Saturday, 28 January 2017

We must understand them to make them happy

January 28-29, 2017
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father Michael Rua, the first successor of Don Bosco, used to reminisce about the times he came into contact with Don Bosco when he was still a young boy in the primary grades of the De La Salle Brothers School. This is what he used to say:

“I remember when Don Bosco used to come to celebrate Mass and to preach. As soon as he entered the chapel, it seemed as if an electric shock had gone through the whole congregation. Boys jumped up, ran out of their places, surrounded him and were not happy until they had kissed his hand. He took a long time to get to the sacristy. On these occasions our good educators could not prevent that apparent disorder, so tolerated it. When other priests came, even if they were holy or famous, such a scene was never witnessed.

Then at evening when it was announced that among those hearing Confessions was Don Bosco the other priests were left unemployed because all the lads wanted to confess their secrets to him. The reason for this enthusiasm for Don Bosco was the conviction that he was really interested in the welfare of their souls.

  • Don Bosco manifested his comprehension and understanding in the Confessional in a very special way. Here hearts were opened to him like flowers before the first rays of the sun, and so youngsters rushed his confessional. ‘Sorrow, when not expressed, kills.’ This affirmation is true also for young people. Their sufferings, although judged to be trivial by adults, are really not so because they are proportionate to their age: to poison a baby only a small dose is required! In fact pain has a greater effect on a young child than on adults. Children, as much as adults, need to confide in someone who understands them. Don Bosco, who was forever cracking jokes and was detached and mortified in so many ways, took a very serious view of any problem troubling any young person.
  • St. Augustine drily remarks upon the preoccupations of adults: “For adults, the worries of children are mere games and the games of adults are serious business.” For Don Bosco, on the contrary, the problems of young people are more important than the business affairs of grownups. For this reason he welcomed a little child in the same way as he would welcome a Minister of the Crown. The saintly educator did not treat a boy in an off-handed manner but spoke to him as an equal; he involved himself in his problems; he interested himself in his situation.
  • The inventor of the Preventive System, Don Bosco was more interested in preserving than in curing. He was more interested in keeping boys out of mischief than in rescuing adults from the results of their follies. So Confession became a Pascal Feast both for Don Bosco, who had such an admiration for the wonders of Grace, and for the boys who felt that he completely understood them.
  • The little penitents, on the level of consciousness, experienced God’s pardon and, at the level of the unconscious, experienced the loving care of the Heavenly Father. If Don Bosco was so good, how wonderful the Lord must be! For his little penitents, Don Bosco was an example of the Goodness of God.
  • Don Bosco was a saint in a continuous attitude of listening: He listened to the boys attentively so as to be able to understand the state of their souls, their nature, their aspirations, their vocation, and listened attentively to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. So he used to say: “I have always gone ahead as circumstances suggested and the Holy Spirit inspired me.” Don Bosco was a marvellous ‘go-between’ the boy and the Holy Spirit.
  • Another reason for his fascination stemmed from the breadth of his humanity. Don Bosco worked at developing the child at all levels. He stimulated the growth of the whole child.

He did not neglect any one component of human life, from gymnastics to mystics. He rejoiced when the boys went into ecstacy before the Blessed Sacrament, as he rejoiced when he saw them enjoying their meals with a heart appetite or speeding through the playground like arrows. Don Bosco hated only one thing: sin. He admired life especially as he saw it bubbling forth in young people and looked with the eyes of God at the Creator at work when, having completed each sector, He saw that it was good.

Let us educate as Don Bosco did Fr.Adolph L’Arco S.D.B.