Monday, April 30, 2018

Novena to St. Dominic Savio - Day 4 (April 30)


Fourth day

“And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden…and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation to generation on all who fear him.” (Lk 1: 46-50)

The Great feast
It was the year 1854. November had passed; December was on its way. The “atmosphere” in the Oratory was special. Communions at Mass in the morning (youngsters were invited to attend Mass everyday), were numerous and fervent.
At the little function in the evening they lustily sang songs to the Madonna. It was the novena for the Feast of Mary Immaculate.
Pope Pius IX had announced that on December 8 he would define as “truth of faith” (to be believed by all Christians) that Mary most holy is Immaculate - not tainted by sin from the first moment of her existence. The Christian World woke up. In churches all over the faithful prayed to the most holy Virgin as they prepared the grandiose celebrations.
Don Bosco, who was devoted to Mary most holy, talked about it to the boys every night and the novena for the feast began with fervor.
On November 28, before the novena could begin, Dominic went up to his office.
- Dominic, will you do something for Madonna during this novena?
- First of all I would like to make my confession to prepare my soul well. Then I want carry out perfectly the little nosegays, the little acts of love for the Virgin Mary that you will suggest to us every day. Then I’ll receive Communion every morning.
- After that?
- One more thing. I want to wage a ruthless war on mortal sin.
Don Bosco looked at him affectionately. In all his life as a priest he was dumbstruck by the words of the lad: he would wage a ruthless war on mortal sin that offends God, spreads evil in the world and leads to the ruination of souls. Dominic Savio had understood this and was already beginning to give him a hand.
December 8 had arrived.
In Rome, Pope Pius IX in the presence of 53 cardinals, 42 archbishops and 98 bishops proclaimed as a dogma of faith that: “the blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her existence, by a singular privilege and grace of God, by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved from all stain of sin.”
The newspapers in Rome reported – The sky above Rome, covered with dark clouds, parted for a moment to let the sunlight illuminate the face of the Pope.
At that hour, Dominic Savio went up to the altar of Our Lady, took from his pocket a piece of paper on which he had written a few lines he had long meditated on, and consecrated himself to Mary with a prayer that would be repeated by hundreds of thousands of youngsters around the world:
“Mary, I give my heart; make it yours always. Jesus and Mary be always my friends! But for pity’s sake, let me die than have the misfortune to commit a single sin.”
That evening the whole of Turin shone with thousands of lights in a fantastic display of illumination. Thousands of balloons of very various colors were waving on the balconies, terraces and on the banks of the Po. In the streets below, people set out in a festive procession to the shrine of the Consolata, (Mary the Consoler) the patroness of Turin.
Even Don Bosco’s youngsters joined in the joy of the city. They spent the evening singing in the streets and chanting hymns to the Mother of Heaven.

Time for Reflection
Don Bosco loved the Madonna very much and specially called her the “Help of Christians.” He taught Dominic to call her so, to invoke her as a “powerful aid” in all the difficulties of life. In the writings of Dominic, some of which are preserved in the Salesian archives, one reads, written in small letters on the top of some pages: “Madonna, help me.” They were difficult assignments for a little village boy just come down from the hills and Dominic, before attempting to carry them out, called on the Madonna for help.
There are difficult moments in your life too, not only at school. Like Dominic Savio, ask the Madonna for her help. She is your mother, she will help you.

Moment of prayer
Saint Dominic Savio, at the age of 12, by hand and in your heart you wrote a little prayer to the Virgin Mary. Help me to repeat it as I think of the Virgin: “Mary, I give my heart; make it always yours. Jesus and Mary be always my friends! But for pity’s sake let me die than have the misfortune to commit a single sin.”

Dear St Dominic, help me realize that my PURITY is my greatest treasure, and that if I lose it I am nothing in God’s eyes.  Keep far from me the filth of indecent books, pictures and movies.  Let me not use my God given powers to commit sin and ruin God’s work in me.  In imitation of your life, let me defend the beauty of my purity all my life.  Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be,
St Dominic Savio, Pray for us.

*Practice*: ​Pray and ask the grace to be pure

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Novena to St. Dominic Savio - Day 3

29th April 2018: Third Day:  ​*ACTIVITY FOR GOD*

Dear St Dominic, your life, though brief was packed with ACTIVITY FOR GOD.  Help me to realize it is time I too, did something for God.  Never allow me to become the occasion of sin to others.  Instead, imitating you, may I be a Christ-bearer to the others, by teaching them the truths of our Faith, by bringing them to Confession and Communion, and by reflecting in my life the happiness that belongs to the children of God. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be,
St Dominic Savio, Pray for us.

*Practice*:  ​Consecrate yourself to Our Lady: “O Mary I give you my heart: keep it yours forever.”

Third day
“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul” (Mt 16, 26).

A Placard With a Programme
October 29, 1854: His mother had lovingly prepared a bundle of clothes and linen for Dominic (bags were not used yet). She had also prepared a packet of goodies for him to eat along the way. Now it was time to leave.
Dominic gave his mother a warm emotional kiss (it was the first time he was going to be away from her). He kissed his dear sisters Raimondina (9 years), Maria (7 years) and brothers John (4 years) and William (1 year). He was deeply saddened at having to leave them.
Accompanied by his father he set out along the path that led to the road where he would take the daily coach that would take them to Turin. It was October 29, 1854.
The one who suffered most at that moment was his mother, Bridget. She saw her bravest boy leave her. She knew that he was frail and delicate. She felt like any mother would. He was going to a huge city which was like a great noisy machine where her son could run the risk of getting lost. From her little house she saw her son, her little migrant, vanish from sight.
On entering Turin the last stop of the coach was Piazza Castello which was city centre. It was the capital of the little Kingdom of Savoy-Piedmont (in that year the city had only 120,000 inhabitants). Dominic arrived to the noise of bells and hundreds of carriages, colourful signs on stores and the cheerful din of Porta Palazzo where the daily market was in session.
In a quarter of an hour father and son reached Valdocco and came to the green door of the Oratory (as the work of Don Bosco was called. This included a chapel, workshops and classrooms).
They crossed a courtyard crowded with boys running around, shouting and laughing. By an external staircase they made their way to the second floor and after walking down a long corridor they entered Don Bosco’s office.
Dominic glanced around: it was a poor room but very clean: a shelf of books, a table littered with letters and cards and placard on the wall with a mysterious Latin phrase written in large letters: Da mihi animas, cetera tolle.
When his dad had left, Dominic tried to quell his nervousness and said to Don Bosco: This is the first time I am away from mum and dad but I’m not sad because I know you’ll help me.
Then after hesitating slightly he asked what those words on the placard meant. Don Bosco helped him with the translation it: “O Lord, give me souls and take away the rest.” It was the motto that Don Bosco had chosen for his ministry. Possessed with profound wit, brilliant intelligence, an excellent and witty writer, an excellent and inimitable speaker, Don Bosco renounced it all to give himself to spread the Kingdom of God among youngsters. He had told the Lord:
“Glory, riches, a comfortable life, I don’t know what to do with them. Give them to others. Grant me only to be a conqueror of souls for you.” That poster hanging on the wall of his room was the written agreement between him and God. When Dominic had understood those words they made him pause a moment in thought. Then he said:
- I understand: Here you don’t do business in money, but in souls. I hope my soul can form part of your business.

Time for Reflection
In today’s world there is little talk about the soul, saving the soul. Instead, Don Bosco talked about it all the time with the youngsters he met. One of his most repeated phrases was: “I have a soul, if I lose it I have lost everything. If I save it I have gained everything. If I gain the whole world but lose my soul, I am lost forever.” He taught that a mortal sin offends God and prepares the soul for eternal perdition. The last words he wrote before his death were: “Whoever saves his soul saves everything and the one who loses his soul, loses everything.” Dominic Savio learned this truth so well that in his Consecration to Mary he wrote: “Jesus and Mary be always my friends. But for pity’s sake let me die rather than have the misfortune to commit even one sin.” Do you often think of your soul as the most precious part of you? Do you pray to the Madonna to help you to save it, never to commit a mortal sin which makes you an enemy of God, deserving his condemnation?

Moment of Prayer
Saint Dominic Savio, who at the school of Don Bosco learned to do good and protect your soul and those of your friends, help me often to remember the words of Jesus: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and then suffer the loss of his own soul?”

Novena to St. Dominic Savio - Day 2

28th April 2018: Second Day: ​*PRUDENCE*

Dear St. Dominic, before doing anything important you used to ask yourself, “How will this help my eternal salvation?” Oh, teach me the virtue of PRUDENCE that I may live my life as a child of God, not of earth: that I may always look upwards to my eternal home not to the world and its passing foolishness.  When the devil tempts me with sinful joys of the passing moment, help me to reject them in preference to the joys of eternity.  Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be,
St Dominic Savio, Pray for us.

*Practice*: ​Take some time to think about your vocation in life and pray for strength to do God’s Holy Will.

Second day
“And he went down with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth, and was obedient to them… And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man (Lk 2, 51-52).

Good Stuff
Don Bosco was a priest born in Becchi of Castelnuovo, who had gone to Turin, to the district of Valdocco, to open an oratory and a school for poor boys. Many of the boys, at those workshops opened by Don Bosco, learned a trade and were able to find decent jobs in life. But some of the better boys, because of their poverty, were unable to attend school. They studied for free at the school of Don Bosco,  some became priests.
Dominic Savio’s teacher, who was Don Bosco’s seminary companion, went and spoke to him about Dominic Savio requesting that he be accepted in his school. Don Bosco replied: “I am coming to Becchi in October. Let me see if he’s able to study.”
October 2, 1854. The first meeting took place in the little courtyard in front of Don Bosco’s brother’s house at Becchi in Castelnuovo.
Don Bosco was so impressed that he noted down the incident in every detail as if he were still seeing it. The language is that of the 1800’s, but the scene so alive, it seems as if it had just taken place.
“It was the first Monday in October and bright morning. I saw the young lad accompanied by his father approaching me for a chat. As I looked at him I saw that his face was cheerful, full of smiles but respectful.
- ‘Who are you?’ I asked, ‘where do you come from?
- ‘I am Dominic Savio, my teacher Fr Cugliero has spoken to you about me and we come from Mondonio.’
So I called him aside to find out what studies he had done, what type of life was he living and very soon we completely trusted each other. He trusted me and I, him.
I realised that the youngster I met was a soul filled with the spirit of the Lord and I was not a little surprised to see the grace of God already working in one at such a tender age.
After a somewhat prolonged conversation, before I called his father, this is precisely what he told me:
- Well, what do you think? Will you take me with you to Turin to study?
- (Keeping in mind that his mother a seamstress)
Don Bosco said with a smile:
- Oh, I think there’s good stuff in you.
- And what can you use this material for?
- To make a nice garment as a gift for the Lord.
- So, I’m the material, you’re the tailor; take me with you and make of me a nice garment for the Lord.
- I’m afraid that because of your frailty you won’t be able to study.
- Don’t worry about that; the Lord who has looked after my health and welfare so far will do so even in the future.
- But when you’ve finished studying Latin what are you going to do?
- If the Lord permits me, I would love to be a priest.
- Well, now I want to try and find out if you have the capacity for study. Take this booklet. (Don Bosco always had in his pocket some interesting booklet to give to the better youngsters he met). Study this page today and come to recite it to me tomorrow.
Having said that, I allowed the boy to go and join the other youngsters. Then I began talking to his father. We had spent no more than eight minutes when Dominic returned all smiles and said:
- If you wish, I can recite this page just now.
I took the booklet and to my surprise he not only knew the page literally but he had understood well the meaning of what he had read.
- I said, ‘Well done, you have anticipated your lesson and I shall anticipate my answer. Yes, I will take you to Turin and from then on you will be one of my dear boys. Till then, pray that God may help you to do his holy will.
Not knowing how to better express his happiness he took my hand and kissed it several times and finally said”
- I hope you never have to complain about my behaviour.”
Whenever he recalled that meeting, Don Bosco was always impressed by the words of the boy who wanted to be “a nice garment to be presented to the Lord.”

Time for Reflection:
Youngsters are like fabric out of which beautiful dresses or ordinary ones can be made. I was a fifth grade teacher and I fondly remember that in the benches in front of me there was a boy who became a priest and a great missionary in India and another who had committed a serious crime and is now in prison. Occasionally he writes me very painful and angry letters. They were both the same fabric, but one was worked into a fine dress through much effort and in the company of good friends and he became a great garment.
The other did not resist the temptations of life, got herded with the bad friends and ended up destroyed, like an ill fitting garment and threadbare.
You too are like fabric. Your will-power, your commitment and the friends you choose will determine if you become a good garment or an ill-fitting dress for the Lord.

A Moment of Prayer
Saint Dominic Savio, through your good will and the help of your parents and Don Bosco, you grew in age, wisdom and grace like Jesus. Help me too to choose good friends and become a good Christian, well-cut.

Novena to St. Dominic Savio - Day 1

27th April 2018: First Day: ​

Grant me, dear St. Dominic, that remarkable gift of SPIRITUAL strength that was yours. Like you I must learn to fight against the devil with the weapons of prayer and the sacraments.  Like you I must live up to my motto: “Death but not sin.”  When temptations come my way, remind me of my motto and give me the courage I need to be brave and faithful to Jesus.  Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be,
St Dominic Savio, Pray for us.

Practice: ​Do a good deed today

Dominic Savio Novena

First day
“And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23, 33-34)

A stove full of snow
Late in January 1853, Dominic Savio’s family moved from the hamlet of Morialdo to the town of Mondonio. There was very little work in Morialdo so Charles, his father, moved to Mondonio where he could find more work to support his family.
Before leaving, Dominic went to meet his great friend, the chaplain Fr. Zucca. He then bade farewell to the friends he had lived with for ten years. Last of all he went to the little church where he had learned to know the Lord and speak to him.
The Savio family (mom, dad, Dominic, Raimondina, Maria, John and William) found a place to stay because they had many relatives in Mondonio. Dominic found a new teacher called Fr Joseph Cugliero and they became friends. He eagerly resumed his studies. Francis Deidèri was a clever and intelligent pupil. He and Dominic became good friends.
Fr Cugliero immediately noticed the extraordinary goodness of Dominic Savio. He noted his impressions in a letter (written three years later) in which he recalled this remarkable observation:
“Dominic attended school in Mondonio under my supervision. Truthfully, in the 20 years that I have been teaching, I can say that I have never come across someone like him who has possessed such virtues as, sobriety, diligence, assiduousness and affability. He was well loved by everyone. In church he seemed to be such an innocent soul, always open to the grace of God.”
At the end of this wonderful testimony, Fr Cugliero adds: “A particular observation: one day, I WRONGLY reprimanded him for something he had not done and he bore it all very patiently; he said nothing; as if he was really guilty. He did not clarify the issue by bringing to my attention that in fact, the mischief had been done by two of his classmates.”
In recounting his glaring blunder, Fr Cugliero remained very vague but a sworn testimony of Charles Savio, a classmate and cousin of Dominic (who everyone called “Minot”), allows us to reconstruct the atmosphere in the school, and the story in detail.
Even in the class of Fr Cugliero, as in classrooms all over, there are always some pranksters capable of hiding themselves. Fr Cugliero, like all the teachers of his time threatened the boys with very harsh punishments. Some had already been threatened with expulsion from school.
In those harsh winters, the school was heated and fuelled by a big stove. Each pupil had to bring with him a piece of wood to keep it going. One day Fr Cugliero arrived late. It was snowing outside and the classroom was not been sufficiently warm.
Two boys (they were the pranksters) after whispering to each other for sometime slipped outside. They returned with a block of snow and without anyone seeing it, they slipped it into the stove. This generated a lot of smoke and water began to trickle out of the stove spreading around the classroom. It was a sick joke.
Just at that moment Fr Cugliero arrived. He saw the water trickling out of the stove and went to remove the cover…. He  was furious.
- So, it’s going to be warm in here today? Right? Who was it? He asked in a very stern voice. The two culprits looked scared. What if someone “spilled the beans”? They would be expelled from school. What were they to do? They had a brief discussion and decided to put the blame on someone who had never done anything like this before, Dominic. Brazenly, one of them got up and pointed at Dominic saying: “It was him.” The other confirmed this allegation, “Yes, it was Minot.”
Fr Cugliero was stunned: “Minot! Was it was really you!”
Dominic did not know what he was being accused of. Because of the snowfall, he too had arrived late and had not even noticed what had happened. Only later did he become aware of the stove and the snow. He stood up and looked around: no one spoke. Everyone had seen the prank. In such cases it is easier to be a spectator and remain silent like the two “ringleaders.”
The teacher went on: “It’s a good thing that this is your first prank or I would have kicked you out of school.”
Dominic lowered his gaze. It would have taken just one word to unmask the culprits.
But the teacher went on: “If it wasn’t your first prank, it would have meant expulsion.” The teacher went on scolding him and made him kneel in the middle of the class.
However, at the end of the lesson there were some students who went and told Fr Cugliero the names of the real culprits. This was not tale-bearing; it was simply repairing an injustice.
The teacher was stunned for a second time: “You blessed boy, why did you not say something?”
The following day, feeling very embarrassed for having punished the innocent lad, he approached Dominic:
“Why did you not tell me that you had not done it?
Dominic smiled:
“It was not necessary. I thought of those two who would have been expelled from school, and I did not want that to happen. I wanted them instead to be forgiven. And then I thought about Jesus... He too was accused unjustly...
Fr Cugliero remained silent. But he thought that Dominic was too good a boy to remain in a little unknown town in the middle of nowhere. He thought it would be better if Minot could be sent to the school of Don Bosco. That was just what he wanted for Dominic.

Time for Reflection
Dominic’s words reveal to us that he knew Jesus, and he also knew that he, though wrongly accused on the cross, forgave his executioners.
We would do well to understand that Dominic wanted to live like Jesus, taking him as his model even in tough times.
Being a Christian means just that: learning to live like Jesus.
Do you know Jesus? Do you take some time reading the Gospels and his words? Do you strive to live like him?

Moment of prayer
Saint Dominic Savio, who knew and loved Jesus and tried hard to imitate him in things both easy and difficult, help us also to be truly Christian – that is, knowing Jesus and striving to take him as our model in everyday life.