Three Important Things St. John Bosco Told Us Before He Died
I originally posted this two years ago on the Feast Day of this blog’s Patron Saint, Don Bosco. I wanted to share again because at the onset of the Pandemic, these three pieces of advice were beautiful. Two years later, living in a world where division is thriving, I feel these elements of the Christian life are ever more relevant. As always, I write of things which I am struggling with in my own spiritual life.
I pray anyone reading this is safe and well and remembers the hope that is in Christ, where the peace that surpasses all understanding abides in you (Phil 4:7, 1 Peter 3:15.)
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.Col 1:27
Only in Christ can we be positive signs of contradiction in this negative world and bring hope to others. If we want the world to be better, we need to stop abiding at the altar of disappointment; that is, to turn out from ourselves and love others as they are, wherever they may be on their journey. Let’s stop looking at where we differ and remember what the human family was designed for. Love.
It’s Boscoworld’s Patron Saint Day!
“Do not ever forget these three things: devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Mary Help of Christians, and devotion to (always be in support and come to the defense of) the Holy Father!”
For Boscoblog’s feast day, I want to focus on the last directives that St. John Bosco imparted to his beloved “little sons” that were in his care before he died. These young men had been wayward, and he was drawn to loving them and helping them find the place where they encountered the love of God. He wanted to make sure that above all, they kept themselves close to the Lord in three special ways. To me, these three devotions are prime and ever more timely, despite being spoken over 130 years ago, just before he died on January 31, 1888. I present them again in 2022, but as action items against the upsurge of disappointment that I see as so prevalent in American culture.
1. Devotion To The Blessed Sacrament Verses Disappointment in Others
Jesus Christ left us his body, blood, soul and divinity in the sacrament of the Eucharist. There seems to be a crisis within the Catholic church that the few people actually believe this “little wafer” could be Jesus. What would this world look like if we understood the power of the Blessed Sacrament? I started down the apologetic role of explaining the Eucharist again in this post, but instead I will refer you to my previous posts and say that my personal life has been so powerfully changed by Christ in this most powerful truth. Don’t get it? Go before the tabernacle in a Catholic Church and ask Jesus to help you, as did the centurion in Mark 9:24; “…Lord, help my unbelief.”
When we look to Christ and spend time meditating with the gospels, we see he walked among sinners and spoke hope over those who were constantly messing up around him. The way to hope in our lives isn’t measuring the messiness of others or our circumstances, but measuring the power of God.
2. Mary Help of Christians; Mary’s Humility Verses Disappointment in the “Shiny Things” in Life
Last year, at the end of our Spiritual Exercises we closed with the usual tradition of receiving our patron saint card and from the director of our retreat. As a priest, he blesses the cards and prays that each recipient is given the card deigned for them by the Holy Spirit so we can grow in virtue that year under the guardianship of a special saint. Randomly picking from a basket, Father hands us each a card. As the year goes on, we may gather books or articles on that saint, and ask for that saint’s help in our path to grow in holiness.
Two years ago, my card was Devotion to the Blessed Mother. I had never even seen this virtue card before, and my first thought was “I already have a relationship with Mary.” As with any relationship however, there is always room for growth. I hadn’t been asking for her help the way one should from a mother, especially a mother who so loves her divine Son. I learned that needing a mother, especially the Mother of God, is a virtue of humility and a kind of holy vulnerability.
I later embarked on another “retreat” of sorts , and found myself in deeper love with this most humble of Mothers.
“Never be afraid of loving Mary too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”- St. Maximilian Kolbe.
3. Devotion to and defense of the Holy Father Verses Disappointment in the Pope and Church Leadership
The final advice that Saint Bosco gives his little sons is regarding their affinity to the Holy Father (the pope). Since the beginning of the church, way back to Peter, the Pope has been criticized. One day at mass a few weeks ago, a visiting priest reminded us that even St John Paul the Great was criticized during his day. Since the original posting of this article two years ago, more news of our Pope’s actions and accusation have made headlines with more vocal Catholics sharing their opinions about the mistakes that the Papacy is toting.
Criticisms against Pope Francis should not as much be a matter of opinion as an opportunity to instead be pray and offer sacrifices for our suffering leaders and the major temptations that come against Christian leaders especially. It is our spiritual DUTY to pray for our leaders and if you are Catholic, then you realize that the first prayer we offer to the Father at Mass is for the Pope and our Church.
If you have ever been in a delicate situation as a leader, especially in the church, then you know there are things you can and cannot share or make public to others. You don’t go wasting your time acknowledging or negating all of the suppositions because there is no end to other’s remarks and you would get nothing good done. This is how the enemy of our souls ensnares us into whittling away our precious time and avoid doing good. Anyone who watches The Crown on Netlfix has gotten a good glimpse of this conundrum as embodied by the Queen of England over the decades of not responding to accusations. Is that right or wrong? Let’s look at it with a larger perspective and guidance from scripture.
What should I do if I struggle with a leader, especially within the church?
Certainly there are needs we have as sheep from our shepherds and it would help to have details about situations that come across the headlines. But in scripture we see God works through His authority for His purpose. There are over 50 bible verses (even if there was only one wouldn’t it be enough?) that direct us to be obedient to those in spiritual authority over us, not to mention the first three commandments which set the standard for the fact that God is God and He is on His throne. He deserves our TRUST!
Jesus didn’t take a poll on electing Peter as our first pope and you can certainly be sure that the apostles would not have voted for this fisherman who was constantly being corrected by Christ (“get behind me Satan!” MT 16:23)
Obedience to Authority. Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. Romans 13:1-2.
And from Daniel 2:21;
He causes the changes of the times and seasons,
establishes kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who understand.
In other words, where is our trust in what God has deigned? Do we not believe that God is not still on His throne? The Pope is an anointed leader. If there is something unjust in leadership, God is perfect justice. He will manage the details of what needs to be done and use the rest for the sanctification of His people. Our job is to be faithful.
Lastly, I feel the most effective way we can change the world is to be unified as Christians.
We look to the four marks of the church which begins with the word ONE (one, holy, catholic and apostolic). One is not divisible. We are “many parts but one body” (Romans 12:3.) Division is a work of the enemy, and it’s not the only trick he is using on us these days.
To think we know better than what God has deigned for this moment in time for the church is a kind of pride that will destroy not only ourselves but the fragile remnants of the faith of those who struggle around us. Let us use the greatest prudence and humility before we speak words against anyone. Instead, let us get on our knees, offer sacrifices and prayers for our church leaders and priests—protection from evil and temptation—and know that we did our part to preserve our church in the world, and trust God’s plan.
The Patron Saint of this blog, as you know is St John Bosco, or “Don Bosco” as he was affectionately known. I chose Don Bosco to keep watch over my work because at the time I began this ministry, I was a mom of three young children, one of whom was very devoted to St Bosco. Additionally, I have worked extensively in various kinds of ministry for youth including being a junior high/senior high youth minister, running several VBS’s, heading a city youth apostolate “Kids 4 Jesus”, and more. When a saint was selected for my oldest son’s school project, he and Don Bosco were a match that was made in Heaven. Don Bosco made a serious impression on my son. He was attracted to the fun side of learning about God, for which Don Bosco was adored. Laughing and having joy are pinnacle to teaching kids about faith, and I loved this particular element of St John Bosco. I wanted my Domestic Church to reflect that, and so I named this ministry “The Domestic Church of Bosco.”
I have but one soul; If I lose it, what good will it be for me to have lived?
–St John Bosco
For more information on St John Bosco’s amazing life and legacy of the Salesians, visit these sites: