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The Vision of St. John Bosco and the Papacy of Benedict XVI

Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns and moors it to the two columns; first to the one surmounted by the Host, and then to the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin

Does the heroic leadership of Pope Benedict XVI represent one more fulfillment of the prophetic vision of the Saint whose Feast we celebrate? Pope Benedict XVI is steering the Ship through troubled waters, charting a path through those sure pillars of protection and heavenly aid. St. John Bosco, pray for us.

The vision of St. John Bosco

The vision of St. John Bosco

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic online) - On January 31 in the Roman Calendar we celebrate the Feast of St John Bosco (also called Don Bosco). He lived in the 19th century and poured out his life serving the Church of Italy. Don Bosco was the founder of the Salesian Society and walked in a wonderful and intimate communion with the Lord. He also lived during a difficult time for both the world and the Church. 

Among the accounts of his life, we read of a vision he shared on May 30, 1862. It comes to my mind frequently these days. The vision revealed the great threats facing the Church as she continues the redemptive mission of her Lord. It also reveals the path which will lead her to victory over her enemies. The vision has been the source of much inspiration, insight, speculation and reflection.

Images of the vision have been painted by many of the faithful. The paintings themselves have a prophetic effect on the observer. The saint saw the Church as a great Ship of Peter surrounded by a flotilla of other vessels. They were engaged in intense warfare. At the helm of the Church was the Pope who at one point in a fierce battle fell mortally wounded. The enemies of the Church closed in sensing this was their moment.

In the vision two columns then emerged from the great ocean. On one was a golden Monstrance with the Holy Eucharist exposed within it. The column was inscribed with the words "Salvation of Believers". The other column held an Image of Mary, the Mother of God, inscribed with the words "The Help of Christians". Here are words which purportedly reflect those actually spoken by the Saint in describing this vision:

"The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs. They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons. The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on its course. At times a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole into its hull, but, immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.

"Meanwhile, enemy cannons blow up, firearms and beaks fall to pieces, ships crack up and sink to the bottom. In blind fury the enemy takes to hand-to-hand combat, cursing and blaspheming. Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded. He is instantly helped up but, struck down a second time, dies. A shout of victory rises from the enemy and wild rejoicing sweeps their ships. But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place. The captains of the auxiliary ships elected him so quickly that the news of the Pope's death coincides with that of his successor's election. The enemy's self-assurance wanes."

"Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns and moors it to the two columns; first to the one surmounted by the Host, and then to the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin. At this point something unexpected happens. The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other. Some auxiliary ships which had gallantly fought alongside their flagship are the first to tie up at the two columns."

This vision could describe what is occurring in our own day. We have been blessed with holy successors of Peter who are steering Christ's Church through those two columns in very troubled waters. One, Blessed John Paul II, was shot - but saved through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin on a Marian Feast day. Another, Pope Benedict XVI, is leading the Church through the troubled waters of the dictatorship of relativism.

Both have engaged courageously in doing battle with those forces which oppose the Church. Both stood at the helm while steering her safely through the twin poles which certainly stand for orthodoxy (right teaching) and orthopraxy (right practice).

Blessed John Paul II is in the communion of Saints in the Church triumphant, interceding for the whole Church. His friend and successor, Pope Benedict XVI has continued providing heroic leadership to the Church. I am convinced he is leading the Church through turbulent waters into a new missionary age.

Throughout the Pontificate of Blessed John Paul II he called for a New Evangelization. His friend and successor, Pope Benedict XVI, has made this a central pillar of his pontificate. In a Motu Propio directive (which means issued on his own authority) Pope Benedict established a new dicastery (Vatican Office).

It underscored the seriousness with which he views this mission of the New Evangelization.  It is specifically tasked with evangelizing countries where the Gospel was announced centuries ago, but where its presence in peoples' daily life seems to be all but lost.

Cultures formerly infused with a Christian culture are now regularly called post-Christian - and understandably so. Yes, there are many good and genuine Christians living within these Nations. However, the scourge of legal abortion, the attacks on true marriage and the family and society founded upon it, and the intolerance against people of faith, speaks clearly of the decline of Christian influence in these Nations. I prefer to refer to them as "Pre-Christian."

They are now our mission field. When Blessed John Paul visited the Americas he wrote a letter "To the Church in America"  in which we find these words:

"The new Evangelization calls for a clearly conceived, serious, and well organized effort to evangelize culture. The Son of God, by taking upon Himself our human nature, became incarnate within a particular people, even though His redemptive death brought redemption to all people, of every culture, race and condition. The gift of His Spirit and His love are meant for each and every people and culture, in order to bring them all into unity after the perfect unity existing in the Triune God." (# 70)

The New Evangelization requires an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can undertake such a new missionary outreach to the world. These two aspects of the one call are intricately connected. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical mission.

The Church is Christ's plan for the entire world. The early Fathers called her the world reconciled. She is a universal sign, sacrament and seed of the kingdom of God. These wonderful words from Par # 845 of the Catholic Catechism, citing words from the early fathers of the Church, should anchor us in hope:

"To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood."

Contemporary Western culture has lost its way, throwing off almost every remnant of Christian influence. It has embraced a new paganism. What Pope Benedict calls the Dictatorship of Relativism is the bad fruit of a rejection of a belief in the very existence of truth. In effect, the West has embraced a practical atheism. It is Eden's error written large in an age which has rejected God and His plan.

Given the current state of our National moral decline we need to view the entire American continent as missionary territory, ripe for this New Evangelization. We also need to view the once Christian Nations of the European continent as mission territory.  Most importantly, we need to view ourselves as missionaries in a new missionary age.

Pope Benedict XVI will turn turned 86 years old on April 16, 2013. Some early observers indicated his age would make him some sort of caretaker Pope. His pace has demonstrated the observers were wrong. He has proven to be an indefatigable and tireless missionary of a Pope.

He has continued the pastoral visits of his predecessor with amazingly fruitful travels around the world. The youth of the world still flock to World Youth days and his genuine love for them - and they for him - is evident. He has pastorally and decisively dealt with serious matters concerning the need for a purification of the Church. 

He is exactly what he told us when he began his service, a "simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord" Notice how little fanfare accompanied his birthday as well as this six year anniversary of his election. Clearly, to this successor of Peter, it is not about him, but about the Lord whom he serves. His diminutive size and humble manner reveal the holy heart of this man totally given over to the Lord.

He is a scholar of the highest order, yet able to communicate with simplicity and beauty because he is a man of deep prayer. He has given continual teaching to the faithful - including some of the finest hagiography in centuries - during his Wednesday Catechesis.

He made Church history, when Motu Propio, he released of the Apostolic Constitution on Groups of Anglicans which has begun the healing of the divided Western Church. The fruits of these Ordinariates will be recounted by future historians as among the most important events in the Third Millennium of the Church.

He has earned the great respect of Patriarchs and leaders of the Orthodox Church and is making progress toward some form of communion between Eastern and Western Christianity which could make the Third Millennium a millennium of communion.

He has championed the re-christianizing of Europe and passionately promoted the New Evangelization of the Church - even establishing a new Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization. He has been a champion of the New Ecclesial movements and helped to ensure that they are rooted in the heart of the Church and received as gift for the missionary work of the Church in this hour.

He has doggedly defended the Christian roots of the West and defended religious freedom as a fundamental human right. He has engaged the Islamic world with great charity and courage on the ground of dialogue in truth. He began the Courts of the Gentiles outreach engaging atheists and agnostics. 

The Church is truly blessed to have him at the helm of the Barque of Peter as she sails into the Third Christian Millennium. His heroic leadership may well represent one more fulfillment of the prophetic vision of the Saint whose Feast we celebrate on this day.

We need to pray for him, take our place on the Bark of Peter and follow Him as he follows the Lord. He is steering the Ship through troubled waters, charting a path through those sure pillars of protection and heavenly aid. St. John Bosco, pray for us, pray for Pope Benedict XVI.


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'

© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.

Keywords: John Bosco, Don Bosco, two pillars, Vision of John Bosco, Pope Benedict XVI, Blessed John Paul II, dictatorship of relativism, prophecy, Deacon Keith Fournier


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1 - 10 of 15 Comments

  1. Lydia Padilla Rinne
    1 year ago

    Thank you so much for this article . I am blessed of learning more from you.GODs blessings for sharing. I will continue praying for our Dear POPE BENEDICT XVI ...for his peaceful prayerful life from now and May GODs blessings of better health keep him going with Mother MARYs mantle of protection showering him wherever his LIFEs journey brings him in GODs willing grace & JESUS Mercy.with Love & Prayers & Respect from Helsinki,Finland,CFC-FFL(Couples for CHRIST-Foundation for Family & Life)
    I pray in the name of the Father & of the Son, & of the Holy Soirit.Amen

  2. Theresa H
    1 year ago

    Thank you, Deacon Keith, for this article....Yes, both Blessed JP II and his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, have called for the "New Evangelization"--of Catholics--that is to say, ALL of us Catholics! Ever since Roe v. Wade, when many of us objected to Humanae Vitae, there has been what both Bl. JP II and Pope Benedict have called a "darkening of the mind." This occurs when people reject the Teaching of Sacred Scripture and/or the Pope and the Bishops in union with him. (Read Pope JP II's writings, e.g., The "Apostolic Exhortation: Catechesis In Our Time," Pope Benedict's "Year of Faith" address to us Catholics, and the USCCB document: "Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics.") These are just three among many, many documents of our Popes and Bishops over more recent years that are addressed to us to guide us through the murky waters of a culture today "that lives as if God does not exist!" But how many of us Catholics have ever even heard of these documents? These "letters" of our Popes and our Bishops are vital to our understanding of our Catholic Faith in our times--Along with the Bible (of course) and "The Catechism of the Catholic Church," they are in the direct line of Jesus' "promise" to be with His Church--guiding us "until the end of time;" they are Jesus' provision for us in these days that St. John Bosco foresaw.... "He who hears you, hears me; and he who despises you despises me." But what if I don't even know what our Pope and Bishops write to us?.... Am I "off the hook?" Is "ignorance bliss" when there is a Vatican Web page available on the www and a USCCB web page, as well? Is the "fact" that I "don't have time" for all this a good excuse? I can't answer that question for anyone but myself.

  3. cizkid
    1 year ago

    the catholic church does not lie so it words are truth this vision;will help catholic to know more about their faith.

  4. chris
    1 year ago

    The vision more likely has to do with the apostacy of the church (Timothy4:1) that will occur in the last days. A small short victory that will be won by the enimies of God before the return of Christ.

  5. abey
    1 year ago

    Unfortunately it seems only his name & his feast goes on today neither His works nor his understanding & the price is heavy , to see how much of his own ships are destroyed.

  6. Tom McGuire
    1 year ago

    Deacon Keith, thank you for your response to my comment. I do not have the calling to write the article you suggest that I write. Indeed, Don John Bosco is a saint and his whole life was about serving the poor of his time. I saw concrete results of his efforts in the Catholic School in Hong Kong that resulted from his community of educators.

    As for ideology, what is wrong with admitting the influence of ideology on our thinking? Certainly, I admit and you know from my comment that my ideology favors a democratic agenda as yours favors a republican agenda. I see nothing wrong with this. It is disingenuous ( a word lawyers love) to deny the influence. Dialogue, to be effective, must be based on true revelation of self to other.

  7. Joe
    1 year ago

    Deacon Fournier, thank you for this message of hope. Our Church which is starting to come together is a true blessing. Yes, with the Holy Spirits and Mary's help many graces will continue to come. Our Church wants to share their love with all christians. Our nation needs their help right now. let's prayer for their graces to touch our leaders hearts.

  8. Bud
    1 year ago

    Benedict's profound writings and directions to the current condition of our Catholic Church is so simple yet so easy to follow; a truly unusual trait for an intellectual of his caliber. I to was very doubtful about his election and thought to myself, "here comes another German Theologian to succeed a simpler lovable man as a pope". I was totally wrong and I admit it. His humility in his intellectual brialliance can only push the church into a restoration.

  9. rafaelmarie
    1 year ago

    I think the vision is of Pope John II:

    It was announced by Cardinal Sodano on 13 May 2000, 83 years after the first apparition of the Lady to the children in the Cova da Iria, that the Third Secret would finally be released. In his announcement, Cardinal Sodano implied that the secret was about the persecution of Christians in the 20th century that culminated in the failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981.[10]

    The text of the Third Secret, according to the Vatican, was published on 26 June 2000:

  10. Clinton
    1 year ago

    Dear Deacon Fournier,

    Thank you for this wonderful article! I have been greatly blessed by your many wonderful reflections since I began visiting in 2005, just after the death of Pope John Paul II.

    Just one point to make: you mention that many refer to ours as a "post-Christian" era, while you prefer to use the term "pre-Christian". I agree that it is pre-Christian in its character and the manifestations of its moral derangement, but I would suggest the term "anti-Christian" would be more appropriate since initial evangelization took place centuries ago but has now been all but officially repudiated by the current government and its power elites. Also, the term "anti-Christian" denotes the spirit of Antichrist, which is manifestly behind the current state of our civilization. Finally, the term "anti-Christian" fits well with the term "anti-Human", which really entails even those human beings presently outside the Catholic Church. If Christ is fully man -- Man in all his fullness, Man fully realized -- then the present day ferocious attacks are both "anit-Christian" and therefore "anti-Human".

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