The Charitable Man Cherishes Friendships
What is the point of friendship? Why is loneliness such a horrible thing? And why, in a culture where we “friend” and “follow” everyone do people feel like they are isolated? I don’t think that anyone would argue the fact that friends are necessary for a wholesome and fulfilling life. We are made for communion with God, but that communion is also reflected in our relationships with others. While there is a special place for the relationship of a husband and wife and the relationship between parent and child, the relationship between friends cannot be overlooked or downplayed. In fact, throughout history friendships have played pivotal roles in people’s lives.
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Steven E Ambrose and his book Band of Brothers about the Easy Company in World War II that went from Normandy on D-Day to Hitler’s Eagles Nest at the end of the war:
“They also found in combat the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They found selflessness. They found they could love the other guy in their foxhole more than themselves. They found that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.”
Women seem to have more complex friendships and multiple friends on different levels. For men I think that the desire for friendship boils down to desiring someone to fight with you, someone who has got your back, someone you love to the point of giving your life for them because you know that he would do the same for you.
This is why helping each other reach heaven is so important in a friendship. This life is only passing, so while giving your life for someone is heroic, it is only the door to eternity. If you are on the path to virtue and you know that heaven and being with God is the greatest good you can achieve, then ignoring that in a friendship, to the detriment of your friend’s soul, proves you to be a sorry friend. If you have the truth, the Faith, and you truly care about someone, why would you not share it with them?
To be clear, that does not mean that you have to purely talk about the Bible with your friends or only meet up at the adoration chapel. In fact, that would be a bit weird, don’t do that. God gave us all these shared interests and people to share them with for a reason. But all those things should lead us closer to God, not further from him. A great measure of any relationship is to ask yourself, “does this person lead me to God or pull me away from him?”
St. Francis de Sales on friendship:
Friendship is the most dangerous of all love. Why? Because other loves can exist without communication, exchange, closeness. But friendship is completely founded upon communication and exchange and cannot exist in practice without sharing in the qualities and defects of the friend loved.
Not all love is friendship:
First of all, because one can love without being loved. It may then be love, but not friendship. For friendship is mutual, reciprocal, and if it is not reciprocated, it is not friendship.
Secondly, because it is not enough that it be reciprocal; it is also essential that those who love each other recognize their mutual love. If they are unaware of it, it is not friendship.
Thirdly, because in friendship there must exist some kind of exchange or communication, for such is the foundation of friendship.
Catechism 1829: The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.
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