Sunday, January 14, 2007

Christian Friendship

1. Forget the series of useless and often academic questions which the philosophers asked concerning the nature of friendship. Cicero's definition, however, is worth recording, because it is not far from the Christian concept of friendship. Friends, he says, are those who are united by a bond of affection and of agreement in matters of spiritual and human importance. True friendship is the result of a mysterious and mutual attraction between two person, who grow to know, respect and love one another (De Amic., VI). This friendship would be fleeting and even dangerous if it were nourished by the body rather than by the soul. The soul is eternal. Therefore its love is lasting and passes on into eternity. The body, like the flowers in the fields, is pleasing for a while, then fades and dies. St. Augustine tells us in his Confessions that he was passionately attached to a young man of his own age, who was blooming with the flower of adolescence. But he adds immediately that this was not a genuine friendship, because it did not spring from the charity which the Spirit of God pours into our hearts (St. Augustine, Confessions IV, 4:7). These so-called particular friendships should be avoided as dangerous and contrary to Christian teaching.

2. Cicero also saw virtue as the basis of friendship (De. Amic., XXVII). He said rightly that sincere frienship can exist only between good people (De Amic. V). But the Christian concept of friendship is even deeper. It touches on the supernatural order. True friends love one another in God. Their love must be founded on divine charity (Confessions IV, 4:7).

There is something sacred about friendship in the Christian sense of the word. Mutual love is fostered and elevated by divine charity. Friends love one another not only in this life but also in eternal life. They give one another not only in this life but also in eternal life. They give one another advice. They help one another along the ascending path of virtue, and not merely towards human achievements. They know that their love will last for ever in Heaven.

We should be very grateful to God if we can find a real friend in the full Christian sense. He will be a great consolation and help to us in temporal matters, but above all in our spiritual needs.

3. We should always remember what The Imitation of Christ has to say about friendship. "In me the love of thy friend ought to stand," God is represented as saying, "and for me is he to be loved who ever he be, that appeareth to thee good and much to be loved in this life. Without me friendship can neither profit nor endure; nor is that love true and pure which I do not bind together." (Imit. of Christ, Bk. III, Chapter 42:1)

If we allow ourselves to be guided by these principles, a friend will be a real treasure. He will be a treasure which we shall not lose on earth and which will help us to gain Heaven. The words of St. Augustine are consoling. "We cannot lose a friend, if he is dear to us in God Who is never lost." (Confessions IV, 4:7)

Let us cultivate friendship, but let it be Christian friendship founded on these principles, which come from God and lead us back to Him.

1 comment:

Emmie said...

I liked your blog.... u have really put up some nice views on friendship here... well thanks for sharing them .... u can too drop by My Friendship Blog sometime .. hope u will find it interesting...!!!