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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (46)

St. John Bosco was close to dying; his friend Fr. Paolo visited him, and since the Oratory’s children were already praying for his recovery, he wanted John Bosco to pray for his own healing. John Bosco, though, was prepared for death and replied, “I am willing to carry out the will of God” Fr. Paolo then told him to pray, “Lord, if it pleases You, give me healing.” John Bosco initially refused, but in order to prevent Fr. Paolo further anguish, complied in a soft voice. John Bosco fell asleep and the next morning was healed. He visited the jubilant children of the Oratory and told them, “My dear children, thank you for your devotion and prayers. This time, because of your tears, God has saved my life. But one day, we will all die, so work hard and be gathered into heaven, where there is no death, no pain, no tears.” A priest congratulated him on escaping death, but John Bosco said, “I had already prepared for heaven, but now who knows?” Forty years later, the priest reminded him of his words again, saying, “Look at how many great works you have done since! Oratory, convent, school, missionaries – they would not exist had you died.” John Bosco said, “You are wrong – they would still be done. These are all the works of God our Creator.”
Publish date: 2017 - 7 - 22


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (45)

St. John Bosco worked tirelessly for the Oratory, until one day he collapsed on the floor. He had contracted tracheitis and, within eight days, was approaching death. Although he was prepared for death, he was sad to leave this world and the Oratory’s children – his only consolation was the knowledge that he had left the Oratory well-formed. Hearing the news, the Oratory’s children made every effort to visit him. But the nurse rejected their requests, saying that bringing him excessive excitement would worsen his condition. Many people were moved on seeing the children and said, “See how much these children loved him!” Unable to see their beloved priest, the children attended Mass together to pray for his speedy recovery. But John Bosco’s condition did not improve, so the children promised God to pray fifteen decades of the Rosary for a month, a year, even a lifetime, and to eat only bread and water for several months each year. Even some masons, despite their gruelling workload, fasted and went to church to pray for John Bosco as well. In the end, God answered their prayers and John Bosco recovered, resuming his role as spiritual father to the Oratory’s children.
Publish date: 2017 - 7 - 15


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (43)

St. John Bosco’s Oratory grew larger and larger, until its members numbered over 700 and would spill outside the chapel during the Mass. When John Bosco played with the children, he would also instill spiritual values – by inviting them to Confession, warning them against going to bad places, or dissuade them for swearing. Most children obeyed but some children needed special methods to bring to God. There was a 17-year-old youth who would always find excuses to not go to Confession. One day, John Bosco asked him for help with an important matter at the chapel. Thinking that he needed help with moving things, the young man agreed. But when the young man started to move a kneeler, John Bosco told him instead to kneel on it and prepare for Confession. The young man complained he was not ready, so John Bosco told him he had ample time to prepare. The young man relented, admitting that he had been previously avoided Confession for fear of being laughed at. When the young man confessed, he realized that Confession was not so hard after all, and emerged jubilant. From then on, he frequented Confession and promoted the sacrament to others. John Bosco was not afraid to step out and help youths grow closer to God.
Publish date: 2017 - 7 - 1


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (42)

Every Sunday, St. John Bosco ran an Oratory for children but as the number of children increased, more people complained about the noise they created. One day, they were expelled from their usual meeting place. They had no other place to meet, so together they asked the Virgin Mary for one. God often gives big trials before he gives big graces. So after they had prayed all day without any response, a man approached them and told John Bosco that he knew of a meeting place up for rent. Another priest then arrived so John Bosco left the children in his care while he went to inspect the offered place. He saw it was suitable for his Oratory and agreed to rent it. The next week, the Oratory resumed and they held liturgies there, the Mass, lessons, games, catechesis, prayed the Rosary, and sang hymns. St. John Bosco played games with the children but amidst the fun would always encourage them to be good Christians.
Publish date: 2017 - 6 - 24


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (41)

St. John Bosco’s mission was to the youth and he had many grand plans for starting an order of missionaries and teaching clergy. But his ambitions made many people suspect he was mentally insane. Two priests were worried about his sanity, so they planned to move him into a mental institution in a carriage with doors locked from the outside. John Bosco already ascertained their plan and, insisting that the older priests enter the carriage before him, locked the doors on them and told the driver to proceed to the mental institution. When the carriage arrived, the nurses found the two priests angrily demanding they be freed. But the nurses refused until the priests’ superior returned in the evening. Afterwards, everyone was convinced of John Bosco’s sanity and knew he had a special mission. His mission initially encountered much opposition and misunderstanding—in this, John Bosco was like Jesus. When we ourselves do God’s will, we must disregard human opinions and continue working for the salvation of souls.
Publish date: 2017 - 6 - 17


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (40)

While St. John Bosco did prison ministry, prison guards were discriminated against, but he still treated them with respect. Once, he got lost in prison without a guard to guide him and stumbled into the home of the guard over those condemned to die. The guard’s family was surprised to see him treat them so respectfully and were happy to serve him coffee as requested. The guard burst out, “Father, do you know whose house this is?” John Bosco replied, “I know, it is the house of a righteous man. I know you are a good Christian. Would you like to be my friend?” Indeed, the guard would donate five lira to offer a Mass for every executed inmate. But he had never been thought highly of before and was overjoyed to be called a “good Christian”. The two men became good friends and the guard would sometimes attend Mass at John Bosco’s church. By respecting others, St. John Bosco opened people’s hearts and glorified God.
Publish date: 2017 - 6 - 10


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (38)

One day, the wealthy wife of the Portuguese ambassador was about to travel away from Turin. Going to St. Francis of Assisi Church, she went to a young priest—St. John Bosco—praying by the confessional and he heard her confession. John Bosco told her to do a certain act of charity as penance that day. She said, “Father, I cannot do that! I am setting out on a trip.” John Bosco told her instead to pray to her guardian angel in order to protect her from harm that day. She did so and boarded a carriage when suddenly the horses ran out of control and the carriage overturned. The woman prayed to her guardian angel and the horses immediately stopped. The passengers stepped out and onlookers were astonished to find them uninjured. The passengers said, “Thanks be to God! Thanks to the guardian angel who saved us!” The ambassador’s wife went back to the church to thank John Bosco and from then on became a supporter of his endeavours. In addition to encouraging veneration of the Virgin Mary, St. John Bosco also promoted honouring one’s guardian angels.
Publish date: 2017 - 5 - 27


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (37)

Once, St. John Bosco went to pay a visit to one of his former teachers from Chieri, who was gravely ill. However, the teacher’s family members initially refused, saying that the man had lost consciousness so visiting would be of no use. When John Bosco’s persistence paid off, he talked to his former teacher. Even though the man had already received the Last Rites, his face was pained. He told John Bosco, “I must ask your forgiveness for a very grievous sin that I committed as a child. I was always too ashamed to confess it to any priest, so I have never received the Eucharist my entire life, not even my First Communion. I thought that I would lose the respect of the priest.” John Bosco asked, “In your most recent Confession, did you confess all your sins?” The man said, “No.” John Bosco then said, “God was merciful enough to give up His life for us. Please confess your sins.” The man did so, and after being absolved of his sins, he cried out, “Praise to God all-merciful God!”, and passed from this life.
Publish date: 2017 - 5 - 20


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (35)

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1841, St. John Bosco began his vocation to the youth. A homeless boy was found loitering in the sacristy of Turin’s St. Francis Assisi Church before Mass, so the sexton beat him out of the church. But John Bosco brought the boy back and met him in the sacristy after Mass. John Bosco discovered that the boy was a 16-year-old orphan named Bartholomew of Asti who now worked as a bricklayer. Bartholomew had not received First Communion, had not gone to Confession since he was little, and dared not attend Catechism classes out of embarrassment. John Bosco asked, “Suppose I were to teach you Catechism here, would you come? Do not be afraid. From now on you are my friend.” Bartholomew agreed. From then on, Bartholomew came every Sunday and brought his friends as well, slowly growing John Bosco’s apostolate to the youth.
Publish date: 2017 - 4 - 29


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (34)

St. John Bosco had to make an important decision after becoming a priest: should he accept a well-paying teaching position, teach catechesis to the villagers, or stay to help with parish duties? His spiritual director, St. Joseph Cafasso, advised him to reject all three options and instead study free of charge at the priestly formation centre he taught at. The formation centre was in the northern Italian industrial city of Turin, where many people moved from the countryside in search of work. But on finding little work, many fell into crime and vice. Joseph Cafasso took John Bosco with him to visit the prison inmates. John Bosco also had the opportunity to visit a hospital founded by St. Joseph Cottolengo. Seeing children wasting their best years behind bars and on hospital beds due to sinful self-indulgence, John Bosco was much grieved and yearned to care for them and teach them the faith. St. Joseph Cottolengo saw John Bosco’s vocation to serve the youths and told him to get a thicker cassock so that it would not be torn by the grasping of desperate youths.
Publish date: 2017 - 4 - 22


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. John Bosco (33)

The newly-ordained St. John Bosco helped the priest at his home parish with giving homilies, visiting the sick, and baptizing children. John Bosco was also known for his healings, which he attributed to the powerful intercession of the Virgin Mary. Before long, the family of Mr. Turco – who was ill with a high fever and beyond the help of medicine – asked him for help. First, John Bosco recommended that he receive the Sacraments of Confession and Eucharist, then gave him some pills after instructing him to ingest them several times a day after praying the Hail Mary thrice. After taking his first few pills, the man was miraculously cured, spurring the village pharmacists to investigate the pills. They were amazed to discover the pills consisted only of bread. When Mr. Turco visited John Bosco to ask about the pills, he replied, “Did you pray the Hail Mary thrice as I instructed? Then that is enough.” Having given blessings to others all his life, St. John Bosco was blessed in turn by God with a fruitful life.
Publish date: 2017 - 4 - 15