Today is the feast of St. John Bosco!
I have an affinity for this Italian priest who founded the Salesians. He lived in the 1800's, is a patron saint of catechists, and was most known for his schools for boys and his sense of humor.
See? We like him.
Several years ago, we asked him to be the patron of the little school for boys we call our home. I just discovered, too, that he was born on the date we were married. I love that! While I learned some about him in college, I'm realizing that there is a depth to his life and writing that I've yet to uncover. So very much I can learn from this holy and good man who knew how to speak to the heart of little boys. Even more I can learn from his admonitions to patience and love in all our encounters with them. Sigh.
He's sometimes nicknamed "the clown of God" because he was known to juggle, do magic tricks, walk the tightrope, and play sports with the boys in order to draw them into a relationship with Christ. He'd even sport the nose when the situation called for it.
Like someone else I know...
"Get them to love you and they'll follow you anywhere," he said.
How sobering it is to realize the reality of that "anywhere."
But while he was known to be silly and was a lover of fun and sports, that didn't mean he shied away from talking about the serious. In fact, many of his writings concern sin, hell, and an awareness of death. His words contain formidable warnings for those who don't take seriously the things which they should. He loved Our Lady fiercely and promoted devotion to her as a sure means of growth in holiness. He often talked of the necessity of frequent Holy Communion and Confession. There is also an abundance of wisdom in his words for anyone who teaches, parents, or works with young people. Enough that I know I need to be learning more from this great man.
In honor of our patron's feast I surprised the boys with some "clown of God pancakes" for breakfast:
A few gems:
"Without confidence and love, there can be no true education."
"Frequent Communion and daily Mass are the two pillars of education."
"A school without music is a school without a soul, for music aids education. It is a most effective means to obtain discipline, morality, and help good feeling."
"Be quick to forgive - and do so wholeheartedly - whenever a pupil shows he is sorry. In this case, forget everything. Never say, "You will pay for this," to one who may have disobeyed, answered back, or lacked respect. That would be very un-Christian."
"Do not reprimand or correct when you are angry or upset, lest your pupils attribute it to anger, but wait, even a few days if necessary, until you have calmed down."
"An idle mind is the devil's workshop."
"As soon as you become aware of temptation, busy yourself with something. Idleness and modesty can't go together. In overcoming idleness, you will overcome temptations against purity."
"Guard your eyes for they are the windows through which sin enters the soul."
(When asked about the secret of his immense success with the young, he simply replied)
"There can be no virtue without obedience."
"My dear boy, don't you know that we must put up with a little suffering and learn to subdue our flesh in order to win Heaven?"
"There are plenty of ways to practice mortification! Just patiently endure cold, heat, sickness, troubles, people, happenings, and so forth."
"Do not pamper your body; guard your senses, especially your eyes. Above all, avoid bad reading."
"Since work is such a power against the enemies of the soul, I will not allow myself more than five hours sleep."
"Dear boys, remember that the devil's favorite bait for leading one into sin is, "Oh, that is nothing to worry about.""
"If you happen to be doing some good, the devil and your own sense of self-satisfaction will tell you that you've probably done more than enough already; maybe people will even tag you as a fanatic and over scrupulous. At death, though, the good you have done will seem so slight that you will realize you have been deceived. Strive to be aware of this now."
St. John Bosco, please pray for our family!
(P.S. I highly recommend the movie on his life St. John Bosco: Mission to Love!)