As January comes to an end, there are many challenges that continue to divide the world and there does not appear to be any firm resolution in the near future. It is a stressful time for the Church, as she seeks to bring consolation and peace to a world at war with each other.
This period of strife that we are experiencing reminds me of the vision of St. John Bosco that he received of the Two Pillars. While generally interpreted to be referring to St. John Paul II, I still believe it has relevance even today and can help us center our lives and find peace in the midst of turmoil.
Here is some background.
Saint John Bosco, who lived from 1815 to 1888, had a vision on May 3rd, 1868 which illustrated the need to remain firm in devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Holy Eucharist. Here is the vision:
“Imagine yourself to be with me on the seashore, or better, on an isolated rock and not to see any patch of land other than that under your feet. On the whole of that vast sheet of water you see an innumerable fleet of ships in battle array.”
“As escorts to that majestic fully equipped ship, there are many smaller ships, which receive commands by signal from it and carry out movements to defend themselves from the opposing fleet. In the midst of the immense expanse of sea, two mighty columns of great height arise a little distance the one from the other. On the top of one, there is the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, from whose feet hangs a large placard with this inscription: Auxilium Christianorum—”Help of Christians”; on the other, which is much higher and bigger, stands a Host of great size proportionate to the column and beneath is another placard with the words: Salus Credentium—Salvation of the Faithful.”
“The supreme commander of the big ship is the Sovereign Pontiff. ”
“The Pope stands at the helm and all his energies are directed to steering the ship towards those two columns from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains.
“All the enemy ships move to attack it, and they try in every way to stop it and to sink it: some with books and writings or inflammable materials, of which they are full; others with firearms, with rifles and with rams. The battle rages ever more relentlessly. The enemy prows thrust violently, but their efforts and impact prove useless. They make attempts in vain and waste all their labor and ammunition; the big ship goes safely and smoothly on its way. Sometimes it happens that, struck by formidable blows, it gets large, deep gaps in its sides; but no sooner is the harm done that a gentle breeze blows from the two columns and the cracks close up and the gaps are stopped immediately."
(From Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco, compiled and edited by Fr. J. Bacchiarello, S.D.B.) [Emphasis added. For the complete description of the vision, click here]
What the vision stresses is that as long as the Church remains focused on these Two Pillars of devotion to Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Eucharist, she will be able to weather any storm that happens outside. Additionally, St. John Bosco's vision reminds us of the role of the Pope as commander of the ship who keeps us sailing towards these Two Pillars.
As members of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, we have a particular devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Holy Eucharist and a strong adherence to following the lead of the Pope. We are reminded of these pillars of our faith each day in our Morning Offering:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
Saint John Bosco's vision reminds us that in the midst of great turmoil, we must remain rooted in our prayer life and keep our eyes fixed on Our Lady and Jesus in the Eucharist, while following the Holy Father as he leads us through these pillars. Then and only then, will we have peace in our hearts and in the world.
St. John Bosco, pray for us!