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The Companion Series – Entry Two

by | Jul 18, 2023 | The Companion Series

An understanding of God.

Don Bosco directs the young to the evidence of God’s existence which is all around them; he reasons that: “the sun, moon, stars… could not have come into existence of themselves. God in his omnipotence made them out of nothing; hence he is called the “Creator.” From this, it follows that God purposefully created the human person “with a soul that thinks and reasons, and desires what is good, and judges what is evil for the purpose of living a life of good works and avoiding sin in order to spend eternity in heaven.” Indeed, the whole Companion will follow on from, and rely upon, such simple and unequivocal reasoning as this. 

The Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World acknowledges that “many of our contemporaries have never recognised this intimate and vital link with God, or have explicitly rejected it.” It offers numerous suggestions as to why Bosco’s understanding of God is not so unequivocally accepted in society today, including: society’s indulgence of trivial philosophical arguments which render the question of God “devoid of meaning;” its misguided belief in the capacity of the positive sciences to explain everything by “scientific reasoning alone;” its stupefaction of basking in its own achievements; its rejection of a false idea of God resulting from bad education; or its failure to ask questions about God resulting from comfort-induced apathy.Society’s capacity to arrive at Bosco’ understanding of God is at times hindered by the poor witness of neglectful Christians, as well as the poisonous influence of anti-Christian ideologies such as Marxism, and its many manifestations in contemporary culture. 

Rather than look to the moon and stars around them, Vatican II urges non-believers to look inwardly for proof of God’s existence; the Church claims that it is readily apparent to all people that humans have the capacity to forego concerns of their body, and are thus superior to it, and that by their intellect they are capable of surpassing the material universe. All people are aware of what we call “conscience,” regardless of what they judge it to be, as that interior movement which urges them to choose ‘good’ and avoid evil; a sincere intellect reflecting upon one’s conscience should lead to the discovery of their “spiritual and immortal soul” as evidence of an existence beyond space and time, and thus the necessity of a creator God.

In short, where Don Bosco reasons from the external evidence of God in nature to the inevitability of human reason and conscience, Vatican II makes an identical argument in the opposite direction. The main theological insight to be gained here is that: anyone who genuinely seeks to discover God will discover God, and anyone with the capacity to question God’s existence has the capacity to confirm it. Thus, the contemporary claim to “be an atheist” automatically betrays those who make it, for the very capacity to reject belief in God presupposes the wilful refusal to believe in God, and such claimants should be made aware of this error in all charity. 

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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 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 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.