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The Road to Hell - I

Human Respect Leads to All Vices

St. John Bosco

Given the extraordinary interest raised by The Letter from Beyond, which is a description of the judgment and condemnation of an actual woman who entered Hell, we decide to present to our readers a prophetic dream St. John Bosco had in 1868. In it the great Saint symbolically saw the dangers threatening the spiritual lives of boys of the Oratory, who were students of St. John Bosco. These multiple dangers occasioned the eternal perdition of many of them.

It is not difficult for parents and educators to transfer to their own children and students those metaphorical warnings given by God to the Saint. This dream is an admonition for adults to prevent the eternal perdition of the youth under their guidance.

TIA will post the entire dream in parts

On Sunday night, May 3 [1868], the feast of the Patronage of Saint Joseph, Don Bosco resumed the narration of his dreams:

I have another dream to tell you, a sort of aftermath of those I told you last Thursday and Friday which totally exhausted me. Call them dreams or whatever you like.

I told you of a frightful toad threatening to devour me on the night of April 17. When it finally vanished, a voice said to me:

“Why don't you tell them?”

St John Bosco

St. John Bosco
I turned in that direction and saw a distinguished person standing by my bed. Since I did not understand the reason for that censure, I asked:

“What should I tell my boys?”

“What you have seen and heard in your last dreams and what you have wanted to know, which shall be revealed to you tomorrow night!” He then vanished.

The next day I was continuously worried about the miserable night in store for me, and when evening came, I did not want to go to bed. I sat at my desk browsing through books until midnight. The mere thought of having to contemplate more terrifying scenes thoroughly frightened me. However, with great effort, I finally went to bed.

In order not to sleep immediately, and fearful that my imagination might drag me into the previous dreams, I placed my pillow in a way that allowed me to practically sit on the bed. But, due to my tiredness, I unintentionally fell asleep.

Soon I saw the man who had appeared to me the previous night standing by my bed. He said to me: “Get up and follow me!”

“For Heaven's sake,” I protested, “leave me in peace. I am exhausted! I have been tormented by a toothache for several days now and need rest. Besides, my last dreadful dreams have completely worn me out.”

I said this because this man's apparition always means anxiety, fatigue and terror for me.

“Get up,” he repeated. “There is no time to lose.”

I complied and followed him. As we walked, I asked him:

“Where are you taking me?”

“Come and you will see.”

He led me to a vast, boundless plain, veritably a lifeless desert, with not a soul in sight, nor a tree or brook. Yellowed, dried-up vegetation added sadness to the desolate scene. I had no idea where I was or what was I to do. For a moment I even lost sight of my guide and feared that I was lost, utterly alone. Neither Fr. Rua nor Fr. Francesia nor anyone else was with me. When I finally saw my friend coming toward me, I sighed in relief and said:

“Where am I?”

“Come with me and you will find out!”

“Well, I will go with you.”

He led the way and I followed in silence, but after a long, dismal trudge, I began worrying whether I would ever be able to cross that vast expanse, what with my toothache and swollen legs. Suddenly I saw a road ahead. Breaking the silence I asked him my guide:

“Where to now?”

“This way,” he replied.

Path of roses

At the begining the path of sin is lined with roses...
We took the road. It was beautiful, wide, and neatly paved. Both sides were lined with magnificent verdant hedges covered with gorgeous flowers. Roses in particular peeped everywhere through the leaves. At first glance, the road was level and comfortable, and so I ventured upon it without the least suspicion.

But after walking a while, I noticed that it almost imperceptibly kept sloping downward. Although it did not look at all steep, I found myself moving so swiftly downward that I felt I was effortlessly gliding through the air. Really, I was gliding and hardly using my feet. Our march was fast. Then the thought struck me that the return trip would be very long and arduous, I asked my friend:

“How shall we get back to the Oratory?”

“Do not worry,” he answered. “The Almighty wants you to come back to it. He Who leads you onward will also know how to lead you back.”

The road was increasingly sloping downward. As we continued on our way, flanked by banks of roses and other flowers, I became aware that the Oratory boys and a multitude of others whom I did not know were following me on the same road. Somehow I found myself in their midst.

As I was looking at them, I noticed that now one, now another, fell to the ground and then was instantly dragged by an unseen force toward a frightful opening in the ground, distantly visible, which led those unfortunate boys straight into a furnace.

“What makes these boys fall?” I asked my companion.

“Take a closer look,” he replied.

I did. Traps were everywhere, some close to the ground, others at eye level, but all well concealed. Unaware of their danger, many boys got caught, and as they tripped, they would sprawl to the ground, legs in the air. Then, when they managed to get back on their feet, they would run headlong down the road toward the abyss. Some got trapped by the head, others by the neck, hands, arms, legs, or sides, and were pulled down instantly toward that hole. These ground traps, fine as spiders' webs and hardly visible, seemed very flimsy and harmless; yet I observed that every boy they snared fell to the ground.

Noticing my astonishment, the guide remarked:

The Devil is behind every trap of human respect
“Do you know what that is?”

“Just some filmy fiber,” I answered.

“It seems like nothing,” he said, “but it is human respect.”

Seeing that many boys were being caught in those fibers, I asked:

“Why do so many get caught? Who pulls them down?”

“Go nearer and you will see!” he told me.

I followed his advice but saw nothing peculiar.

“Look closer,” he insisted.

I picked up one of the traps and tugged. I immediately felt some resistance. I pulled harder, only to feel that, instead of drawing the thread of the trap closer, I was being pulled down myself. I followed where the thread led and soon found myself at the mouth of a frightful cave. I halted, unwilling to venture into that deep cavern, and again I started pulling the thread toward me. It gave a little, but only through a great effort on my part.

I kept tugging, and after a long while a huge, hideous monster emerged, clutching a rope to which all those traps were tied together. He was the one who instantly dragged down anyone who got caught in them.

It would be useless to match my strength with his, I said to myself. I would certainly lose. I could better fight him with the Sign of the Cross and with short ejaculations.

Then I went back to my guide and he said to me:

“Now you know who he is.”

“I surely do! It is the Devil himself who places these traps to make my boys fall into Hell!”

Carefully examining many of the traps, I saw that each bore an inscription: Pride, Disobedience, Envy, the Sixth Commandment, Theft, Gluttony, Sloth, Anger, and so on. Stepping back a bit to see which ones trapped the greater number of boys, I discovered that the most dangerous were those of impurity, disobedience and pride. In fact, these three were linked to together. Many other traps also did great harm, but not as much as the first two. Still watching, I noticed many boys running faster than others.

“Why such haste?” I asked.

Devil tempting with mirror of vanity

Bishops and Kings are tempted by the mirror of pride and vanity
“Because they are being dragged by the snare of human respect.”

Looking even more closely, I spotted knives among the traps. A providential hand had put them there to cut oneself free. The bigger ones, symbolizing meditation, were for use against the trap of pride; others, not quite as large, symbolized spiritual reading well made. There were also two swords - one representing devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, especially through frequent Holy Communion, and the other devotion to the Blessed Virgin. There was also a hammer symbolizing confession, and other knives symbolizing devotion to St. Joseph, St. Aloysius and other Saints. By these means, quite a few boys were able to free themselves or evade capture.

Indeed, I saw two boys walking safely through all those traps without being caught, either becuase of good timing - getting past it before before the trap sprung on them - or by sliding out of it if they got caught.

When my guide saw that I had observed everything, he made me continue along that rose-hedged road. But the farther we went, the scarcer the roses became. Long thorns began to appear, and soon there were no more roses. The hedges became sun-scorched, leafless and thorn-studded. Withered branches torn from the bushes were strewn along the roadbed, littering it with thorns and making it difficult to walk through.

We had come now to a gulch whose steep sides hid what lay beyond. The road, which increasingly sloped downward, was becoming ever more horrid, rutted and littered, bristling with rocks and boulders and making the march ever more difficult.

I lost track of all my boys, most of whom had left this treacherous road for other paths.

I kept going, but the farther I advanced, the more arduous and steep the descent became, so that I tumbled and fell several times, lying prostrate until I could catch my breath. Now and then my guide supported me or helped me to rise. At every step my joints seemed to give way, and I thought my shinbones would snap.

Panting, I said to my guide:

“My good fellow, my legs will not carry me another step. I just cannot go any farther.”

He did not answer but continued walking. Taking heart, I followed. Finally, seeing me soaked in perspiration and thoroughly exhausted, he led me to a little clearing alongside the road. I sat down, took a deep breath, and felt a little better. From my resting place, the road I had already traveled looked very steep, jagged and strewn with loose stones, but what lay ahead seemed so much worse that I closed my eyes in horror.

“Let us go back,” I pleaded. “If we go any farther, how shall we ever get back to the Oratory? I will never make it up this slope.”

My guide sternly responded: “Now that we have come so far, do you want me to leave you alone?”

At this threat, I wailed:

“How can I survive without your help?”

“Then follow me,” he added.



Blason de Charlemagne
Follow us

From Memorias Biograficas de San Juan Bosco,
Vol. 9, pp. 166-181,
Posted July 7, 2012
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