St. John Bosco taught his boys to love social inequalities

October 18, 2012

St. John Bosco and his boys

While the festive oratory was a very effective training ground for the clerics and benefited the boys in many other ways that have already been mentioned, it also helped rid their minds of certain prejudices harmful to civil society. It broke down their deep-rooted antagonism for the upper classes which rabble-rousers, books, newspapers, and stage plays sought to nurture in the populace. When the boys saw gentlemen of the middle and upper classes join them in church, kneel by their side, receive Communion with them, teach them catechism, take part in their games, and conduct evening classes for them, they could not help feeling a sense of respect, love, and friendliness toward them. As a natural consequence, they would greet them on the streets, speak highly of them, follow their good example, and be proud of their acquaintance.

St. John Bosco (middle) with muscial band that he formed. Photo taken in Turin 1870.

The boys regarded them not just as aristocrats, or middle-class people, but also and above all as friends of the poor. This helped to break down social barriers and bridge the gap of distrust. The workmen’s children could verify for themselves the lies of the revolutionists. They gradually grasped God’s wisdom in allowing men to be born into different social conditions. It became clear to the boys that the rich and the poor needed each other and that both were created by God for His glory. They learned that the rich must be humble in dealing with the poor, and that the poor must humbly bear the disadvantages of their social condition; only in this way would both be able to attain eternal happiness. It was also a great consolation to know that Our Lord, born of a kingly family, chose to live the life of the poor, proclaimed them blessed, and considered as done to himself what was done to them.

Rev. Fr. Giovanni Battista Lemoyne, S.D. B. The Biographical Memoirs of Saint John Bosco (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Salesiana Publishers, 2005), Vol. V, pp. 26-27.

 

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