Home > Archives > 06 - 2005 > «The sacraments, a means as easy as they are useful»
from issue no. 06 - 2005

«The sacraments, a means as easy as they are useful»

Some passages from The preventive system in the education of the young of Saint John Bosco

The beauty
of the Catholic religion

«FrequentConfession, frequent Communion, daily Mass are the pillars that ought to support an educational edifice, from which one would want to keep at bay threats and violence. Never require the youngsters to go to the Holy Sacraments, but just encourage them, and offer them every opportunity to make good use of them. Then on the occasion of retreats, novenas, homilies, religious instructions, one should highlight the beauty, the greatness, the holiness of that Religion which proposes with such easy means, so useful to civil society, to peace of heart, to the salvation of one’s soul, as are these holy sacraments. In this way the young people will become involved spontaneously in these religious practices, with pleasure and with fruit».
Don Bosco recounts this episode in a note.
« Not long ago a minister of the Queen of England, visiting an Institute in Turin was taken to a large hall where about 500 boys were studying. He was not a little amazed at seeing so many children in perfect silence, with no supervision. His amazement grew even more when he came to know that perhaps in an entire year, one did not have to complain of a word being said out of place, or so much as threaten a punishment, much less inflict one.
“Tell me, how ever is it possible to obtain such silence and such discipline”, he asked. And he added to his secretary, “Write down whatever he says”.
“Sir”, replied the Director of the establishment, “the means we use are not available to you.” “Why?”
“Because they are secrets known only to Catholics.”
“What are they?”
“Frequent Confession and Communion, and Daily Mass well heard.”
“You are absolutely right. We lack these powerful means of education. Can they not be made up by other means?”
“If you do not make use of these religious means, you must turn to threats and the stick.”.
“You are right! You are right! Religion or the rod, I want to recount this in London.”»

Some affectionate words

«Every evening after the usual prayers, and before the students go to bed, the Director, or someone in his place should offer a few kind words in public, giving some good advice or counsel regarding things to be done or avoided, and let him try to glean these from events that have taken place that day in the Institute or outside. But his talk should never go on more than two or three minutes. This is the key to good behaviour, progress and educational success.»

Avoid like the plague …

«Avoid like the plague the opinion of any one who would want to postpone First Holy Communion to too old an age, when most times the devil has taken possession of the heart of a youngster with incalculable harm to his innocence. According to the discipline of the early Church it was customary to give to infants the consecrated Hosts left over from the Easter Communion. This helps us realise how much the Church loves to see children admitted to their First Communion in due time. Once a child can tell the difference between bread and bread, and shows himself to be sufficiently instructed, pay no attention to his age and let the Heavenly King come to reign in that happy soul.»

(From John Bosco,
The preventive system in the education of the young,
a text printed as premise to The Rule for the Houses of the Society of Saint Francis de Sales, Tipografia Salesiana, Turin 1877, pp. 3-13)

Italiano Español Français Deutsch Português