Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Bosco, another of my favorite saints. He’s one of my faves for three reasons: First, for his single-mindedness and courage in living the gospel; second, for his love for young people; and third because he founded the Salesian order, whose charism is founded on the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, another of my faves.
Born in Italy in 1815, Saint John Bosco lived during most of this tumultuous century, a time of social unrest and upheaval and of great suffering. Witnessing the utter poverty of homeless children, he took steps to provide food and shelter, work, and education for them. His story is amazing. Check it out here.
One of the things for which Saint John Bosco is known from a spiritual standpoint is his prophetic dreams. Initially fearing some of these nightmares and wishing them simply to go away, he shared them with his fellow Salesians and the boys in his care, under obedience to his spiritual director.
I realized that God willed I should reveal what I had seen. For this reason, and to rid myself of these nightmares, I have decided to tell you everything. Let us thank the Lord for his mercy. Meanwhile, let us strive to carry out his admonitions, no matter what way he may choose to make them known to us, and let us use the means he sends to enable us to save our souls. . . . Well then, here are the dreams which I would rather forget but must reveal. (source)
What I never knew until this writing is that he had lots of prophetic dreams. In fact, TAN books publishes The Forty Dreams of Saint John Bosco. I didn’t realize there are so many! I knew only of his most famous one which refers to the Church and the papacy, often referred to as the vision of two pillars or simply Don Bosco’s dream. Many believe it refers to the papacy from John XXIII to specifically Pope John Paul II, and if you read it, you can see why.
Today, I’d like to look at one rather chilling dream: Don Bosco’s vision of hell. I say chilling because I read it last night for the first time, and it inspired in me a horror of sin, a renewed sense of urgency to pray for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls (starting, of course, with me), and a deep gratitude for the mercy of God in giving us the Church and Our Lady. His comments on sins against purity being the sins which most lead souls to hell put a pit in my stomach – especially as I look at the world in which our children live. It’s a swill of impurity and the temptation to sin in the simplest of ways – music, tv, the internet – is so pervasive that their ability to even recognize it as sin is shrouded by darkness.
I invite you to read St. John’s vision of hell in his own words. It’s a bit lengthy, but worth the read. I invite you, too, to join me in a recommitment to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at the hour of mercy, 3:00, for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls.
Save us, O Lord, for we have sinned! Anne
PS: You would not believe the difficulty I had publishing this post. I know it will bear fruit. Get behind me, Satan! Praise the Lord!
A psalm of David.
LORD, hear my prayer;
in your faithfulness listen to my pleading;
answer me in your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgment with your servant;
before you no one can be just.
The enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground.
He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
My spirit is faint within me;
my heart despairs.
I remember the days of old;
I ponder all your deeds;
the works of your hands I recall.
I stretch out my hands toward you,
my soul to you like a parched land.
Hasten to answer me, LORD;
for my spirit fails me.
Do not hide your face from me,
lest I become like those descending to the pit.
In the morning let me hear of your mercy,
for in you I trust.
Show me the path I should walk,
for I entrust my life to you.
Rescue me, LORD, from my foes,
for I seek refuge in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your kind spirit guide me
on ground that is level.
For your name’s sake, LORD, give me life;
in your righteousness lead my soul out of distress.
n your mercy put an end to my foes;
all those who are oppressing my soul,
for I am your servant.