20150615 Lessons from home

As a child, St. John Bosco lived with his family in a small area known as Becchi. His mother, Margaret, served the sick in the neighbourhood, welcomed beggars, and supported the poor.
One of the neighbours, Cecco, had once been rich but had squandered all his wealth. He had become a laughingstock. Cecco was too ashamed to beg and often went hungry. When it was dark, Margaret would leave a small pot of hot soup on the window sill, and under the cover of darkness Cecco would come and take it.
There was a boy, Secondo Matta, who worked at a stable. Each morning he received a chunk of rough black bread from his master and would lead the cows out to pasture. John Bosco also led his cows to pasture with a chunk of soft white bread. In those days, white bread was a luxury.
One day John Bosco said to Secondo, “Would you do me a favour?” “Let’s swap our bread. I think yours tastes better than mine.”
Secondo believed him, and for three seasons this became a daily routine. Only in later years did Secondo realize that John Bosco had done it out of charity.
Sometimes small groups of outlaws would knock at Margaret’s door. All they wanted was some warm soup and, perhaps, a hidden corner on the haystack. Police would also come to the house, and Margaret would welcomed them as well.
When the police came, the outlaws on the hayloft would quietly slip away. The police knew what was going on, but out of respect for Margaret they would turn a blind eye and would never try to arrest anyone in her house.
Margaret told John that the soldiers of the democratic regime at one time had been after those who had remained faithful to the king, and now it was the other way about: the king’s police were after the democrats.
Margaret got used to these changes in politics, and she would give a bowl of soup and a slice of bread to whoever knocked at her door, without asking about their political affiliation.
As a priest, John was convinced politics and parties were ever-changing. He would established his life on more solid principles: souls to be saved and poor boys to be fed and educated. He called that “the politics of the Our Father.”
Regarding his mother Margaret, John Bosco wrote, “From my earliest years, she would teach me the prayers herself. She would make me kneel with my brothers, and all together we would recite the morning and night prayers.”
At that time family rosary was a regular evening prayer for all Christians.
Margaret prepared John for his first confession. He wrote, “It was my mother who prepared me. She accompanied me to church. She went to confession before me and introduced me to the confessor. Later she helped me make an act of thanksgiving.”
Little John was fond of birds. He once took a baby blackbird from its nest and reared it. He kept it in a cage and taught it to whistle. Whenever the bird saw John, it would greet him and jump about happily.
One morning there was no whistling. A cat had broken into the cage and devoured the bird. John was sad for many days, but at last he stopped to reflect on the vanity of worldly things, and he resolved he would never again attach his heart to earthly things.?

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