Don Bosco the Catechist, Pt. VI: The "Good Night"

SYM Corner 08.31.22

By Fr. Louis Molinelli, SDB, Province Delegate of Youth Ministry

In his Treatise on the Preventive System, Don Bosco describes the custom of the "Good Night" as a catechetical tool for the young. He says:

Every evening after Night Prayers and before the boys go to rest, the Director, or someone in his stead, should address a few kind words to them, giving advice or counsel, concerning what is to be done and what is to be avoided. He should try to draw some moral reflection from facts that have happened during the day in the Institute or outside: but he should never occupy for more than two to three minutes.

Fr. Isoardi tells us that we should not underestimate the importance of this simple practice given to us by Don Bosco. For Don Bosco the "Good Night" was a "powerful means of persuasion" as well as "... the key to morality, to the smooth running and success of the educational enterprise." Why? Don Bosco says that it was brief and to the point in such a way that it kept the students’ attention and made them think. For Don Bosco, it consisted of a few words around one important topic to impress the students before they went to bed. Don Bosco saw the "Good Night" as a valuable means of preventing disorders from happening.

In our province, we no longer have boarding schools and boarding camps. Thus, the "Good Night" has taken the form of a "Good Morning" or a "Good Afternoon." No matter what time of the day, these important moments given by the Director, or someone entrusted to take his place, provide the key for the joyful and peaceful family spirit of the apostolic work. Sometimes, we run the risk of turning these moments into just announcements. Sometimes they become moments to give corporate admonishments and corrections. While these may have their place in rare moments, the reclaiming of the true meaning of the "Good Night" becomes a sound catechetical moment for the entire educative and pastoral community: the young and their collaborators.

Let us reinvigorate this tradition with strong catechetical themes that will be instructive as well as encouragement for the young to follow the way that leads to love and grow in holiness!

August 31, 2022 - 8:00am
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