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Posted by on in Don Bosco Relics

 

 What is the connection between wetherspoons and vocation? Well our vocations team have just finished their meeting here surrounded by a few beers and some good food. |The Moon Under Water is a friendly pub on Deansgate Manchester full of noise and life and a large number of rugby fans. Its just the place to talk about vocations because it keeps you real. It reminds you that all the people around us, relaxing, celebrating, escaping home or meeting friends - all of them are on a vocation journey. They may not be too aware of that, but their lives too are unfolding in a pattern of some kind and they are following a path that they hope makes sense and has some meaning.
I think all vocations planning meetings should happen in pubs. It keeps us real and avoids us talking too piously about what are earthy and often messy life decisions.
Also, the beer is good and cheap!
Well done +Wetherspoons. Well done +Moon Under Water!
 
 
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Posted by on in Don Bosco Relics

January 31st is the feast day of St John (Don) Bosco. He was a remarkable man, full of life and optimism- and at times a little devious. He knew how to get where he wanted with people and that often involved a little 'sleight of hand.' As a youngster he smashed a pot of cooking oil he should not have touched when his mother was out. The young John cleaned up the mess and took the cane his mother threatened them with and met his mother on the road. He confessed what he had done and gave the cane to his mother so that she could beat him. Of course his mother refused and he escaped punishment.

In dealing with young people in bars as a young priest he would often beat them at their own gambling games and even run off with the money  in order to get them out of the bar and to a place where he could talk sense to them.
Later, when he was raising money for large building projects, he visited a contessa to beg for money. He was shown into a parlour to await the great lady. When the contessa arrived Don Bosco had rolled back the expensive carpet and was stood on the tiles of the floor. She asked what he was doing. Don Bosco replied that he was a poor and simple priest and could not afford to stand on such an expensive carpet all the time with a twinkle in his eye. He got the big donation he was looking for.
 Later on, when he had fallen out with Pope Leo he realised he needed to make a large gesture to keep the Pope supportive of the Salesians. So he took on the building of a new church for the pope as a gesture of gratitude to someone he found difficult. It was the building of this church that eventually sent Don Bosco to an early grave.

In the Gospel we are encouraged to be as simple as doves and as wise as serpents (Matthew 10.16) and Don Bosco was both of those in his service of the young. We too need to be able to use our personality as a way to extend the network of God's kingdom. If we are to become saints today we need to engage with our culture and be able to influence, energise and loosen up the inner lives of others to the possibility of God at work in their lives.

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Perhaps your personality can become the mirror of God's own face reflected in your thinking , in your actions and in your relationships. Maybe God is close enough to whisper a joke in your ear! Maybe you will hear God laughing at you and if you have the courage of Don Bosco you will be able to join the laughter too.

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Posted by on in Don Bosco Relics

There was a phrase I heard in the fifties about a young priest that worried me: "he hasn't got a vocation to be a priest- but his mother has one!" It is a phrase less likely to be heard today but it serves as a reminder of the difficulty in discerning a vocation at any time. It is so easy to be deceived and to mix up motives for the choices we make. Pleasing your parents is not a fault but the desire to do so may mask a deeper and more authentic call that may point to a different life-choice.

One of the mysteries of a vocation to marriage, to ministry,religious life or the caring professions is that it comes through weakness as well as through gifts In Christian terms we meet the messiah in the shadow side of our lives and while we avoid confronting that darker side of our lives: the mixed motives, fears, angers and evasions, we cannot fully embrace our vocation. 

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A vocation is a lifelong challenge that comes from a deep inner voice that speaks from gifts and needs and finds an echo in the gifts and needs of the world into which we are born. The resonance between the story of the world around us and the world within us is the context of a calling. Therefore a vocation comes through life and from within ones personal story. God speaks through history and through personal histories too.

To make this more concrete I should share part of my own vocation story. My early family experience was marked with a lot of pressures including some violence, a death and the effects of depression. That darker aspect of my early years created a situation where I had to dig deep to draw on an inner spirit and meaning that gave me a more thoughtful and spiritual approach to life. Without that darkness I may never have heard the call to serve young people who struggled. I still carry the negative effects of that early time and  darkness continues to be an issue. However, even that negative aspect continues to shape my choices, and the things I notice in the world around me. The darker  aspect of my own story creates limitations that shape my vocation because there are so many things I cannot do. I get anxious and tire easily. I get impatient with detail and I can easily slip into self pity. These limitations keep me close to Christ as someone who saves me from these weaknesses and in that struggle to trust my vocation story continues to unfold towards the fullness of life.

So a vocation story is a reflection of the cross and resurrection a movement through struggle to new life. Each of us need courage to embrace both the cross and the resurrection in our lives. The danger is that we may embrace a cross that is not meant for us just as we may follow a vocation that is more to do with our parents wishes than our own.

That is why it is good to reflect on the need for discernment and perhaps attend the signpost weekend advertised on the Salesian vocations web site.

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A day in Battersea concludes what has been a life-changing experience. I never thought 2 weeks of travelling around with a hand would have moved me so much, but then again it wasn’t all about the hand.

Having a chance to sit down and reflect on what we have achieved, the people we met and the stories that have been shard reduced me to a blubbering mess. I began to think about the impact Don Bosco has had on my life and I traced the Salesian trail back to when I was 10 and had to decide which secondary school I wanted to go to. If it wasn’t for my decision to go to St John Bosco in Croxteth, I would never have experienced all the things that have shaped my life so far!

As I listened to the stories from people about Don Bosco’s influence in their lives, I never once realised that I was the same as them, cementing my sense of belonging in the Salesian family. So thank you to everyone I’ve worked with over the past 2 weeks for their support and enthusiasm, members of the public for their stories, Don Bosco for being born and inspiring a generation and God for inspiring Don Bosco and leading him to his vocation. Who’d have thought that a man born almost 200yrs ago would shape my way in such a drastic way? Not me!

 

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DON BOSCO TODAY

Spring 2019

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