John Bosco dreams
Feastday January 31
What do dreams have to with prayer? Aren't they just random images
of our mind? In 1867 Pope Pius IX was upset with John Bosco because
he wouldn't take his dreams seriously enough. Nine years earlier
when Pope Pius IX met with the future saint who worked with neglected
boys, he learned of the dreams that John had been having since the
age of nine, dreams that had revealed God's will for John's life.
So Pius IX had made a request, "Write down these dreams and
everything else you have told me, minutely and in their natural
sense." Pius IX saw John's dreams as a legacy for those John
worked with and as an inspiration for those he ministered to.
Despite Scripture evidence and Church tradition respecting dreams,
John had encountered skepticism when he had his first dream at the
age of nine. The young Bosco dreamed that he was in a field with
a crowd of children. The children started cursing and misbehaving.
John jumped into the crowd to try to stop them -- by fighting and
shouting. Suddenly a man with a face filled with light appeared
dressed in a white flowing mantle. The man called John over and
made him leader of the boys. John was stunned at being put in charge
of these unruly gang. The man said, "You will have to win these
friends of yours not with blows but with gentleness and kindness."
As adults, most of us would be reluctant to take on such a mission
-- and nine year old John was even less pleased. "I'm just
a boy," he argued, "how can you order me to do something
that looks impossible." The man answered, "What seems
so impossible you must achieve by being obedient and acquiring knowledge."
Then the boys turned into the wild animals they had been acting
like. The man told John that this is the field of John's life work.
Once John changed and grew in humility, faithfulness, and strength,
he would see a change in the children -- a change that the man now
demonstrated. The wild animals suddenly turned into gentle lambs.
When John told his family about his dream, his brothers just laughed
at him. Everyone had a different interpretation of what it meant:
he would become a shepherd, a priest, a gang leader. His own grandmother
echoed the sage advice we have heard through the years, "You
mustn't pay any attention to dreams." John said, "I felt
the same way about it, yet I could never get that dream out of my
Eventually that first dream led him to minister to poor and neglected
boys, to use the love and guidance that seemed so impossible at
age nine to lead them to faithful and fulfilled lives. He started
out by learning how to juggle and do tricks to catch the attention
of the children. Once he had their attention he would teach them
and take them to Mass. It wasn't always easy -- few people wanted
a crowd of loud, bedraggled boys hanging around. And he had so little
money and help that people thought he was crazy. Priests who promised
to help would get frustrated and leave. Two "friends"
even tried to commit him to an institution for the mentally ill.
They brought a carriage and were planning to trick him into coming
with him. But instead of getting in, John said, "After you"
and politely let them go ahead. When his friends were in the carriage
he slammed the door and told the drive to take off as fast as he
Through it all he found encouragement and support through his dreams.
In one dream, Mary led him into a beautiful garden. There were roses
everywhere, crowding the ground with their blooms and the air with
their scent. He was told to take off his shoes and walk along a
path through a rose arbor. Before he had walked more than a few
steps, his naked feet were cut and bleeding from the thorns. When
he said he would have to wear shoes or turn back, Mary told him
to put on sturdy shoes. As he stepped forward a second time, he
was followed by helpers. But the walls of the arbor closed on him,
the roof sank lower and the roses crept onto the path. Thorns caught
at him from all around. When he pushed them aside he only got more
cuts, until he was tangled in thorns. Yet those who watched said,
"How lucky Don John is! His path is forever strewn with roses!
He hasn't a worry in the world. No troubles at all!" Many of
the helpers, who had been expecting an easy journey, turned back,
but some stayed with him. Finally he climbed through the roses and
thorns to find another incredible garden. A cool breeze soothed
his torn skin and healed his wounds.
In his interpretation, the path was his mission, the roses were
his charity to the boys, and the thorns were the distractions, the
obstacles, and frustrations that would stand in his way. The message
of the dream was clear to John: he must keep going, not lose faith
in God or his mission, and he would come through to the place he
belonged. Often John acted on his dreams simply by sharing them,
sometimes repeating them to several different individuals or groups
he thought would be affected by the dream. "Let me tell you
about a dream that has absorbed my mind," he would say.
The groups he most often shared with were the boys he helped --
because so many of the dreams involved them. For example, he used
several dreams to remind the boys to keep to a good and moral life.
In one dream he saw the boys eating bread of four kinds -- tasty
rolls, ordinary bread, coarse bread, and moldy bread, which represented
the state of the boys' souls. He said he would be glad to talk to
any boys who wanted to know which bread they were eating and then
proceeded to use the occasion to give them moral guidance. He died
in 1888, at the age of seventy-two. His work lives on in the Salesian
order he founded.
(Source: Catholic Online)
OF THE SAINTS
ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER
This is St. Joseph's second feast day on the Church calendar of celebrations. We honor him also on March 19. St. Joseph is a very important saint.
St. Athanasius was born around 297 in Alexandria, Egypt. He devoted his life to proving that Jesus is truly God.
ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES
Both of these saints were part of the original group of Jesus' twelve apostles.
BLESSED MARIE-LEONIE PARADIS
Blessed Marie-Elodie Paradis was born in the village of L'Acadie in Quebec, Canada. It was May 12, 1840.
ST. JUDITH OF PRUSSIA
St. Judith lived in the thirteenth century. She was born in Thuringia. This was in what is now central Germany. She wanted to model her life on the example of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.
BLESSED FRANCOIS DE MONTMORENCY LAVAL
Blessed Francois was the first bishop of Quebec City, Canada. He was born in 1623 in a small town in France.
BLESSED ROSE VENERINI
Blessed Rose was born in Viterbo, Italy, in 1656. Her father was a physician. Rose entered the convent but returned home after a few months.
BLESSED CATHERINE OF ST. AUGUSTINE
St. Catherine was born on May 3, 1632, in a little village in France. She was baptized the same day.
BLESSED NICHOLAS ALBERGATI
Blessed Nicholas was born in Bologna, Italy. Nicholas' family could afford to send him to the university where he began to study law.
St. Antoninus lived in the fifteenth century. Even as a boy he showed that he had good sense and will power.
ST. IGNATIUS OF LACONI
St. Ignatius was the son of a poor farmer in Laconi, Italy. He was born on December 17, 1701.
ST. NEREUS, ST. ACHILLEUS AND ST. PANCRAS
Sts. Nereus and Achilleus were Roman soldiers who died around 304. They were probably Praetorian guards under Emperor Trajan. We know little else about them.
ST. ANDREW FOURNET
St. Andrew Fournet was born on December 6, 1752. He was from Maille, a little town near Poitiers, in France. Andrew's parents were religious people.
St. Matthias was one of Our Lord's seventy-two disciples.
ST. ISIDORE THE FARMER
Saint Isidore was born in 1070, in Madrid, Spain. His parents were deeply religious. They named their son after the great St. Isidore, archbishop of Seville, Spain.
St. Ubald lived in twelfth-century Italy. He was an orphan raised by his uncle, a bishop. Ubald was given a good education.
ST. PASCHAL BAYLON
St. Paschal, a Spanish saint, was born in 1540. From the time he was seven, he worked as a shepherd. He never had the opportunity to go to school.
ST. JOHN I
St. John I was a priest of Rome. He became pope after the death of Pope St. Hormisdas in 523. At that time, Italy's ruler, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian.
ST. CELESTINE V
Peter di Morone was the eleventh of twelve children. He was born around 1210 in Isernia, Italy. His father died when he was small.
ST. BERNARDINE OF SIENA
St. Bernardine of Siena was born in 1380 in a town near Siena, Italy. He was the son of an Italian governor.
BLESSED EUGENE DE MAZENOD
Blessed Eugene was born in France in 1782. He became a priest in 1811. Father Eugene was sensitive to the needs of the poor and he ministered to them.
ST. RITA OF CASCIA
St. Rita was born in 1381 in a little Italian village. Her parents were older. They had begged God to send them a child. They brought Rita up well.
ST. JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI
St. John Baptist Rossi was born in 1698 in a village near Genoa, Italy. His family loved him. They were proud when a wealthy couple visiting their town offered to educate him. His parents knew the couple and trusted them.
ST. DAVID I OF SCOTLAND
St. David was born in 1080. He was the youngest son of St. Margaret, queen of Scotland, and her good husband, King Malcom.
Venerable Bede, the English priest, was famous as a saint, a priest, a monk, a teacher and a writer of history. He was born in England in 673.
ST. PHILIP NERI
St. Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in 1515. As a child, his nickname was "Good little Phil." He was always so jolly and friendly that everyone he met loved him.
ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY
St. Augustine was the abbot of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome. Pope St. Gregory the Great chose him and forty other monks for a mission dear to his heart.
BLESSED MARGARET POLE
Blessed Margaret was born in 1471. She was the niece of two English kings, Edward IV and Richard III. Henry VII arranged her marriage to Sir Reginald Pole.
St. Maximinius was a bishop who lived in the fourth century. It is believed that he was born in Poitiers, France. As a young man, he heard of a saintly bishop of Trier, in Gaul.
ST. JOAN OF ARC
St. Joan was born in 1412. Her hometown was Domremy, a little village in France. Jacques d'Arc, her father, was a hard working farmer.
THE VISITATION OF MARY
Visitation means "visit." The Archangel Gabriel told the Blessed Virgin Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was going to have a baby.
PHOTO OF THE MONTH
of the Relics of the Passion
for Holy Relics)
Why did Jesus, the sinless one sent from the Father in heaven,
submit himself to John’s baptism? John preached a
baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke
3:3). In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of
the “baptism” of Jesus bloody death upon the
cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning
of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah
52:13-15; 53:1-12). He allowed himself to be numbered among
sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s
will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death
for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust
and submission to God?