Are We Catholic Enough To Make Enemies?

St. John Bosco underwent assassination attempts because of his bold mission in Catholic education. Should Catholic schools expect to make similar enemies if they are truly teaching the Faith?

It is calamitous how Catholic institutions have buried their lamps beneath bushel baskets in these diverse, intolerantly tolerant days of fear and trembling, concealing the true Faith as if it were a secret. Catholic schools in particular—including diocesan schools, sad to say—have become all but synonymous with the CINO (“Catholic In Name Only”) moniker. And that’s the way the devil likes it—hypocrites one and all.

Speaking of hypocrisy, this week is “Catholic Schools Week” and the general unawareness of this celebration is reflective of how Catholic schools downplay their sacred identity for the sake of secular integration. To paraphrase Eliot’s “Hollow Men,” this is the way Catholic education ends, “not with a bang but a whimper.” In short, it’s a legitimate question if Catholic schools have much right to celebrate their Catholicism. 5-Minute Core Exercise... Dzenitis, Tami Brehse Best Price: $5.00 Buy New $6.99 (as of 08:22 UTC - Details)

Today we celebrate the life of a veritable giant of Catholic education, St. John Bosco—a man whose mission to promote the Faith through education was so fearless and outspoken (and successful) that he was a target for assassination. Imagine that! Is it going too far to wonder if Catholics—whether teachers, parents, priests, or what have you—are not living their Faith out fully in a faithless society if they aren’t ruffling feathers or even making enemies?

St. John Bosco rescued troubled boys by giving them a loud and lively Catholic education based on reason, religion, and kindness. And for that, he suffered significant persecution. Following the seizure of the Papal States by the newly-united kingdom of Italy in 1870, there were great tensions between the Italian government and the Catholic Church. Many anticlerical, nationalist officials suspected Don Bosco’s oratory was a front for training a revolutionary militia to overthrow the anti-Catholic establishment.

Don Bosco also drew the ire of the Freemasons, who were bent on secularizing the field of education. As recorded in a Salesian archive, in December 1880, a certain lodge issued death marks on twelve people, and Don Bosco was among them. Twelve society members armed themselves and pledged to their dark duty.

John Bosco had grown accustomed to attempts on his life and was wary when a shifty-eyed stranger appeared at his door. He sat next to him on a sofa, as the agitated visitor began speaking angrily. Don Bosco could not follow his monologue, which grew increasingly disjointed as he gesticulated violently with his arms. One of these gestures caused a revolver to drop from the man’s pocket onto the seat. He did not notice it, but Don Bosco did, and with a juggler’s deftness, he slipped the gun into his own pocket.

Shortly afterward, the young man leapt to his feet and, with eyes ablaze, thrust his hand in his pocket. Nothing. He appeared confused. He fumbled in another pocket. Still nothing.

“Looking for something?” Don Bosco asked.

“Yes, no…I thought I had something—I can’t imagine where it could have gone…”

Don Bosco stood up. “You wouldn’t think you could drop a revolver without someone noticing, would you?” Father Brown: The Esse... Chesterton, G. K. Best Price: $2.99 Buy New $11.30 (as of 12:43 UTC - Details)

“Exactly…I mean, no,” The young man froze in terror as he watched the priest draw the gleaming weapon from his cassock. He cocked the hammer.

“Is this what you’re looking for?” Don Bosco asked in a steely voice, leveling the revolver at the man.

“How did you get that?” he gasped, backing away.

“You came here to kill me, didn’t you?” The revolver remained trained upon the would-be assassin. “Do you know what’s going to happen to you now?”


“When was the last time you went to confession?”

The man dropped to his knees. “May God have mercy on your soul,” said the saint, throwing open the door and ordering two of his assistants to drag the petrified Freemason to the gate. Outside, a group of loitering men piled into a carriage when they saw the unceremonious discharge, leaving their accomplice and his failure in their dust.

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