Image: Statue of Don Bosco at St. John Bosco Parish Church, Taipei, Taiwan | photo by Bernard Gagnon
Saint John Bosco
Saint of the Day for January 31
(August 16, 1815 – January 31, 1888)
Saint John Bosco’s Story
John Bosco’s theory of education could well be used in today’s schools. It was a preventive system, rejecting corporal punishment and placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing sin. He advocated frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. He combined catechetical training and fatherly guidance, seeking to unite the spiritual life with one’s work, study and play.
Encouraged during his youth to become a priest so he could work with young boys, John was ordained in 1841. His service to young people started when he met a poor orphan and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. He then gathered young apprentices and taught them catechism.
After serving as chaplain in a hospice for working girls, John opened the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales for boys. Several wealthy and powerful patrons contributed money, enabling him to provide two workshops for the boys, shoemaking and tailoring.
By 1856, the institution had grown to 150 boys and had added a printing press for publication of religious and catechetical pamphlets. His interest in vocational education and publishing justify him as patron of young apprentices and Catholic publishers.
John’s preaching fame spread and by 1850 he had trained his own helpers because of difficulties in retaining young priests. In 1854, he and his followers informally banded together, inspired by Saint Francis de Sales.
With Pope Pius IX’s encouragement, John gathered 17 men and founded the Salesians in 1859. Their activity concentrated on education and mission work. Later, he organized a group of Salesian Sisters to assist girls.
John Bosco educated the whole person—body and soul united. He believed that Christ’s love and our faith in that love should pervade everything we do—work, study, play. For John Bosco, being a Christian was a full-time effort, not a once-a-week, Mass-on-Sunday experience. It is searching and finding God and Jesus in everything we do, letting their love lead us. Yet, because John realized the importance of job-training and the self-worth and pride that come with talent and ability, he trained his students in the trade crafts, too.
Saint John Bosco is the Patron Saint of:
The Many Miracles of Don Bosco
St. John Bosco and the Gray Dog
[CATHOLIC CAUCUS] Relics of St. John Bosco to tour US, Canada in September, October
Relics of St. John Bosco will travel to five continents
DREAM OF TWO PILLARS [Fr. John Bosco]
John Bosco’s Mother Is Decreed “Venerable”
Prophecy of St. John Bosco Fulfilled?
The Sniper and the Novissima [St. John Bosco]
The Secret of Saint John Bosco
The Secret of Saint John Bosco
Feast Day: January 31
Born: August 16, 1815, Castelnuovo, Piedmont, Italy
Died: January 31, 1888, Turin, Italy
Canonized: April 1, 1934, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Major Shrine: The Tomb of St John Bosco – Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians, Turin, Italy
Patron of: Christian apprentices, editors, publishers, schoolchildren, young people
St. John Bosco
Feast Day: January 31
Born:1815 :: Died:1888
John Bosco was born in Turin, Italy. His parents were poor farmers. His father died when John was only two years old. John and his brothers helped their mother work on the farm as she struggled to keep the family together. As soon as he was old enough, John, too, worked as hard as he could to help his mother.
He was intelligent and full of life. By the age of nine, John wanted to become a priest and his mother let him go to school. John used to wake up early in the morning to do his chores before he left for school. Finally, a holy priest, St. Joseph Cafasso, found out about John’s wish to be a priest. Father Cafasso helped him enter the seminary.
He learned to do all kinds of trades. He was a carpenter, a shoemaker, a cook, a pastry maker and a farmer. He did many other jobs as well. He didn’t realize how much this knowledge would help others later.
John would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals, practice the tricks he saw magicians perform, and then present one-boy shows. After his performance, while he still had an audience of boys, he would repeat the sermon he had heard in church that day. John became a priest in 1841.
As a priest, Don Bosco, which means Father Bosco, began his great ministry. This kind priest felt sad when he saw so many children living on the streets of Italy. Like a loving father, he gathered together these homeless boys and taught them trades. This way they would not have to steal or get into trouble.
Many rich people gave him money to help build workshops. He later started a printing press so he could print books and leaflets to teach people about God’s love for them and how to be good Christians.
By 1850, there were 150 boys living at his home for boys. Don Bosco’s mother was the housekeeper. He loved these children, however naughty they were, and the boys loved him because John Bosco always encouraged them.
“Do you want to be Don Bosco’s friend?” he would ask each new boy who came to him. “You do?” he would ask happily. “Then, you must help me save your soul,” he would say.
Every night he asked his boys to say three Hail Mary’s, so that the Blessed Mother would help them keep away from sin. He also helped them receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion often and with love.
Every morning he would say Mass for his students giving them beautiful sermons and telling them interesting stories. He asked the young boys to imitate Jesus in everything they did – whether it was work, study or play and told them that God wanted everyone to be saints as He had a great reward waiting for them.
His advice to them was, “Pray when it’s time to pray. Study when it’s time to study. Play when it’s time to play. Show kindness to everyone you meet. But do it all for the love of Jesus.”
One of the boys listening very carefully was young Dominic Savio who told John Bosco that he would try very had to become a saint and please God. And he did.
Don Bosco started his own religious order of priests and brothers. They were called the Salesians, after St. Francis de Sales. Then he started the order of Salesian sisters with the help of St. Mary Mazzarello. These men and women pray and teach young people about God’s love in countries all over the world even today.
Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888. All the people of Turin came out on the streets to honor him. His funeral became a joyous proclamation of thanksgiving to God for the life of this wonderful man.
Wednesday, January 31
Liturgical Color: White
Today is the Memorial of St. John Bosco,
priest. St. John founded the Salesian Order and
worked with orphaned and abandoned children.
He taught them the catechism and helped them
to develop work skills. St. John died in 1888.
Ordinary Time: January 31st
Memorial of St. John Bosco, priest
Old Calendar: St. John Bosco, confessor
St. John Bosco was the founder of the Salesian Society, named in honor of St. Francis de Sales, and of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians. His lifework was the welfare of young boys and girls, hence his title, “Apostle of Youth.” He had no formal system or theory of education. His methods centered on persuasion, authentic religiosity, and love for young people. He was an enlightened educator and innovator.
St. John Bosco
John Bosco was born near Castelnuovo in the archdiocese of Turin, Italy, in 1815. His father died when John was only two years old and it was his mother Margaret who provided him with a good humanistic and Christian education. His early years were financially difficult but at the age of twenty he entered the major seminary, thanks to the financial help received from Louis Guala, founder and rector of the ecclesiastical residence St. Francis of Assisi in Turin. John Bosco was ordained a priest on June 5, 1846, and with the help of John Borel he founded the oratory of St. Francis de Sales.
At this time the city of Turin was on the threshold of the industrial revolution and as a result there were many challenges and problems, especially for young men. Gifted as he was as an educator and a leader, Don Bosco formulated a system of education based on “reason, religion and kindness.” In spite of the criticism and violent attacks of the anti-clericals, he conducted workshops for the tradesmen and manual laborers, schools of arts and sciences for young workers, and schools of the liberal arts for those preparing for the priesthood. In 1868 there were 800 students involved in this educational system. To ensure the continuation of his work, Don Bosco founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (Salesians), which was approved in 1869. Also, with the help of Sister Mary Dominic Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Auxiliatrix.
In 1875 a wave of emigration to Latin America began, and this prompted the inauguration of the Salesian missionary apostolate. Don Bosco became a traveller throughout Europe, seeking funds for the missions. Some of the reports referred to him as “the new St. Vincent de Paul.” He also found time to write popular catechetical pamphlets, which were distributed throughout Italy, as was his Salesian Bulletin. This great apostle of youth died on January 31, 1888, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934. Pope John Paul II named him “teacher and father to the young.”
— Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi
Patron: Apprentices; boys; editors; Mexican young people; laborers; schoolchildren; students; young people.
Things to Do:
- St. John Bosco at a young age learned how to juggle and do other tricks to attract children to him. This provided opportunities for him to give catechesis to these children. Think of different activities that you could do to attract children—perhaps juggling, putting on puppet shows, storybook time—and use that opportunity to teach a virtue, catechism lesson, or just to be a good example. Good clean fun or a wholesome activity is a lesson in itself in a world where there is so much corruption.
- If you feel brave, try cooking the stuffed raw peppers suggested for today. Mama Margaret probably cooked Peperoni farciti à la Piemontaise (peppers stuffed with boiled rice), a speciality from Turin, for St. John Bosco’s boys.
- Read this article from Catholic Culture’s library, Don Bosco, Seeker of Souls.
Meditation: Mark 6:1-6
Saint John Bosco, Priest (Memorial)
A prophet is not without honor except in his native place. (Mark 6:4)
In today’s Gospel, Mark tells us how the people of Jesus’ hometown struggled to accept him because they thought they knew him. Sadly, their inability to honor him, one of their fellow townspeople, limited the miracles that he could do among them.
Their experience can teach us two lessons about honoring one another, or treating one another with respect. First, it can be challenging to honor the people closest to us. Second, if dishonor can limit what the Lord is able to do, imagine how important honoring someone must be in opening the door for the Lord to work.
What does it mean to “honor” someone (Mark 6:4)? It can mean seeing them with God’s eyes, looking at their potential instead of their shortcomings, and their gifts instead of their flaws. It can mean recognizing that they are a gift to us and that they have dignity. Maybe a sibling thinks very differently from us, or a co-worker has some frustrating habits. What could happen if we chose to treat them well, to honor their gifts and talents instead of focusing on the ways we disagree with them?
When we say something encouraging instead of criticizing, when we try to build up instead of tearing down, God uses our words and our attitudes to remind people how deeply loved they are. He can use our words and actions to show that person that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. When we take the time to listen attentively instead of lecturing or nagging, it can soften both their hearts and ours. Most of all, when we try our best to love and accept others patiently, especially the ones who rub us the wrong way, we are creating an environment where the Lord can draw them closer to his heart.
Think about the people closest to you. Who bothers you the most or concerns you the most? Try to honor that person today. Offer them an encouraging word or an unexpected compliment. Think of one positive aspect of their personality, and thank God for it. Make it a point to do this every day for a week, and watch what happens—both in their life and in your own heart.
“Jesus, help me to honor the people around me.”
2 Samuel 24:2, 9-17
Psalm 32:1-2, 5-7
Marriage = One Man and One Woman Until Death Do Us Part
Daily Marriage Tip for January 31, 2018:
St. John Bosco is the patron saint of young people. If you are raising adolescents and teens, ask this kindly saint for wisdom…and a healthy sense of humor!
Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest
He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.
Introductory Prayer: O Lord, you said that blest are they who find no stumbling block in you. I want to be a blest person, so that you may find in me no obstacle to the holiness you want for me. I believe in you, but I long for a greater faith to see and respond to the signs of your hand moving in my world. I love you, Lord, and wish to lead my brothers and sisters to you through my testimony, through my being truly convinced that you are the life of men.
Petition: Lord, grant me the gift of total surrender to your will for me in all things.
1. “Where did this man get all this? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands”: How beautiful it is to contemplate the humble and meek Christ! He now manifests, to the shock and awe of the worldly-minded, the signs of his true origin and the nature of his true mission. The power of God, the power of the supernatural, now intervenes in what is merely natural through the mere “carpenter’s son.” The “signs of credibility” that Christ enacts through his mighty words and deeds powerfully point to his divine origins and invite his contemporaries to faith. It is an invitation to leave behind them the superficial category of Jesus as just a nice neighbor (which means they can live the same as before) and receive the gift of Christ as Redeemer (which means change and conversion). Are there signs in my life that the Lord is looking to change me, to change my behavior in some way so I might live more by faith and charity? How much longer will I resist before I will am won over by his goodness?
2. “And they took offense at him”: It is a sacrifice to give God his place in the ordinary flow of our day. To do so, we need to sacrifice our sense of self-sufficiency, by which we are inclined to be the prime mover of everything in our world. We need to sacrifice our vanity, which desists from efforts to adore God since they bring little or no applause from those around us. We need to sacrifice the comfort of our naturalism, our horizontal view of things. Ultimately this sacrifice is a work of love responding to a divine invitation to share in God’s life––love, because he is asking and wants to see us giving. Let us move our hearts to embrace this sacrifice joyfully, for the sake of love. It helps to see that in this passage there are no neutral states. Those who reject the invitation to love are turned to love’s opposite––hate, specifically the hatred of the supernatural. It is a tragedy at work in our culture in many places, giving rise to the forces of anti-evangelization. Let us pray and be vigilant that it may never become our tragedy.
3. “He was not able to perform any mighty deed there”: Our Lord makes himself vulnerable to us, to our willingness to believe. He comes only to make us happy and to elevate our lives to be more beautiful, deeper in meaning and richer in fruits. He wants to bring into our life his power to work miracles and to move mountains of fear and burdens that we encounter. He comes to be ointment for our wounds and consolation for our weary hearts. The only thing he needs to make us happy, then, is our faith, our unconditional and active faith. Without it (since he respects our freedom), we cripple his capacity to act in our life as Savior and Lord. How sad it is to see how easily we refuse such a selfless and beautiful gift.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, teach me to receive you with a heart ready to leave my rationalistic way of acting and choosing. Help me to know how to read your invitations with supernatural faith and to follow them in true obedience, where true love proves itself.
Resolution: I will be very obedient to the lights I receive today from the Holy Spirit, acting on them with promptness and generosity.
January 31, 2018
In the Gospel reading we learn that Jesus worked as a carpenter, the trade of his father Joseph. But he was also a prophet, and the Son of God, made man to share the good news of our salvation. The very people among whom he grew up resisted the notion that a humble carpenter could also be their Savior. They could not see beyond his low station.
Jesus chose to take up the ordinary profession of his earthly father Joseph, and worked with his hands, alongside the important mission of spreading the Gospel, precisely to teach us his kind of humility and devotion. On account of his humble beginnings. His own towns-folk took offense and rejected him, judging him unworthy of becoming a prophet.
What hurdles prevent us from trusting in Christ as our Savior? Do we look for proof that Jesus really loves us and that he really is the God that has come to save us? We need to re-examine if our personal issues are getting in the way of our completely trusting in the Lord.
Let us pray for the grace of humbly trusting in Jesus’s power to deliver us from our weaknesses and short-sightedness, learning from his example of humility and great love for us. May his example teach us how to treat the people around us, especially to those who do menial tasks which allow our lives to be comfortable. May we see Jesus’s face and his great love among the least of our brethren, as he has taught us to do by the example of his own life.