St. John Bosco's life was spent in the education of the young. This holy saint's heart was filled with the greatest love for the children he taught... he loved them as if they were his own, nay, he loved them as God's children in the most real sense of the word. The reading in the Liturgy of the Hours for his feast day, today, is this:
From a letter by St. John Bosco, priest.
Epistolario, Torino 1959, 4, 201-203
First of all, if we wish to appear concerned about the true happiness of our foster children and if we would move them to fulfill their duties, you must never forget that you are taking the place of the parents of these beloved young people. I have always labored lovingly for them, and carried out my priestly duties with zeal. And the whole Salesian society has done this with me.
My sons, in my long experience very often I had to be convinced of this great truth. It is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself, and to threaten a boy than to persuade him. Yes, indeed, it is more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct the boys. We must be firm but kind, and be patient with them.
I give you as a model the charity of Paul which he showed to his new converts. They often reduced him to tears and entreaties when he found them lacking docility and even opposing his loving efforts.
See that no one finds you motivated by impetuosity or willfulness. It is difficult to keep calm when administering punishment, but this must be done if we are to keep ourselves from showing off our authority or spilling out our anger.
Let us regard those boys over whom we have some authority as our own sons. Let us place ourselves in their service. Let us be ashamed to assume an attitude of superiority. Let us not rule over them except for the purpose of serving them better.
This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized, and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.
They are our sons, and so in correcting their mistakes we must lay aside all anger and restrain it so firmly that it is extinguished entirely.
There must be no hostility in our minds, no contempt in our eyes, no insult on our lips. We must use mercy for the present and have hope for the future, as is fitting for true fathers who are eager for real correction and improvement.
In serious matters it is better to beg God humbly than to send forth a flood of words that will only offend the listeners and have no effect on those who are guilty.
I post this letter because there is no better way for me to describe the loving care shown by Don Bosco. He was a father to the children and sought always to be holy so that they to could learn from him and be holy themselves. He is a model for fathers and teachers, yes, but so much more! He is a model of Christian Charity to all.
In this letter, one can see genuine understanding of Truth and Charity. One will also note that by directing these at young people, Don Bosco's love is kindled even more brightly. Christ asked us to be as little children, for to such is the kingdom of heaven... does this not make it even more apparent that kindness burns even more greatly for children? Children require great patience... and yet, that serves to strengthen the bonds of real love. St. John Bosco achieved sainthood by showing Charity to children, and allowing it to grow and bear fruit in himself. His wisdom was made genuine through this love, and we our wise in our discernment if we accept him as a model for ourselves.