. what about friends? How do they fit into a devout life?
hen I was in Mexico a few years
ago, doing free work to help build a website for some nuns, the Mother Foundress
put her arms around me as I left. She leaned her forehead against mine, and
we stayed that way in contemplative silence for a few minutes.
Then she said, I love
Understanding that this was spoken
by a nun, I replied, And I love those who love Christ more than they
Now, many persons can get confused about
friendships when they read about saints and mystics of the past who spoke about having
scorn for creatures. To modern ears, this sounds cruel and inhuman because it seems to
contradict the command to love our neighbors. But really there is no contradiction.
psychological language,scorning creatures means simply to not put
our identity into relationships we have with other persons.
Its not really other persons (creatures) themselves that are
scorned, its the manipulation of others for our own benefit that is scorned.
When we scorn creatures we stop using them to satisfy for our own needs and we
turn our attention to God as our ultimate and only source of indentity.
Therefore, I dont seek out friends for
personal fulfillment, but I do have friends
with whom I share my love of Christ. And in this I have one rule: sharing
can never fall into expectancy or it will destroy itself.
This rule really derives from
a mystical understanding of Gods gifts: God gives us many gifts, not
for our personal benefit, but to help us do His will. We must accept these
gifts as they are given, when they are given, without expecting them. We
can ask for them in our need, yesand then we must wait
patiently for God to do what He
so it is with friends. We turn to Christ for all our needs; we seek His Kingdom
before all else. When a friend needs help, we give whatever God gives us
to give, according to Gods will. And when God gives us scattered time
for mutual sharing with a friend, free of all expectancy and demandlike
wildflowers in a meadowwe rejoice.
Nevertheless, all friendship
must be like Saint John the Baptist pointing to the Cross: Him, not
Even the most intimate bonds of friendship
and the closest affinity of minds cannot truly lay claim to . . . peace if they are not in
agreement with the will of God. Alliances based on evil desires, covenants of crime and
pacts of viceall lie outside the scope of this peace. Love of the world cannot be
reconciled with love of God, and the man who does not separate himself from the children
of this generation cannot join the company of the sons of God. But those who keep God ever
in their hearts, and are anxious to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace,
never dissent from the eternal law as they speak the prayer of faith. Thy will be done on
earth as it is in heaven.
From a sermon by Saint Leo
the Great, pope
Office of Readings, Monday,
Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time