Saint John Bosco…

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…judges Francis’ idea on the use of internet for catholic education

  • It is necessary to purify love and thus transform human sentimentality into refined and sublime love – to subject sensibility to reason, to the teachings of the faith, to the zeal for the glory of God

Childhood, adolescence and youth are times of an extraordinary flourishing of sentiments and affections. The educator should take advantage of this. The heart has sections that are little explored, almost unknown. The center of the heart, so to say, is love. It is necessary to purify love, transform human sentimentality into refined and sublime love; in charity, in charity towards God and towards neighbor. Control anger, help one’s neighbor, subject sensibility to reason, to the teachings of the faith, to the zeal for the glory of God. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 411)

  • Without religion there is no fruit to be had among youth

Only religion is capable of beginning and finishing the great work of a true education. Without religion there is no fruit to be had among youth. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, p. 428)

  • It is necessary to always keep the children busy with good things

Impurity is the vice that causes most damage in youth. Morality: this is what is most important! […] It is necessary to always keep the boys busy. […] If we do not keep them occupied, they will seek occupation, and certainly with thoughts and things that are not good. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 429)

  • Detach yourselves from earthly things, and try to rise toward heaven

My sons, detach yourselves from earthly things. Imitate the little birds when they want to leave the nest. They start to leave the edge of the nest, they flap their little wings, they try to lift into the air, they try out their strength. So should you do too: flap your wings a little to rise toward heaven… Begin with little things, with what is necessary for your eternal salvation. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 412)

  • The world is most ungrateful

Young people, accustom yourselves to saying to the devil: I cannot, I have only one soul! This is true Christian logic. Because of this, purity of intention, do that which pleases God, obey God. The benefit is: the world is most ungrateful, it is impossible to keep it happy; the best counsel that can be given is to not expect recompense from the world, but only from God. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pp. 410–411)

…judges Francis’ idea that it is no longer necessary to declare one’s sins to a confessor to be pardoned

  • The devil will try to make you conceal your sins in confession

Before all else, I recommend that you take the greatest caution not to fall into sin; and if you have the disgrace to commit one, do not heed the tempter devil; he will try to make you conceal it in confession. […] I wished to say these things to you so that you never let yourselves be deceived by the devil, keeping silent about a sin in confession out of shame. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos [Biography and Writings], Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 826)

  • The snare with which the devil commonly traps souls and steals them from God consists in making them feel great shame when they go to confess a sin

Do not be afraid to confess to the confessor your defects and your faults. […]
Let nothing, my dear sons, take this confidence from you: Not shame, for we know well that human miseries are human miseries, and you certainly do not go to confession to tell miracles. […] Nor the fear that the priest may reveal something of what was heard in confession; this is a tremendous secret for him; the slightest veniality revealed would suffice to condemn him to hell. Nor the fear that what has been confessed to him will later be recalled […] So, take heart, my little sons, let us not make the devil laugh. Confess well, telling all. […] The snare with which the devil commonly traps young people is precisely this: making them feel great shame when they go to confess a sin. When he impels them to commit them, he then takes away all shame and makes them believe that they are mere trifles; but he later gives it back to them, when they seek to confess and, what is more, increases it, and does his utmost to put the idea into their heads that the confessor will be shocked in seeing them thus fallen and will lose the esteem in which he held them. In this way, he ever attempts to lead souls more and more toward the abyss of eternal perdition. Oh, how many souls, especially of young people, does the devil not steal from God, frequently and forever! (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos [Biography and Writings], Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 527-528)

  • Shame, rather than leading to salvation, leads to perdition

I looked and I saw [in a dream] three more youths in a dreadful position. Each of them a large monkey on his back. I observed attentively and saw that the monkeys had horns. Each of those terrible beasts, grasped those poor unfortunates by the neck with their front paws, gripping so tightly that the youths’ faces became completely congested, and their bloodshot eyes bulged to the point of almost springing from their sockets. With their hind legs, they so squeezed the youths’ thighs that they could scarcely move and, with their tail, which was most elongated, they also bound their legs so that walking was almost impossible. This means that those youths, even after the spiritual exercises, are in mortal sin: the devil squeezes their neck, preventing them from speaking when they should, instilling such shame in them, that they lose their senses and do not know what to do. This shame, rather than leading them to salvation, leads them to perdition. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 577-578)

  • ‘Labor, sweat and fervor’ is necessary to remove the devil of shame

I asked what these youths should do to rid their backs of such a horrible monster. He hastily said: ‘Labor, sweat and fervor’. I do not understand, speak more clearly. He repeated once again: ‘Labor, sweat and fervor’. […] ‘I understand the words materially, but you would do well to give their explanation’. ‘Labor in assiduis operibus; sudor in poenitentiis continuis; fervor in orationibus ferventibus’. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 578)

  • A great number of Christians are eternally lost for not having declared certain sins with sincerity in the confessional

I assure you, very beloved young people, that my hand trembles in writing these lines at the consideration of the great number of Christians who are eternally lost for not having declared certain sins with sincerity in confession. If, by chance, one of you, reviewing your past life, recalls that you hid a sin in confession, or had the slightest doubt as to the validity of one or other of them, hear what I am about to tell you in the greatest earnestness: ‘Friend, for the love of Jesus Christ and of the Precious Blood He shed to save you, I beseech you to set the state of your conscience straight the very next time you go to confess, and reveal, with sincerity, all that might embitter your soul if you were to find yourself at the moment of death’. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 826)

  • The number of those who are condemned for going to confession is greater than those who are condemned for not going to confession

I had a dream. Much of what was seen cannot be described, because… to express them, neither word nor intelligence will suffice. […] There were four youths bound with thick chains and with locks on their lips. I observed them attentively and I knew them. […] I, confounded and overwhelmed at those strange things, asked him the reason for the locks clamping the lips of those fellows. He replied: ‘Do you not understand? These are the ones who keep silent’. ‘But what do they keep silent about?’ ‘They keep silent’. Then I understood that he meant those who keep silent in confession. It is those who, even if questioned by the confessor, do not answer, or answer evasively, or untruthfully. They say that it isn’t so, when it is. […] This is true to such extent, that, in all the world, the number of those who are condemned for going to confession is greater than that of those who are condemned for not going to confession, for even the worst will confess at some time, but very many confess badly. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 574.576-577)

  • The priest ought to help penitents to reveal the state of their consciences

Whoever, by the designs of Divine Providence, has the most difficult task of hearing young people in Confession, I humbly beg you to permit me, while omitting many other things, to make, with utmost respect, the following observations: […] Help them to reveal the state of their conscience and urge them to frequent the Sacrament of Penance. This is the best means to distance them from sin. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 827)

…judges Francis’ idea on the formation of youth

  • One of the vices of modern pedagogy is to reduce religion to a mere sentiment

One of the defects or vices of modern pedagogy is to reduce religion to a mere sentiment. Because of this they do not want one to speak with the young people about the eternal truths, nor even to mention death, judgment, and much less hell to them. It is necessary to instruct them profoundly and capacitate them to continue this instruction on their own. A reform of customs is necessary. This is not attained except by distributing the bread of the divine word to the peoples. Catechize the children; inculcate in them the detachment of the things of this earth. […] All teachers should teach and promote the study of the diocesan catechism. It is of utmost importance. Twice a year there should be held with all solemnity a catechism exam, and whoever who does not pass it should not be promoted to the other exams. Special awards should be given to those who have outstanding results in this exam. And to better assure this study, special care should be taken in the record of the weekly and monthly marks. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, p. 421)

  • Without religion there is no fruit to be had among youth

Only religion is capable of beginning and finishing the great work of a true education. Without religion there is no fruit to be had among youth. Young souls, in the period of their formation, need to experience the beneficial effects derived from sacerdotal unction. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, p. 428)

  • Confession and Communion are the strongest supports for youth

The first step to educate young people well consists in striving to bring them confess and receive Communion with proper dispositions. These Sacraments are the strongest supports for youth. Frequent confession and Communion and daily Mass are the columns which should support an educational edifice which one wishes to be far removed from threats and punishment. Do not force young people to frequent the Sacraments, but rather encourage them and facilitate so that they may benefit from them. On the occasion of spiritual exercises, triduums, novenas sermons, catechisms, etc, there should be emphasis on the beauty, grandeur and holiness of a religion which proposes means that are so easy, so useful to civil society, to the tranquility of the heart and to the salvation of the soul as are the Sacraments. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pp. 428-429)

  • The supreme end of the educator: saving eternally

Reason and religion are the instruments that the educator should constantly use, teach and practice himself if he wishes to be obeyed and attain his end. This supreme end consists in making young people good, and saving them eternally. All the rest: letters, science, arts, trades, should be considered means. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pp. 423-424)

  • A Christian educator is he who directs souls to the path of sanctity

What is the obligation of the Christian educator? According to the spirit of Jesus Christ and the speaking of his morality, the educator, whether he be a priest or a teacher, should avoid giving a tainted education to the children Providence has confided to him, he should immediately direct them to the path of sanctity, whose ways are renunciation and generosity. To communicate to them the spirit of sacrifice, he should direct his care, above all, to cultivate their reason and their will, without neglecting any of the other faculties. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 415)

  • Form the heart to the zeal for the glory of God

Childhood, adolescence and youth are times of an extraordinary flourishing of sentiments and affections. The educator should take advantage of this. The heart has sections that are little explored, almost unknown. The center of the heart, so to say, is love. It is necessary to purify love, transform human sentimentality into refined and sublime love; in charity, in charity towards God and towards neighbor. Control anger, help one’s neighbor, subject sensibility to reason, to the teachings of the faith, to the zeal for the glory of God. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 411)

  • Instruction should begin by the knowledge of man’s final end

There is no true instruction which is not at the same time education. Intelligence is the light that God has given us to illuminate our way. It is at the same time the great instrument for all human work. It is that which distinguishes man from animals. It is the reflection of God. It is necessary to cultivate and educate it adequately. Instruction progresses alongside with human life and work, which always begins, and should begin by the knowledge of the end, to then proceed to the choice and concrete application of the means which lead to this end. This thought is what directs all intellectual formation. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pp. 408-409)

  • Almost all educators completely neglect the sovereign faculty: the will

Wisdom is the art of governing one’s own will. The education of the will consist above all in strengthening it, distancing from it all the obstacles that can obstruct its upright use, and providing occasions and motives for its proper use according to its natural and supernatural life. All, or almost all educators, see the development of a child`s intelligence as his main privilege. But this is a lack of prudence, because they ignore or easily lose sight of human nature and the interdependence of our faculties. They dedicate all their efforts to the development of the cognitive faculty and sentiment, which they erroneously and harmfully confuse with the faculty to love and on the other hand they completely neglect the sovereign faculty, the will, only source of true and pure love, of which sensibility is no more than a kind of appearance. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 413)

  • The child, overexcited by an intense culture, is a toy of the evil spirit

The intelligence and the sensibility, overexcited by an intense culture, attract all the powers of the soul, absorb his whole life, and acquire prematurely an extreme vivacity, coupled with the most refined delicacy. The child like this understands quickly, his imagination is ardent and agile, his memory retains with scrupulous exactitude and effortlessly the smallest details, which leads to learning by rote, his sensibility enchants all around him. But all of these brilliant qualities disguise the most shameful insufficiency, the most fatal weakness. The child today, and unfortunately, later the youth, carried away by the immediacy of conceptions, does not know how to think nor to operate with criteria, he lacks good sense, tact, prudence – in a word, practical sense. […] Too superficial to read the depths of his soul, he sees nothing but the surface, that is to say the passing sensations, and rushing to secure its slightest movements, believes to have firmly decided that which he seems to desire; incapable of dominating himself, he hurries to put it into practice. A sad and ridiculous toy of the evil spirit, who does not cease to confuse him, exciting impressions that he, poor blind child, imagines to be firm resolutions, the objects of lengthy meditation! […] Virtue attracts him, but as it is repugnant to the weakness of his nature, he interprets this repugnance to be a contrary desire. And he gives in. In vain the most abundant graces fall upon his soul, because he does not know how to seize them; his conscience is like a stormy sea, constantly agitated by the most contrary currents. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pp. 413-414)

  • Everything should converge toward the formation of the conscience

Formation of the conscience, which is so to say forming in the students this practical intellect which knows the moral law and which evaluates each action in its light, discovering its consonance or discrepancy with this law and proceeding in accordance with it. Everything should converge toward this: readings, conversations, discussions, classes, talks, public and private conferences should all tend toward inculcating in the intelligences the upright judgment about the things and the actions of life. They should learn to flee from evil and do good not out of fear or because others are observing them, but rather for love of God; not for reward or punishment from the superior, but for duty of conscience. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 410-411)

  • Morality: this is what is most important!

Impurity is the vice that causes most damage in youth. Morality: this is what is most important! […] It is necessary to always keep the boys busy. […] If we do not keep them occupied, they will seek occupation, and certainly with thoughts and things that are not good. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 429)

  • Physical education: to make the body a worthy collaborator of the spirit for the glory of God and the good of neighbor

The well-known program of Greco-Roman Antiquity never loses its validity: mens sana in corpore sano. And this should be understood in the integral sense: to achieve a proper collaboration between the two components of man. Make the body a worthy collaborator of the spirit for the glory of God and the good of neighbor. […] Physical education is most suitable, and even necessary, but it should not become a merely mechanical exercise, nor a series of movements which are more or less synchronized, but rather it should be a discipline, a perfecting in every sense, also esthetically. Agility and robustness of the body so that it can better serve the soul, and social life. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 406)

  • Games which inflame with the desire for material interests are not recommendable

Games are made to rest and avoid bad humors. Because of this, sedentary games are not recommendable, nor those which require too much calculation, nor those which inflame with the desire for material interests. […] Any game which includes the danger of offending God, causing harm to one’s neighbor, or to oneself, should be prohibited. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pp. 406-407)

  • During the time of youth, one should be accustomed to work

Man, my dear sons, was born to work. Adam was placed in the earthly Paradise so he would cultivate it. The Apostle Saint Paul says: ‘Whoever does not work should not eat, Si quis non vult operari, nec manducet’ (2Thess 3:10). By work is understood the fulfillment of one’s duties, whether they be studies, art, or some occupation. We are all workers. Remember that by work, you can make yourselves meritorious to society, to religion, you can do good to your souls, especially if you offer to God the occupations of each day. […] Remember that your age is the springtime of life. The one who does not accustom himself to work during his youth will be an idler until his old age, to the dishonor of the motherland and his relatives, and perhaps with irreparable damage to his own soul, because idleness brings with it all kinds of vices. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 489

  • On the holy fear of God depends all temporal and eternal good

Remember, dear young people, that we have been created to know, love and serve God, our Creator, and that of no use to us whatsoever is all the knowledge of the world and all the riches of the universe without the fear of God. On this holy fear depend all our temporal and eternal good. To keep us in the fear of Go, prayers, the Sacraments, and the Word of God are of aid to us. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pp. 489-490)

  • Virtues are the best ornament of a youth

Remember, dear young people that you are the Lord`s delight. Happy is the one who begins to observe the law of God ever since he is small. God deserves to be loved, because he has created us, he has redeemed us, he conserves us and has granted us innumerable benefits, and has a great reward for reserved for the one who keeps his law. Charity is that which distinguishes the sons of God from the sons of the devil and the world. The one who gives good counsel to his companions does a great work of charity. Obey your superiors, according to the mandate of God, and all will be well. The virtues that form the best ornament of a Christian youth are charity, purity, humility and obedience. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 416)

  • Begin when little to walk valiantly along the path of virtue

How difficult it is to uproot a vice that has taken root in youth! […] Each one of you should strive to acquire good habits, because in this way it will be easy for him to practice virtue. The habits formed in youth, generally last a lifetime: if they are good, they lead to virtue and they give us the moral security of eternal salvation. History teaches us that at all times virtue was loved, and those who practice it venerated and honored; on the contrary, vice was always reproved, and those who practice the vices despised. This should serve as an incentive for us on to flee from it constantly and practice virtue. Whoever wants to be great should begin when he is to and walk valiantly along the path of virtue. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 416)

  • Christians should seek to know the divine will

My sons: God in his eternal councils has destined to each one of you a condition of life with its corresponding graces. As in any other circumstance, also in this one, which is of capital importance, the Christian should seek to know the divine will, imitating Jesus Christ, who declared that he had come to the earth solely to fulfill the will of His eternal Father. It is very important then, my dear ones, that you seek to see clearly, so as not to labor in occupations which the Lord does not will for you. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 422)

  • Detach yourselves form earthly things to rise toward heaven

My sons, detach yourselves form earthly things. Imitate the little birds when they want to leave the nest. They start to leave the edge of the nest, they flap their little wings, they try to lift into the air, they try out their strength. So should you do too: flap your wings a little to rise toward heaven… Begin with little things, with what is necessary for your eternal salvation. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 412)

  • The world is most ungrateful. Do not expect recompense form the world, but only from God

Young people, accustom yourselves to saying to the devil: I cannot, I have only one soul! This is true Christian logic. Because of this, purity of intention, do that which pleases God, obey God. The benefit is: the world is most ungrateful, it is impossible to keep it happy; the best counsel that can be given is to not expect recompense form the world, but only from God. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), Second edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pp. 410-411)