If, on reading the title of this book, you are expecting to find an exposition on how to give spiritual direction to young people, you are going to be disappointed. We will search in vain, among the writings of Saint John Bosco, for such a book.
Yet this Saint stands out as one of the most remarkable spiritual directors of the young in the history of the Church. Facts bear out this statement – it is not just an exaggerated manifestation of hero worship. Can we find, among his writings, how he approached this task of spiritual direction? Yes. This anthology has been put together for this very purpose and some indications of the riches contained have been given. A close and prayerful reading will help the reader ta discover many more.
Pope Paul VI could have been describing Don Bosco ‘s approach when he wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi” in 1975: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (41). “The present century thirsts for authenticity. Especially in regard to young people it is said that they have a horror of the artificial or false and that they are searching above all for truth and honesty… The witness of life has become more than ever an essential condition for real effectiveness.” (76).
You will find that Don Bosco was well aware of this. Much of the material contained in this book is biographical or autobiographical. It begins with extracts from his own Memoirs, of which Fr. ColIi writes: “It is interesting to note that the most important posthumous document which Don Bosco has left us to understand his spirit, his mission – vocation, is not a book of theory, an outline of spirituality, but a story.” (Pedagogia Spirituale di Don Bosco e spirito salesiano, page 18).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PREFACE – p. v
- MEMOIRS OF THE ORATORY OF ST. FRANCIS OF SALES (Extracts) – p. 1
- THE COMPANION OF YOUTH – p. 10
- Means needed to lead a good catholic life – p. 12
- Means of perseverance – p. 14
- What should be the chief concern of the young – p. 14
- What the young ought to avoid – p. 17
III. TIPS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE – p. 18
- LETTERS TO THE YOUNG – p. 20
- THREE BIOGRAPHIES OF STUDENTS OF THE ORATORY – p. 38
- Biography of Dominic Savio – p. 39
- Biography of Michael Magone – p. 111
- Biography of Francis Besucco – p. 157
- COMMON ELEMENTS OF SALESIAN SPIRITUALITY (As found in these primary sources) – p. 231
Reference time period: 1847 – 1875
W. L. Cornell, Don Bosco: Spiritual Director of Young People [An Anthology], Makati-Metro Manila, Salesiana Punlishers 1986.