See if you can pick up on the theme here.



"Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness. If with the help of God, you conquer yourself in the moment, you have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day. It's so discouraging to find yourself beaten in the first skirmish." - St. Josemaria Escriva 


 
"Thus with the baggage of the world I was sweetly burdened, as one in slumber, and my musings on thee were like the efforts of those who desire to awake, but who are still overpowered with drowsiness and fall back into deep slumber. And as no one wishes to sleep forever (for all men rightly count waking better) -- yet a man will usually defer shaking off his drowsiness when there is a heavy lethargy in his limbs; and he is glad to sleep on even when his reason disapproves, and the hour for rising has struck -- so was I assured that it was much better for me to give myself up to thy love than to go on yielding myself to my own lust. Thy love satisfied and vanquished me; my lust pleased and fettered me. I had no answer to thy calling to me, "Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." On all sides, thou didst show me that thy words are true, and I, convicted by the truth, had nothing at all to reply but the drawling and drowsy words: "Presently; see, presently. Leave me alone a little while." But "presently, presently," had no present; and my "leave me alone a little while" went on for a long while. In vain did I "delight in thy law in the inner man" while "another law in my members warred against the law of my mind and brought me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." For the law of sin is the tyranny of habit, by which the mind is drawn and held, even against its will. Yet it deserves to be so held because it so willingly falls into the habit. "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" but thy grace alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord?"- St. Augustine


Don Bosco


For the past month or so I've been reading this book over my bowl of granola and yogurt every morning. The biography is about St. John Bosco - the priest who worked with poor youth in the streets of Turin during the 19th century. As a first-year teacher, it's glaringly apparent to me every day how much I have yet to learn about God, life, work, people, and of course, especially children. Don Bosco has led me through some of those necessary lessons, and has given me an invaluable source of inspiration for my daily walk.

The first lesson comes from Don Bosco's tireless work for the kingdom of God. As a young seminarian, he wrote these resolutions:
-I shall be rigorous in the use of my time.
-When it is a question of saving souls, I shall suffer, work, and humble myself.
-Since work is a powerful weapon against the enemies of my soul, I shall not take more than five or six hours of sleep.
Not only did he live out these resolutions in the seminary, but through his whole ministry, so much so that at age 72, his doctor declared, "He is a man who is already dead from fatigue, but who continues to work day after day, eat little and live." This man understood the urgency of God's work, and how vastly superior God's eternal kingdom was to his own comfort and pleasure. As a single person living on my own for the first time, opportunities for self-indulgence abound. Hard enough as it already is to keep from centering life on oneself, the world is actively promoting the "me lifestyle." This saint reminds me of the grand picture - why we are really here on this earth - and how serving God and others is the most difficult, but only fulfilling path. Don Bosco took the word of God seriously by sowing acts of righteousness, and he reaped abundant fruit during his lifetime and still today through the Salesians.

The second lesson is that I should not be afraid to communicate that grand picture to others, even children. Don Bosco was chastised by many outsiders for the candid way he spoke to the boys at the oratory. He impressed upon them the gravity of their sin and necessity of frequent confession, often challenging them with questions such as,
"If you were to die tonight, what would happen to your soul?"
Through visions, Don Bosco often foresaw impending deaths. Gathering his boys, he would warn them one was to die soon, and pleaded with every one to commend their whole souls to God, confess their sins, and prepare for the hour of death. Some thought this was too harsh and morbid a tone to take with children, but Don Bosco knew that it was unjust to tell them otherwise. Through his intercession, my prayer is that in daily interactions with students, I will be able to see them as they are - eternal souls - and earnestly and lovingly tell them the truth.

And finally, a third thing I took from Give Me Souls, is renewed desire to hand over every one of my intentions and works to God's glory.
"If the work is for the glory of God, spend all you have and even borrow more. If it isn't, don't spend a cent, for Providence will not help you."
This book is scattered with miracle after miracle - all the different ways God provided for Don Bosco's efforts. I know that if I want my efforts to see success, I must submit them entirely under the will of the Father (which sometimes might mean changing the efforts entirely) before I get to see the marvels he's prepared!

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