Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On March 9, 1857, at the young age of 14, Dominic Savio passed away. Some years later, our patron, Pope St. Pius X, opened his cause for canonization, and he was declared a saint in 1954 by Pope Pius XII. He is the patron saint of choirboys, the falsely accused, and juvenile delinquents. This weekend, as we mark the anniversary of his passing from this life, we also begin the holy season of Lent. I would like to propose St. Dominic Savio as a unique example for our own Lenten journey.
St. Dominic Savio was by all accounts, a very devout and pious young man. He was given to frequent prayer and a love for the Mass. Hence his future patronage of choirboys. He was a very good student, both in conduct and academic achievement. Some boys in his class broke a piece of equipment and blamed him for the damage. In the face of these accusations he remained silent, and when his teacher later learned that he was innocent, asked him why he had not defended himself. He explained that he wished to remain silent in imitation of Jesus who was silent before his accusers. Hence, he is named a patron for those falsely accused and for juvenile delinquents. He would go on to study in a school run by St. John Bosco, a saint who not only directly influenced his life, but who would later write a biography of Dominic and speak frequently of the profound impact Dominic had on his own pursuit of holiness.
His holiness was achieved in a very short time. In spite of his youth, Dominic exhibited tremendous spiritual maturity, one many of us yearn for throughout long years of our lives! After his First Holy Communion, he wrote four resolutions, expressed simply as follows: “I will go to Confession often, and to Holy Communion as frequently as my confessor allows; I wish to sanctify Sundays and festivals in a special manner; my friends shall be Jesus and Mary; death rather than sin.” It is these four resolutions that give us an example to follow during this holy season of Lent.
First, Lent calls us to repentance, to reject sin and be faithful to the Gospel. A helpful resolution to take during Lent is to go to Confession. Celebrate the sacrament of God’s mercy! This great sacrament is truly something that helps us to become holy, especially the more frequently we avail ourselves of its graces. Second, Lent calls us to single-minded devotion to the Lord. We can achieve this focus by truly seeking to sanctify our Sundays as days to worship the Lord and rest. Seeking true friendship with Jesus and Mary is done in prayer, in learning the story of the Gospel, in our worship as a community of faith. And so these resolutions of Dominic Savio invite us to that Lenten focus of single-minded devotion to God. Finally, Lent calls us to reform our lives so that we can undertake the true battle against evil that will lead us to heaven. “Death rather than sin” may sound extreme at first, but it reflects a spiritual disposition that is prepared to endure any suffering for the sake of living according to the will and law of God. Do we prefer God above all things? Do we reject sin so wholeheartedly that our faith would allow us to face every suffering imaginable without being shaken or yielding?
St. Dominic Savio’s resolutions, made at a tender age, are good resolutions for each of us. May this Lent be a healthy and holy training ground, a time when we are able to truly grow in virtue, devotion, and service. As we enter these forty days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, may our resolve be always toward the Lord who calls us into friendship. May we walk with Jesus through the desert, knowing that the discipline we learn here will help us in all aspects of our spiritual lives and lead us to eternal glory with Him in heaven!