The Companion Series – Entry Five

by | Oct 5, 2023 | The Companion Series

Reading and the Word of God

On the significance of the Word of God in the lives of Christians, Don Bosco draws a simple analogy: as “a body without food gets sick and dies… the same thing happens to our soul if we do not give it its food. The Word of God is food, nourishment for the soul, meaning sermons, explanations of the Gospel, and the catechism,” as well as spiritual books like The Imitation of Christ and St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life. 

The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation also refers to the Word of God as “food of the soul,” by which it specifically means the Sacred Scripture, which is supplemented by the teachings of the Church Fathers and sacred liturgies, and transmitted through the preaching of informed clergy and publications of theologians. The council affirms that “easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful,” its study being “as it were, the soul of sacred theology,” so that the “treasure of revelation, entrusted to the Church, may more and more fill the hearts of the faithful” and promote “a new stimulus for the life of the Spirit.” 
It is a clear theological principal that hearing the Word of God (specifically the inspired Word as recorded in the Bible) is as necessary for the spiritual life of Christians as food is to their physical life. In contemporary society, it is presumed that there would be as many people capable of obtaining food and feeding themselves as those capable of obtaining a Bible and reading it, that is, most people. As the extent to which food gives life to the body is the extent to which it is digested and absorbed into the body, so the extent to which reading the Bible gives life to the spirit is the extent to which the reader can understand its teachings and assimilate them into their life. As such, a most pressing need for all Christians today, the young in particular, is to have access to explanations of the Sacred Scripture which are both comprehensible and relevant to their lives. 
Don Bosco suggests that this task is a particular responsibility of each individual’s parish priest; today, the unparalleled potential of the Internet as a means of transmitting instruction to the young increases the scope of the priest’s responsibility to make whatever use of this medium as is within his capacity, and extends this responsibility to lay faithful working in social communications. What is more, the Council recognises that, in a geographically and technologically expanding world, the lives of most people today do not revolve around a particular parish, and that “no priest, therefore, can on his own accomplish his mission in a satisfactory way. He can do so only by joining forces with other priests under the direction of the Church authorities.”

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The Companion Series – Entry Nine

Don Bosco urges youth to frequent the sacraments and trust their spiritual directors, emphasising respect for priests. The 1983 Code of Canon Law reinforces Catholics’ duty to support their parish community and obey sacred pastors. Faith is communal, requiring mutual respect and active participation in church life.

The Companion Series – Entry Eight

Don Bosco advises youth to avoid sin-triggering situations, suggesting prayer and invoking St. Aloysius Gonzaga’s aid. He counters Satan’s lure of fleeting pleasures with the promise of eternal bliss, encouraging reliance on God’s grace. The Catechism underscores the value of temptation in revealing and overcoming sinful inclinations, stressing discernment through prayer as essential for spiritual growth.

The Companion Series – Entry Seven

Don Bosco interchangeably uses “bad conversation” and “scandal,” emphasising their equivalence. He asserts that causing scandal leads to souls in hell, urging the youth to be exemplary. The Catechism aligns, emphasising the seriousness of scandal, especially when propagated by those in authority.

The Companion Series – Entry Six

Don Bosco encourages young people to find purpose in work and leisure, stressing the importance of virtuous companions. The Second Vatican Council echoes this by highlighting work as a duty and right, promoting rest and personal development. Both emphasize the union of work and charity, suggesting that dedicating oneself to one’s labor and companions can lead to a more fulfilling life. In a modern context, where many view study and work as necessary means to their desired life, it’s important for young individuals to recognise the value in their labor and appreciate the impact it has on themselves and their relationship with others.

The Companion Series – Entry Four

Don Bosco emphasizes obedience to parents and lawful authorities as the path to virtue, linking it to respect for the Church and its ministers. The Catechism of the Catholic Church highlights the duty to obey parents while also prioritizing following conscience and God’s call. The analogy between familial and Church respect is underscored, reminding that conscience is personal and primary in decision-making.

The Companion Series – Entry Three

God’s special love for the young is emphasised by Don Bosco, based on their innocence and vulnerability. The response to God’s love should motivate them to please Him and avoid offence. The Church, after Vatican II, acknowledges the importance of early catechesis and initiation into the faith. Love for God should primarily be a response to His grace and knowledge of His love for us. Youth’s innocence allows them to be profoundly loved by God.

The Companion Series – Entry Two

Don Bosco argues that evidence of God’s existence is present in nature, leading to the purposeful creation of humans with reason and conscience. The Second Vatican Council explains societal obstacles to accepting God, encouraging introspection for proof of His existence. Both perspectives assert that genuine seekers will find God, and atheism may result from a wilful refusal to believe.

The Companion Series – Entry One

Don Bosco’s “Companion of Youth” addresses young people, cautioning against the devil’s snares: a joyless life and relying on old age for conversion. He teaches a happy Christian life, emphasising virtue in youth for a blessed eternity. Don Bosco expresses love for the young, aiming to guide them towards true happiness and salvation in Jesus Christ.

The Companion Series – An Introduction

Pope Benedict XVI recognized St. John Bosco as a model of social charity in his encyclical. Bosco’s book, “The Companion of Youth,” is a timeless masterpiece with practical reflections on faith. Though written for a different time, it remains a valuable spiritual inheritance and source of insight for young and old Catholics.