A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

The Value of Friendship

Posted on: March 4, 2013

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11*)

I remember that my grandmother used to go out for lunch once a week with her friends. Some of them had known one another since they were young women—and they laughed and talked as though they still were. And my mother still keeps in touch by phone, mail and e-mail with some friends from her teen years and from military bases my father was posted to. They seem to pick right up where they left off the last time they talked.

Today many of us rush from home to work to home to kids’ activities to home again. We may spend a few minutes along the way on social media sites or on the phone with friends, or perhaps we chat after church or a fitness class, but we don’t really scratch below the surface of one another’s lives.

So much pressure falls on us to succeed, keep busy and give our kids every opportunity to pursue their interests that we can easily forget to work on keeping friendships alive…until a family member falls ill and we lack someone to lean on. Or we struggle with some phase in our kids’ lives and have no one to compare notes with. And many people don’t live in or even near their hometown these days, so it’s not unusual to live in a new town and not know a soul.

Then our need to connect with friends hits us—hard.

I think we underestimate the value of friendship, but I believe this to be true:

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. – St. Thomas Aquinas, quoted in The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd Edition

The Bible tells us that we need the support of good friends:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

And the Bible features stories about friendship, as Karol Ladd and Terry Ann Kelly point out in The Power of a Positive Friend. Here are just a few examples of friends who were loyal and supportive of one another in very difficult circumstances:

  • The books of 1 and 2 Samuel: Jonathan, son of King Saul, protected his friend David, the future king of Israel, and David showed kindness to Jonathan’s son.
  • The book of Ruth: Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth refused to return to her own people after her husband died, travelled to Israel with Naomi, and worked to care for the two of them.
  • The gospel according to Luke: Mary and her cousin Elizabeth supported one another when young Mary was expecting Jesus and Elizabeth was expecting John the Baptist late in life.

Voices of the Saints: A 365-Day Journey With Our Spiritual Companions also gives many examples of friendship among the saints, including Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, John Fisher and Thomas More, and Raymond of Capua and Catherine of Siena.

With examples such as these, how can we ignore our own need for friends to laugh and cry with, and to be witnesses to our lives?

(*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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