Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Divinely Human

Before entering the seminary, I had a colleague in one of the universities in Manila who was from another seminary. He was a Jesuit. He told me that he stayed in the Society of Jesus for some years until he realized that religious life is not for him. He has already his own family.

In my frequent conversation with him, I found out that even before entering the seminary of the Jesuits in the Southern part of the country, he was already familiar with the Salesians of Don Bosco, having received some valuable assistance from some of the Salesians priests and brothers.

Because of his youthfulness and great rapport with the young, I became curious to ask him why he didn’t try entering a Salesian seminary. He snapped back “I admire Don Bosco, but I felt out of place in his congregation. He seemed so perfect.”

So perfect. His last words struck a sensitive chord in my being. It pushed me to retreat into a pensive mood. I reflected on his words. His frankness and utter sense of humility made me admire him more.

I guess, my good friend did his homework. Those words were not empty. He searched for some information about the life of this great a person I try to imitate.

Don Bosco is a saint for nothing. He has lived a life so fragrant and beautiful that for over a century now, so many a people have been captivated by its scent and splendor.

His Preventive System, the pedagogy advocated by his followers, has created a niche in the field of education and has definitely challenged academicians to take a second look as to how classroom teaching and learning should be carried out.

His brand of education focused not merely on the teaching of the mind, but also the education of the heart. His words rightly say so “Education is a matter of the heart.”

Apart from being the patron of apprentices, and Salesian editors, Pope John Paul II, another saint in the making, conferred the title “Father and teacher of the Youth” to Don Bosco on the centenary of his death in 1988.

My musing on those words by my colleague led me in dissecting the identity of Don Bosco. As a saint, I recall that he didn't have any stigmata, nor he never raised someone from the dead.

Don Bosco wasn’t perfect. He was so human. And being so, he had weakness. The many anecdotes in the Bibliographical Memoirs (Don Bosco’s biography) detail this. He played pranks, he did foolish things, he even accidentally ended a life of a bird, for which, he was so sorry of.

And then, he also had a bad temper. I guess, God made use of his dream when he was barely 9 years old as a vehicle for him to realize this that he needed some shaping up if he would want to rescue the tender souls of many a youth that will be entrusted to his care.

After my careful analysis of the matter, I beg to disagree with my colleague, Don Bosco is not perfect. But God is. And Don Bosco, with his weakness, with his limitations and despite being himself, he trusted with his whole heart, he cooperated. And the rest is history.