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The Companion Series – Entry Three

by | Jul 28, 2023 | The Companion Series

Gods Loves the Young.

Don Bosco refers to Matthew 18:5-6 to argue that God has a particular love for young people, because “he considers all favours done to [them] as done to him… [and] threatens terribly those who give [them] scandal.” He suggests that this is because the young “are natural, humble, and innocent; in a word, because [they] have not yet fallen a victim to the snares of the devil.” It is based upon an appreciation of this particular love that young people should find motivation for “the sincere resolution to act in response to [God’s] love by doing whatever pleases him, and by avoiding whatever might offend him.” 

The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church would suggest that, if God has a particular love for anyone, it is for the Church, Jesus’ bride, for whom he “delivered himself up… and whom, finally, He filled with heavenly gifts for all eternity, in order that we may know the love of God and of Christ for us.” Within the Church, we would not so speak of much preference among members based on age or personal attributes, as degrees of incorporation through “profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion,” which are “attributed not to [one’s] own merits but to the special grace of Christ;” it is the response to this grace which must motivate their response, and upon which their salvation hangs. John Bosco warns that if people “begin badly in [their] youth, [they] will surely continue so until death, and inevitably secure hell for [themselves];” the Church after Vatican II certainly recognised the urgent need for early catechesis amidst the contemporary world’s increasing youth population, and like Bosco, insists on the “prime importance” of children being exposed to the love of God (ideally by their parents) from infancy, and of being initiated “organically into the life of the Church” by early childhood. 

The main theological point we can draw from these two perspectives is that our love for God must, first and foremost, be a response to the grace of Christ, which is the knowledge of God’s love for us, before it is a fulfilment of obligations or a display of self-sacrifice. It is precisely because the young, in their innocence, lack the full appreciation of moral obligation and of self-sacrifice that their love for God is primarily able to be a response to God’s love for them; in other words, it is not because people are young that God loves them exceedingly, rather, it is by embracing the innocence of youth that people are exceedingly capable of being loved by God. 

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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 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.