Given the year that is in it, I cannot let this feast pass today: the feast of St John Bosco. This year marks the two hundredth anniversary of his birth, and there are great celebrations taking place throughout the year in Turin, including a special exposition of the Shroud of Turin (I'm bringing a group, are you interested in joining us? See here for details).
There are so many wonderful things to reflect on in the life and mission of Don Bosco. At the heart of his life was his service to the young, and surely the sign of this great work are those children, educated by him or his spiritual sons and daughters, who are now numbered among the Saints and Beati of the Church. One of the great legacies Don Bosco has left us is that of promoting sanctity - there are many Salesian Saints, Beati, Venerables and Servants of God.
The message is clear - when we reach out to help others in this life, we must also seek to help them reach out for that life which is destined for them in God's kingdom. Don Bosco was certainly one to say "all this and heaven too". Social activism, service of the poor, education and all those wonderful and important works of charity must never lose sight of the importance of leading souls to God, most especially those souls that are wounded or lost. Don Bosco's genius lay in the fact that he was able to do both.