Daily Reading for January 31 • Juan Bosco (John Bosco), Priest, 1888, and Samuel Shoemaker, Priest and Evangelist, 1963
The teacher who is seen only in the classroom, and nowhere else, is a teacher and nothing more; but let him go with his boys to recreation and he becomes a brother. If one is seen only preaching from the pulpit, it can be said he is doing only what is his strict duty; but let him drop a good word in recreation, and that is the word of a loving heart. How many conversions were brought about by those few spontaneous words of yours whispered in a boy’s ear while he was engrossed in his games! If a boy knows he is loved, he will love in return. . . .
Jesus Christ did not crush the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax. There is your model! And so nobody will be seen working for vainglory; nobody punishing merely to vindicate wounded self-love; nobody avoiding assisting the boys through a jealous fear of another’s popularity; nobody criticizing his confreres with a view to obtaining the boys’ love and esteem exclusively for himself—while gaining nothing in fact but the boys’ contempt and maybe a lying smile. . . .
If this love reigns, all will seek only the glory of God and the salvation of souls. It is when this love cools down that things begin to go wrong. Why do you want to replace charity with the rigidity of a few rules? Why is it that for the system of loving and preventive vigilance there is being substituted a system of framing rules—a system that is less burdensome and more convenient for the Superior? If the rules are enforced by punishment, they enkindle hatred and give rise to unpleasantness; whereas, if their observance is not enforced, they engender contempt for the Superiors and cause serious disorders. This is bound to happen where there is no family spirit.
So then, . . . let the Superior be all things to everyone, always ready to hear any complaint or doubts of the boys, using a paternal vigilance over their conduct; and let his heart be set on seeking the spiritual and temporal welfare of those whom Providence has confided to him.
From Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco: The Apostle of Youth, from the Biographical Memoirs of St. John Bosco, compiled and edited by Fr. J. Bacchiarello, S.D.B. (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books and Publishers, 1969).