The Companion Series – Entry Four

by | Aug 31, 2023 | The Companion Series

The first virtue of youth is obedience. 

Don Bosco suggests that the primary means for the young to grow in virtue is obedience to one’s parents and lawful superiors, saying: “give me an obedient child and they will be a saint. Otherwise they will be lacking in every virtue.” By extension, he suggests that the obedience and respect due to one’s biological parents applies to Mother Church and her ministers. 

In its teaching on the Fourth Commandment, the Catechism of the Catholic Church –arguably the primary fruit of the Second Vatican Council – affirms the obligation of respect and obedience to one’s parents (and those to whom one’s parents have entrusted them), whilst adding that “if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so.” The relationship between filial piety, Church teaching, and conscience is an illuminating one, and when appreciating the significance of the Church and its teaching in one’s life, it is helpful and correct to think of it in terms of respect and obedience to one’s parents. In the same chapter, the Catechism reminds parents that “family ties are important but not absolute,” and that “the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus.” 


Whilst children always owe their parents a debt of respect and gratitude by virtue of them being their parents, if their conscience, rightly formed, understands that God is calling them to a particular vocation, they are obliged to follow it, even when it goes against their parents’ wishes. Similarly, Christians must always afford the Church’s ministers and teachings the same respect as they would their parents and their reasonable demands, whilst remembering that their primary vocation is to follow Jesus. Of course, this analogy is not contradicted by the fact that Jesus calls his followers to obey the teachings of the Church (Mt 28: 20), for the Church herself affirms that “conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a person. There they are alone with God.” The key theological point to appreciate here is that the Church’s ministers and teachings exist to form a Christian’s conscience – they do not exist to substitute it, nor do they dispense Christians from thinking for themselves. Young Christians should recognise in this principle, not a license to act as one pleases in the name of “following their conscience,” but an appreciation of the fact that, when they come before God, each person is entirely responsible for their own actions.

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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 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 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.