Monday, October 18, 2004

Christian Heritage - October 17 & 18

The Joys of Friendship - October 17

"What can be more pleasant than to be spiritually so closely united to another, so completely one, that no arrogance is to be feared, no suspicion dreaded! Correction of one another causes no pain, nor does praise bring a charge of flattery. A friend, says the Wise Man, is the medicine of life. That is well said, for no other medicine is as powerful and efficacious where temporal ills are concerned as to have someone hastening to us with sympathy when anything goes wrong and congratulating us when things go well. So, shoulder to shoulder, the two bear each other's burdens, each one thinking that his own is lighter than that of his friend. In this way friendship heightens the joys of prosperity and mitigates the sorrows of adversity by dividing and sharing them.

"In friendship are joined virtue and pleasure, truth and enjoyment, sweetness and goodwill, feeling and doing, all of which take their beginning from Christ, grow through Christ, and are perfected in Christ. It should not therefore seem too hard or unnatural to ascend from Christ who fills us with the love we have for our friend to Christ who gives himself to us as a friend to be loved, so that pleasure follows upon pleasure, sweetness upon sweetness, affection upon affection. And thus, friend cleaving to friend in a Christian spirit becomes one with him in heart and soul, and by the steps of love rises to friendship with Christ and becomes one spirit with him."

Aelred of Rievaulx (AD 1109-1167), Spiritual Friendship.p; PL 195, 669-672

Aelred was a member of the Cistercian Order who later became abbot of Rievaulx and was noted for his theological and spiritual writings. His celebration of friendship makes him a kindred spirit with Augustine of Hippo.

Luke, the Evangelist - October 18

"Having followed the far-famed Paul in his countless tribulations on land and sea, the venerable Luke is well deserved to be praised by him. Since this evangelist of the Lord earned the commendation of so great an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles, surely it is not too much to say that he deserves the praise of everyone. Let us praise him then, beloved, together with the apostle. With one voice, heart, and tongue let us extol him, proclaiming him a true physician of souls sent by God. The whole burden of his teaching seems to be nothing other than a medicine for ailing souls.

"The gospel is called the good news because it tells of the kingdom that follows toil, the life that follows death. If you love God, the gospel is written for you. And if it is written for you, accept this most precious pearl, the gift of the evangelist, and carefully guard in the depths of your heart this pledge of a friend. O what a gift, what a pledge, if you stop to think, reflect, and deeply ponder! And if with great vigilance you pay good heed to it, it will bring you happily to the joy that lasts for ever, where you will exult unceasingly with the choirs of angels."

Paul the Deacon (AD 730-799), Hom. LIX: PL 95, 1530-1532

Paul was a monk of Monte Cassino and is noted for his history of the Lombards. While at Aix he wrote a collection of homilies for Charlemagne.

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