The Companion Series – Entry Six

by | Oct 28, 2023 | The Companion Series

Fleeing from idleness and from bad companions.

Don Bosco exhorts young people that “human beings were born to work and when they cease to do so they are off-centre,” whilst qualifying that he doesn’t mean that one “should be busy from morning to evening without a break,” for “one can enjoy oneself but also gain useful and honest knowledge” with special interests, domestic chores, legitimate amusements and recreation. For Bosco, enjoying legitimate pastimes and recreations also means enjoying them with good people, avoiding “like the plague” those “who are not ashamed of using obscene language in your company, or dubious or scandalous words, murmuring, lies, perjury, curses, blasphemy, or try to keep you away from church or ignore your duty.” 


The Second Vatican Council takes a very similar approach to work; it explains that labour is the human being’s share in “the redemptive work of Jesus Christ,” and therefore it is both a person’s “duty” and their “right” to work. It also specifies that societies must ensure that workers “enjoy sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social and religious life. They should also have the opportunity freely to develop the energies and potentialities which perhaps they cannot bring to much fruition in their professional work.” Like Bosco, the Council makes a link between the sharing in Jesus’ divine life through work and the sharing in God’s divine life through good companions, recognising “a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s children in truth and charity,” where “the progress of the human person and the advance of society itself hinge on one another.” 


Thus, comparing our two sources reveals a theological relationship between work and charity, or the “labour of love.” John Bosco is famously quoted as saying to the young people at his oratory: “For you I study, for you I work, for you I live, for you I am ready even to give my life;” indeed, as the Council affirms: “man [sic], who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” For young people, today, most of their lives are consumed by study, which is often compulsory, and work, which is usually necessary. For many, the compulsory and necessary nature of these occupations renders them perceptible as means to an end – undesirable obligations which they are forced to do in order to obtain the qualifications and resources necessary for living “the life they really want.” For many still, this cycle of studying and working towards a “dream life” never ends; the demands for qualifications and resources never eases up, and their “life” never arrives. Young people today must resist the temptation to see study and work as obstacles to a life they’d rather be living, and appreciate, rather, that “by their labour they are unfolding the Creator’s work,” and that “the Christian who neglects their temporal duties, neglects their duties toward their neighbour and even God, and jeopardises their eternal salvation.”

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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 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.