Tag Archives: Friendship

The Value of Ecclesial Friendship

Though it is a busy semester, one of my joys is a small community I am part of here in Edmonton known as Communion and Liberation.   Though lately it has been difficult for me to attend meetings due to the priorities of seminary life and prayer, I did find time this past weekend to join them for Mass and a meal.

I had not planned to stay too late that night, but ended up staying an hour longer than intended.  Over the course of the evening, our conversation moved from the happenings of our lives, to serious theological topics, to questions of discernment, to simple world and secular events.  Yet the Person of Jesus was the unifying focus of all our conversation.  Indeed, I have discovered that in that community I have real friendship, that there is a real care for the other, a delight and love for the other simply as other.  What unites us is an ecclesial friendship, that is, a friendship that is centered around Christ and is lived as a miniature communion that reflects the communion of the Church.  In this group I realize questions that affect my destiny, that allow me to engage in the struggles and trials of my life, and, most importantly, it is a group that constantly challenges me to recognize the Presence of Christ in all that I am and that I do.  I am challenged to accept the reality that is given in front of me and to embrace what Christ has given me.  In short, I find myself constantly challenged to live the beauty of my Christianity by the support and love of these friends.

I find, at times, that the word ‘friend’ has been greatly diminished in our culture.  I myself even use it too flippantly at times.  Yet we must have a certain reverence in front of such a word, for the Lord uses it in a strikingly deep way when He says “I no longer call you servants, but friends.”.  The word is not flippant, it denotes an intimacy that most friendships lack.  In other words, most friends are not really friends, they are acquaintances.  Recently, one of my friends from CL (the abbreviation we use for the movement) e-mailed me and was getting me in contact with others from the movement, encouraging me to be in touch with them so that I may develop friendships with them.  I was really moved by the use of the word ‘friend’ because it was not being used irreverently.  It was being used with devotion, awe.  Friendship, as the movement sees it, is deeply sacred and beautiful because through it we are made into the images of Christ we are called to be.

It helps me, then, to realize that I cannot always be ‘friends’ with everyone because friendship is sacred and therefore demands work.  Friendship is to be beautiful and beauty demands effort, attention, time, space.  In short, it demands devotio.  By this I mean a real dedication of self to an other.  This does not entail copious amounts of time spent with the other – I have friends in the true sense of the word who I may only see once or twice a year, if that – yet the time is done with great devotion with an aim towards creating something beautiful for God.

Yet, unfortunately, our culture lacks this true friendship and it is something that is so beautiful, that we long for in a deep way.  It is in image of the intimate friendship we have with the Lord and is always for the upbuilding of the other.  If our friendships do not have an aspect of ‘building up’, then there is something lacking and we may want to re-evaluate our dedication to that friendship.  But we need friends, true friends, whom we can be with in the Lord, with whom we can constantly talk about the true state of our hearts, our desires, disappointments, and all of it centered in the Lord.

I have learned what it means to be a friend from the movement because it images the friendship the Lord has with us.

in Christ

-Harrison

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Holy Friendship

Today we have another guest post, written by a good friend of mine, Madeleine Gubbels.  She has given me permission to re-post her blog entry here.  The original post can be found here.

The idea of holy friendship is one that is, unfortunately, lost in a society where “friend” is something achieved by adding a person to your facebook account after one brief encounter.  Friendship is meant to be much more than that.  I hope your reading below about Bls. Jordan and Diana will aid you, too, in finding and deepening true friendship with others.

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United in Christ: Bl. Jordan of Saxony & Bl. Diana d’Andalo

By: Madeleine Gubbels

“You are so deeply engraven on my heart that the more I realize how truly you love me from the depths of your soul, the more incapable I am of forgetting you and the more constantly you are in my thoughts; for your love of me moves me profoundly, and makes my love for you burn more strongly.”

You will probably be surprised to learn that those words were written to a Dominican nun from a Dominican priest in the thirteenth century. You may be even more surprised to learn that their relationship was nothing like that of Abelard and Heloise or of Martin Luther and Katherine von Bora. Indeed, the love between Bl. Jordan of Saxony and Bl. Diana d’Andalo burned ever passionately but ever chastely from the day they met until the day they died—and beyond! As Jordan wrote to her again:

…Why are you thus anguished? Am I not yours, am I not with you: yours in labour, yours in rest; yours when I am with you, yours when I am far away; yours in prayer, yours in merit, yours too, as I hope, in the eternal reward? …were I to die you would not be losing me; you would be sending me before you to [heaven], that I abiding there might pray for you to the Father and so be of much greater use to you there, living with the Lord, than here in this world where I die all the day long.
What an unusual pair of lovers! It is not often that the Church has seen a celibate couple bound to each other with such strength of love, though Francis and Claire of Assisi, and Jane de Chantal and Francis de Sales, spring to mind. Their relationship challenges us: how can a love between a man and a woman be so intense yet so disinterested, so detached?

The answer (as for all things good) lies in Christ: Diana and Jordan found mirrored in each other a love for Christ, a desire for heaven, and a passion for souls that matched their own. With this foundation, their love for each other knew no bounds—and it only strengthened their dedication to Christ and their service to Him as consecrated religious.

Jordan and Diana are a refreshing reminder that the complementary vocation to the married vocation, that of celibacy, is by no means a renunciation of love, even human love. They are also a reminder that all of our love must first belong to Christ and then to those around as, according to the vocations He has called us to.

And what do you know, Bl. Jordan’s feast day is the day before St. Valentine’s Day.

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For more information on these two extraordinary lovers in Christ see:
http://godzdogz.op.org/2010/02/blessed-jordan-of-saxony-and-his-love.html
http://www.domcentral.org/trad/dianajordan.htm

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