The Companion Series – Entry Eight

by | Feb 15, 2024 | The Companion Series

How to act during temptation, and some tricks the devil uses to ensnare the young.


On advising the young how to act during temptation, Don Bosco suggests they “avoid occasions of sin, such as evil conversations and immoral public shows,” and always try to keep themselves occupied. If the temptation persists, they should “make the Sign of the Cross, kiss some holy object,” and implore the intercession of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whom he recommends on account of being the Church’s patron of the young, and for his heroic avoidance of occasions of sin and conquering of temptation through severe penances. He warns that the devil will certainly try to dissuade them from the pursuit of holiness by suggesting the difficulty of pursuing the “road of virtue, free from all pleasures” for some forty or fifty years, to which Bosco objects that they could all die at any moment, and that in any case, those who live for pleasures always end up more miserable than those who live to please God. He grants that constantly thinking about an eternity of punishment can be very distressing, and encourages them that this fear will be overcome by the confident hope of heaven which comes to those who put their trust God.

The Catechism deals with “temptation” in its exposition of The Lord’s Prayer; quoting Origen, it explains “there is a certain usefulness to temptation” because it reveals one’s evil inclinations, and thus allows them to be grateful to God for having been delivered from them. To this end, it says that temptation requires discernment from necessary trials, and between consent to temptation, and that, following Jesus’ example in the desert and Gethsemane, this can only be achieved through prayer.

Certainly, a critical theological principle which arises from comparing these two sources is the necessity of discernment in the spiritual life. Granted, Bosco’s treatment of temptation presumes a simple-minded audience who aren’t likely to live very long, so are best off mortifying themselves as severely as necessary to stave off temptation until they are mercifully recalled to heaven, rather than engage with temptation at all and risk hell. On the contrary, the Catechism treats temptation as a spiritual struggle which is necessary for growing in relationship with God and purifying one’s intentions, where the means to overcome is always available to those willing to engage in the battle. In other word’s, where Bosco’s solution is perpetual flight from the enemy, the Catechism teaches to learn to fight the enemy. Many Catholics today, regardless of age, are not even aware that discernment and growth are essential aspects of the Christian life; they presume that they’re essentially free to pursue their own will, so long as they don’t break any of the Church’s rules, and if they’re ever unsure of how to proceed in a certain situation, they ask a priest or their most churched friend for the answer. All Christians must appreciate that: discernment is a necessary skill for growing in their spiritual lives; that it can be taught; that it isn’t meant to be easy, but becomes easier with regular practice; and that like any skill, it requires patience and persistence to persevere in.

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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 Five

Don Bosco compares the Word of God to food for the soul, emphasising its importance in the lives of Christians. Vatican II echoes this view, emphasising the role of Sacred Scripture, Church teachings, and informed clergy in nourishing the spirit. Accessible explanations of Scripture are crucial, with parish priests and the Internet playing vital roles in this endeavour. Collaboration among priests and church authorities is essential in reaching a geographically diverse and technologically advancing world.

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.