Friday, August 31, 2012
As another school year begins it is a worthy endeavor to contemplate the teaching and ‘parenting’ skills of John Bosco, a priest who understood that faith and learning go hand in hand 24/7. His example is one that serves for all families, but even more for those that have chosen to homeschool. He was innovative, as anxious to learn as he was to teach, and fully aware that hard work needed to be mixed with quality play.
Francis Bosco was a widower with a son and a dependent mother, who he cared for on his small, poor farm. He married a woman by the name of Margaret Occhiena, who embraced the family and made their humble surroundings into a real home with love and warmth. They became parents to two sons, Joseph, and two years later, John. Then, when the younger boy himself was two, Francis died of pneumonia. Margaret, with little education herself, was dedicated to teaching her children about God. Despite the fact they had very little, she was always able to see the good in what they did have, and Christ in all things.
John watched from his position in the field where he tended the sheep as each year children headed off to school, and he tried to learn what he could. By the time he was nine, his mother recognized that the boy needed something more, but his half-brother, Anthony, was head of the household, and he refused, using the fact that he himself worked hard and never had any schooling, and that would be good enough for John, too. The boy wanted to study to become a priest, and his mother eventually worked out a deal with a schoolmaster/priest to teach him from November through spring, and then John would return to work on the farm. Some biographies say the school was three miles and others, four, but in either case the youngster made the commitment and walked to and from there everyday. He always had problems keeping peace in the family and endured the ridicule of other children who chided him for trying to become a priest.
Starting around the same time as his school years and continuing through his life, John Bosco was blessed with visions of Jesus and his Blessed Mother. The Lord is said to have instructed him that a peaceful nature was the way he would reach many young people. He called the young boy to patience, obedience, and understanding. After he became a priest that was his role as he nurtured and cared for orphan and homeless boys whom he housed in a separate building at St. Philomena’s Hospice where he was the chaplain to girls. When given a choice between the hospice girls and the wild boys, he resigned his post and opened a refuge for boys known as the Oratory. His mother, who had all along been nearby to encourage and teach her son, remained very active in his life and ministry, and joined him in that endeavor.
On the journey John Bosco realized that young boys have no attention span and he began to devise ways to capture their focus. He learned magic tricks, jokes, and acrobatic stunts. Once the group was good and mesmerized, he began to teach. As the news spread, he became an important figure in the life of wayward boys. He built a church, facilitated workshops, taught and preached, and soon had such a large following it took at least ten priests to care for the pastoral needs of the boys. John Bosco was a popular paid speaker and homilist. He wrote best selling books and was graced with many charitable donations to continue his ministry. His work became so big that he needed more help dedicated to serving the Lord through the boys and eventually girls, that he formed a religious order to accept the challenge, the Society of St. Francis de Sales. By the time of his death in 1888, there were more than sixty Salesian foundations in Europe and America, and nearly eight hundred priests, and the order remains quite active today.
The idea given to John by the Lord was a vision of youth ministry that he saw as an inner window comprised of four panes. Each pane was uniquely different, but it took all four to view the entire picture. He expressed the panes as places where youth could thrive in a well balanced structure, and no one would be forced to pursue one pane at the expense of another.
The first window pane, he called ‘home,’ a place of belonging, where a youth could sit down at a meal with others and share his/her story, and hear those of other children. John called the second pane ‘school,’ where youth studied in a way that permitted them to grow rather than be stifled. He saw education as a way for student and teacher to question and learn together. The third window pane was ‘church.’ There, youth would be empowered to become active participants in the sacramental and worship lives of the whole faith community. The fourth was named ‘playground,’ where children were encouraged to be children, to run and play and enjoy the company of others.
Why does this matter today? Largely because it doesn’t happen enough. As early in the Bible as Deuteronomy 6:4-9, parents are called to tend to the education and right thinking of their children. This ancient lesson is the first time the great commandment was encouraged as part of life’s structure. The Book of Proverbs begins by telling the reader it’s purpose is that humankind may appreciate wisdom and discipline and may understand words of intelligence, and that they may receive training in wise conduct, what is honest, just and right (Proverbs 1:2-3). From that point, Proverbs continues to emphasize wisdom taught by parents and elders.
Too often today parents are not involved in their children’s education. One principal complained about a Parent-Teacher Meeting that no parents attended. Is it any wonder that particular school is below the acceptable standard in the Albuquerque Public School system? Looking at it from four window panes, parents need to ask themselves, do they have a home where children are actually able to talk and live, to share their lives around a dinner table, and that doesn’t mean conversing by text with friends. Are the parents active in their children’s education? Not that everyone has the skills or the time and resources, but Catholic homeschooling is quite acceptable, encouraged, and was endorsed by Pope John Paul II among others. Do parents worship with their children or is it preferable to drop them off at church, if at all? Do they celebrate the sacraments together as family and community? And one last point, do they play and have fun together, enjoying all of the gifts from God, especially each other.
Churches of all denominations abound with programs for youth, and some are quite similar to the plan set up by John Bosco one hundred and fifty years ago. The elements of key importance are the same elements of Christian life: that we love God and trust him completely, that we care about one another, including the kids, and that we be involved in each others lives, including what we/they learn. Yes, the ethic of John Bosco matters, perhaps now more than ever. Have you hugged your gift today?
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Today, August 26, is the feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa! I never had a great devotion to this image until the year 2000. That was when I was ordained a priest! That makes today the tenth anniversary of my ordination! When I first found out my ordination would be on August 26th I was a bit disappointed that it would not be on a feast day, but later found out about Częstochowa. It was made more special when I realized the great devotion that Pope John Paul II had for her as well. Pope John Paul II, native of Poland, visited the shrine in 1979 and 1983.The miraculous portrait of Our Lady of Czestochowa is venerated by many as an actual portrait of the Madonna, painted during her lifetime by Saint Luke the Evangelist on the top of a cypress-wood table. Our God is a God of miracles and He is so very generous!
I can remember being so impressed with the priests of my parish as a youngster and as an altar boy. Our Pastor, the late Msgr. Charles Pagluighi, was a great inspiration to all of us in the parish and he had a particular charism for young people. He had a way of getting his altar boys excited to do a great job at serving at mass. His love for the Chicago Cubs was well known and I remember marveling at the fact that he was an honorary team chaplain! I think the fine example and down to earth goodness of Fr. Pagluighi was a big part of my seeing priesthood in such a positive light.
I think these good parish priests gave me such a positive view of priesthood that made it possible to say yes years later.
It was also in grammar school that I met Don Bosco. The Salesian Sisters came to our school as I began the 7th grade. They were wonderful, joyful women who had a clear love for God, the Church and this great Salesian Charism. Their love for St. John Bosco, Mary, Help of Christians and for young people was so clear. These sisters didn’t just talk about joy, but they were visibly joyful. I had never seen a religious sister in a habit play softball or basketball before, but these wonderful Salesians sure did! They also loved to tell the many stories of Don Bosco, his dreams, and his miracles to us kids. We saw old movies about the saint and even read comic books about him. This was a cool saint who could do it all! I left grammar school with a love for Don Bosco and his spirit.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Lord Jesus, once you called the first disciples in order to make them fishers of men. Continue to let resound today Your sweet invitation: "Come and follow me." Grant to young men and young women the grace of responding promptly to Your voice. Sustain our bishops, priests and consecrated souls in their apostolic work. Give perseverance to our seminarians and to all those who are fulfilling an ideal of a life of total consecration to Your service. Enkindle in our communities a missionary zeal. Send Lord, workers into Your fields and do not let mankind be lost because of a lack of pastors, missionaries and people dedicated to the cause of the Gospel.
Mary, Mother of the Church, Model of Vocations, help us say "Yes to the Lord Who calls us to collaborate in the Divine Design of Salvation." Amen.
Patroness of State of Louisiana
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, ever Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God, you are most powerful against the enemy of our salvation. The divine promise of a Redeemer was announced right after the sin of our first parents; and you, through your Divine Son, crushed the serpent’s head. Hasten, then, to our help and deliver us from the deceits of satan. Intercede for us with Jesus that we may always accept God’s graces and be found faithful to Him in our particular states of life. As you once saved our beloved City from ravaging flames and our Country from an invading army, have pity on us and obtain for us protection from hurricanes and all other disasters. (silent pause for individual petitions). Assist us in the many trials which beset our path through life. Watch over the Church and the Pope as they uphold with total fidelity the purity of faith and morals against unremitting opposition. Be to us truly Our Lady of Prompt Succor now and especially at the hour of our death, that we may gain everlasting life through the merits of Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us. (Three times)
Friday, August 24, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of Fr. Michael McGivney, the saintly founder of the Knights of Columbus. He was declared venerable last year by Pope Benedict.
Father McGivney’s cause for canonization was opened in 1997 by the Archbishop of Hartford. Its diocesan phase has already been completed. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican is currently reviewing Father McGivney’s life and works and investigating two reported miracles attributed to his intercession.
You can learn more info about Fr. McGivney and his cause for canonization here.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Pope John Paul II, Compostella, Spain, 1989
What do you seek, pilgrims? Each one of us here must ask himself this question. But you above all, since you have your life ahead of you. I invite you to decide definitively the direction of your way. With the very words of Christ, I ask you: “What do you seek”? (Jn 1:38). Do you seek God? The spiritual tradition of Christianity not only underlines the importance of our search for God. It highlights something more important still: it is God who looks for us. He comes out to meet us. Our way to Compostela means wanting to give an answer to our needs, to our questions, to our «search»; it also means going out to meet God who looks for us with a love so great that we can understand it only with difficulty. This meeting with God is achieved in Jesus Christ. It is in him, who has given his life for us, in his humanity that we experience the love which God has for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Friday, August 10, 2012
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.
Hail Mary . . .
Hail Mary . . .
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Monday, August 6, 2012
Everyday, Jesus humbles himself just as He did when He came from His heavenly throne into the Virgin’s womb; everyday He comes to us and lets us see Him in abjection, when He descends from the bosom of the Father into the hands of the priest at the altar.
-St. Francis of Assisi
Sunday, August 5, 2012
The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:
A feast that commemorates the dedication of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, Italy. The church was originally built by Pope Liberius, and was known as the Basilica Liberii or Liberiana. It was restored by Pope Sixtus III, and dedicated to Our Lady. From that time on it was known as Basilica S. Mariæ or Mariæ Majoris. Since the seventh century it was known also as Maria ad Præsepe.
The appellation ad Nives (of the snow) originated a few hundred years later, as did also the legend which gave this name to the church. The legend says that during the pontificate of Liberius, the Roman patrician John and his wife, who were without heirs, made a vow to donate their possessions to Our Lady. They prayed that she might make known to them how they were to dispose of their property in her honour. During the night of 5 August, snow fell on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. In obedience to a vision which they had the same night, the couple built a basilica in honour of Our Lady on the spot which was covered with snow. From the fact that no mention whatever is made of this alleged miracle until a few hundred years later, not even by Sixtus III in his eight-lined dedicatory inscription, it would seem that the legend has no historical basis.
Originally the feast was celebrated only at Santa Maria Maggiore. In the fourteenth century it was extended to all the churches of Rome, and finally it was made a universal feast by Pope Pius V. Pope Clement VIII raised it from a feast of double rite to double major. The Mass is the common one for feasts of the Blessed Virgin; the office is also the common one of the Blessed Virgin, with the exception of the second Nocturn, which is an account of the alleged miracle. The congregation, which Pope Benedict XIV instituted for the reform of the Breviary in 1741, proposed that the reading of the legend be struck from the Office, and that the feast should again receive its original name, Dedicatio Sanctæ Mariæ.