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The Prophetic Dream of Don Bosco and the Leadership of the Pope

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Among the many accounts of his life, we read of a vision he shared on May 30, 1862. It comes to my mind frequently these days.

This vision could describe what is occurring in our own day. Visions use symbols to communicate. They often have numerous applications and interpretations. We have been blessed with successors of Peter who are steering Christ\'s Church through those two columns, in the very, very troubled waters of our own age.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On January 31 in the Roman Catholic Liturgical 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 in his own day.

Don Bosco was the founder of the Salesian Society. He 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 many accounts of his life, we read of a dream he shared on May 30, 1862. It comes to my mind frequently these days.

The dream 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 dream has been the source of much inspiration, insight, speculation and reflection.

Images of the dream 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 dream two columns 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 the words which purportedly reflect those actually spoken by the Saint in describing this dream:

"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 dream could describe what is occurring in our own day. Dreams and visions use symbols to communicate. They often have numerous applications and interpretations.

We have been blessed with successors of Peter who are steering Christ's Church through those two columns, in the very, very troubled waters of our own age.

One, Saint John Paul II, was even shot - but saved through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin on a Marian Feast day.

John Paul, Benedict, and now Francis, have all engaged the age courageously, doing battle with those forces which oppose the Church.

They stood at the helm while steering the Church safely through the twin poles.

Saint John Paul II is now in the communion of Saints in the Church triumphant, interceding for the whole Church. His friend and successor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is living a form of monastic life, continuing the battle in focused prayer, after a wonderfully fruitful tenure of service.

Now, Francis continues the mission.He stands at the helm of the Church. In its teaching on the Church, we find these words in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 

"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." (CCC Par. 845)

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

In a brilliant article, my friend, Fr Dwight Longenecker recently set forth an insightful lens, a framework, through which we can consider the leadership of Pope Francis. It may assist us in understanding how he is steering the Ark of the Church - and his view of the troubled waters of our own age. It is entitled Understanding the Apocalyptic Vision of Pope Francis: The Church at war with the world underlies all. It is a must read.

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Deacon Keith A. Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and seven grandchildren. He is a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate who served as the first and founding Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice in the nineteen nineties. He has long been active at the intersection of faith and culture and serves as Special Counsel to Liberty Counsel. He is also the Editor in Chief of Catholic Online.

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We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

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