaven while still on Earth and by the example of their upright and non- fanatical (10) lives, they truly Evangelized those around them. We have no doubt that those boys and the families they formed did not require a law to prevent abortion or euthanasia. That is an option that never would enter the mind of a well formed soul; a soul formed by love and not coercion. (11)
Don Bosco was canonized at the closure of
the Redemption year, on Easter Sunday, 1934. He was the first Saint in history
to whom the State also, the day after his canonizing, paid homage
by a speech in Campidoglio by the Minister of Education. This was a
further acknowledgment of how much Don Bosco really belonged to
everyone. Up to today.
Don Bosco truly merited the Santo Subito placards on the day of
his funeral and we assure you, miguel de Portugal would have been the
first one to carry one!
If the Church of Rome had learned the
lessons that God fully demonstrated through the Apostolate of Don
Bosco, his dream would have come true sooner. Tragically, the Church
Administration, moved by the same worldly agendas which the Italian
government tried to destroy, ignored the lesson and Don Bosco's Dream (12) will first turn into
the bloodiest nightmare humanity has ever witnessed as "...the woman was arrayed in purple and
scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls,
having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of
her fornication:..." [Revelations
17:4] is slaughtered so that it may rise in Glory
- Pure and Holy as God intended it to be - and that would be the
fulfillment of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We Cannot Serve
(2) The Most Complete Faith
(3) Confusing God With Caesar
(4) First the Catholic Church Inquisition burned people for superstitious behavior. Now the "shoe is on the other foot" but in a much kinder manner.
(5) The Sequence of Events Leading to the End of These Times
(6) The Papacy - Its History
(7) The Story About Pope Innocent III and St. Francis of Assisi
(8) The redeeming Value of Suffering
(9) Fanaticism Is Not of God
(10) A Life Twisted by Religious Fanaticism
(11) A Psychiatric Case Study on Religious Fanaticism
(12) Don Bosco's Dream about the End of These Times
(13) The Gates of Hell Will NEVER Prevail
Published in the Internet on
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