When he was only nine years old, he had a dream that was prophetic. In the dream, he was with a whole lot of children who were playing. The problem was that they were going hell for leather and were pushing and shoving each other and swearing and cursing at each other. John didn’t like this and tried to stop them by throwing himself into the game and swearing and cursing himself and trying to force them to stop what they were doing by being just as rough himself. But a man appeared to him who said: “Don’t hit them, you will only be able to win them over with kindness and love. I will give you a teacher who will help you to become really wise.” He didn’t realise it straight away but the man was Jesus and the teacher he was promised was Mary. He eventually placed his whole life under her guidance and honoured her with the title “Help of Christians”.
St. John Bosco handed down to his sons and daughters a way of living and handing on the Gospel inspired by optimistic humanism of St. Francis de Sales. It is living the preoccupation of the Good Shepherd who strives to win hearts by gentleness and generous self-giving. It is a youthful spirituality that wants to let Jesus live in every aspect of life, relationships and work, and to do so in ways that are gentle, kind, compassionate, cheerful and reasonable. Salesian spirituality is as simple as it is profound. It is above all a spirituality of the heart. “Remember”, Don Bosco wrote in 1884, “that education is a thing of the heart, of which God is the sole master, and we will be unable to achieve anything unless God teaches us the art, and puts the key in our hands.” Most of all it is a spirituality open to the young!