St. Don Bosco’s Secret to Discipline

One of my favorite saints is Don Bosco. Whenever my boys are particularly unruly, I think of him who dedicated his life to the care and education of the street boys of Turin. Beloved by his pupils, he transformed the lives of countless youth, giving them a Christian education and helping them to grow in holiness. For me, St. Don Bosco is a powerful intercessor. After all, if he was able to work wonders for the derelict raggamuffins of 18th c. Turin, surely he can do something for my well-meaning, but rambunctious boys.

Furthermore, St. Don Bosco is a shining example to parents and teachers. Researching his writings, I came upon this wonderful anecdote, which he himself wrote. I just had to share with you — St. Don Bosco’s Secret to Discipline:

Not long ago a minister of the Queen of England, visiting an Institute in Turin was taken to a large hall where about 500 boys were studying. He was not a little amazed at seeing so many children in perfect silence, with no supervision. His amazement grew even more when he came to know that perhaps in an entire year, one did not have to complain of a word being said out place, or so much as threaten a punishment, much less inflict one.

“Tell me, however is it possible to obtain such silence and such discipline”, he asked. And he added to his secretary, “Write down whatever he says”.

“Sir”, replied the Director of the establishment, “the means we use is not available to you.”


“Because they are secrets known only to Catholics”.

“What are they?”

“Frequent Confession and Communion, and Daily Mass well heard.”

“You are absolutely right. We lack these powerful means of education.”

“If you do not make use of these religious means, you must turn to threats and the stick”.

“You are right! You are right! Religion or the rod, I want to recount this in London”.

Frequent confession and daily mass well heard – these are Don Bosco’s powerful means of education and discipline. He wrote:

Frequent Confession, frequent Communion, daily Mass are the pillars that ought to support an educational edifice, from which one would want to keep at bay threats and violence. Never require the youngsters to go to the Holy Sacraments, but just encourage them, and offer them every opportunity to make good use of them. – The Preventative System, 

St. Pope John Paul II echoed these words when he wrote:

There is no other power and no other wisdom by which you, parents, can  educate both your children and yourselves. The educational power of the Eucharist has been proven down the generations and centuries. – Letter to Families

How blessed we are that, for many of us, daily mass and frequent confession is within driving distance! Of course bringing our kids along is sometimes a real challenge. But time and time again, I tell myself that bringing my children to Mass is the best thing I can do for them each day. When our children’s souls are flooded with His grace, their hearts and minds are open to learning. They learn to work for the love of God.

So consider it; pray about it.

St. Don Bosco, pray for us!

One thought on “St. Don Bosco’s Secret to Discipline

  1. The basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God like the “prodigal son” and to acknowledge our sins with true sorrow before the priest.
    Sin in my Life
    Modern society has lost a sense of sin. As a Catholic follower of Christ, I must make an effort to recognize sin in my daily actions, words and omissions.
    The Gospels show how important is the forgiveness of our sins. Lives of saints prove that the person who grows in holiness has a stronger sense of sin, sorrow for sins, and a need for the Sacrament of Penance or Confession.
    The Differences in Sins
    As a result of Original Sin, human nature is weakened. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, takes away Original Sin, and turns us back toward God. The consequences of this weakness and the inclination to evil persist, and we often commit personal or actual sin.
    Actual sin is sin which people commit. There are two kinds of actual sin, mortal and venial.
    Mortal sin is a deadly offense against God, so horrible that it destroys the life of grace in the soul. Three simultaneous conditions must be fulfilled for a mortal sin: 1) the act must be something very serious; 2) the person must have sufficient understanding of what is being done; 3) the person must have sufficient freedom of the will.

    If you need help-especially if you have been away for some time-simply ask the priest and he will help you by “walking” you through the steps to make a good confession.


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