Salesian Holiness

Exercises to the Salesians 1955 - The confession

Third sermon - THE CONFESSION
26 July 1955 morning



After the beautiful meditation of this morning that certainly must have impressed our soul, rectified many and many ideas, perhaps too weak in our heads and in our hearts, it seems natural to me that we speak of the Holy Confession. 
Don Bosco suggested that he should not pass on spiritual exercises, to any kind of people, even if they were priests, without speaking of this holy sacrament. Let's talk about it today, my good brothers. I do not intend to present to the poor soul of you and your soul the sacrament of Confession here, as an indispensable instrument for obtaining forgiveness from the goodness of our sins from the goodness of the Lord's Mercy, but the thought of Don Bosco. There is no - that I know of - a special circular addressed to his children on this subject, but we can say that among all his speeches, among all his writings, - let us not forget his dreams, - there is a material more that is immense to be able to bring together Don Bosco's thought for the benefit of our soul.
Don Bosco, you see, this way for the sacrament of Confession, not simply - as we said before - the sacrament instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ ad hoc to obtain the forgiveness of sins, when the necessary conditions are present, but also to present to his children the sacrament of Confession in other respects: a means to correct defects, a means to preserve purity, "the culminating point - are his words - to obtain morality for ourselves and for others"; the means to preserve our vocation; the means to strive for perfection, the cornerstone of our entire spiritual life. And it is in this respect my dear confreres, whom I would like to present as a small consideration to my poor soul and yours, this sacrament of Confession.

It may be that in hearing Don Bosco's words, which in general are always addressed to young people, you think: all this is for the boys! Yes it is for the boys, but mind you, my dear confreres, that we too are boys in the spiritual life. We don't have to think about being giants, saints. We want to strive for perfection, we want to make ourselves saints, but we are not yet. And I think that what we hear from Don Bosco will also do much good for our soul.
But then this thought came to my mind. 
Yes, Don Bosco, thinking of what he said, of what he wrote, of what he dreamed about in relation to Confession, he is always in the midst of his youth. But I remember that, in the first pack of Exercises in Trofarello, as a reminder at the beginning of the same Exercises, addressed to those first confreres, he said: "Today no one comes out of this pack of Exercises with cheating on the soul." 
Word repeated on other occasions; and my dear companion, dear Don Tozzi, was present. Several of you others know him, right there in Valsalice, and he told me the precise place where Don Bosco, addressing the confreres precisely assembled for the Spiritual Exercises - he was still young, he was then coming from Faenza - addressed to the confreres on those three or four first steps of the staircase leading up to the church, addressed to the confreres, and even then the mind repeated the same words: "Let no one leave this pack of Exercises with cheating on the soul." 
My dear confreres, let us also say this to our soul; and I repeat: what Don Bosco says to the young, let us not forget that he also says it to our soul, which - I repeat - in the spiritual way is still very young, is still very young, very inexperienced; and it certainly does good for us too, as our Don Bosco says to his young people.

You see, from 1870-75, Don Bosco sees the clear outline of his model; and feels the intimate need to accurately determine the soul of this congregation. And all the advice he intended to give was for this congregation to really have the spirit, the soul, which he had also concretized through supernatural visions. And then we can say that all his advice, his exhortations, even his private letters do nothing but repeat the same arguments, "opportune et importune", and one can say, almost always with the same words; and even if one examines his writings, precisely to the letter, and among these suggestions among these suggestions, certainly the thought of Confession, the need for Confession from the spiritual point of view, the need for Confession for all those reasons we have talked about before, we see that it fixes the clearest form in which Don Bosco's thought in relation to Confession is manifested is in the biographies of his writings. You all remember. It may be that you have read them all at least those that are ordinarily in hand. Savio Domenico, Besucco, Magone, Colle Luigi, Pietro the blacksmith; these are the five biographies that represent precisely, if you also consider them so summarily, just the different characters of the young and also the social environment in which these young people lived. It may be that you have read them all at least those that are ordinarily in hand. Savio Domenico, Besucco, Magone, Colle Luigi, Pietro the blacksmith; these are the five biographies that represent precisely, if you also consider them so summarily, just the different characters of the young and also the social environment in which these young people lived. It may be that you have read them all at least those that are ordinarily in hand. Savio Domenico, Besucco, Magone, Colle Luigi, Pietro the blacksmith; these are the five biographies that represent precisely, if you also consider them so summarily, just the different characters of the young and also the social environment in which these young people lived. 
There, Don Bosco, if we analyze a little deeply, does nothing else but to demonstrate how Confession was so useful for the education of these young people. Think of you, I repeat, to the exhortations, to the conferences, both to young people and to clerics, those first clerics who then founded, we can say, our congregation. The general chapters, the special letters, the dreams of our Don Bosco, in which, true, under the veil of metaphor, of imagination, exposes precisely the defects, the need for confession, the effects of evil that can be healed simply and only with the holy Confession. The holy industries, we can remember, that Don Bosco used to approach as many souls as he could, to the frequent and well-made use of Confession. 

Don Bosco insists that Don Bosco insists on the frequent and well-done weekly confession, the fundamental condition for Don Bosco so that the confession of his young people is made, beyond the conditions that we all know from catechism, religious teachings, in particular except necessity, obviously. The intemperate frequency of Confession, or represents lightness or represents a mechanism, in short, is not something correct. The intemperance in Confession can also give rise to scruples; and Don Bosco was careful not to create, even I would say, by this means, if we can say so, in his young people. He imposed obedience, which is the only way out to correct these deficiencies. 

Another capital point: stable confessor! He admitted to the fullest freedom, and evidently we have heard and read it many times even in the speeches, the speeches, the good hours of our Don Bosco. Third: seriousness is needed in spiritual life! We heard it recalled yesterday in the beautiful meditation. With these fundamental points that he suggested to his young people, to understand Don Bosco, a forger, - we will say, - of holiness, we must think of it in the confessional. And the most beautiful result is our Savio, and Don Bosco also says it: "Savio Domenico is a masterpiece of confession, which was his support in the practice of virtue and was the sure guide who led him to a glorious life span . " 

Just this morning's meditation was about sin. It is our weak side; also in relation to the Confession, we can really intuit it, from what we have meditated. What is our mentality, what is our conscience in relation to sin? It seems that the thought of Don Bosco - we can deduce from all these elements I mentioned earlier, that we were also generally referred to this morning, can be theologically, pedagogically, spiritually summarized in this way: sin, loss of sanctifying Grace , is offended against the Lord, is offended by God. My dear confreres, in our preparation for Confession, we stopped even just a moment, considering God from these points of view: 

  1. God is God the creator. And we all understand the strength of this word.
  2. Jesus is my Savior. And so, my good brothers today, let us prepare for confession at the foot of the Crucifix.

Oh, let us recall, you young people especially, that you have a fantasy, an imagination, so beautiful, so wide, we return at that moment to the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Precisely for his people, let us not forget the Last Supper, what did Jesus do at that Last Supper? What preceded it, what did it follow? "Exivit cum illis in Montem Olivarum." What happened there? There is the true Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we were there too; we with our deficiencies, we with our sins, we with our mismatches, we with our negligence, we with our ingratitude, we with our monstrosities. Here are my good brothers! And Jesus "Transeat a me calix iste!" We follow Jesus there, on Calvary, and we follow Jesus there too near the cross; in that first confession of the good thief. 
In our examination of conscience, if we precisely invested in these moments of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, certainly, in our hearts more deeply it would be felt what is the greatest evil, sin.

  1. The Holy Spirit, my sanctifier.

"Therefore, conclusion," says Don Bosco, "if we love God," and for Don Bosco, his neighbor is included in that well-known formula that we perhaps repeat a little too mechanically: the Glory of God is the health of souls, sure, so if let us love God, "says Don Bosco," and our neighbor, this offense of God must be kept absolutely distant. " But then there is another consideration, which comes to show us, which results from the same other considerations that enter then more deeply in the spiritual educational field of young people. 
"Sin is also misfortune, ruin of the soul", not only offense of God. "Misfortune - our Don Bosco always calls it this - ruin of the soul." The soul loses Grace, is incapable of merit and from this, from this psychological consequences, disorders, disorders of the soul, disorders, will disorders, disorders, disorder also in our external life. And so it is, "Because in these circumstances - says Don Bosco - we cannot realize our program: joy, pity, study. There will be some reluctance, simply, of slyness, restlessness, indocility, inattention to the things of the soul; but in short the Grace of the Lord does not work where the devil works. " 
Here is the thought of our Don Bosco. And so, it is no wonder that Don Bosco's insistence on active vigilance is a constant reminder that there is no sin in the home, whether in us or in our young people, and that sin does not enter. 
Even in the simple regulatory reference to the doorkeeper: "The choice of a good porter is a very important thing for a home." The vigilance that people do not enter, books do not enter, newspapers do not enter, other things do not come in short that can be occasions of sin . Eh, you see, that this active vigilance, this active presence of the Salesian of vigilance towards the souls, has precisely this purpose to prevent, to the extent possible, that sin exists, to which sin enters. It is necessary to carry out our spiritual program, my dear confreres, regardless of the program joy, piety and study, which is also our program; we, true, must strive for perfection and it is so clear in so many letters, in so many conferences of our Don Bosco he always concludes this way: 
Peace, serenity, tranquility! And then Don Bosco wrote: "But he who has no peace with God has no peace with himself, has no peace with others. He remains anguished, restless, intolerant of obedience, irritated by nothing, it seems to him that everything goes wrong. "Is n't that so? You who have more experience than myself, because you have done the training also in our homes. Have we not verified this state of affairs so many times? I do not say that it simply depends on sin and that it always depends on it; there may also be other circumstances; but the foundation is here, my dear brothers. Sure, if there is no peace with God, there is no peace with oneself, there is no peace with others, one remains anguished, restless, intolerant of obedience, one is irritated by nothing. This is the thought of Don Bosco. 
And then, there is only one remedy: Confession well done; if it is necessary, general, reparative. Frequent confession, especially in case of falls; and when Don Bosco talks about disasters and falls, you too can understand what he wants to talk about.
Combine this with frequent communion which is a source of spiritual and moral energies, because it is then that Jesus works. And above this state of Grace there is grafted the flowering of actual Grace, which thus accompanies the interior life of the soul. Here is Don Bosco's thought. Read his biographies, read the lectures, read the letters. We hope to have the complete edition soon, which will be a magnificent spiritual enjoyment for our soul. 

My good brothers, what Don Bosco suggests to his young people can also be heard by us others and must also be implemented by us others. Why can't we obtain these fruits from Confession? Our Don Bosco continues: 
"What is radically lacking - note the word - what is radically lacking in so many who confess, is stability in purpose. They confess, but always the same shortcomings, the same upcoming occasions, the same bad habits, the same disturbances in the church, bad speeches, jokes or scandalous affairs, the same disobedience, lack of respect for the assistants, the same bad habits, the same bad habits, the same neglect of duties; and so it goes on for months and months and even for years and years; confessions that are worth little or nothing, so they don't bring peace. And if a young man were called to that court at God's court it would be a massacre. " So are these confessions well done? 
I answer you with the words of the Gospel: "From the fruits the plant is known." This indicates that the purpose was not made, or that care was not taken to keep it in practice; one would sometimes say that one goes to confession by ceremony and that one wants to tempt the Lord.
It will then be necessary to probe one's heart and look for the reason; if there is a lack of examination, of pain, if deliberately, by misfortune, a mortal or other sin has been concealed. And then made a good confession, to cut off all ties that can keep us bound to the devil and put us in danger of damaging ourselves eternally.
I said that for Don Bosco, Confession is the culminating point for obtaining morality. And he writes: "The culminating point for obtaining morality, certainly is the frequent Confession and Communion, but really well done; by giving great comfort and by procuring confessors who understand these things. You already get a lot, but it will certainly be almost impossible to get everything; because it pities to see the state of consciousness in perhaps nine tenths of the young. Nor does having any comfort put them in place; it must be persuaded that when a young person has the misfortune of leaving cheats on his conscience, for the most part he goes on for years and years and there is no solemnity or mute of exercises or death of others that affects him; it is really saying, that the adjustment of consciences is just disappointed, which from time to time perhaps, 
But we must study all the ways of giving ever greater comfort, because there will always be someone, who by virtue of this, will let the divine Mercy work on himself and the sole probability of success, deserves that we take care of it a lot. " And it certainly is. Especially us, those who must direct, do not forget these words of our Don Bosco: "We give ample comfort." Notice that one of the canons of Don Bosco's piety is this: Freedom, freedom, non-coercion; we urge, we give comfort, we raise opportunities. 

I conclude by reading a thought derived precisely from the life of our Savio Domenico, and I would say, if nothing else, a hint of what our Don Bosco spread then here and there in the various chapters of the biographies of his young people in relation to the Confession. And it is here that his thoughts do not simply go to young people, but also to those who care for young people and Christians in general. It seems in a certain way that Don Bosco, even though I say externally putting all his advice to help young people, - thinks that the reader, if he is an adult, will also find the word for him; from time to time he lets slip: "The same advice for educators, the same advice for Christians, for the Christian family". 
Don Bosco writes: "It is proved by experience that the highest supports of youth are the sacrament of Confession and Communion. Give me a young man who attends these sacraments; you will see it grow in the youthful, reach the virile age and arrive, if it pleases God, up to the later old age with a conduct that is the example of all those who know him. This maxim understands it more to practice it, all those who deal with their education understand it, to insinuate it. Approaching frequently, and whenever we approach this health bath, we will not fail to turn our thoughts to past confessions, to make sure that they have been well done, and, if we see the need, we remedy the defects that you had incurred. : defects of ignorance, faults,
I still wanted a brief thought, in relation, precisely, to the fruits of Confession. Don Bosco says: "Do you make your confession and there is nothing but that result? I think I know him; I will tell you with the words of the Gospel: from the fruits we know the tree. " Here are my good brothers, what I have been able to gather in a little meditation on this presented subject, we will say, with the thought of our dear Don Bosco. But it made me wonder, and I conclude with this, this last thought. Spiritual work for the good of our soul, for Don Bosco is the scrupulous use of time: "Diligence in the fulfillment of duty, the frequent, sincere, well-done Confession; scrupulous use of time ", says our Don Bosco. 
See, if you do not appreciate the time, you will see, and in your soul and in the soul of your young people, nothing but this: spiritual sleepiness, sloth, idleness, sin. Diligence in the fulfillment of duty! Mind you that for Don Bosco, it is, one can say, the eighth sacrament of the spiritual life. Life is duty. And most often the duty is outward. Frequent, sincere, well done, confession. 
My dear confreres, we thank the Lord who has put at our disposal this healthy bath, in which our faults, large or small as they are, are erased and we think precisely of Don Bosco's thought, which for us Confession must also be an element weekly and even more frequently in case of need, in order to be able to continuously maintain ourselves in that direction of perfection that is our creed. 
Let us not forget in the holy confession the Passion of our Lord Jesus. Let us not forget in our confession the part that our good Mother, Sorrowful, had in the passion of our Lord Jesus. This too can help us to ensure that, with seriousness of purpose , do not forget the thought of Don Bosco: spiritual life is something serious, it is not a game, it is not lightness.
With this, of course, we will always succeed in making our confessions well. We, then, educators, you, many of whom have already taught catechism, religion, our good missionaries who have their catechumens, especially to the young, in the beginning, taught, taught, taught to make these confessions well. The confession started well, in general, can be said to continue; but when there are no clear ideas, when you start messing around from the beginning, - it is painful to say, - but also from the experience of Don Bosco ... Let us pray to the Lord to help us always serve him well: for good of our soul, to perfect ourselves more and more, to unite with him more intimately in holy charity: always do the Holy Confession well.