Very often, when people hear us speaking of "Salesian Spirituality" they think immediately of St. John Bosco. Indeed, the Salesians of Don Bosco are very much a part of our Salesian family. In 1869 when John Bosco formally established his Oratory, he took St. Francis de Sales as his patron. The gentleness which is so prevalent in St. Francis de Sales' writings and exhortations would serve him well in his work with the boys to whom he ministered.
Perhaps one of the most endearing qualities of St. John Bosco was his great love and enthusiasm for young people -- the boys who attached themselves to him, whom he befriended, who eventually became the first members of his Oratory. His attitude, in the face of youth, was one of great hope. He saw enormous potential in the young men he welcomed into the oratory; he trusted that a little kindness, a little structure, little tough love and his mother's good cooking would nourish their bodies and their souls. And he was right. Among the boys he welcomed into his company was young Dominic Savio. Dominic died of tuberculosis at age 15 and was canonized in 1954. A feather in St. John Bosco's halo!
It is sometimes too easy to see only the externals of a young person: how he acts, talks, walks, etc., -- things that were learned or not learned at home. St. John Bosco was able to see beyond the sometimes-mannerless attitude of the boys who joined his number. He looked at these boys and saw the potential for great holiness. Let us ask his intercession for all those who strive to bring the Gospel message to our young people today.
To read more about St. John Bosco, click here.