31 Jan: St. John Bosco

St. John Bosco St. John Bosco (+1888) was a great father figure and educator, working especially with orphaned boys and young men, organizing schools and workshops to teach them trades and give them formation with guidance.  These days a horrible war has been declared on boys and young men in common culture, which is riddled with the rot of a degrading  type of feminism and, now, effeminacy among men in the form of homosexual traits.  Pray to St. John Bosco in this time of need, especially that boys and men who have need of good and wholesome father figures may find them soon.

Deus, qui beatum Ioannem presbyterum
adulescentium patrem et magistrum excitasti,
concede, quaesumus, ut, eodem caritatis igne succensi,
animas quaerere tibique soli servire valeamus.

O God, who roused up blessed John the priest
as a father and teacher of young men,
grant, we beseech You, that we, enflamed with the same fire of charity,
may be able to seek after souls and to serve only You.

The word adulescens gets our attention.  Just how old is an adulescens (which gives us our word “adolescent”)?  The Roman vocabulary for the different ages of man was a bit fluid but as s a starting point we can consult the mighty Lewis & Short Dictionary under the voice aetas and get some help.  Other entries for the specific words of age states also give varying information, but we will boil some of it down here before we get any older.

The polymath Varro divided the ages of man into pueritia, from birth to the 15th year, adulescentia, from that time to the 30th; iuventus, to the 45th; the age of seniores, to the 60th; and finally senectus, from that time until death. 

Others make a different division, for example, until the age of 7, a boy would be a puer, in the state of pueritia (a girl being a puella).  From 7 onward he would be an adulescens, in the state of adulescentia, until about 15 years.  He remained an adulescens until at least 30, and in some reckoning as old as 40, when he became a iuvenis (juvenis in the L&S) in the state of iuventus (which is not just an Italian soccer team).  At the age of about 65 a iuvenis became a senex, in the state of senectus.   A woman would often be consider an “old woman” from about 40 onward, being called a senex or by the term “matron” or anus (fem.), either married or unmarried.

We might recall the so-called “seven ages of man” spoken by Jacques (“All the world’s a stage…” in Shakespeare’s As You Like It (Act II, vii) who broke it down  into “infant”, childhood – “whining schooby”, adolescent – “lover”, young man – “soldier”, adult – “justice”, old man – “lean and slippered pantaloon”, second childhood of senility – “sans everything”.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z’s literal translation:
    O God, who roused up blessed John the priest
    as a father and teacher of young men,
    grant, we beseech You, that we, enflamed with the same fire of charity,
    may be able to seek after souls and to serve only You.

    ICEL version:
    Lord, you called John Bosco
    to be a teacher and father to the young,
    Fill us with love like his:
    may we give ourselves completely to your service and go the salvation of mankind.

    Hmm … obviously ICEL mustn’t speak of “John the priest”, but surely could have said “John the ordained minister”; of course, we all understand why “young men” wouldn’t have worked. That “fill us with love” instead of “grant, we beseech You” is a smooth way of shifting the emphasis from Him to us. And we all know by now that, to ICEL, caritatis always means “luv”, never “charity”, and that “souls” is simply a no-no. But how did that “mankind” slip through the ICEL babelfish?

  2. To be fair, it is possible to render adulescentium as “young people”.

  3. Don Marco, O.Cist. says:

    I rendered yesterday’s collect this way:

    O God, who raised up your priest Saint John
    to be a father and teacher of the young,
    grant that we, being set ablaze with the same fire of charity,
    may be empowered to go in search of souls,
    and to serve you alone.

  4. Okay, that’s a good shot at the Collect, I think. Literally, I would not have used a passive sounding “empowered”, but this surely gets the sense of the prayer. Thanks for chiming in,

  5. James says:

    The collect in my 65 breviary reads, O Lord, you made St. John Bosco the father and teacher of youth, and through him, with the help of the Virgin Mary, You made new religious families flourish in Your Church. We beg You to inflame us with the same charity, and we shall be able to save souls and to serve only You.

  6. Don Marco, O.Cist. says:

    Dear Father, Yes, it is difficult to translate “valeamus” and I used the passive so as not to lose the sense of being strong, bravehearted, and all of that. “To be able” seems so weak, but it is correct too. Not easy. Thank you for your work.

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