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The Companion Series – Entry One

by | Jun 12, 2023 | The Companion Series

Don Bosco begins The Companion of Youth with a letter to his young boys at the oratory, for whom the book was intended. However, Don Bosco’s wisdom can still be read by each of us today, as though he were speaking directly to us.

 

“To the young,

There are two main snares by which the devil usually tempts young people away from virtue. The first is to convince them that the service of the Lord consists in living a life of melancholy, devoid of all pleasure and enjoyment. This is not the case, my dear friends. I would like to teach you a kind of Christian life that will make you happy and contented. I want to show you what true enjoyment and pleasure is, so that you may follow the advice of the holy prophet David: “Serve the Lord with gladness.” This, then, is the purpose of the present book: to teach you how to serve God and to be always happy.
 
The second snare is the hope of a long life, with the expectation of conversion in old age or when death threatens. Be careful, my dear boys, because many have been deceived in this manner. What assurance have we got that we shall ever reach old age? We cannot expect death to await our convenience at old age, since life and death are in God’s hands, and he apportions them as he sees fit. If God, however, grants you a long life, listen to the serious warning that he has uttered: A young man according to his way—even when he is old, he will not depart from it. In other words, if we lead a good life when we are young, we shall be good when we are old, and our death will be happy, the beginning of eternal bliss. On the other hand, if vice takes hold of us in youth, it will gradually grow in the course of the different stages of our life until death, which will be the terrible herald of a most unhappy eternity. That this misfortune may not befall you, I have drawn up a scheme of life, brief and easy enough, which will enable you to be a joy to your parents, and a glory to your country, making you good citizens upon earth, and one day blessed inhabitants of Heaven …
 
My friends, I love you with all my heart, and your being young is reason enough for me to love you very much. You will certainly find books written by persons much more virtuous and much more learned than myself; but, I assure you, you would be hard put to find anyone who loves you more than I do in Jesus Christ, or who care more about your true happiness than I do. May God be always with you, and grant that by the practice of these few suggestions you may save your souls, and thereby increase His glory. That is the sole purpose of the writer of these pages.
 
Live happily and may the Lord be with you.
 
Affectionately yours in Jesus Christ,

 

Don Bosco.”

Other Blogs

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 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 – 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.