When we were children, my brother and I used to quarrel about a great white sofa which we had at home. We both wanted to lie on it and watch television.
One day my father, who is a hard-working man, got angry about our arguments and said something which I remember well: “If Don Orione were here, he would burn the sofa”. Then, he told us a story that he had heard.
|Roberto Mela, Fr. Facundo Mela's father, at his metalworking lathe|
Once, Don Orione had found some seminarians lounging idly on a sofa. Our Founder then took the sofa and placed it in the middle of the yard; calling all the seminarians and members of the community, burned it in front of them. Then he said: “We are here to Work!”
My father spent his life in our parish in Pompeya (Buenos Aires, Argentina) where he met some hard-working religious and priests. My father admires them because they worked very hard and loved it.
In that school of work, my father heard this story, and they taught him that Don Orione did that because he wanted his children to be hard workers, neither like rich kids nor lazy priests.
Some years later, I joined the congregation and again heard the same story. But to this day his words remain fixed in my memory: “We are here to Work!”
From Don Orione’s writtings:
“When did anyone ever see Don Bosco lounging on a sofa?
If only you had understood the real significance of burning the sofa in the middle of the yard last year!
It was not just about the spirit of poverty, it had a much deeper meaning! One day you will come to a true understanding!”
(Tortona, August 3, 1920)
Fr. Facundo Mela, FDP