Jan 13, 2010

St. John Bosco took the tiger out of the woods and the woods out of the tiger

You can take the tiger out of the woods, but you can’t take the woods out of the tiger.  While the young can be taken away from dangerous surroundings, there are innate tendencies that will still be a source of temptation.  St. John Bosco is aware of these that is why he took the tiger out of the woods, away from the occasions of sin like places and persons.  Moreover, he tried to take the woods out of the tiger.

He sheltered the boys in his school and helped them along the straight and narrow by prevention and assistance.  Assistance is commonly understood as supervision, but the idea was not to be a police man trying to catch the boys when they fail.  Rather, it is becoming a coach who supports the boys in their efforts.  That is why you will find the priests and brothers always with the boys.  The preventive measures are activities, outlets of energy – manual work, sports, hobbies, studies, prayers, music, drama and others.  In addition to that, St. John Bosco instilled the ideals of holiness by presenting saints for emulation and by frequent reception of Confession and Holy Communion.  Then there is the constant vigilance and regular weeding lest vice creeps in the delicate souls of the young.  This was done through the daily examination of conscience and the monthly retreats.  Even little things are watched because the devil does not tempt one to sin big all of a sudden.  Rather, he starts with little things and progresses on to imperfections, to little sins and then to a grave fall from grace.

Today, one can still apply St. John Bosco’s methods of prevention to preserve one’s innocence.  Control the environment and shut out all the sources of temptation.  Control oneself and avoid idleness.  Finally, bolster one’s strength by grace from the sacraments and by self-discipline.  Mortifications such as denying oneself of things which are not bad help in strengthening the will power.  If you can choose to not super size your fries, then that’s a start.  Later when you see a suggestive picture appear on your web page, you can easily avoid gawking at it.  But if you indulge yourself, then you may find it more difficult to say no when you really need to.  If you let yourself go, then you can end up easily like Tiger Woods.

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