Inspiring Dream at 9

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”.

Salesian Spirituality

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!

4 Pillars of Salesian Spirituality

Devotion to Mary Help of Christians

Don Bosco saw Mary as the powerful ‘Help of Christians’ who helps her children daily, going to their rescue and leading them to Jesus. She is the defender of the Church and the Pope from every kind of danger. This is why in the Salesian spirituality the daily recitation of the Rosary is not only an element of Marian devotion, but above all the contemplation of Jesus in the mysteries of his saving Incarnation.

Educational System based on joy hope

Salesian spirituality is at once contemplative and active. It is joyful and optimistic. For Don Bosco joy was a form of life, an evangelical constant that gives rise to happiness and optimism. For him, “serve the Lord in holy joy” was the 11th commandment. St. Dominic Savio told a newcomer in the Oratory: “Here we make holiness consist in being cheerful.” Hence, there is no place for corporal punishments and violence, no place for toxic harshness or the arrogance. It strives to win hearts. “Strive to make yourself loved”, advised Don Bosco to Fr. Michael Rua.

Devotion to Jesus

Salesian spirituality seeks to meet God in ordinary daily life through exact fulfilment of one’s own duties. Praying and living are spontaneously united. Salesian prayer is joyful and creative, simple and profound. Don Bosco was so passionate about the Eucharist that he encouraged frequent communion and short but frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. For him, Confession and the Eucharist were the two sacraments that inculcated, especially in young people, Christian virtues and holiness.

Devotion to Church

For Don Bosco love for Jesus Christ necessarily gives rise to love for the Church by working assiduously for its growth as well as fidelity to the Pope, to his teachings and to the bishops of the Church. He exhorted his Salesians that “no effort should be spared when the Church and the Papacy are at stake”.