Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest

It’s difficult for us to imagine just what a celebrity today’s saint, John Bosco, was in 19th Century Europe. That no less a figure than Victor Hugo was captivated by his meeting speaks to the tremendous fascination Bosco caused in his contemporary society.

The celebrity which has developed around Pope Francis may be a faint analogue to that of John Bosco. I particularly have in mind the combination of religious seriousness and concern for the poor that our present pontiff displays to the world. Watch Pope Francis say Mass, and you realize that he is not messing around. Serious prayer shines from his face the moment he processes into Mass. John Bosco, likewise, was a man of prayer who refused to cut corners in his celebration of Mass, even when he was criticized for doing so.

In both men an intense life of prayer is translated into an active concern for those who suffer. And we see that when this happens, people take notice and hearts turn toward the Lord. In our lives, too, contemplation and action should mutually encourage each other to show forth the glory of the God of love.

January 31st, 2014