DON BOSCO'S WAY‎ > ‎

RELIGION-SKILLS

To embark on Don Bosco's Happiness Project it is necessary that young people learn to develop ten skills. The first four facilitate the journey within, while the remaining six the journey without.

1. Meditation: The educator assists the students to develop silence within themselves. Silence forms the basis for an intimate encounter with God. It helps to orientate and sustain the student through the various phrases of growth. It is the inner peace which a student can return to in the face of doubt, disappointment and despair.

2. Prayer: Students are taught how to enter into a personal relationship with God through sincere and humble dialogue in prayer, through reflection on the scriptures, through encounters with wise people, and through problems in society that await solutions.

3. Obedience to the Inner Voice: Education is not merely about imbibing scientific knowledge, it is also about developing an awareness of one's conscience, of what is morally right and wrong and training oneself to habitually align with what is right. The educator encourages the students to cultivate the taste for listening daily to the judgement of their inner voice on how they fared during the day.

4. Death and the Afterlife: Don Bosco was a realist. He knew how to prepare his students well for the one inevitable fact of all human life. Educators in the Bosco Way periodically remind their students about death in order to help them scan their motivations, clarify their orientations and set priorities for the future. Looking at life backwards, from the perspective of the grave, can be an insightful way to making wise decisions and to living with a sense of hope.

5. Duty: People in different ages and religions have used self-inflicted pain as a form of self-discipline, or an expression of repentance in the desire to feel nearer to God. Contrarily, Don Bosco suggests that the best self-discipline comes from knowing one’s duty and fulfilling it daily and cheerfully. For a student, duty can involve a variety of things: taking study seriously, being fair at games, respecting elders, obeying one’s parents, balancing fun and responsibility, developing a healthy body and mind.

6. Joy and Optimism: Youth live life as a celebration. Music, theatre, dance, games, sport, picnics – these are youthful expressions of happiness. Using these elements, the educator promotes attitudes of gratitude, praise, joy, optimism, reverence and respect. Young people usually enjoy sharing their experiences, their faith and their peer fellowship through creative and symbolic expression.

7. Service: The ‘journey within’ will be reduced to an exercise in egocentricism if it does not translates into genuine service of society. The act of serving others, especially the underprivileged of society, can take many forms. The fundamental  purpose is to establish a bond of solidarity with the less fortunate through mutual respect and without condescension. The traditional hierarchical model of South Asian society must give way to the internationally established principles of social equality and fundamental rights for every person.

8. Collaboration and Dialogue: By its very nature, South Asian society is a confluence of opposites. It demands an appreciation of diversity as well as a struggle for unity. It enables people to express themselves and to disagree amicably. It means seeking truth in complexity with  attitudes of non-violence through collaboration and dialogue. Only a broad-minded, inclusive culture will help South Asia turn its diversity into its best asset.

9. Peer Education: Young people easily personalise attitudes and change behaviours through peer pressure. Don Bosco was quick to capitalise on this reality for an educational purpose. He chose youth leaders and entrusted them  with the responsibility of leading their companions by word and example. He divided them in groups and called them 'sodalities' – a companionship strategy for developing wholesome habits of heart, mind and spirit.

10. Forgiveness and starting afresh: Young persons tend to feel passionately about what they like and what they believe. Disagreements often end up in skirmishes and broken friendships. Education can help youth discover the healing power of forgiveness as a path to happiness and maturity – without nursing past grudges and yielding to revenge.

Diagram: the Journey by Peter Gonsalves
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