Wednesday, February 2, 2011

St. John Bosco and Venerable Margaret Bosco: A Mother's Love for her Sons

"You are now a priest, and you celebrate Mass. You are, therefore, closer to Jesus Christ. But remember that to begin to say Mass is to begin to suffer. You will not become aware of this immediately, but little by little you will realize that your mother was right. I am sure that you will pray for me every day, whether I be still living or dead, and that is enough for me. From now on you must think only of saving souls; never worry about me."
~ Venerable Margaret Bosco ~

By this time, Margaret's other son, Joseph, was married and had children, and Margaret was very happy living in the Becchi house. Besides, she was enjoying the grandchildren. Life was indeed good.

In the meantime, Don Bosco had begun his work with the homeless and the working boys. He had recovered from a devastating illness which nearly brought him to an early grave. When he had regained his strength, he realized he had to have the help of some discreet, experienced woman, to whom he could confide the care of his humble home and youngsters at the youth center.

Thus, one day Don Bosco took her aside and said, " Mother, I've decided to go back to Turin to my beloved boys, but since I can no longer stay at the Rifugio of the Marchioness Barolo, I need a housekeeper. This presents another problem, because the place where I will live at Valdocco is morally dangerous on account of certain people close by, and I am worried about the situation. I need someone with me who can vouch for me morally and forestall any malicious rumor. You are the only person who can do it. Would you be willing to come and  live with me?"

At this unexpected suggestion, Margaret spent a few minutes in thought, and then replied, "My dear son, you have no idea how sorry I am to leave this house, your brother, and everyone else whom I hold so dear, but if you think that this would please the Lord, then I am ready to go."

Margaret was going to live with her son, not for comfort or recreation, but to share with him privations and sufferings on behalf of several hundred poor, abandoned boys. She was not going because she was lured by money, but because of her love for God and for souls. She knew that the portion of the sacred ministry chosen by her son, far from bringing him any financial gain, would drain him of his own resources and later force him to seek alms. But such considerations did not stop her.

In agreement with his mother, Don Bosco arranged for the sale of some pieces of land and vineyards that they still owned in their native village. Margaret also sent for her bridal trousseau, which she had carefully preserved: dresses, ring, earrings, necklaces. When the trousseau arrived, she sold part of it and used the rest to make vestments for the chapel, which was very poorly furnished. Several of her dresses were turned into chasubles, while her linen provided the material for albs, surplices, purificators, and altarcloths. The money from the sale of Margaret's necklaces helped to buy gold braid and trimmings for the sacred vestments.

It was a real sacrifice to part with these things, but when talking about it later, Margaret said, "When I looked at those things for the last time and was about to sell them or convert them to something else, I felt a little disturbed, but as soon as I became aware of it, I told myself, 'Come now, what better use could they possibly have than providing food and clothing for poor boys, and honoring the heavenly Bridegroom in church?' Afterwards I felt so happy that if I had a hundred trousseaus, I would have given them all up without any regrets."

After the boarding school was well under way, the boys began to call Margaret "Mamma." It stuck. She cooked, mended, made shirts, underwear, and socks. It was her special pride to see her boys properly dressed during the week and especially on Sundays. She made time to teach them good manners and peaceful family living. Whenever the boys needed anything, they turned to her, and if possible, she always satisfied them. She couldn't have done more had they been her own children.

In later years, as soon as the first boy aspiring to the priesthood donned his cassock and was given some authority, Margaret at once regarded him as a superior and refrained from giving him advice, reprimands and orders. In a word, she behaved as a humble subject. Yet the young cleric respectfully continued to call her "Mamma."

 When she was about to be anointed, she said to Don Bosco, "When you were little, I prepared you for confession and Communion. Now it's your turn to help your mother to receive the Sacraments worthily."

~ Excerpts from A Valiant Mother by Phillip J. Pascucci, S.D.B. ~

Prayer for the Canonization of Mamma Margaret

God our Father,
we thank you
for making Mamma Margaret
a strong and wise woman,
a heroic mother
and a wise educator.
Give us the joy of seeing her
raised to the honour of the altars
so that all may
imitate her way of holiness,
lived as daily and humble
service of her neighbor.
Through her intercession
grant us the grace
we request with a trusting heart.
Through Christ our Lord.

Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priests, Mother of all priests and our Mother, help us respond generously to the Holy Spirit's request, through the voice of His Church, to offer up to God Eucharistic adoration for priests. Amen.

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