Saturday, December 3, 2011

Don Orione and the Sacrament of Penance (1): his First Confession with Don Bosco

During his three years in Valdocco, the young Luigi Orione had the privilege of going for confession with St. John Bosco. His first confession with the great Turin saint was an event which would remain etched on Don Orione’s heart. Here, we can see his concern for confessing all his sins and the merciful attitude of Don Bosco. 

Don Bosco sensed, as saints do, the personality of the little boy who had come from Tortona and who reminded him of one of his pupils, Gavio from Castelnuovo Scrivia. He allowed him the privilege of coming to him for Confession, even though he was not yet in the fourth high school year. 
Here is Don Orione's account of his first Confession, as he described it to the Salesian Fr. Carletti. 
"...In my examination of conscience I filled three notebooks with my sins." 
"You were a great sinner even then," Fr. Carletti wittily noted. 
"A truly great sinner, no," replied Don Orione, "but, you know, at the beginning it was normal to be a bit scrupulous and we did not know the full meaning of sins. In order to make sure that I did not leave anything out I had looked at two or three printed lists that assisted the examination of conscience by setting down the commandments of God and of the Church, the seven capital sins, the sins against nature, etc.  I copied them all down, filling three notebooks. I accused myself of everything: setting traps for my neighbour, refuting known truths, etc. I replied in the negative to one question alone: 'Have you killed anyone?' 'Not this one,' I wrote next to it. I awaited my turn in trepidation, with one hand in the notebook pouch and the other on my breast. 'What will Don Bosco say?' I wondered, 'when I read all these things out to him?' My turn came. Don Bosco looked at me for a second and, before I could open my mouth, he stretched out his hand and said: 'All right, give me these sins of yours.' I held out the first notebook, which I had taken, all dog-eared, from the bottom of the pouch. 

He took it and, without even opening it, tore it to pieces. 'Let's have the others.' These suffered the same fate. 'And now,' he concluded, 'your confession is made. Don't give another thought to what you have written and don't dwell on the past.' He then smiled at me in his special way." 

Fr. Carletti reports that, when Don Orione was asked about revelations of the future that Don Bosco was presumed to have made, he replied: "I cannot vouch for this, although I know that others have said so. Perhaps Don Bosco revealed it to them." After the Salesian persisted he added, after a little hesitation: "Don Bosco did say one thing directly to me, as he looked me straight in the eyes: 'Remember that we will always be friends.' I did not then understand the significance of what he said."

Source: D. Sparpaglione, Il Beato Luigi Orione7, Roma, Ed. Paoline, 1980. [Unpublished translation].

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