I had the wonderful opportunity recently to venerate the relics of St John Bosco in Westminster Cathedral. It was quite a quick, early Saturday morning visit with a few others from the Youth 2000 leadership team. St John Bosco is one of our patron Saints which is why we decided to make the visit together. For me, St John Bosco has the added significance of being a good patron for catechists. He is the patron, for example, of the wonderful Franciscan University catechetics conference. I was so inspired in the summer by Fr Louis Molinelli SDB, a Salesian who gave a brilliant presentation at Franciscan on the use of St John Bosco’s preventive system, an inspiring pastoral method of evangelising young souls. These are principles I have tried to encourage our own Confirmation catechists and youth leaders to foster in the way that we pastor and relate to our young people. So, kneeling beside St John Bosco’s relics, I had the young people of Youth 2000 in my heart as well as the young people in our sacramental programmes. He had a wonderful gift I pray we could see in today’s youth ministers – let’s pray for God to raise up more evangelists of the young in our own day!
Wow – so, who’s seen Les Miserables?! I would go so far as to say – “life-changing”! It was absolutely sensational, wasn’t it?! Here is the human person, presented in his relation to God, raw and real, not distorted through a post-modern twisting of human nature. The film very beautifully portrays the moving themes of this rich story: ultimately, a story of redemption, the strength of love and mercy over justice and law, the story of grace and of having the humility to receive it. The emotional power of the film (the bitter plight of poverty, the agony of love, the pathos of the cruel treatment of the downtrodden) means that you leave the cinema emotionally exhausted but revitalised by a true, beautiful vision of what being human means.
There are many, many images here that can be used for catechesis: in particular, the unexpected and freely given gift of mercy to Jean Valjean at the beginning which renews his dignity and gives him a new beginning, which he later extends to Javert, but who is unable to accept it.
Overall, it’s wonderful that we have a film whose worldview includes the existence of God, the soul, and Heaven. I’m happy that millions of people will spend 3 hours watching a film with this presupposition. The more this seeps into culture and people’s mindsets, the better… After all, they were made for him
Here’s Fr Robert Barron’s commentary… (spoilers alert!)
Finally, I’ve just discovered this awesomeness: check it out!