Wednesday, 31 January 2007

St John Bosco's dream

A happy feast of St John Bosco to you, especially if you are a young person, as he's your patron saint. I remember when I first heard of this famous dream of St John Bosco, it deeply impressed me. And ever since, reflecting on it, I've come to realise how the pillars of evangelisation are Our Lady and the Holy Eucharist, together with a fidelity to the teaching of the Church. With these three we cannot go wrong. Don Bosco spoke of this dream in May 1862. In the dream he saw an immense sea, with many ships getting ready for battle, and one taller and more majestic than the rest. These are St John Bosco's words:

"In the midst of this endless sea, two solid columns, a short distance apart, soar high into the sky. One is surmounted by a statue of the Immaculate Virgin, at whose feet a large inscriptions reads: 'Auxilium Christianorum' ('Help of Christians') . The other, far loftier and sturdier, supports a Host of proportionate size, and bears beneath it the inscription: 'Salus credentium' ('Salvation of believers').

"The flagship commander - the Roman Pontiff- standing at the helm, strains every muscle to steer his ship between the two columns, from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains. The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs. They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons. The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on it course. At times, a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole in its hull, but immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.

"Meanwhile, enemy cannons blow up; firearms and beaks fall to pieces; ships crack up and sink to the bottom. In blind fury, the enemy takes to hand-to-hand combat, cursing and blaspheming. Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded. He is instantly helped up, but struck a second time, dies. A shout of victory rises from the enemy, and wild rejoicing seeps their ships. But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place. The captains of the auxiliary ships elected him so quickly that the news of the Pope's death coincides with that of his successor's election. The enemy's self-assurance wanes.

"Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns; first, to the one surmounted by the Host, and then the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin. At this point, something unexpected happens. The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other.

"Some auxiliary ships, which had gallantly fought alongside their flagship, are the first to tie up at the two columns. Many others, which had fearfully kept far away from the fight, stand still, cautiously waiting until the wrecked enemy ships vanish under the waves. Then they too head for the two columns, tie up at the swinging hooks and ride safe and tranquil beside their flagship. A great calm now covers the sea. "


Anonymous said...

Dear Fr Julian,

Thankyou so much re the info on St John Bosco. I have recently read a book about his life. Their dedication & enduring of hardships was amazing. I hope my 2 boys capture some of his boys dedication to God.

One of my daughters, Claire (age 15) is going to your Chaplaincy tomorrow, on retreat, with St Paul's girl's School, Chaplain, Fr John O'Brien.
She will be the one with the red lipstick, & pierced tongue!

God bless,


John Paul said...

You know I think the Order does no favours to their founder. The Salesians are kind of split as far as I can see. I know two superb priests who were trained at thier junior seminaries in England, but I also know many of them who are not faithful to the Church or the Charism of their founder. How come so many orders go so far from their founders? Wasn't the call of the Vatican council to go back to their founders for renewal?

Francis said...

Fr. Julian, I've always liked this picture of St. John Bosco's vision - but I sometimes wonder if the artist had a naughty sense of humour. He has painted the barque of St. Peter cutting a bow-wave like a speedboat, but about to come to a grinding halt as those anchor-chains tighten. Let's hope the Pope and the cardinals are good swimmers as they are about to be thrown overboard...