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What St. John Bosco can tell us

Lance Patrick Enad . 

THERE is this book called “The Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco.” In it are contained some of the dreams God allowed the saint to have, of course, for the benefit of souls. In the book we can see the values of St. John Bosco. It is interesting to note that his greatest worry is the spiritual life of his boys.

In his dreams he lamented how some of the boys committed mortal sins, lost the state of grace, committed sins against the virtue of chastity, made bad confessions, made sacrilegious communions, how some, although in the state of grace did nothing to advance in the spiritual life. I suppose putting food on the table for his oratory and giving lodging for his boys was a big problem for him but it is interesting how, before anything else, he worried about the spiritual welfare of his boys.

St. John Bosco was well aware of the primacy of the spiritual life. He ensured that his boys remained in the grace of God, advanced in the spiritual life. He made sure that they went to weekly  confessions, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, that they had Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, etc. He made sure they were living  -as St. Francis de Sales, a favourite of St. John Bosco, would say- “the devout life.”

This I think is what we can learn from St. John Bosco during the year of the youth. Before anything else, we ought to foster the spiritual welfare of the youth, we ought to help them form solid and formidable foundations of the Spiritual Life. Before anything else, we ought to produce, out of our youth groups, devout young people -Dominic Savios, Laura Vicuñas, Rolando Rivis, Aloysius Gonzagas, Maria Gorrettis, Pedro Calungsods. Sociologists Christian Smiths and Melinda Denton made a study. Their study yielded that most of the american youth adhere to what they call a moral therapeutic deism – a quick google search would explain this. I believe, although I hope I am mistaken, that this is a sad reality in many youth groups today -feel good activities without talk of mental prayer, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, penance, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, Mortification, weekly confession, spiritual reading the spiritual life etc. Feel good activities,  are not wrong in themselves but if we do not teach the youth about the spiritual life, about how to live devout lives, our youth groups become, as in the words of Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard OCSO, in his book, the Soul of the Apostolate, “a youth club run by the Church.” If we fail to do this, if we fail to ensure the spiritual welfare of the youth, if we faik to foster the devout life among the youth, the year of the youth would have been futile, youth days and gatherings would be useless, we would have failed.

Surely St. John Bosco did not neglect the other things. He made sure his boys, when they left the oratory, had good jobs, were educated well but before that, he made sure his boys were living devout lives and would merit a canonization. St. John Bosco produced great men. He produced Cardinals, Archbishops, politicians -to name a few- but all of their acheivements combined would not have caused as much joy to St. John Bosco as the canonization of St. Dominic Savio and the beatification of Blsd. Laura Vicuña.

(Lance Patrick Enad is a seminarian. E-mail: lancivspatricivs@gmail.com)

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