Don Bosco, tireless apostle of Marian devotion, in the Provided Youth emphasizes the role of the Holy Virgin with regard to individual salvation: she is the mediator of graces, defended by the assaults of evil, support in the commitment to Christian life and on the path to holiness. These are elements that he draws from St. Alphonsus de Liguori: true devotion, which is expressed above all in a virtuous life, guarantees the most powerful patronage that can be had in life and in death.
The topics are taken up in the booklet Il mese di maggio (1858), where the saint explicitly frames popular and youthful Marian devotion in a context aimed at a serious fervent ethical and spiritual commitment and links Marian devotion and eternal salvation.
Ten years later (1868), on the occasion of the inauguration of the Church of Mary Help of Christians, he compiles a pamphlet entitled Maraviglie della Madre di Dio invoked under the title of Mary Help of Christians2. In it is particularly evident a framing of Marian devotion in an ecclesial perspective, on which we are increasingly opening the gaze of Don Bosco and in order to which his missionary and educational concerns are oriented. Through some evangelical meditations the saint also develops other aspects in relation to the spiritual life: Mary is a model of union with God, of service to others, of operational attention to the needs of the brothers and has a universal maternity task.
From the moment of the consecration of the sanctuary of Valdocco, Don Bosco became a tireless apostle of devotion to the Help of Christians: help of the Church in the battles of history; inspiring and powerful support of Salesian work; maternal presence operative and beneficial in the life of those who rely on her.
The Association of devotees of Mary Help of Christians (founded in 1869), * aimed at "promoting devotion to the Mother of God and veneration for the august
1 Giovanni Bosco, The month of May consecrated to Maria SS. Immaculate for the use of the people. Turin, Tip. Paravia and Company 1858 (OE X, 295-486).
2 Giovanni Bosco, Maraviglie of the mother of God invoked under the title of Mary Help of Christians. Turin, Tip. Of the Oratory of St. Franc. of Sales 1868 (OE XX, 192-376).
sacrament of the Eucharist5, certainly responds to the religious sensitivity of the time, but expresses in an excellent way Don Bosco's effort to encourage entrustment to Mary and to stimulate in all of her the imitation of her "beautiful virtues".
With the worldwide spread of Salesian work the cult of the Help of Christians spread everywhere, inseparably connected with the figure of Don Bosco and his mission.
This section, which is a simple sample taken from a vast material, includes seven meditations (nos. 286-291 and 293), some prayers offered to members of the Association of devotees of Mary Help of Christians (n. 292) and a "good night "to young people on the effectiveness of the appeal to the Help of Christians (No. 294).
Edited in G. Bosco, The month of May ..., pp. 12-18 (OE X, 306-312).
Come with me, or Christian, and consider the innumerable reasons we all have to be devotees of Mary. I will begin by mentioning the three main ones and they are the following: Mary is holier than all creatures, Mary is the mother of God, Mary is our mother.
1. Throughout the Old Testament Mary is called all beautiful and without blemish: she is compared to the shining sun; to the moon which is in the fullness of its light; to the brightest stars; to a garden full of flowers the most delicious; to a sealed source from which the clearest water flows; to a humble dove; to a very pure lily. In the Gospel then comes from the angel Gabriel called full of grace, "Ave, gratia pieno". Full of grace, that is created and formed in grace, which means that from the first moment of her existence Mary was without original and actual spot and without blemish she persevered until the last breath of life. Full of grace and therefore there was not the slightest defect that entered into her most pure heart; neither did you have any virtue that the most sublime was not practiced by Mary. The Catholic Church expresses this holiness of Mary by defining that she was always exempt from all guilt and invites us to invoke her with the following precious words: Regina sine original concepta, ora pro nobis. Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.
2. Being Mary exempt from any stain of original and actual sin; to be adorned with all the virtues we can imagine; having been filled with grace by God more than any other creature, all these prerogatives made her choose from all women to be raised to the dignity of mother of God. This is the announcement that the angel made to her: this repeated St. Elizabeth when St. she was visited by the holy Virgin: this is the greeting that the faithful Christians give each day saying: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. To the glorious name of mother of God there is less human ingenuity, therefore bowing our foreheads in the sign of the deepest veneration, we limit ourselves to saying that no creature can be raised to a more sublime dignity, no creature can achieve greater degree of glory; and consequently no creature can be more powerful with God than Mary is.
Cf the doc. n. 41: Supplication to Pius IX for the indulgences in favor of the established Association of the Mary Help of Christians.
3. But if the title of Mother of God is glorious to Mary, then it is very consoling and useful for us who are her children. Because becoming the mother of Jesus, true God and true man, he became our mother too. Jesus Christ in his great mercy wanted to call us his brothers and with this name he makes us all adopted sons of Mary. The Gospel confirms what we say here. The divine Savior was on the cross and suffered the pains of the most painful agony. His mother most holy and the apostle Saint John were at his feet immersed in the deepest pain; when Jesus opened his eyes, and perhaps it was the last time he opened them in his mortal life, he saw the beloved disciple and his dear mother. Then he dissolves the dying lips, - Woman, he said to Mary, behold your son in John; then he said to John: "Here is your mother in Mary; mulier, ecce filius tuus; exceptional mater [Jn 19,26-27]. In this fact the holy fathers unanimously recognize the will of the divine Savior, who before leaving the world wanted to give us Mary for our loving mother and we all constituted his children. Mary is also our mother because she regenerated us through Jesus Christ in grace. Because as Eve is called the mother of the living, so Mary is the mother of all the faithful by grace (Riccardo da San Lorenzo). In this regard, St. William the abbot expresses himself thus: Mary is the mother of the head, so she is also the mother of the members, that we are: Nos sumus membra Christi. Mary giving birth to Jesus also regenerated us spiritually. For this reason Mary is rightly applauded by all and as such deserves to be honored (William Abbot, Cant. 4).
Here you are, O Christians, the person I come to propose to your veneration during this month. She is the holiest of all creatures; the mother of God, our mother, a powerful and compassionate mother who ardently desires to fill us with heavenly favors. I, she tells us, I live in the highest heaven to fill my devotees with graces and blessings: ut ditem diligentes me, etc. thesauros eorum repleam [Pr 8.21].
Courage therefore, O devotees of Mary; it is a question of making a great celebration for our mother, the mother of Jesus. When our mother's feast day comes, we enjoy being able to gather relatives and friends to put us in their company and offer a bunch of flowers with some expressions of affection. The month of May is the feast of our true mother, of our heavenly protector. So let's do it with joy. The most beautiful bunch we can offer is the one that will be composed of the virtues of which she has given us luminous examples. We resolve on this day to want to address morning and evening prayers and all the affections of our heart to the one we enjoy being able to call our mother. Let us pray right now that we want to intercede a special grace with his son Jesus. Let us ask for that grace which we know to have most need.
Example - To excite you to solemnly solemnize the month of May in honor of Mary, the example of the army of the East is worthwhile when it was in Constantinople. Far from their homeland, devoid of churches and almost even devoid of sacred ministers, those Christian soldiers brought devotion and confidence to Mary from their homes. Here is the report that makes a periodical printed on June 7, 1855: "The month of May was celebrated in some hospitals with a pious and regular solemnity, which highly honors the army of the East. There is no doubt that the blessings of heaven rained on many souls touched by grace, they will pour over the whole army and will be crowned with a happy outcome of the war itself. Before those halls were in our power, they were mosques, that is, churches consecrated to Muhammad. the praises of the queen of heaven resound, an altar was raised here to Mary and was adorned with a taste that shows how each regiment has its artists. "" There are carved columns as if by magic, and there artifacted marbles that bear all the resemblance to marbles the finest, there are apparatuses in paper and in color which are the works of some convalescents who dedicate their time to things that serve to increase the dignity of worship towards the holy Ver. gine. Each house has organized its choir of songs. All musicians and the most talented of the harmonic society take care to take part. Some then composed spiritual songs which together with joy bring together singing in honor of Mary. In the evening when the singing of the sacred praises and the litanies of the Holy Virgin is finished, the chaplain or other guest makes an instruction adapted to that day, which is listened to eagerly by the listeners in large numbers gathered and devoted. Often the room cannot contain the crowd of listeners. The same wounded are brought there half an hour earlier, to be sure of having them there. This is for them the most beautiful moment of the day ". Here, oh Christian, how can we also celebrate this month and give Mary a sign of tender devotion. In the cities, in the countryside, in houses, in solitude, in the cloisters and in the regiments of the same military one can offer tributes of devotion to the queen of all saints.
Ejaculation: Pious Virgin, / behold my heart // you inflamed him / with holy love.
Prayer - Remember, pious Virgin Mary, who has never been heard in the world, who has been rejected or abandoned by you, who begs for your favors. With this trust, I introduce myself to you. Do not want mother of the Eternal Word to despise the prayers of this most humble son of yours, hear him favorably, either mercifully, or pious, or sweet Virgin Mary.
Edited in G. Bosco, The month of May ..., pp. 169-175 (OE X, 463-469).
1. We are in this world as in a stormy sea, as in an exile, in a valley of tears. Mary is the star of the sea, the comfort in our exile, the light that shows us the way to heaven by drying our tears. And this makes this tender mother with continuous spiritual and temporal help. We cannot enter any city, in any country where there is no monument of the graces obtained from Mary to her devotees. Leaving aside many famous Christian sanctuaries, where thousands testify to graces received from the walls, I mention only that of the Consolata, which fortunately we have in Turin. Go, o reader, and with the faith of a good Christian enter into those sacred walls and admire the signs of gratitude to Mary for the benefits received. Here you see a sick man sent by the doctors who regains health. There grace received and is one who has been freed from fevers; there another one recovered from gangrene. That grace received and is one who has been freed by the intercession of Mary from the hands of the assassins; there another who was not crushed under a huge falling boulder; there for the rain or serenity obtained. If you then take a look at the square of the sanctuary, you will see a monument that the city of Turin raised to Mary in 1835, when it was liberated from a deadly choleramorbus, which horribly infested the neighboring districts.
2. The favors mentioned concern only temporal needs, what shall we say about the spiritual graces that Mary has obtained and obtains for her devotees?
Large volumes should be written to enumerate the spiritual graces that his devotees have received and receive every day at the hands of this great benefactor of mankind. How many virgins owe the preservation of this state to the protection of her! How many comforts to the afflicted! How many passions fought! How many fortified martyrs! How many pitfalls of the demon overcome! Saint Bernard after having enumerated a long series of favors that Mary always gets from her devotees, ends up saying that all the good that comes to us from God comes to us through Mary: Totum nos Deus habere voluit for Mariam.
3. Nor is it only the help of Christians, but also the support of the universal Church. All the titles we give to you remember a favor; all the solemnities celebrated in the Church originated from some great miracle, from some extraordinary grace that Mary obtained in favor of the Church. How many confused heretics, how many heresies have been eradicated, a sign that the Church expresses her gratitude by saying to Mary: You alone, or great Virgin, were she, who eradicated all heresies:Interemist Cunctas haereses only in universo mundo.
Examples - We will report some examples that confirm the great favors that Mary obtained for her devotees. Let's start with the Ave Maria. The angelic salutation, or Hail Mary is composed of the words spoken by the angel to the holy Virgin and of those she added Saint Elizabeth when she went to visit. The Holy Mary was added by the Church in the 5th century. In this century a heretic named Nestorius lived in Constantinople, a man full of pride. He came to the impiousness of publicly denying the august name of Mother of God to the Holy Virgin. This was a heresy that aimed to break down all the principles of our holy religion. The people of Constantinople trembled with indignation at this blasphemy; and to enlighten the truth, supplications were sent to the Supreme Pontiff, who at the time was called Celestine, insistently demanding reparation of the scandal. The pontiff in the year 431 had a general council gathered in Ephesus, a city in Asia Minor on the banks of the Archipelago. The bishops from all parts of the Catholic world intervened in this council. Saint Cyril Patriarch of Alexandria presided over it in the name of the Pope. All the people from morning to evening stood at the doors of the church where the bishops were gathered; when he saw the door open and Saint Cyril appear at the head of 200 or more bishops and heard the condemnation of the impious Nestorius, the words of jubilation resounded in every corner of the city. The following words were repeated in everyone's mouth: Mary's enemy is defeated! Viva Maria! Long live the great, the sublime, the glorious mother of God. It was on this occasion that the Church added alrA.ve Maria those other words: holy Mary mother of God pray for us sinners. So be it. The other words, now and at the hour of our death, were introduced by the Church in later times. The solemn declaration of the Ephesian council, the august title of Mother of God given to Mary was also confirmed in other councils, until the Church instituted the feast of motherhood of the Blessed Virgin which is celebrated every year on the second Sunday of October. Nestorius, who dared to rebel against the Church and blaspheme against the great mother of God, was severely punished even in the present life.
Another example. At the time of Saint Gregory the Great raged in many parts of Europe and especially in Rome a great pestilence. To stop this scourge, Saint Gregory called for the protection of the great mother of God. Among the public works of penance he ordered a solemn procession to the miraculous image of Mary who was venerated in the basilica of Liberius, today Santa Maria Maggiore. As the procession progressed, the contagious disease moved away from those districts, until it reached the place where the monument of the emperor Hadrian (which for this reason was called Castel Sant'Angelo), a form angel appeared above it human. He placed the bloody sword in the sheath as a sign that the divine anger had subsided and that through the intercession of Mary it was to end the terrible scourge. At the same time a choir of angels was heard singing the hymn: Regina coeli laetare alleluia. The holy pontiff added two verses to this hymn with a prayer and from that time the faithful began to use it to honor the Virgin in the Easter season, a time of all joy for the Savior's resurrection. Benedict XIV gave the same indulgences of the Angelus Domini to the faithful who recite it at Easter time. The use of reciting the Angelus is very ancient in the Church. Not knowing the precise time in which the Virgin was announced, whether in the morning or in the evening, the primitive faithful greeted her in these two times with the Hail Mary. From this came later the use of ringing bells in the morning and evening, to remind Christians of this pious custom. It is believed that this was introduced by Pope Urban II in 1088. He had ordered something to excite Christians to use Mary to implore her protection in the morning of the war that was burning between Christians and Turks in the evening to implore happiness and harmony among Christian princes. Gregory IX in 1221 also added the sound of the bells at noon. The pontiffs enriched this devotional exercise with many indulgences. In 1724, Benedict XIII gave the 100-day indulgence for each time he was recited and to whomever had recited a full plenary indulgence for a whole month, provided he had made the sacramental confession and communion on a month day.
Ejaculatory prayer: O Mary, our advocate, / of all dispenser grace, // of messenger health / to the just man and to the peccator. // Ah! from heaven, compassionate mother, / look at your devotees, // hear our vows, / o great mother of the Lord.
Edited in G. Bosco, The month of May ..., pp. 179-183 (OE X, 473-477).
1. Now that we have finished the month of Mary, I judge well by the conclusion of the same to give you some useful memories to secure the protection of this great mother of ours, in life and in death. Mary, being our mother, must certainly abhor the outrages that are made to Jesus her son. Therefore those who wish to enjoy her patronage in life and in death must abstain from sin. Our hope would be in vain if we believed we enjoyed the protection of Mary, offending her son Jesus whom she loved above all else. But we must not only guard ourselves from offending Jesus, but still with all the strength of our heart to meditate on the divine mysteries of his passion, to follow him in penance. Mary herself said to Saint Bridget one day: "Daughter, if you want to make me something grateful, love my son Jesus with all my heart. Mary is a refuge for sinners, so we must also work with holy advice, solicitude, prayers, good books, and other ways of leading souls to Jesus and increasing Mary's children. Nothing is more important to Jesus than the health of souls; therefore Mary, who tenderly loves her son, cannot receive more pleasing deference than what is done by gaining her some soul. We must also try to offer her in honor of the victory of some passion. So if someone of a choleric nature often breaks out in acts of impatience, in curses and in blasphemies, or has contracted a habit of talking dirty and with little respect for religious matters, it is fitting that you compare your language to pay a respectable welcome to the Virgin. In short, everyone must study to escape what is evil and do what is good for Mary's sake.
2. Among the many respects we can do to Mary, then, is preparing ourselves to devoutly celebrate her solemnities with triduums, novenas, octaves, according to whether we want to do them either in public churches or even in private homes. Saint Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal, on all Saturdays and in all the wards preceding the solemnities of the Virgin, she fasted with bread and water. Some others usually go to confession and communicate each other on public holidays, as did St. Louis Gonzaga, St. Stanislaus Kostka and others. Others give alms to the poor and damage in suffrage to those souls who were more devoted than Mary in life. There are also some devotees of Mary, who in honor of her often attend the holy mass with the intention of thanking the holy Trinity who raised Mary on the most beautiful throne in heaven. Revere others with special worship the saints closest to her in kinship, such as Saint Joseph his most holy husband, Saint Gioachino and Saint Anna, his most happy parents.
3. There are also special devotional practices which are like flames of fire that make this compassionate Mother of love burn for us. For example, the Angelus in the morning, at noon, in the evening; the rosary every day or at least on each public holiday; to attend vespers, intervene in the exercises of piety, which take place on Saturdays in honor of his immaculate heart. But I recommend you to say every night before you lie down three times the following prayer: Dear Mother Virgin Mary, let me save my soul. Let us always remember that being devoted to Mary is one of the safest means of achieving eternal life. She herself assures us by saying: Those, who are my devotees, will have eternal life: Qui elucidant me, vitam aeternam habebunt [Sir 24.31].
Example - I recommend that you never let any Saturday pass without doing anything in honor of Mary. From the earliest times of the Church, Christians used to practice some devotion to the Holy Virgin on the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day means rest and wants to be chosen to allude to rest, or dwelling place that the divine Word deigned to do in the most pure bosom of Mary. One of the hottest propagators of the cult of Mary on the Sabbath day was Saint Ildephonsus Archbishop of Toledo. He had composed some songs in praise of this mother of mercy and on the following Saturday he heard the angels singing them in the church, among whom was the Virgin herself. After this the Sabbath cult spread rapidly throughout Europe. Since the tenth century abstinence from meat was in use today in honor of Maria. A little later the mass and the office were composed just to be recited on that day. Both the mass and the filrono office approved by Pope Urban II in the council of Chiaramonti [Clermont] the year 1095. Let us never pass any Sabbath without practicing any act of virtue in honor of Mary and if we can do holy communion or at least let's go and listen to a mass for the souls of purgatory.
Ejaculatory: Oh if one day I could see / all the hearts of love languish / so yes beautiful queen and hear / his name for all praise; // so
on earth for every border / resound with sweet harmony, / alive, live forever Mary, / living God who loved her so much.
Ed. In print in Giovanni Bosco, Maraviglie of the mother of God invoked under the title of Mary Help of Christians. Turin, Tip. Of the Oratory of St. Franc. of Sales 1868, pp. 31-37 (OE) 0C, 223-229).
In the Gospel of Saint John we find a fact that clearly demonstrates Mary's power and zeal in coming to our aid. We report the fact which the evangelist Saint John tells us in chapter II.
In Cana of Galilee there was a marriage and there was the mother of Jesus. And Jesus was also invited with his disciples to the wedding. As the wine failed, he told Jesus his mother: "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her: "What have I to do with you, woman?" my hour is not yet come. He said his mother to those who served: - Do whatever he tells you. Now there were six stone idries prepared for Jewish purification, each containing two to three metretas. Jesus said to them: - Fill those hydrays with water. And they filled them to the brim. And Jesus said to them: "Take now and take the teacher of the house. And they brought it. And as soon as he had made the essay of the water converted into wine, the housekeeper, who did not know how this came out (but the servants who had drawn the water knew it), the housekeeper calls the groom and tells him : - Everyone serves the best quality wine at the beginning and when people are exhilarated, then they give the inferior, but you have kept the best until now. Thus Jesus in Cana of Galilee began to work miracles and manifested his glory and his disciples believed in him.
Here St. John Chrysostom asks: Why did Mary wait at this occasion of the wedding of Cana to invite Jesus to work miracles and did not ask him to do it first? And he replies, that this was done by Mary in a spirit of submission to divine providence. For thirty years Jesus had led a hidden life. And Mary who made precious preserves of all the acts of Jesus, conservabat haec omnia conferens in corde, as Saint Luke says (chapter II, v. 19), with a respectful silence revered that humiliation of Jesus. When then he realized that Jesus his public life had begun, that St. John in the desert had already begun in his sermons to speak of him and that Jesus already had disciples, then he seconded the initiation of grace with that same spirit of union with Jesus with which he had for trent years respected his hiding and interposed his prayer to urge him to perform a miracle and manifest himself to men.
Saint Bernard, in the words Vinum non habent, have no wine, he sees a great delicacy of Mary. She does not make a long-winded prayer to Jesus as Lord, nor does he command him as a son; does nothing but announce the need, the lack of wine. With hearts that are beneficial and inclined to liberality, it is not necessary to wrest grace with industry and violence, it is enough to propose the occasion (Saint Bernard, Serm. 4 in Cant.).
The angelic doctor Saint Thomas admires Mary's tenderness and mercy in this short prayer. Because it is proper to mercy to consider our needs as others, since the merciful word is almost like a heart made for the poor, to lift up the poor and quotes here the text of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: Quis infirmatur et ego non infirmor? [2Cor 11.29]. Who is sick, who is not sick? Now since Mary was full of mercy, she wanted to provide for these guests and therefore says the Gospel: - Lacking the wine, the Mother of Jesus told him. Wherefore Saint Bernard encourages us to have recourse to Mary, because if he had so much compassion for the shame of those poor people and provided them, though not prayed, how much more will he have mercy on us if we invoke it with confidence? (Saint Bernard, Serm. 2 Dominicae II Epif.).
St. Thomas then praises the solicitude and diligence of Mary in not waiting for the wine to be completely missed and the guests coming to realize it with dishonor of the inviting. As soon as the need was imminent the relief according to the saying of Psalm 9 was appropriate: Adiutor in opportunitatibus, in tribulation [Ps. 9.10].
The goodness of Mary shown to us in this fact shines most in the conduct she held after the answer of her divine son.
To the words of Jesus a less confident soul, less courageous than Mary, would have desisted (Nile hope further. Maria, however, not at all disturbed, turns to the servants of the table and tells them: - Do what he tells you: Quodcumque dixerit vobis , do (Jn 2: 5) As if saying: Although it seems that you deny doing, but will do (Bede).
The learned P. Silveira enumerates a great complex of virtues that shine in these words of Mary. He gave the Virgin (says this author) a luminous example of faith, for though he heard the hard answer from his son: "What I have to do with you, but he did not hesitate." Faith when it is perfect, does not hesitate in the face of any adversity. He taught trust: although he heard from his son words that seemed to express a negative, indeed, as the aforementioned Venerable Bede says, the Virgin could very well believe that Christ would reject his prayers, yet he worked against hope, very trusting in the mercy of son. He taught love towards God, while he procured that with a miracle his glory would manifest itself. He taught obedience while he persuaded the servants to obey God not in this or that, but in everything without distinction; quodcumque dixerit [Jn 2,5], whatever it will tell you. He also gave an example of modesty while he did not take advantage of this opportunity to boast of being the mother of a son so much because he did not say: "Whatever my son will tell you; but he spoke in the third person. He still inspired the reverence for God by not pronouncing the holy name of Jesus. I have never yet found, says this author, in the writing that the Blessed Virgin pronounced this most holy name for the sum veneration she professed. He gave an example of readiness, because he does not exhort them to hear what he would have said, but to do so. He finally taught prudence with mercy, for he told the servants to do whatever he had told them, so that when they understood Jesus' order to fill the water with water, they would not impute it to be ridiculous: it was just a sum mercy and it is prudent to prevent others from falling into evil (P. Silveira, tom. 2, book 4, quest. 21).
Ed. In print in G. Bosco, Maraviglie of the mother of God ..., pp. 37-42
(OE XX, 229-234).
The most splendid proof that Mary is the help of Christians we find on Mount Calvary. While Jesus hung agonizingly on the cross, Mary, overcoming her natural weakness, assisted him with unprecedented strength. It seemed that nothing more remained to Jesus to do to show how much he loved us. His affection, however, still made him find a gift that had to seal the whole series of his benefits. From the top of the cross he turns his dying gaze on his mother, the only treasure that remained on earth. - Woman, Jesus said to Mary, here is your son; Then he said to the disciple John: "Here is your mother." And from that point, the evangelist concludes, the disciple took her among his possessions.
The holy fathers in these words recognize three great truths: 1. That Saint John succeeded in everything and for everything to Jesus as son of Mary; 2. That therefore all the maternity offices that Mary exercised over Jesus passed in favor of the new son John; 3. That in the person of John Jesus he intended to understand the whole human race.
Mary, says St. Bernardine of Siena, with his loving cooperation in the ministry of Redemption, truly generated us on Calvary for the life of grace; in the order of health we are all born of the sorrows of Mary as of the love of the eternal Father and of his son as well. In those precious moments Mary became strictly our Mother.
The circumstances that accompanied this solemn act of Jesus on Calvary confirm what we are saying. The words chosen by Jesus are generic and appellative, the said P. Silveira observes, but they are enough to make us know that here we are dealing with a universal mystery, which includes not just one man, but all those men to whom this title of beloved disciple of Jesus. So the words of the Lord are a very broad and solemn declaration that the Mother of Jesus became the mother of all Christians: Ioannes est nomen particulare, discipulus commune ut denotetur quod Maria omnibus detur in matrem.
Jesus on the cross was not just a victim of the Jews' malice, he was a universal pontiff who worked as a repairman for the whole human race. So in the same way that begging forgiveness to the crucifiers he obtained it to all sinners; opening the paradise to the good thief opened it to all the penitents. And like the crucifixers on Calvary, according to the energetic expression of Saint Paul, they represented all the sinners and the good thief all the true penitents, so Saint John represented all the true disciples of Jesus, the Christians, the Catholic Church. And Mary became, as St Augustine says, the true Eve, the mother of all those who spiritually live, Mater viventium; or as St. Ambrose states, the mother of all those who Christianly believe, Mater omnium credentium.
Mary, therefore, becoming our mother on Mount Calvary, not only received the title of help of Christians, but bought the office, the magisterium and duty. We therefore have a sacred right to have recourse to Mary's help. This right is consecrated by the word of Jesus and guaranteed by the maternal tenderness of Mary. Now that Mary has interpreted the intention of Jesus Christ on the cross in this sense and that he made her the mother and helper of all Christians, the conduct she held then proved it. We know from the writers of his life how much zeal it showed at all times for the health of the world and for the increase and glory of Holy Church. She directed and advised the apostles and disciples, exhorted, animated everyone to keep the faith, to preserve grace and make it active. We know from the Acts of the Apostles how assiduous she was to all the religious meetings held by those first faithful of Jerusalem, because the divine mysteries were never celebrated without her taking part. When Jesus went up to heaven she followed him with the disciples on Mount Oliveto, to the place of the Ascension. When the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, on the day of Pentecost, she was in the cenacle with them. This is what St. Luke recounts, who after having named the apostles gathered together in the Upper Room one by one, says: "All these persevered in prayer together with women and with Mary the mother of Jesus".
The apostles also and the disciples and how many Christians lived at that time in and around Jerusalem, all flocked to Mary to be advised and directed.
Ed. In print in Giovanni Bosco, Association of devotees of Mary Help of Christians canonically erected in the church dedicated to her in Turin. With historical information on this title. turin,
Tip. dell'Orat. of S. Franc. of Sales 1869, pp. 5-9 (OE XXI, 343-347).
The title of Help of Christians, attributed to the august mother of the Savior, is not new. In the same holy books Mary is called the queen who stands on the right hand of her divine son, dressed in gold and surrounded by variety. Adstitit regina a dextris tuis in vestitu deaurato, circumdata varietate (Ps 45, 10). This mantle, gilded and surrounded by variety, according to the spirit of the Church, are so many gems and diamonds, or titles, with which Mary is usually called. When therefore we call the holy Virgin Help of Christians, it is nothing other than to name a special title that suits her, as a diamond above her gilded clothes. In this sense Mary was greeted Help of mankind from the earliest times of the world, when Adam fell into guilt, a liberator was promised, who had to be born of a woman, who with his immaculate foot would have crushed the head of the snake sneaker.
Indeed this great woman is symbolized in the tree of life, which existed in the earthly paradise; in the ark of Noah, who saves the worshipers of the true God from the universal flood; in the ladder of Jacob, which rises up to the sky; in the bush of Moses, which burns and is not consumed and which alludes to the virgin Mary after childbirth; in the ark of the covenant; in the tower of David, which defends from every assault; in the rose of Jericho; in the sealed fountain; in the well cultivated and guarded garden of Solomon; is figured in a blessing aqueduct: in the fleece of Gedeon. Elsewhere it is called the star of Jacob, beautiful as the moon, chosen as the sun, an iris of peace, a pupil of the eye of God, an aurora who brings consolation, a virgin and mother and the mother of her Lord. These symbols and expressions, which the Church applies to Mary, make manifestos of God's providential signs, which wanted to make her known before her birth as the first-born among all creatures, the most excellent protector, help and support, even repairer of evils , to which mankind succumbed.
In the New Testament it is not only with symbols and prophecies appealed to the help of men in general, but help, support and defense of Christians. No more figures, no more symbolic expressions; in the Gospel everything is reality and a fulfillment of the past. Mary is greeted by the archangel Gabriel who calls her full of grace; God beholds the great humility of Mary and raises her to the dignity of mother of the eternal Word. Jesus, the immense God, becomes the son of Mary. She is born, educated, assisted by her; and the eternal Word made flesh subjected in everything to the obedience of his august parent. At her request, Jesus works the first of his miracles in Cana of Galilee; on Calvary it is in fact constituted the common mother of Christians. The apostles are guiding and teaching virtues. With her they gather to pray in the Cenacle; with her they wait for prayer and finally receive the Holy Spirit. He directs his last words to the apostles and gloriously flies to heaven.
From her highest seat of glory she turns her maternal glances and goes saying: Ego in altissimis habito, ut ditem diligentes me et thesauros eorum repleam [Pr 8,21]. I dwell on the highest throne of glory to enrich those who love me with blessings and to fill their treasures with heavenly favors. From his Assumption into Heaven began the constant and never interrupted concurrence of Christians with Mary, nor was it ever heard, says Saint Bernard, that anyone has relied on this most merciful Virgin and has not been heard. Hence the reason why every century, every year, every day and, we can say, every moment is reported in history by some great favor granted to those who have invoked it with faith. Hence also the reason why every kingdom, every city, every country, every family has a church, a chapel, an altar, an image, a painting or some sign that recalls the universal veneration given to Mary and at the same time recalls any of the many graces granted to those who made an appeal to her in the necessities of life.
Printed editions in G. Bosco, Association of devotees of Mary Help of Christians ..., pp. 55-59
(OE XXI, 393-397).
Virgin Mary, queen of heaven and earth, in whom after God I placed all my trust, I humbly cast you at your feet, as the last of your servants, to consecrate myself to your service in this pious association erected under your protection and I promise with all my heart to practice all the things that the rules of it prescribe with the greatest possible devotion, so that for the merits of Jesus Christ your dear child and for your powerful intercession all the associates are preserved from every spiritual and corporal evil in their life; that they be blessed by the Lord in all their actions and that they finally get the grace to die of the death of the just. Since the sole desire to please you is what leads me to embrace this devoted association; so I humbly beseech you, O holy Virgin, to want to receive me in the ranks of your children and obtain for me the grace to correspond with the goodness of the customs and with the sanctity of the works to the exalted character of your servant.
O glorious Virgin Mary, from your high throne deign to look at me with that kindly eye that is always open for those who have consecrated themselves to your service; and since today I point out my name in the book of this pious association, so deign to write it in your maternal heart; pray your divine Son to please me to be numbered among those who are written in the book of eternal life. So be it.
Act of filiation with which we take the Virgin Mary for mother
My Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, the only child of God and of the holy Virgin, I recognize you and adore you as my first beginning and last end. I beg you to renew in my favor that mysterious loving testament you have made on the cross, giving the beloved apostle Saint John the quality and the title of son of your mother Mary. Say these words to me too: Woman, here is your son. Allow me to be able to belong to her as a son and to have her as a mother in all the time of my mortal life on this earth.
Blessed Virgin Mary, my principal advocate and mediator, I NN miserable sinner, the most unworthy and the least of your servants, humbly prostrated before you, entrusted to your goodness and mercy, and animated by a keen desire to imitate your beautiful virtues, I elect you today for my mother, begging you, to receive me in the lucky number of your dear children. I make a whole and irrevocable donation of myself. Receive my protest from grace; like the confidence with which I abandon myself in your arms. Grant me your maternal protection throughout the course of my life and particularly at the hour of death, so that my soul, released from the laces of the body, pass from this valley of tears to enjoy with you the eternal glory in the kingdom of heaven . So be it.
Prayer of His Holiness Pius IX
Lord, almighty God, who allows evil to obtain good from it, listen to our humble prayers, with which we ask you to remain faithful in the midst of so many assaults and persevere faithful until death. In the rest, give us strength with the mediation of Mary Most Holy, to always be able to conform to your most holy will.
Ed. In print in Giovanni Bosco, Nine days consecrated to the august Mother of the Savior under the title of Mary Help of Christians. Turin, Tip. dell'Orat. of St. Francis de Sales 1870, pp. 7-14
(OE XXII, 259-266).
1. A good mother is always a true treasure and a great comfort to her family. Thus our compassionate Mother Mary will certainly be a source of graces and blessings to the families of Christians scattered throughout the world. We live as in a stormy sea, as in exile, as in a valley of tears. Now, Mary is the star of the sea, the comfort of our exile, the light that illuminates us, the way to heaven, is life, sweetness, our hope: life, dulcedo, et spes nostra. She shows us this by obtaining continual spiritual and temporal help. Mary, says St. Jerome, has a heart so compassionate and tender towards men, that she has never been a person, who was so grieved with her own pains, as Mary of others' sufferings (Epist. In Eustoc.). Therefore it is not so soon seen a need that immediately brings us relief. Thus Maria barely knew from the archangel that Zechariah's family and especially Elizabeth needed help, in a hurry he took her, making a journey of roughly seventy miles through rugged mountains: abiit in montana cumfestinatione (Lk 1:39). When Mary arrived in that adventurous house, for three months she served her as a humble servant, and never left her until she no longer needed her service. She did the same in Cana of Galilee. There was a wedding Mary invited with Jesus and other distinguished characters: when the wine is missing in the best meal. Mary, with her maternal eye, sees that the spouses are in pain and are now covered with shame. At that sight, Mary is moved and without being asked, she thinks of bringing them help. The office of pious auxiliaries was soon assumed, as Saint Bernardino of Siena reflects: ufficium piae auxiliatricis assumsit non rogata (sant'Alfonso de 'Liguori, Glorie di Maria). - Son, he says in a whisper to Jesus, they have no wine. Mary pronounces these words with such an expression as to make known that she desires a miracle in favor of those of her devotees and obtains it and consoles them (Jn 2: 3).
2. This tender concern Mary did not diminish since she was taken up by the angels into heaven; on the contrary, it increased it. Oh! yes she still remembers that on Mount Calvary Jesus made her our mother. Mulier, ecce filius tuus, and then to the beloved disciple: Ecce mater tua (Jn 19, 26-27). At that moment Jesus touched her - all the heart and so much tenderness for us filled him that imagining cannot be done by human mind. We also put together the love that mothers all bring to their children; but the fullness of affection of all these mothers will never be worthy to equal the love that Mary alone brings to each of us. O dear thought, sweet comfort! to have such a tender and loving mother in heaven! This is the reason, or devout Christian, for which we do not read that over the course of many centuries Mary did not always come to the aid of Christians in whatever they needed. Oh! no, St. Augustine and St. Bernard exclaim in one voice, in the world one never heard anyone in his needs confidently turned to Mary and was abandoned by her (St. Alphonsus, Novena of Meditations). You also carry out the pages of the holy books and all the stories, scroll through every part of the Christian world, question the peoples, kingdoms, cities, villages, families and ask if ever between them it happened that Mary failed to run to the aid of his needy children. Your question everyone will respond to your question: no, never. To better persuade you of this truth, my lord, enter some shrine dedicated to Mary and you will soon be convinced that it is the Help of Christians in the needs of life. Look for signs of her goodness and power on those sacred walls. There you see a sick man already sent by the doctors, but who instead acquires health for Mary; here one from fevers, another from transient malady, one third from freed gangrene. Others still observe them, who through his intercession escaped from the hands of the "murderers or from the waters or from the fires or from a fall and so on. To go out of there you will not be able except to exclaim: O Maria, how powerful you are and how good you are, how much it is true that you bring help to those who invoke you in the necessities of life.
3. If Mary comes to our aid in temporal needs, with much greater care she will help us in spiritual needs. It would be necessary to write large volumes for all to enumerate the great benefits that Mary did to her devotees. Saint Bernard expresses this truth by saying: - God wanted every good to come to us through Mary; totum nos habere voluit for Mariam; and Saint Bernardino of Siena adds: - All the graces we receive from God are dispensed through Mary and are dispensed to those who want Mary, when she wants and as Mary wants (St. Alphonsus, Glories of Mary). And oh! how many virgins owe their virginal candor to her protection! how young the victory of the passions! how many fathers, how many mothers the eternal health of their children! It can be said that in the new law there is no saint who does not recognize his holiness from the intercession of Mary. History tells us that the most famous of them were also the most devoted of Mary. Nor is only Mary the help of Christians in particular, but the support of the universal Church. For the help of Mary the apostles, the martyrs, the primitive Church won the persecutors; idolatry was eradicated by her help; for her the banner of the cross waved for the whole world and triumphed (Saint Cyril Aless., Homil. cont. Nest .; Octava Nativitatis B. V.). For her overcome the barbarians, for her confused heretics, for her eradicated heresies. Therefore with reason Saint John Chrysostom already called Mary the decorum, the glory, the firmness of the Church: Ecclesiae nostrae decus, glory and firmamentum (Serm. Apud Metaph., Die 5 Nativitatis B. V. in Off.). Therefore, o devout reader, let us say with St Bernard: In dangers, in distresses, in doubts, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Mary never leaves your mouth; Mary never strays from your heart. In periculis, in angustiis, Mariam cogita, Mariam invokes; not recedat ab ore, not recedat to ropes (Hom. 2 super Missus est).
ASC A000303 Conferences, Quads III, 1877-1878, ms of Giacomo Gresino, pp. 4-104. Goodnight speech to the youth of the Oratory.
Sunday 20 May 1877
We are on the feast of Pentecost and in the novena of Mary Most Holy Help of Christians. In these days, not one, but many per day, graces are obtained from Mary Most Holy, whether one comes here to ask for them and obtains oneself, or the relationships we have from afar with resounding graces obtained from Mary Help of Christians.
And truly the Church makes us know this power and kindness of Mary with that psalm that begins: Si caeli quaeris ianuas, Mariae nomee invokes, if you seek the doors of heaven, invoke the name of Mary. If it is enough to invoke the name of Mary to enter paradise, it must be said that she is powerful. And precisely the Church in another place represents it to itself, alone as an army ordered to battle. And although the literal meaning of the words means the external enemies of the Church, however, the spirit of the Church also took them out of consideration for our particular enemies.
I therefore recommend to you, how much I know and can, that you have always carved in the mind and in the heart and that you always invoke the name of Maria, in this way: Maria Auxilium Christianorum, now pro me. It is a prayer not so long, but one that was very effective. So when you want to get some spiritual grace, and by spiritual grace you can understand liberation from temptations, from afflictions of spirit, from lack of fervor, etc., if any of you want to free yourself from some temptation or buy some great virtues, you don't have to do nothing but invoke Mary. These and other spiritual graces are those that are obtained in greater quantities and are those that are not known and that do greater good among souls. And most of those who are here, without me naming them, confessed to me that if they could be freed from some temptation it is for Mary Help of Christians.
Many then, to whom I had recommended this prayer, Maria Auxilium Christianorum, now pro nobis, confessed to me that they had felt the effects. And of the hundred and a thousand of those who are here or who have been furious, of ours and of foreigners, to whom I have recommended myself that if they were not answered with this prayer they would say to me, so far there was no one who told me so. There was no one who came to say that he had not been heard, but then questioned he confessed to me that he had indeed intended to pray, but that he had not. Then it is no longer the holy Virgin who does not answer, but it is he who does not want to be heard. Because prayer must be made insistently, with perseverance, with faith, with the intention of being fulfilled.
I want you all to do this test and to have it done also to all your relatives and friends, telling them either by letter or at this upcoming feast of Mary Help of Christians, coming to see you or otherwise, that Don Bosco tells them that if they have some spiritual grace to be obtained may the Madonna pray in this form: Maria Auxilium Christianorum, ora pro nobis; and if they are not answered they will give me great pleasure in letting me know. And if I come to know that one has not obtained any spiritual grace from Mary, I will immediately write a letter to Saint Bernard who was mistaken in saying: "Remember, most profound Virgin Mary, who has never been heard in the world but by you whether any one who implores your favors has been rejected or abandoned. Be assured that I will not have to write a letter to Saint Bernard. You laugh about sending a letter to Saint Bernard. And do we not know where St. Bernard is? "There is difficulty in the post office", Don Rua was heard to say. Oh, to write to the saints we have a faster expedient than the cars, that the steam, than the telegraph. Because the telegraph, although it goes so instantaneously, nevertheless it takes some time; but I, as I speak to you now, go up with my thoughts, over the stars, before the throne of Saint Bernard. And fear not that he will receive our letters and immediately, even if the bellboy was late. So do the test and if you are not heard we will not find it difficult to send a letter to Saint Bernard.
For the purpose of this novena, which is still ongoing, I would like you to carve these words in your heart: Maria Auxilium Christianorum, now for me, and that you recite it to every danger, to every temptation, to every need and always; and that you also asked Mary Help of Christians for the grace to be able to invoke her in your needs. And then I promise you that the devil will go bankrupt. Do you know what it means that the devil will go bankrupt? It means that he will no longer have any power over us and will have to withdraw. Meanwhile, I commend all of you to the Lord and to Mary Help of Christians, to bless you and protect you, and good night.
The efforts for the Christian reform of society, implemented in the diocese of Turin after the collapse of the Napoleonic empire, in addition to the resumption of methodical parish catechesis, the promotion of popular missions, forty hours and spiritual exercises for all social classes , concentrated above all on the reform of the clergy, starting with a more careful selection of candidates for the priesthood and the diligent care of their qualification. To this end the diocesan authorities first reorganized the capital's seminary (1819), reinforcing the disciplinary and spiritual aspects, and favored the initiatives of the theologian Luigi Guala, approving the regulations of the ecclesiastical boarding school (1821), then extended the Bra seminary (1824 -1825), finally established a new seminary in Chieri (1829), in the ancient house of the Filippini fathers, entrusting it to trusted trainers'. The formative model advocated by the archbishop, the Camaldolese Colombano Chiaveroti (1754-1831), was inspired by the priestly ideals of the post-Tridentine Catholic tradition, with a strong emphasis on apostolic charity and pastoral oblivion (the priest must be a "victima charitatis') 2. Meanwhile, groups of generous ecclesiastics, following their reforming efforts, made themselves available for popular preaching, the ministry of confessions and spiritual direction, together with members of some orders and congregations reconstituted after the suppressions of the French era.
Progressively the training commitment produced its fruits. Starting in the 1940s, a group of young priests, well prepared and motivated, entered the parishes and charitable institutions of the diocese, effectively contributing to the spiritual renewal of society and to the resumption of religious practice among the population. New apostolic frontiers were opened. Unpublished pastoral, educational and welfare institutions arose.
Don Bosco, educated in these years, assimilated the spiritual and apostolic fervor of the environments in which he was formed. The reference models were the holy shepherds of the Catholic Reformation - St. Philip Neri, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Francis de Sales and St. Vincent de Paul - their ardent apostolic dynamism and their active charity.
'Cf Aldo GIRAUDO, Clergy, seminar and society. Aspects of the religious Restoration in Turin. Rome, LAS 1993, pp. 177-213.
2 Ibid., Pp. 245-254, 277-288.
Giuseppe Cafasso, collaborator and successor of Guala in the ecclesiastical boarding school, emerged for his extraordinary talent as spiritual guide for priests and moral teacher. A highly appreciated spiritual director, an ardent preacher, an untiring and enlightened confessor, an apostle of charity to prisoners and the poorest, he played, with the example of his priestly life, with the charisms of which he was endowed and with the ardor of his charity, a role decisive for the spiritual and pastoral regeneration of the Piedmontese clergy and laity. He died consumed by fatigue at the age of 49. Don Bosco had him as a teacher and guide, as a stimulating model. From him he was directed and encouraged to ministry among poor and abandoned youth. From him he drew important lessons in spiritual life, together with the passion for the salvation of souls, tireless charity, ardent faith, and pastoral courage.
In this fifth section we transcribe two splendid speeches by Don Bosco, one on Don Cafasso (n. 295), the other on Saint Philip Neri (n. 296), from which the spiritual importance emerges, for his choices and for the apostolic dynamism impressed on the Salesian work, of these reference models, so radical and ardent in their dedication.
Ed. In print in Giovanni Bosco, Biography of the priest Giuseppe Cafasso exposed in two funeral reasonings. Turin, Tip. G. B. Paravia and Comp. 1860, pp. 9-45 (OE XII, 359-395) 3.
I do not know, my dear young and venerable gentlemen, I do not know if the subject of this morning should for us be considered as an object of pain or consolation. Certainly if in the death of the Cafasso priest we consider the loss of a benefactor of miserable humanity, we have serious reasons to complain and cry as if struck by a serious disaster. Misfortune for the good, accident for the poor, disaster for the clergy, public calamity for religion.
3 The commemoration was held on 10 July 1860 in the church of San Francesco di Sales, at the end of the funeral Mass celebrated seventeen days after the death of Cafasso (G. Bosco, Biography of the priest Giuseppe Cafasso ..., p. 3). The clerics) Domenico Ruffino (1840-1865) writes in his chronicle: "July 10. The funeral was given to Don Cafasso by the youth of the Oratory, who took care to do Holy Communion. [...] At 6 am 1/2 began the parade mass, sung by theol. Borel, and afterwards he gave Don Bosco funerary prayer, indeed he read it because he would not have been able to continue otherwise because of the emotion, but the tears and things that flowed several times nevertheless he narrated and the whole sermon abducted the listeners who saw him finish regretfully, but he promised that he would write the life in peace "(ASC A0120201 Chronicle of the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales N 1, 1860, ms of Domenico Ruffino, p .23)
But if we judge this loss in the presence of faith we have reasonable reason to change our anxiety in consolation, because if we have lost a man who benefited us above the earth, we have firm confidence that we have purchased a protector with God in heaven.
In fact, if we look over the life of the priest Cafasso, above the innocence of his customs, above the zeal for the glory of God and for the health of souls, above his faith, hope, charity, humility and penance; we must conclude that a great prize has been shared with so many virtues and that by dying he has done nothing but abandon this mortal life full of miseries, to fly to the possession of the blessed eternity.
Moreover, according to St. Paul, the virtues of mortal man are imperfect and are not even worthy of being compared with the heavenly: therefore if the charity of the Cafasso priest was great on earth, how much more will it be now that we believe in heaven? Therefore, if on earth he benefited us as one, in heaven he will benefit us as ten, as a hundred, as a thousand. Fortunate therefore are those who could enjoy the charity of Don Cafasso when he was above the earth, but much more fortunate they and all those who now recognize him as protector with God in heaven.
In order for us to be persuaded of what I say, I beg you to accompany me with your compassionate attention, as I go about exposing the main actions of the life of this wonderful man. I say to expose you only the main actions, because most of them are still unknown, but with time they will go diligently gathering in order to make it glorious deposit for history. I will therefore limit myself to only those things that I myself have seen, or hear. These too I must partly keep silent both to hold myself to the brevity desired in a speech, and because many of them would cause me too great emotion from which perhaps I would be prevented from being able to expose them. However, even considering the brevity of a speech and keeping to the sole account of things mostly known to those who knew him, I believe that they will suffice to persuade us that the priest Cafasso Giuseppe lived a holy life, to which he held a holy death.
These are the two first thoughts that come to mind recalling this dear and beloved friend; and these two thoughts are also the subject of our detention. Meanwhile, while we are remembering the virtuous deeds and the precious death of the priest Cafasso, we will say that he was a master of living well and a model for all those who wish to make a holy death.
It happens to many youngsters that for the unfortunate encounter of perverse companions, or for the neglect of the parents and often still for their unfaithful nature to the good education, from an early age they become unhappy prey of the vice, thus losing the inestimable treasure of innocence before having known the merit and becoming slaves of satanasso without even having been able to taste the sweetness of the children of God. For Don Cafasso it was not so. He was born in January 1811 in Castelnuovo d'Asti as honest farmers. The docility, the obedience, the retreat, the love for study and the piety of the young Cafasso, meant that he soon became the object of the complacency of the parents and his teachers.
The characteristic thing from that early age was his retreat combined with an almost irresistible propensity to do good to others. He thought the happiest day for him when he could give good advice, he could promote good or prevent evil. At the age of ten he was already a little apostle in his homeland. He was often seen leaving the house, looking for companions, relatives and friends. Big and small, young and old, all of them invited you to come to his house, and then he told them to kneel down and do short prayer with him; then he mounted on a chair which for him became a pulpit and from which he preached, that is, he was repeating the sermons he heard in church or recounting edifying examples. He was of small build and his body was almost all in the voice; therefore each one to gaze at that angelic face, that mouth from which words and discourses so much greater than that age came, was full of wonder, exclaiming with the words uttered by those who looked at the little boy St. John the Baptist: who will this child be? Quis putas puer irte erit? [Lk 1,66].
You, or Castelnovesi, who astonished listening to the Cafasso child asked who he will be to be, then you didn't know, but now I am able to satisfy you. That child will be a model of virtue in the schools, that which the masters will offer as an example of diligence to the disciples; he will be the mirror of devotion, he will have to guide so many disciples on the path of virtue, to confirm many good in the way of good; he will be the father of the poor,
the parents' delight; he will be the one who will soon reach such a degree of virtue that he no longer knows any road other than that which leads to the church and school; he will be the one who after spending fifteen years in study and virtue resolves to give himself completely to God in the ecclesiastical state; work solely for the glory of God; he will be the one who one day become a teacher of the clergy will administer many worthy ministers to the Church and will gain many souls in heaven.
Here brevity obliges me to omit many facts to bring me at that moment for me lucky that I made his first personal acquaintance. It was the year 1827 and in Murialdo, which is the village of Castelnuovo d'Asti, the Maternity of the Most Holy Mary was celebrated which was the main solemnity among those inhabitants. Everyone was in business for things at home or church, while others were spectators or took part in different games or games.
Only one I saw far from every show; and he was a cleric, small in the person, sparkling eyes, affable air, angelic face; He was leaning against the polta of the church. I was as enraptured by his countenance and although I only touched the age of twelve, yet moved by the desire to speak to him, I approached him and addressed him these words: "Sir Abbot, would you like to see some spectacle of our party? I will gladly lead you where you wish ".
He gave me a gracious nod to approach me and began to question me about my age, about the study, if I had already been promoted to Holy Communion, how often he went to confession, where he went to catechism and the like. I remained as enchanted with those edifying ways of speaking; I gladly answered every question; then almost to thank him for his affability, I repeated the offer to accompany him to visit some show or some news.
- My dear friend, he resumed, the performances of the priests are the functions of the church; the more they are devotedly celebrated, the more grateful are our shows. Our novelties are the practices of religion that are always new and therefore to be frequented with assiduity; I just wait for the church to open to enter.
I made up my mind to continue the discourse and added: "It is true what you say to me; but there is time for everything; time to go to church and time to recreate ourselves".
He began to laugh and concluded with these memorable words that they were like the program of all his life's actions: "He who embraces the ecclesiastical state sells himself to the Lord, and nothing in his world should care about him if not that which can return to greater glory of God and for the benefit of souls ".
Then, all amazed, I wanted to know the name of that cleric, whose words and behavior showed the spirit of the Lord. I learned that he was the cleric Giuseppe Cafasso, a student of the first year of theology, whom he had already heard several times talking about as a mirror of virtue.
If ever I had time to come to a minute story of the luminous virtues that he made shine in the years of his chiericato, both when he lived at home, and when he lived in the seminary in Chieri, how many curious edifying facts I would like to expose you! I only say that charity towards the companions, the submission to the superiors, the patience in bearing the faults of others, the caution of never offending anyone, the pleasure in accepting, advising, favoring his companions, the indifference in the preparations of table, the resignation in the vicissitudes of the seasons, the readiness to do catechism to the boys, the everywhere edifying demeanor, the solicitude in study and in things of piety are the qualities that adorned the clerical life of Don Cafasso; gifts that you practiced to a heroic degree made your friends and friends become familiar with saying that the cleric Cafasso had not been affected by the original sin.
At this point I am forced to omit a long series of edifying facts made by the cleric Cafasso for having time to say something about his priestly life.
But who are you, I ask myself, what do you expect to expose the wonderful deeds of this hero? Don't you know that his most beautiful actions are only known to God? and don't you know that the most learned pens should write large volumes to speak worthily of the things that are known to the world? I know: and I assure you that I find myself as a boy who, to make a bunch of flowers, enters a garden and finds it in every corner full of flowers so beautiful and varied that he remains confused and does not know what to do with himself. So I, wanting to talk about the priestly virtues of Don Cafasso, I don't know where to start or what to say before or after. Therefore I limit myself to gathering and putting together a small wreath of virtues that he made especially shine in his public priestly life, in his private and mortified life. Let's start with public life.
His zeal, his facility in exposing the word of God, the success of his sermons made him look for all sides to dictate triduums, novenas, spiritual exercises and missions to the people of various countries. He courageously did everything for everyone to win everyone to Jesus Christ. But after a few years, being unable to withstand such serious and continuous fatigue, he had to limit himself to preaching to the clergy, which seemed to be the portion of human society in a special way from the divine providence entrusted to him. And here who can enumerate the great good that he has done with spiritual exercises, with public and private conferences, with administering books, money to the restricted priests of means of fortune so that they could carry out their studies, and exercise their sacred ministry so worthily?
The solicitude he took from the poor young men belongs to the public life of Don Cafasso. He instructed in the truths of faith; those provided clothes so that they could decently intervene in the church and place themselves at work with an honest master; to others he then paid the cost of learning or administered bread until he could earn his living with his own labors. This ardent spirit of charity began to put into practice when he was simple bourgeois and continued when he was a cleric and with doubled zeal he made more bright ways when he was a priest. The first catechist of this Oratory of ours was Don Cafasso and he was a constant promoter and benefactor of it in life and after death.
The entire days spent in prisons belonging to Don Cafasso belong to preaching, comforting, catechizing those unfortunate prisoners and listening to their confessions. Here I do not know if his courage or charity is worthy of greater praise. If we do not want to say that his ardent charity inspired him with heroic courage. Of the many acts of which I have been a witness I transcribe the following; listen to it, which is curious.
He, in order to order the prisoners to celebrate a feast that took place in honor of the Most Holy Mary, had taken an entire week to instruct and animate the inmates of an interview, or camerone, where there were about forty five of the most famous prisoners. Almost everyone had promised to approach the confession on the eve of that solemnity. But when the appointed day came, no one resolved to begin the holy enterprise of confessing. He renewed the invitation, he recalled in brief what he had told them in the past days, he remembered the promise made to him; but it was human respect, whether it was the devil's deception or another vain pretext, no one wanted to confess. What to do then?
Don Cafasso's industrious charity will know what to do. He laughs approaching one who looks the biggest, the strongest and the most robust of the prisoners. Without uttering a word, with his little hands he grabs him by his thick and long beard. The detainee first thought that Don Cafasso was joking, so in a polite way, how much can be expected from such people: "Take me all, he said, but let me have my beard".
"I won't let you go until you come to confession." - But I don't go there.
- But I won't let you go.
- But ... I don't want to confess.
- Say what you want, you will not run away from me and I will not let you go away until you have confessed.
- I'm not prepared.
- I will prepare you.
Certainly if that prisoner had wanted, - he could have freed himself (-611e hands of Don Cafasso with the slightest bump, but was compared to the person or rather the fruit of the grace of the Lord, the fact is that the prisoner surrendered and let himself be drawn by Don Cafasso in a corner of the large room, the venerable priest sits on a straw mattress and prepares his friend for confession, but soon he is moved and between tears and sighs, as soon as he can finish the declaration of his sins.
Then a great wonder appeared. The one who first cursed refused to confess, then went to his companions preaching never having been so happy in his life. So he did so and said so much that everyone was reduced to making their confession.
This fact, which I choose among thousands of this kind, whether you want to call it a miracle of God's grace, or whether you want to say Don Cafasso's miracle of charity, is the strength to know in it the intervention of the hand of the Lord (4).
4 It is good to note here that Don Cafasso confessed that day until very late, and since the clasps and doors of the prison had not been opened, he was on the point of having to sleep with the prisoners. But at a certain hour of the night the beers and the keepers come in armed with rifles, pistols and sabers, and they begin to make the usual visit, holding lights on the ends of some long iron rods. They went here and there observing if by chance breaks appeared on the walls, or in the floor, and if they were not afraid of plots or disorders among the prisoners. When they see a stranger they all start screaming: who goes there. And without waiting for an answer they surround him and threaten him saying: what do you do, what do you want to do here, who are you, where do you want to go? Don Cafasso wanted to talk, but it was not possible, because the beer all shouted with one voice: stop, stop! and tell us who it is. "I am Don Cafasso". "Don Cafasso ...! How ... at this time ... why not leave on time; we can no longer let you go out without relating it to the director of prisons". "It does not matter to me, so report to whomever you want, but take care of you, because as the night approached you had to come and see and get out those who were strangers to prisons. This was your duty and you are at fault. for not having done so ". Then they all fell silent and taking Don Cafasso from the good and begging him not to publish what had happened, they opened the door to him and to take his benevolence, they accompanied him to his house (note in the original text).
The remainder of Don Cafasso's public life comes to tell him about those many priests and bourgeois, rich and poor who owe to him those of science, those of the means of acquiring it, those of employment or happiness that he enjoys in the family, who of practicing craft and eating bread (5).
Those many sick people comforted by him, the dying assisted, the long lines of penitents of every age and condition who in every day and every hour of the day found in him a pious, learned and prudent director of their consciences, tell him about it.
They come to tell so many unhappy people condemned to the last torture who, given in desperation, did not want to know religion; but that assisted and, I would say, vanquished by the irresistible charity of Don Cafasso died in the most consoling way, leaving a moral certainty of their eternal health.
Oh! if heaven came to tell us about Don Cafasso's public life, it would be, I believe, thousands, thousands of souls who would say aloud: if we are saved, if we enjoy the glory of heaven, we are indebted to charity, to zeal, to the labors of Don Cafasso. He escaped us from danger, guided us by virtue; he took us from the brink of hell, he sent us to heaven.
(5) I know many that due to their poor condition or to the serious disasters that occurred in the family, they could not pursue any career. Now many of them are parish priests, vice-parish priests, school teachers. Some are notaries, lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, causidici. Others are country agents, shop owners, shopkeepers and merchants, and while they complain about the loss of a tender father in Don Cafasso, they give glory to the truth by saying: Don Cafasso was our benefactor, he helped us get dressed, helped us pay the pension, to undergo the exams. He advised us, recommended us, supported us spiritually and bodily. We owe him our honor, our study, our employment, the bread we eat (note in the original text).
But let's stop talking about Don Cafasso's public life to hold back a moment around private life. By private life I mean especially the practice of the virtues practiced in his private family occupations, those things which for the most part appear in the eyes of the world but which are perhaps the most meritorious before God. And here is a long series of edifying facts, of luminous virtues are presented to our consideration! How many mortifications, penances, abstinences, prayers, fasts, took place within the walls of that house of his. Every moment free from the occupations of the sacred ministry was employed in the prolonged audience which can be called unlimited. He was always ready to receive, console, advise and confess in the same room. Sometimes he was tired to the point that he could no longer make the sound of the voice heard, and not infrequently he had to deal with crude people who understood nothing or show nothing was satisfied. Nevertheless he was always serene in the face, affable in words, never letting a word show through, an act that gave no sign of impatience.
Oh if the walls of that fortunate cabin could speak, of how many virtues, of how many acts of charity, of patience, of suffering would make us glorious witness! Always affable, beneficent, he never allowed any of him to leave without making him comforted with spiritual or temporal comforts, or at least without having first suggested to them some useful maxim for the soul. The multitude of those who asked to speak to him forced him to be very quick. So without getting lost in compliments or ceremonies he immediately entered the subject and with a surprising ease at the first nod he understood what he was meant to say and was ready, frank and complete. But this he did with humility, respect and with such speed that a highly esteemed person could not otherwise express this singular prerogative of Don Cafasso if not with these words: "He had nothing for humanity, but all for charity".
He knew and was preaching that every space of time is a great treasure, so he took advantage of every moment and every opportunity to do good. When going up or down the stairs, going or coming from visiting the sick or inmates, he was mostly accompanied by someone with whom he was dealing with things from the sacred ministry or giving words of comfort to people who otherwise could not have talked with he.
After the canteen start a little recreation. And this was the time of the wonderful school of Don Cafasso. Here his pupils sucked the beautiful way of living in society like milk; to deal with the world without becoming a slave to the world and become true priests provided with the necessary virtues to form ministers capable of giving to Caesar what is Caesar's, to God what belongs to God.
But ninna something is so wonderful in the private life of Don Cafasso, as is the accuracy in observing the rules of the ecclesiastical boarding school of San Francesco. As superior of many things, he could have dispensed, both because of his poor health and because of the gravity and multitude of occupations that in a certain way oppressed him. But he had fixed in his mind that the most effective command of a superior is the good example, it is to precede the subjects in the fulfillment of their respective duties. Therefore, in the smallest things, in the practices of piety, in finding oneself for conferences, at the hours of meditation, of the table he was like a machine that the sound of the bell carried almost instantaneously to the fulfillment of that particular duty.
I remember that one day he was brought a glass of water. He already had it in his hand when he heard the bell ringing for the rosary. He no longer bibs, deposed him and immediately went to that practice of piety. "Drink, I told him, and then he will still be in time for this prayer." "Do you want, he replied, do you want to prefer a glass of water to a prayer so precious as it is the rosary we say in honor of Mary Most Holy?"
Part of the private life of Don Cafasso is that secret but continuous mortification of himself. Here we see a great art used by him to become a saint. It is fundamentally judged that he used the hair shirt, put objects to disturb the bed, and did other serious penances. I'm leaving these things aside for now. I only say what I and everyone who knew him, we have seen. However tired he never leaned neither with his elbow nor otherwise to rest. He never crossed one knee on the other; at the table he never said: "I like this more or less"; everything was to his taste. From the most youthful age he had consecrated certain days to particular acts of mortification. The Sabbath was rigorously fasting dedicated to Mary Most Holy. But what do I say about the Sabbath fast, while every week, every month, the whole year was for him a rigid and frightening fast? At first he reduced the number of school lunches and was reduced to eating only once a day, and his food was a soup and a small dish.
Some aimed at this prolonged austerity and reproached him respectfully, hinting at the damage it would cause to health. "Use some consideration, they told him; if this does not do for self-love, do it for the good of others." He laughingly replied: "I enjoy better health by doing so". But giving him the exhaustion of his strength, which went down every day; soon concluded: "O paradise! paradise! what strength and health you will give to those who enter!". If it were numbed by the cold, suffocated by the heat, oppressed by sweat, he never sought comfort in it, not even a voice of lament or punishment could be heard.
At any time of the year he spent many hours listening to the confessions of the faithful and not infrequently entered the confessional at six in the morning and left at twelve. Staying there for such a long time even when the cold is raw made it so that when he went out to go to the sacristy he strayed and had to lean over the counter to avoid falling and sometimes halfway down the church he was forced to kneel or sit down. At that sight everyone felt moved and several wanted at their own expense to buy a heater stool, on which he placed his feet and so he could shelter somewhat from the harshness of the season. For fear that he would not allow it if he had been told beforehand, the cleric of the sacristy bought this stool without the master's knowledge and took it to the confessional before he arrived there. As soon as he saw that object of affluence, as he called it, he pushed him away with his foot in a corner of the confessional and then ordered that he no longer carry himself, saying: "These things are useless, they give too much thought to a priest who does not he needs".
Various reflexes were made to him, but neither in this nor in other circumstances was it ever possible to bend him to temper that ardor of penitence which certainly helped to consume such a precious life.
He was alien to any kind of entertainment. In thirty-two years that I knew I never saw him take part in the game of cards, tarot cards, chess, billiards or other amusement. Invited sometimes to one of these amusements, "I have much more to amuse myself, he replied. When I no longer have any concern, I will go and have fun".
When will this time be?
- When we're in heaven.
Beyond constantly mortifying the feelings of the body, he was very much the enemy of every habit, even the most indifferent. "We have to get used to doing good and nothing else, he used to say. Our body is insatiable. The more we give it, the more we ask, the less we give it, the less he asks."
So we never wanted to get used to tobacco or to edible sweets or to special drinks, except those ordered by the doctor. During his studies, in college, in the seminary he did not want to make use of either coffee or fruit for breakfast and a snack.
He had been at the ecclesiastical boarding school for ten years, was already a conference prefect, and his breakfast still consisted of some stubby bread. In view of the hard labors he endured, one day I told him to take something more appropriate to his frail complexion. "Even if, he added with hilarity, there will come a time when something more will have to be given to this body, but I don't want to satisfy it until I can no longer do without it."
Only a few years later it was forced by the obedience to temper this rigid way of life. However, notwithstanding his weak complexion and frail health, he never wanted to get used to any particular food, rather he always diminished it until, as I have just said, he was reduced to a single meal a day and a meal of soup and a dish. Although subject to many inconveniences, he did not want to prolong his ordinary rest for a moment, which was only five poor hours each night. Waves in the cold winter cold, even when he suffered stomach, head and tooth ailments, so that he could hardly stand on his feet, he was already on his knees praying, meditating or disengaging some of his particular occupation before four o'clock in the morning .
This tenor of industrious, penitent, life of prayer, of charity, of hardship and self-denial practiced until his death which came to strike him in the moment when we had greater need of him, in the moment unexpected to us but calmly awaited by him and to which all life was a constant preparation.
But you, or time, why do you flee so fast and force me to keep quiet so many things that I would still like to tell? Although my speech is already quite prolonged, I hope you will still want to use a moment of patience to listen to the story of the last hours of the priest Cafasso. And this I will do after a short while.
We draw a veil over the events that certainly helped to deprive us of such a dear, useful and precious person. We only say that a life so pure, so holy, so similar to that of the Savior, had to be with ingratitude paid by that world, which did not know it; from that world to whose advantage he used his substances, his health, his life. In this we adore the decrees of divine Providence.
It is the truth of faith that at the point of death, man reaps the fruit of what he has sown in the course of his life: quae seminaverit homo, haec et metet [Gal 6: 8]. Now Don Cafasso, having lived a life full of good and holy works, good and holy had to be his death. He himself said that he was familiar and often repeated it especially in moral lectures: "Fortunate is that priest who consumes his life for the good of souls; most fortunate is he who dies working for the glory of God; he will certainly have a great reward from that supreme master for whom he works ".
Now with your own words we will say: Fortunate you, or Don Cafasso, that you have consumed your whole life in promoting the glory of God and the salvation of souls; you very fortunate that you ended your life in the midst of the labors of the sacred ministry.
It is believed with foundation that he received from God a special revelation of the day and time of his death, and gave no doubt to those who in the last days had the good fortune of being able to speak to him. He used to adjust his affairs every day as if he were on the eve of his death. And before going to bed each night, he arranged household things as if that night were the last of his life. But the three days that preceded his illness, he almost always spent them in his room. He adjusted everything concerning the good performance of the boarding school. He gave appropriate orders to his families; he answered some letters; he ordered every paper; put every piece of paper in order; he noticed some things to add to his testamentary dispositions; then he did the exercise of the good death that he used to do unalterably once a month.
Meanwhile the morning of Monday 11 June of the current year arrives; and what does Don Cafasso do? He has everything adjusted, everything is prepared for his journey to eternity. He goes for a walk in his room waiting for the voice of the Lord to tell him: come. But what? thinking of the state of strong forces, it seems to him that he can still take some moments to the advantage of souls. With a cheerful spirit, but with difficulty, from the chamber he goes to the confessional and there it takes more hours to listen to the confessions of the faithful, of those faithful whom he guided with a singular doctrine, prudence and pity for the way to heaven. However, it was noted that his way of confessing was not the custom. He recommended to everyone to remove the heart from earthly things; love God with all your strength; ask him to take away soon from the worries of life to give us the beautiful paradise. "Oh heaven, paradise, he said to a penitent, why are you not sought, desired by all? Why do you still delay, because, why ...?" But man is valid for a man; the ardor of gaining souls to God continues in that great soul; but he lacks the strength. He is forced to abandon that confessional where for about twenty-five years he had been a faithful dispenser of the heavenly favors to so many souls and this confessional must abandon him in order never to return.
At a slow pace he goes to his room. But before going to bed he kneels and says these memorable words that he kept written: "The pain I feel, O Lord, for not having loved you, the desire that I feel more than to love you, make me exceedingly This life is boring and heavy and they force me to ask you to want to shorten my days on earth and forgive me purgatory in the other life, so soon I can go and enjoy you in paradise ... ". He could no longer say and to avoid falling exhausted he went to bed about eleven in the morning.
The disease was a lung condition with a course of blood in the stomach. The doctors practiced what their art suggests, but all in vain. Almost every day they seemed to be improving, but in reality, as he said, the time to fly to the sky was approaching.
From the first day of his illness he frankly said that he would never recover and wanted to go to heaven.
To those who asked him if he was better, if he had rested well, he always replied: - As God wants. He recommended himself to everyone's prayers. He told me one day to order special prayers at home among our young people. "We have already done it, I answered, and we will continue to pray, but I told our young people that you would be, then a festive day came to give us the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament". "Be quiet, he added: go, pray and tell your young people that I will bless you all from heaven".
Asked if he had anything to do writing, some memoirs to take, commission to leave, he looked at me laughing and said: "It would be nice if I had waited at this hour to fix my business. Everything is fixed for me in the world; only thing remains to me to adjust with God, and it is that in his great mercy he wants to give me paradise soon ".
One singularity was noted by all and it was the receiving of the usual goodness by anyone who approached his bed; but after a few minutes it gave a sign that they were leaving. So he did not want anyone to stay with him more than the time required by the strict need. For this reason I was sometimes starting by looking at him from the door of his room. I saw him reach his hands, kiss and rebirth the crucifix, then with his eyes turned to the sky, speaking interrupted as in family talk.
From this I was able to convince myself that he wished to be alone in order to be able to hold himself more freely with his God. However, one day left alone with him, I made up my mind to tell him that it was best to have him regularly at his bed, both for those services. which he frequently needed, and also to receive some comforting words. "No, he soon answered, no." Then raising his eyes to heaven he said forcefully: "And do you not know that every word spoken to men, is a word stolen from the Lord?"
Even when the illness threatened his life; in the same agony he loved to be alone; on the contrary, he gave no sign of appreciation even when he was suggested to him as ejaculations, as if such prayers interrupted his ordinary conversations that he certainly had with God. . A person of grave authority and who frequented Don Cafasso in the course of his life, visited him several times during the course of the illness, after having carefully examined his behavior, what he said and did, he uttered this frank judgment: "He, Don Cafasso, does not need of our suggestions, he is in direct communication with God, he is held in familiar conversations with the mother of the Savior, with his guardian angel and with Saint Joseph ".
Many things I should tell you of his admirable patience in tolerating evil, of the words addressed to his friends, of the blessing given to many and especially to his dear boarders; around the edifying way in which he received the last sacraments; but these things cause me too great emotion and I could not possibly bear the story.
I will only tell you that comparing the illness and death of the priest Cafasso with that of Saint Charles Borromeo, of Saint Francis of Sales, of Saint Philip Neri and of other great saints, I seem to be able to assert being equally precious in the eyes of God. could it be otherwise? If his life was holy, why should his death not be equally holy?
He was a great devotee of Mary and was a constant promoter of the devotion to this heavenly mother. Every day, and we can say every moment, she did some practice or some brief prayer in honor of her. Saturday was all about Mary. He spent it in strict fasting; everything asked of him that day was promptly granted. And many times he had expressed the desire to die on the Sabbath day. Often in life he was saying and also left it written: "What a beautiful death to die for Mary's sake. To die naming Mary. To die in a day dedicated to Mary. To die in the most glorious moment for Mary. To expire in Mary's arms. paradise with Mary, enjoy eternally close to Mary ".
O lucky soul! your desires are satisfied; you are on the tenth day of your illness; it's Saturday day; day of Mary; you have received the most sacred body of Jesus a few hours ago. Well, Jesus calls you and wants to give you that paradise that you so desire, for which you have spent your whole life. Mary your Mother, of whom you were so devoted in life, now she assists you and wants you to lead to heaven herself. And here is our Don Cafasso making a smile ... he sends his last breath ... His soul with Jesus and with Mary flies to enjoy the blessed eternity.
We sincerely hope that after such a precious death in the eyes of God the soul of Don Cafasso has not even touched the pains of purgatory and is imminently flown to heaven. For this reason, instead of inviting you to pray for him, I would rather suggest you resort to his heavenly intercession. But since the most holy and most pure God finds stains in the angels themselves; thus, by fulfilling a duty of gratitude and friendship we offer to God some prayer, some communion, some alms, some works of charity in suffrage of the soul of our beloved benefactor: That if these works will no longer be necessary to free him from the pains of purgatory , will serve to substantiate those purgative souls to whose relief so much he worked in mortal life and whom he so much recommended to support.
Mind, listeners, one more moment. Among the last words of Don Cafasso are the following and they are truly worthy of eternal remembrance: "When I descended into the tomb, he said, I desire and pray the Lord to make my memory perish on earth, so that no one should ever think of me out of those faithful who in their charity will, as I hope, pray for my soul. I accept in penance for my sins all that will be said against me after my death in the world ".
Dear Don Cafasso, this prayer of yours will not be answered; you wanted to humble yourself so that your glory would go with you to the grave. But God wants otherwise. God wants your great humility to be exalted and you are crowned with glory in heaven. Your memory is that of the just that will last forever. In memory aeterna erit iustus [Ps 111.7].
Your memory will last with the priests because you were their model in the holiness of life and teacher in the science of the Lord. Your memory will last with the poor who mourn your death like that of a tender father; it will last at the doubters to whom you gave holy and healthy advice; with the afflicted, whom you have brought consolation in so many ways; will last at the agonizing ones you comfort; in prisons where you raise so many unhappy people; to so many condemned that your charity sent to heaven. It will last with your friends, and your friends are all those who have known you; to all those who value the great benefactors of humanity as you were in the whole course of your mortal life. Finally your memory will last between us, because the charity you had for us on earth assures us that you are our protector with God, now that you are glorious in heaven.
So live forever with God, or great soul, faithful soul. The time of suffering for you has passed; no more pains, no more afflictions, no more diseases, no more sorrows, no more death, no more. God is your reward; you are in him; and with him and with him you will enjoy every good forever. Mary, that heavenly mother whom you so loved and made to love on earth, now wants you close to her to give you the due reward of the filial affection you have brought her. But from the midst of your glory, please! pity one look upon us that you made miserable and orphaned with your departure from the world. Deh! for us intercede and do that by living according to the advice you have given us, following the shining examples of virtue you have left us, we may also one day attain possession of that glory with Jesus and with Mary, with all the saints of paradise can be enjoyed for ever and ever. So be it.
ASC A2250704, ms aut. of Don Bosco6 (cf MB IX, 213-221).
The virtues and actions of the saints although they are all addressed to the same end, which is the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, yet the way held to reach the sublime degree of holiness to which God called them is different. The reason seems to be this: in the wonderful dispensation of his gifts God in various ways and in different ways call us to himself so that the various virtues all contributing to adorn and embellish our holy religion cover, so to speak, the holy Church with mantle of varieties that makes her appear in the eyes of the heavenly spouse like a queen seated on the throne of glory and majesty. In fact we admire the fervor of so many loners who either wary of themselves in times of persecution or for fear of being shipwrecked in the century abandoned their homes, relatives, friends and every substance to go to barren deserts and barely habitable from fairs. Others, almost brave soldiers of the king of the skies, faced every danger and despising the iron, the fire the death itself joyfully offered life, confessing Jesus Christ and sealing with their blood the truths that they highly proclaimed. Therefore a host moved by the desire to save souls who were carried away to distant countries, while many others among us with study, with preaching, with retreat with the practice of other virtues, add splendor to splendor to the Church of Jesus Christ. There are also some facts according to the heart of God, which contain such a complex of virtues, of science, of courage and of heroic operations, which make us very clear how wonderful God is in his saints: Mirabilis Deus in sanctis suis ( Ps 66, 36). All Church ages are glorified by some of these heroes of faith. The sixteenth century among others has a Saint Philip Neri, whose virtues are the object of this respectable meeting and of this our any detention.
6 The panegyric of St. Philip Neri was held by Don Bosco to the priests of the diocese of Alba (Cuneo), at the invitation of the bishop mons. Eugenio Galletti, in May 1868 (cf MB II, 46-48).
But in a detention, what could I ever say about a saint, whose actions collected only in compendium form large volumes? Actions that alone are to give a perfect model of virtue to the simple Christian, to the fervent cloister, to the most industrious ecclesiastic? For these reasons I do not intend to expose to you all the actions and all the virtues of Philip, because you have already read, meditated and imitated them better than I, I will limit myself to giving you only a hint of what is like the hinge around to which all other virtues are fulfilled, so to speak; that is zeal for the salvation of souls! This is the zeal recommended by the divine Savior when he said: "I have come to bring a fire over the earth and what do I want if not that it light? Ignem veni mittere in terram et quid volo visi ut accendatur? (Lk 12: 49). Zeal that made the apostle Paul exclaim to be anathema from Jesus Christ for his brothers: Optabam ego ipse anathema esse to Christo pro fratibus meis (Rm 9, 3).
But in what critical position did I ever stand, gentlemen! Who, as soon as I could be your student, now demand to be your teacher? It is true, and precisely in order to escape the recklessness of fearlessness, I request benevolent pity first, if in my littleness I will not be able to correspond to your expectation. I also hope everything from the grace of the Lord and from the protection of our saint.
[IL Filippo in Rome]
To get ahead of the proposed topic, listen to a curious episode. P, of a young man who, at about twenty years of age, moved by the desire for the glory of God, abandons his parents, of whom he was the only son, renounces the showy substances of his father and a rich uncle who wole his heir, alone, unbeknownst to all, without means of any kind, leaning on divine Providence alone, he leaves Florence, goes to Rome. Now look at him: he is charitably welcomed by one of his fellow citizens (Caccia Galeotto); he stops in a corner of the backyard: he is looking towards the city absorbed in serious thoughts. Let us approach and question it.
- Young, who are you and what do you look at with so much anxiety?
- I am a poor young stranger; I admire this great city and a great thought occupies my mind, but I fear it is madness and fearlessness.
- Consecrate myself to the good of so many poor souls, of so many poor children, who for lack of religious education are walking the road to perdition.
- Do you have science?
- I just did the first schools.
- Do you have material resources?
- Anything; I do not have a loaf of bread beyond what my master gives me every day.
- Do you have churches, do you have houses?
- I have nothing but a low and narrow chamber, the use of which I am granted to charity. My wardrobes are a simple rope pulled by one wall, above which I put my clothes and all my equipment.
- How then do you want without a name, without science, without substances and without a site [to] undertake such a gigantic undertaking?
- It is true: precisely the lack of means and merits keeps me in mind. God, however, who inspired my courage, God who raises the children of Abraham from the stones, that same God is what ...
This poor young man, or gentlemen, is Filippo Neri who is meditating on the reform of the Christians of Rome. He aims that city, but oh! how do you see it?
He has seen her as a slave to foreigners for many years; he sees it horribly troubled by pestilence, misery; he sees it after having been besieged for three months, fought, won, looted and can be said destroyed. This city must be the field where the young Philip will gather abundant fruit. Let's see how he gets on with the work.
With the usual help of divine Providence he takes up the course of his studies, completes philosophy, theology and, following the advice of his director, consecrates himself to God in the priestly state. With sacred ordination his zeal is doubled for the glory of God. Philip becoming a priest is persuaded with Saint Ambrose that with zeal one acquires faith and with zeal man is led to the possession of justice. Zelo fides acquiritur, zelo iustitia possidetur (sanctus Ambrosius, in Psal. 118).
Philip is convinced that no sacrifice is as grateful to God as zeal for the salvation of souls. Nullum Deo gratius sacrificum offerri potest quam zelus animarum (Greg. M. in Ezech.). Moved by these thoughts, he warns that he disturbs Christians, especially poor boys, and they continually shouted at the prophet against him: Parvuli petierunt panem, et non erat qui frangerit eis (Lam 4, 4). But when he could attend the public workshops, penetrate hospitals and prisons and saw people of all ages and of all conditions given to fights, to blasphemies, to thefts and to live a slave to sin; when he began to reflect how many outraged God the creator almost without knowing him, they did not observe the divine law because they ignored it, then the sighs of Hosea (4, 1-2) came to mind, which says: because the people do not know the things of eternal salvation, the greatest, the most abominable crimes have flooded the earth. But how much his innocent heart was not embittered when he realized that most of those poor souls were only lost because they were not taught in the truths of faith. This people, he exclaimed with Isaiah, did not have understanding of the things of health, therefore hell has expanded its bosom, has opened its immense abysses and their champions, the people, the great and the powerful will fall: Quia populus meus non habuit scientiam, propterea infernus aperuit os suum absque ulto termino; et descendunt fortes eius, et populus eius, et sublimes gloriosisque eius ad eum (Is 5, 13-14).
At the sight of those evils which are still growing, Philip, for example, of the divine Savior, who, when he started his preaching, had nothing else in the world but the great fire of divine charity that drove him from heaven to earth; for example of the apostles who were deprived of all human means when they were sent to preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth, who were all miserably engulfed in idolatry, in every vice or according to the phrase of the Bible: buried in darkness and in the shadow of death, Filippo does everything to everyone in the streets, in the squares, in the public workshops; he insinuates himself into public and private establishments and with those gentle, gentle, pleasant ways that his charity towards his neighbor suggests, he begins to speak of virtue, of religion to those who did not want to know either of one or the other. Imagine the rumors that were spreading about you! Who says it stupid, who says ignorant, others call it drunk, nor did those who proclaimed him crazy miss.
The brave Philip lets everyone say his part; indeed, from the blame of the world he is assured that his works are of the glory of God, because what the world says wisdom is foolishness with God. Therefore he proceeds fearlessly in the holy enterprise. And who can ever resist that terrible two-edged sword what is the word of God? To a priest who corresponds to the sanctity of his ministry?
In a short time people of all ages, of all conditions, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, ecclesiastical and bourgeois, from the highest class up to the apprentices, the street sweepers, the hubs, the small, the great mason begin to admire the zeal of the servant of God; they go to hear it, the science of faith makes its way into their hearts; they turn contempt into admiration, admiration into respect. Therefore, in Filippo, one can no longer see that a true friend of the people, a zealous minister of Jesus Christ, who earns everything, all wins as a sign that all fall victim to the charity of the new apostle. Rome changes its appearance; everyone professes himself a friend of Philip, all praise Philip, they speak of Philip, they want to see Philip. From here the wonderful conversions began, the sensational earnings of so many obstinate sinners, of which the author of the life of the saint speaks for a long time (see Bacci) 7.
[III. Philip Apostle of Youth]
But God had sent Philip especially for youth, so he addressed his special concerns to her.
He considered humankind as a great field to cultivate. If good wheat is sown in time, there will be abundant harvest; but if the sowing is out of season, it will gather straw and loppa8. He also knew that in this mystical field there is a great hidden treasure, that is to say the souls of so many young people who are mostly innocent and often perverse if you know. This treasure, Philip said in his heart, is totally confided to the priests and for the most part depends on them to save it or damn it.
7 Pietro Giacomo BACCI, Life of St. Philip Neri founder of the congr. Oratory. Monza, Typography of the Pauline Institute 1851.
8 An archaic term to indicate the shell of cereals, the chaff: stuff of little value, of no importance.
He was not ignorant of Filippo who has to take care of their children; it is up to the masters to take care of their subjects, but when they cannot or are not able or they do not want they will have to let these souls go to perdition? Especially since the priest's lips must be the guardian of science and the people have the right to seek it from his mouth and not from another.
One thing at first sight seemed to discourage Filippo in the cultivation of the poor boys and it was their instability, their repercussions in the same evil and worse still. But from this panic the fear returned that many were persevering in the good, that the repeat offenders were not overwhelming in number and that they themselves were with patience, with charity and with the grace of the Lord for the most part put themselves on the right path and that therefore the word of God was a germ, which sooner or later produced the longed for fruit.
He therefore, following the example of the Savior who taught the people every day: erat daily docens in the temple. (Lk 19:47), and who urgently called the boys more submissive to himself, went everywhere exclaiming: Children, come to me, I will show you the means of making you rich; but of real riches that will never fail; I will teach you the holy fear of God: Come, let me hear you, timorem Domini docebo vos (Ps 33, 11). These words, accompanied by his great charity and a life that was the complex of every virtue, caused children of all parts to run to our saint. Who now addressed the word to one, now to another: with the student he was a man of letters, with the ironman the ironworker, with the carpenter the chief carpenter, with the barber the barber, with the mason the master, with the cobbler the master cobbler. In this way, making everything to everyone, he earned everyone for Jesus Christ. So that those young people enticed by those charitable manners, by those edifying speeches, felt like they were traits where Filippo wanted; as a sign that the unexpected spectacle happened, that in the streets, in the squares, in the churches, in the sacristies, in his own cell, during the table and up to prayer time, he was preceded, followed, surrounded by boys who they hung on his lips, they listened to the examples he told, the principles of catechism that they were exposing.
And then? Listen. That crowd of unruly and ignorant boys from hand to hand [who] were instructed in the catechism asked to approach the sacrament of confession and communion; they tried to listen to the holy mass, to hear the sermons and little by little they ceased from blasphemies, from insubordination and finally abandoned vices, improved customs; so that thousands of unfortunate children, who already beating the path of disgrace would perhaps have ended their lives in prisons or with the halter, with their eternal perdition, for the zeal of Philip, were returned docile, obedient, good Christians to their relatives, started on the road to heaven. Oh holy catholic religion! Oh portents of the word of God! What marvels you never work through the minister who knows and fulfills the duties of his vocation!
Someone will say: "These wonders worked Saint Philip because he was a saint". I say differently: "Philip worked these marvels because he was a priest who corresponded to the spirit of his vocation". I believe that if we are animated by the spirit of zeal, of confidence in God, we will also give ourselves to really imitate this saint, and we will certainly achieve great results in the gain of souls. Those of us who cannot gather some children, give them a little catechism in their home or in the church and if they were trades even in the corner of a square or a street and there instruct them in faith; animate them to confess and when should we listen to them in confession? We cannot repeat with Saint Philip: Children, come and confess every eight days and communicate according to the advice of the confessor? But how come dissipated children, lovers of eating, drinking and playing around, how can we bend them to church and mercy?
Filippo found this secret. Listen. Imitating the gentleness and the meekness of the Savior, Filippo took them to the good, caressed them, gave them one confetto to the others, a medal to the others, a small picture, a book and the like. To the most uneducated then and to the most ignorant who were not able to taste those sublime traits of paternal benevolence, he prepared a bread more suited to them. As soon as he could have them around him, he immediately began to tell them pleasant stories, invited them to sing, to play, to dramatic representations, to jumps, to all kinds of amusement.
Finally, the most reluctant, the most vanerellos were, so to speak, drawn into the gardens of recreation with musical instruments, with bowls, with crutches, with tiles, with offerings of fruit and small school lunches, breakfasts, and snacks. Every expense, Filippo said, every effort, every trouble, every sacrifice is little when it helps to win souls for God. Thus, Filippo's room had become almost a shop as a shopkeeper, as a place of public entertainment, but at the same time saint house of prayer and as a place of sanctification. Thus Rome saw only one man without titles, without means and without authority, armed with the only hotel of charity, to fight fraud, deceit, immorality and every sort of vice, and to overcome everything and win everything to show that many who voice public called rapacious wolves, became meek lambs. These grave labors, these noises and disturbances which to us seem perhaps only a few moments bearable were the work and the delight of St. Philip for the space of more than sixty years, that is during his whole priestly life, up to the later old age, until so much that God called him to enjoy the fruit of so many prolonged labors.
[IV Peroration: we must save souls]
Respectable Sirs, do you have anything in this faithful servant that we cannot imitate? No, there is none. Each of us in his condition is quite educated, he is rich enough to imitate him if not at least in part. Let us not be deceived by that vain pretext that we sometimes hear: I am not obliged, you think about who owes it. When they told Philip that he was not required to work so much because he did not care for souls, he replied: "Did my good Jesus have any obligation to shed all his blood for me? He died on the cross to save souls and I, his minister, would refuse to sustain some disturbance, some effort to correspond to it? ".
Ecclesiastics, let's get to work. Souls are in danger and we must save them. We are obliged to this as simple Christians whom God commanded to take care of others: Unicuisque Deus mandavit de proximo suo (Sir 17, 12). We are obliged because we are dealing with the souls of our brothers, since we are all children of the same heavenly Father. We must also feel exceptionally stimulated to work to save souls, because this is the holiest of holy actions: Divinarum divinissimum est cooperaci Deo in salutem animarum (Areopagite). But what must absolutely push us to carry out this office with zeal is the very strict account that we as ministers of Jesus Christ will have to give back to his divine court the souls entrusted to us. Ah the great account, a terrible account that parents, bosses, directors and in general all the priests will have to render to the court of Jesus Christ the souls entrusted to them! That supreme moment will come for all Christians, but let us not have illusions, it will also come for us priests. As soon as we are released from the laces of the body and we will appear in front of the divine judge we will see clearly what the obligations of our state were and what was the negligence. Before the eyes the immense glory will appear from God prepared to his faithful and we will see the souls ... Yes so many souls that had to go to enjoy and that for our negligence in instructing them in the faith they were lost!
Gentlemen, who will tell the divine Savior when he tells us how to save souls he had left the right hand of his divine Father, he had come upon the earth; erat everyday docens in the temple [Le 19.47]: he who ignored the hardships, the sweats, the hardships, the humiliations, the contradictions, the worries, the equally of all kinds and finally he who scattered to the last drop the his blood to save souls? What will we be able to say that we have enjoyed it in peaceful rest and perhaps in pastimes and perhaps worse?
What a terrible position is that of a priest when he appears before the divine judge who will say to him: "Look down into the world: How many souls walk in the way of iniquity and beat the road to perdition. They find themselves in that evil way for your sake; you did not take care to make the voice of duty heard, you did not look for them, you did not save them. Others then out of ignorance walking from sin to sin are now already precipitated into hell. Oh, look how great is their number. Those souls cry vengeance against you. Now, unfaithful servant, serve nequam, give me account of it. Give me account of that precious treasure that I entrusted to you, a treasure that cost my passion, my blood, my death. be it for the soul of him who for your fault has been lost: Erit anima your pro anima illius ".
But no, my good Jesus, we hope in your grace and in your infinite mercy that this reproach will not be for us. We are intimately convinced of the great duty that binds us to instruct souls so that for our sake they should not be miserably lost. So for the future, for the whole time of mortal life, we will use the greatest solicitude to ensure that no soul for our fault is to be lost. Will we have to endure fatigue, hardship, poverty, sorrow, persecution and even death? We will gladly do this, because you gave us a shining example. But you, O God of goodness and clemency, instill in our hearts the true priestly zeal and make that we are constant imitators of that saint, who today we choose as our model; and when the great day comes, when we will have to present ourselves to your divine court to be judged, we may not already have a reproach of reproach, but a word of comfort and consolation.
And you, oh glorious St. Philip, deign to intercede for me your unworthy devotee, intercede for all these zealous priests who had the kindness to listen to me and make that at the end of life we can all hear those consoling words: You have saved souls, you have saved yours: Animam salvasti, animam tuam praedestinasti.
The sixth section contains the most substantial part of what, in the Salesian tradition, was called "spiritual testament". It is an autograph notebook, entitled Memories from 1841 to 1884-5-6 for the sac. Gio. Bosco to 'his Salesian sons', in which the saint, at different times, especially during the last years of his life, wrote exhortations and memories for the disciples, for friends, benefactors and the Cooperators.
On the first pages of the notebook, the propositions formulated by Don Bosco on the occasion of his priestly ordination (5 June 1841) and during the spiritual exercises of summer 1842 (n. 298) are reported: a rare and interesting document of the young priest's initial steps , before his final field choices.
This is followed by seven short texts of noteworthy significance (nos. 299-305), in which it is possible to grasp a summary vision of the Salesian vocation and mission, together with the indication of perspectives considered relevant for a dynamic fidelity: the determination to remain steadfast in the vocation until death; the importance of exact observance of the Constitutions; the escape of triumphalism, in the awareness that every success is a gift from God; the link between the Salesian mission and Marian devotion, with a commitment to nourish and spread this devotion; the care of vocations, forming young people to the desire "to consecrate themselves to the Lord in youth" and to detachment from the world and its flattery; the mission of the Salesian director as a model and soul of the communities, with a mainly formative fiction; the care of fraternal charity; avoiding "comfort" and "comfort", since they are lethal dangers for the survival of the Congregation; the privileged attention to the "poorest children, the most unsafe of society", the wise administration of houses and substances, the primacy of the Work for the salvation of souls, the sense of gratitude for benefactors, Cooperators and collaborators: without the their charity nothing could have been done, with their collaboration the Salesian work can continue safely in history.
Ed. Criticism in John Bosco, Memories from 1841 to 1884-5-6 to his Salesian sons. Edited by Francesco Motto, in DBE, Scritti, pp. 391-438.
Ed. Criticism in John Bosco, Memoirs from 11841 to 1884-5-6 to his Salesian sons.
Edited by Francesco Motto, in DBE, Scritti, pp. 399-401.
I began the spiritual exercises in the house of the Mission on May 26th, the feast of Saint Philip Neri, 1841.
The sacred priestly ordination was held by Msgr. Luigi Fransoni, our archbishop in his episcopate on June 5 of that year.
The first mass was celebrated in St. Francis of Assisi assisted by my distinguished benefactor [and] director don Giuseppe Cafasso of Castelnuovo d'Asti on June 6 Sunday of the SS. Trinity.
Conclusion of the exercises done in preparation for the celebration of the first Holy Mass, was: The priest does not only go to heaven, he does not go only to hell. If he does well, he will go to heaven with the souls he saved with his good example; if it hurts; if he gives scandal he will go to perdition with the damned souls for his scandal.
1 ° Never take walks if not for serious needs: visits to the sick, etc. 2 ° Strictly occupy time well.
3rd Suffer, do, humble oneself in everything and always, when it comes to saving souls.
4 ° The charity and the sweetness of Saint Francis de Sales guide me in everything.
5 ° I will always show myself happy with the food that will be prepared for me, as long as
is not harmful to health.
6 ° I will drink water and only as a remedy: that is to say only when and how much will be required by health.
7th Work is a powerful weapon against the enemies of the soul, therefore I will not: give the body more than, five hours of sleep each night. During the day, especially after lunch, I will not take any rest: I will make some exceptions in cases of illness.
8th Every day I will give some time to meditation, to spiritual reading. During the day, I will make a brief visit or at least a prayer to the Blessed Sacrament. I will do at least a quarter of an hour of preparation, and another quarter of an hour of thanksgiving to the holy mass.
9th I will never make conversations with women outside the case to hear them in confession or some other spiritual necessity. These memoirs were written in 1841.
1842 - Breviary and confession
I will try to recite the breviary devoutly and recite it preferably in church so that it serves as a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.
I will approach the Sacrament of Penance every eight days and will try to practice the intentions that each time I will make in confession.
When I am asked to listen to the confessions of the faithful, if there is concern, I will interrupt the holy office and will also make the preparation and thanks of the Mass shorter in order to lend myself to exercise this sacred ministry.
Ed. Criticism in Giovanni Bosco, Memoirs from 1841 to 1884-5-6_, in DBE, Scritti, pp. 410-411.
Before leaving for my eternity I must fulfill some duties towards you and so satisfy a lively desire of my heart.
First of all I thank you with the most heartfelt affection for the obedience you have given me and for what you have worked to support and propagate our Congregation. I leave you here on earth, but only for a while. I hope that the infinite mercy of God will make that we can all find ourselves one day in the blessed eternity. I await you there.
I recommend you not to cry my death. This is a debt that we all have to pay, but afterwards every effort sustained for our master's sake, our good Jesus, will be largely rewarded. Instead of crying, make firm and effective resolutions to remain firm in the vocation until death.
Watch and make that neither the love of the world nor the affection for relatives nor the desire for a more affluent life move you to the great inappropriateness of profaning the sacred vows and thus betraying the religious profession with which we consecrated ourselves to the Lord. No one takes up what we have given to God.
If you loved me in the past, continue to love me in the future with the exact observance of our constitutions. Your first rector is dead. But our true superior, Christ Jesus, will not die. He will always be our teacher, our guide, our model; but you believe that in his own time he will be our judge and rewarder of our loyalty in his service.
Your rector is dead, but another who will take care of you and your eternal salvation will be elected. Listen to him, love him, obey him, pray for him, as you did for me.
Goodbye, dear children, goodbye. I await you in heaven. There we will talk about God, Mary, mother and support of our Congregation; there we will forever bless our Congregation, whose observance of the rules contributed powerfully and effectively to save us. Sit nomen Domini benedictum ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum. In you Domine speravi, not confindar in aeternum.
Ed. Criticism in Giovanni Bosco, Memoirs from 1841 to 1884S-6 ..., in DBE, Scritti, pp. 414-415.
1) I strongly recommend all my children to watch, both in speaking and writing, to never tell or assert that Don Bosco has received thanks from God or has worked miracles in any way. He would make a damaging mistake. Although the goodness of God has been generous to me, I have never claimed to know or work supernatural things. I did nothing but pray and ask the Lord to ask graces from good souls. I have always experienced the prayers and communions of our young people. Merciful God and His Most Holy Mother came to our aid in our needs. This occurred especially whenever we were in need of providing for our poor and abandoned youths and even more when they were in danger of their souls.
2nd The Holy Virgin Mary will certainly continue to protect our Congregation and Salesian works, if we continue our trust in her and we will continue to promote her cult. Her feasts and even more her solemnities, her novenas, her triduums, the month consecrated to her are always warmly inculcated in public and in private; with leaflets, with books: with medals, with images, with publishing or simply telling the graces and blessings that this heavenly benefactor of ours grants at every moment to suffering humanity.
3 ° Two sources of thanks for us are: to recommend in advance on all the occasions we can use to inculcate to our young students that in honor of Mary they approach the holy sacraments or exercise at least some works of piety. Listening to the holy mass with devotion
a visit to Jesus in the sacrament, frequent sacramental communion or at least spiritual communion, are of the greatest satisfaction to Mary and a powerful means to obtain special graces.
Ed. Criticism in Giovanni Bosco, Memoirs from 1841 to 1884-5-6_, in DBE, Scritti, pp. 418-419.
For aspirants we here mean those youngsters who wish to form a Christian standard of life that makes them worthy at the time to embrace the Salesian Congregation or as clerics or lay brothers.
Special diligence is used for them. But those who have the intention of becoming Salesians or at least are not opposed to it should only be kept in this number, when such is the will of God.
Let them have a special conference at least twice a month. In these conferences it is a question of how a young person should practice or flee to become a good Christian. The Younger provided administers the main arguments on this subject.
However, we do not talk to them about our rules in particular, nor about votes or leaving home or relatives; they are things that will come into your heart without any discussion of them.
Keep the great principle firmly in mind: one must give oneself to God sooner or later and God calls blessed the one who begins to consecrate himself to the Sign-in in his youth. Beatus homo cum portaverit iugum ab adolescentia sua [Lam 3.27]. The world then, with all its flattery, relatives, friends, home, or sooner or later or out of love or by force must abandon everything and leave it forever.
Ed. Criticism in Giovanni Bosco, Memoirs from 1841 to 1884-5-6_, in DBE, Scritti, pp. 426-428.
The director must be a model of patience, of charity with his brothers who depend on him and therefore:
- 1 ° Assist them, help them, instruct them on how to fulfill their duties, but never with harsh or offensive words.
2nd Show that he has great confidence in them; treat with affection the affairs that concern them. Never make reproaches, nor give severe warnings in the presence of others. But make sure you always do this in camera caritatis, that is gently, strictly in private.
3 ° If the reasons for these notices or reproaches: they were public, it will also be necessary to publicly notify, but both in the church and in the special conferences never make personal allusions. The warnings, the reproaches, the allusions made manifestly offend and do not get the amendment:
4 ° Never forget the monthly statement as much as possible; and on that occasion each director became his friend, his brother, the father of his employees. Give everyone time and freedom to make their reflections, express their needs and their intentions. He then for his part opens his heart to all without ever making anyone known; not even remember the past deficiencies except to give paternal warnings or charitably recall duty
who was negligent.
5 °, Make sure that you never discuss things related to confession unless the confrere applies. In such cases - never take resolutions to be translated into an external forum without being well understood with the partner in question.
6 ° For the most part the director 'is the ordinary confessor of the confreres. But be careful to give ample freedom to those who need to confess to another. It remains however understood that these particular confessors must be
known and approved by the superior according to our rules.
7th Since, then, whoever was looking for exceptional confessors shows little confidence in the director, so he, the director, must open his eyes and bring particular attention to the observance of the other rules and not entrust to that confrere certain duties which they seemed superior to his moral or physical strengths.
N.B. What I say here is by no means alien to the extraordinary confessors that the superior, director, inspector, will have: Care to fix at the right time.
8th In general, then, the director of a house often treats the confreres much and with great insanity, insisting on the need for uniform observance of the constitutions and, as far as is possible, also the textual words of the same.
9 ° In cases of illness, observe what the rules prescribe and how much
establish the capitolai resolutions.
10 ° Let it be easy to forget the sorrows and personal offenses and with benevolence and with regard to studies to win or better to correct, the negligent, the suspicious and the suspicious. Wins in bono malum [Rom 12; 21].
Ed. Criticism in Giovanni Bosco, Memoirs from 1841 to 1884-5-6_, in DBE, Scritti, pp. 435-436.
Love poverty if you want to keep the finances of the Congregation in good condition.
Make sure that no one has to say: this furniture gives no sign of poverty, this table, this habit, this room is not like a poor one. Whoever offers reasonable reasons to make such speeches, he causes a disaster to our Congregation that must always boast of the vow of poverty. Woe to us if those from whom we await charity will be able to say that we have a more comfortable life than their own. This is always meant to be rigorously practiced when we are in the normal state of health, because in cases of illness all the concerns that our rules allow must be used.
Remember that it will always be a good day for you when you can win an enemy with benefits or make a friend.
Never set the sun above your anger, nor ever recall forgiven offenses, never remember the damage, the forgotten wrong. We always say from the heart: Dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittiMus debitoribus nostris [Mt 6,121. But with an absolute and definitive forgetfulness of all that in the past has caused us some outrage. We all love with brotherly love.
These things are exemplarily observed by those who exercise some authority over others.
Ed. Criticism in Giovanni Bosco, Memoirs from 11841 to 1884-5-6 ..., in DBE, Scritti, pp. 437-438.
Our Congregation has before it a happy future prepared by divine Providence and its glory will be lasting so long as our rules are observed.
When the comforts or comforts begin between us, our pious Society has completed its course.
The world will always receive us with pleasure until such a time that our concerns will be directed to the savages, the poorest children, the most unsafe of society. This is for us the true comfort that no one will envy and no one will rapture us.
Don't go to found houses if you don't have the necessary personnel for the management of the same.
Not many neighboring houses. If one is distant from the other the dangers are much less.
Having started a mission abroad, continue with energy and sacrifice. The effort should always be to make and establish schools and raise some vocation for the ecclesiastical state or some nun among the girls.
At the time we will carry out our missions in China and precisely in Beijing. But let us not forget that we go to poor and abandoned children. There between unknown and ignorant peoples of the true God one will see the wonders so far not believed, but that powerful God will make manifest to the world.
We do not preserve stable properties outside the homes we need.
When in some religious enterprise we lose the financial means, we suspend, but the works started as soon as our economies continue, the sacrifices will allow it.
When it happens that a Salesian succumbs and ceases to live working for souls, then you will say that our Congregation has brought back a great triumph and the blessings of heaven will descend on it abundantly.
Ed. In printed letters of DB, pp. 46-49.
My good benefactors and my good benefactors,
I feel that the end of my life is approaching, and the day is coming, when I will have to pay the common tribute to death and descend to the grave. Before leaving you forever in this land, I must dissolve a debt towards you and thus satisfy a great need of my heart.
The debt that I must pay is that of gratitude for all that you have done with helping me to educate in a Christian way. to put on the path of virtue and work so many poor young boys, so that they could have the consolation of the family, useful to themselves and to the civil society and above all to save their soul and in this way make themselves eternally happy.
Without your charity I could have done little or nothing; with your charity we have instead cooperated with the grace of God to dry many tears and to save many souls. With your charity we have founded numerous colleges and hospices, where thousands of orphans were taken away from abandonment, torn from the danger of irreligion and immorality, and through good education, study and learning of an art, good deeds Christians and wise citizens.
With your charity we have established missions to the ends of the earth, in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, and sent hundreds of evangelical workers to extend and cultivate the vineyard of the Lord.
With your charity we have set up printing presses in various cities and countries, published among the people with more than millions of copies of books and papers in defense of the truth, fomenting piety and supporting good morals.
With your charity we have still raised many chapels and churches, in which for centuries and until the end of the world the praises of God and of the Blessed Virgin will be chanted every day and many souls will be saved.
Convinced that, after God, all this and much much more was done through the effective help of your charity, I feel the need to externalize it and therefore before closing the last days of mine there is the deepest gratitude and I thank you for it from the most intimate of the heart ..
But if you have. helped me with so much: goodness and perseverance, now I pray that you will continue to help my successor - after my death. The works that I have started with your support no longer need me, but continue to need you and all those who like you love to promote good on this earth. I therefore entrusted them to everyone and recommend them.
To your encouragement and comfort I leave it to my successor that in the common and private prayers, which are made and will be done in Salesian houses, our benefactors and our benefactors are always included, and that he puts the intention every time that God grants the hundredfold of their charity also in the life present with health and harmony in the family, with prosperity in the countryside and in business and with liberation and estrangement from every misfortune.
At your encouragement and comfort I still notice that the most effective work is to obtain for us the forgiveness of sins and to secure eternal life: it is charity given to little children: Uni ex minimis, to an abandoned child, as the divine master assures. Jesus. I also want to point out how, in these times, making oneself sick felt the lack and the material means to educate and make the poorest and most abandoned youngsters, the holy, educate in faith and in good morals: the Virgin became herself their protector; and for this reason he obtains many graces and spiritual and even extraordinary temporaries for his benefactors and their benefactors.
I myself and with me all the Salesians are witnesses that many of our benefactors, who were previously of little luck, became very wealthy after they began to spread in charity towards our orphans.
In view of this, and trained from the experience, many of them, some in one way and some in another, told me several times these and other similar words: I do not want you to thank me when I give charity to your poor children; but I must thank you for asking me. Since I began to subsidize his orphans my substances have tripled. Another gentleman, the commendator Antonio Cotta, often came himself to bring alms, saying: The more I bring money for his works, the better my business is. I feel with the fact that the Lord also gives me in the present life the hundredfold of what I give for his love. He was our distinguished benefactor until the age of 86, when God called him to eternal life to enjoy the fruit of his beneficence there.
Although tired and exhausted with strength I would no longer leave you to speak to you and recommend my children to me, whom I am about to abandon; but I must point and put down the pen.
Goodbye, my dear benefactors, Salesian Cooperators and Cooperators, goodbye.
Many of you I have not been able to meet personally in this life, but it does not matter: in the other world we will all know each other and eternally we will rejoice together in the good that we have done in this land with the grace of God, especially for the benefit of the poor youth .
If after my death, the divine mercy, for the merits of Jesus Christ and for the protection of Mary Help of Christians, he will find me worthy to be received in heaven, I will always pray for you, I will pray for your families, I will pray for your loved ones, so that one day all will come to praise the majesty of the Creator forever, to become intoxicated by his divine delights, to sing his infinite mercies, Amen.
Always your obligated servant
Sac. Giovanni Bosco.