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TeenQuest: Number 1

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross - today we honour the cross by which Christ redeemed the world (Click here to find out what the New Catholic Dictionary has to say about this feast.)

Scripture for Catholic Teens:
Gospel

Jn 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.


Got any thoughts or reflections on  today's Gospel? What do you think Jesus means? It's a great sign of God's love for us - "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son". We're reminded how much God has done for us and why Jesus came down from heaven, and the reason that we can hope for eternal life. Reply to this message with any thoughts you have on this reading, or any of the other readings of the week (this is simply the Gospel of the day I'm writing this message). Read the rest of today's readings here.

Saint of the Week

St. John Bosco (Patron Saint of the Youth)

b. 1815 d: 1888

St. John Bosco
St. John Bosco

Also known as Don Bosco and Giovanni Melchior, John Bosco was born in 1815 to poor parents in the hamlet of Becchi. He was not much older than two when his father died, leaving John and his two brothers to their mother, Margaret Bosco.

John later became a shepherd. However, he showed a readiness to learn, wit and a good memory, which caused him to be favoured by his mother, though not so by his eldest brother who was now head of the family.

In addition to these many talents, John was quite popular amongst the other children. He enjoyed entertaining them not only with jokes and stories but also by teaching them Catholic catechism.

Through a series of dreams, John soon learned that God was guiding him to help poor children such as himself, which he felt he could do as a priest. However, though he was accepted for seminary after school, he found that, due to the poverty of his family, he felt obliged to help out in the fields. Yet, despite the obstacles, his desire to help poor children never left him and, after six years of study, he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Franzoni of Turin on the eve of Trinity Sunday.

As a priest, one of his dutues was to accompany Don Cafasso on prison visits in the city. During these visits, he was appalled by the condition of the children confined in these prisons. It was then that he decided to devote his life to the rescue of these children.

Then, one day, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, whilst John was vesting for Mass, a ragged urchin was driven from the church by a sacristan. However, John, hearing the cries of this boy, called him back and a friendship developed. It was this, coupled with the fact that there were many boys who wanted to learn their catechism but were too old and not wanted by the parish groups that caused the beginning of the Oratory of St Francis de Sales, where prayer became a prominant feature. Drawn by a kindess so rarely shown to them, the Oratory soon numbered twenty boys. Four years later, there would be as many as four hundred in attendence.

It soon became apparent that a suitable location for these gatherings was needed. In 1844, when he was appointed assistant chaplain of the Rifugio (the Refuge) where two rooms adjoined to the building were converted into a chapel and dedicated to St Francis de Sales. This became the new place for the members of the Oratory to gather. With many more boys applying for admission, John soon started up night schools where boys working in factories were able to attend, under the instruction of John Bosco and Don Borel.

However, the success of the Oratory at the Rifugio was short-lived. Sadly, many obstacles caused John to give up the rooms. Though he persevered through the difficulties, this soon lead others to label him as insane and there was an attempt to confine him in an asylum. People complained against him and declared his community to be a nuisance due to the character of the boys.

The Oratory soon moved to a variety of locations, among them an open field and a churchyard, until they finally ended up in a shed where seven hundred members came.

John was soon joined by his mother, Margaret - soon known as "Mama Margaret". Margaret gave the last ten years of her life to the boys of the first Salesian home. Sacrificing material possessions, she brought with her simply the love of a mother to the children of the streets.

The evening classes began to increase and soon dormitories were provided for those who wanted to live at the Oratory. The first Salesian Home was thus founded.

By now, the importance of John's work had been recognised by the authorites and he was able to fund the erection of schools and workshops for these boys. Then, in 1868, he built a church, which was planned to form a cross covering a vast area. Though he faced difficulty in raising the necessary funds, it was a success and the church was consecrated on 8th June 1868 where it was placed under the patronage of Our Lady, Help of Christians. In the same year in which the erection of the church began, fifty priests and teachers who had been assisting him formed a society under a common rule, later approved by Pope Pius IX.

John Bosco died on January 31st, 1888 and was declared Venerable by Pius X on 21st July, 1907. Founder of the Salesian Society, he was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI.

(With thanks to NewAdvent.org for the information.)

As we read the inspiring story of St John Bosco, we ask God to help us to be like him - to be known for the love we show others, to show the courage to overcome obstacles and especially to love those classed as outcasts, those we would not normally befriend. As St John Bosco showed, it can be hard to befriend outcasts - by definition outcasts are unwanted by society and it is never deemed 'cool' to show love for these people. However, like Jesus Himself and St John Bosco, we must realise that these are the people that need our love the most. When we find ourselves struggling to love these people, we can pray to St John Bosco and ask for his intercession so that we too might show unconditional love.

Prayer to Saint John Bosco


O glorious Saint John Bosco, who in order to lead young people to the feet of the divine Master and to mould them in the light of faith and Christian morality didst heroically sacrifice thyself to the very end of thy life and didst set up a proper religious Institute destined to endure and to bring to the farthest boundaries of the earth thy glorious work, obtain also for us from Our Lord a holy love for young people who are exposed to so many seductions in order that we may generously spend ourselves in supporting them against the snares of the devil, in keeping them safe from the dangers of the world, and in guiding them, pure and holy, in the path that leads to God. Amen.

Goodies

Book:
We're On A Mission From God - The Generation X Guide to John Paul II, the Catholic Church and the Real Meaning of God by Mary Beth Bonnacci - An inspiring read for all young Catholics who want to learn about their faith in a way that is interesting, easy for them to understand and aimed at young people.
Music: Jesus Wept - "Jesus Wept" is the first single from Mary K. Shanahan's upcoming recording project on Sacramental life entitled "The Promise." "Jesus Wept" is the beginning, the middle and the end of this compilation of songs based on the seven Sacraments, as it is a poignant and powerful reminder that Christ completely understands the challenges and trials of the human experience because He lived among us. The song was  released to EWTN Catholic Jukebox in September because Mary believes the words and music are healing and could be helpful to people during the painful fifth anniversary of 9/11. (Review by the Catholic Music Network)
Website: Xt3.com - If you haven't discovered xt3 yet, it's time you did! From the people that brought Youth 2000 to England, Xt3 is an online magaine for young Christians, filled with inspiring articles, radio (including Holy Granny!), chat, news, events and much more! But best of all are the Xt3 forums which allow young Christians to talk to each other about anything and everything that concerns young Christians. A definite must for all Catholic teens!

If you have any thoughts or questions that you'd like to share for this first edition of TeenQuest, please feel free to reply.

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