Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On friendship.



Praying for a friend?

A friend told me not long ago that he was praying to find a good friend - or just any friend.  He's SSA and  strives to live a chaste, celibate life - and it gets lonely and boring at times.  All single men and women know how that goes.

Anyway, he prayed and evidently God listened.  A man from the Men's Club at his parish came up and asked him to join.  Some other guy may have come along as well - I can't recall the details.  Long story short - he wasn't sure he'd be a good fit for the Men's Club, and the other guy - wasn't a good fit... maybe even not his 'type'.  Long story short - he felt he might not fit in, or feared he wouldn't be accepted - and I'm just guessing here - when they realized he was SSA, they might reject him or keep him at arms length.  (I may be reading too much into it - maybe not.)

I told my friend that I know the feeling.  I was just like that.  I prayed so often for a good friend, who understood and accepted me - someone simpatico.  Someone who would accept me just as I am and could be a good prayer buddy, a BFF.  I surveyed the landscape, looking for a healthy, balanced, normal friend to hang out with, to be a support to live chastely, and so on.

Just like my friend, God sent along some really great guys to hang out with.  But they weren't the type of friends I expected.  This guy was too old, that guy too simple.  This guy was really conservative, that guy too liberal.  One guy was a recovering alcoholic - that couldn't work out well if I wanted to stop someplace for a drink.  Another guy wasn't very sophisticated, not very cool, you know ...

Years ago I was invited to be part of the Young Adults Group - but I didn't think I'd fit in.  A few years later a guy asked me if I'd like to join the Men's Club.  Again, it just wasn't a good fit, you know what I'm saying?

What I figured out later, and tried to explain to my friend, God sent the friends - and ample opportunities for friendship and even 'community'.  I just didn't accept the opportunities God provided.  They didn't meet my standards.

Joey and Ross nap - "Friends"


So what did I want?

Just a buddy.  Maybe someone just like me.  A friend to hang out with, meet after Mass, maybe get together for a few drinks - maybe go out night clubbing once in awhile ... Someone who looked like an Abercrombie and Fitch model maybe?  Polo would do.  Know what I'm saying?

I know it now - but I wouldn't admit it then.  As they say, if I knew then what I know now... if I could turn back time.

So maybe my friend, who feels like 'friendless in Seattle', really has the opportunity to have a good friend, but the candidates just don't suit him?  It doesn't mean God didn't send them.  I think he knows that.  It's how 'we' grow - we have to go through this stuff, you know?

The following is a story from the Desert Fathers which may help explain more simply what I've tried to say here:

A brother said to great hermit, 'Abba, I want to find a monk who agrees with me and I'll live and die with him.'  The Abba said, 'Your search is good, my lord.'  The brother repeated what he wanted, not understanding the irony of the hermit.  But when the hermit saw that he really thought this was a good idea, he said to him, 'If you find a monk after your own heart, do you plan to live with him?'  The brother said, 'Yes, of course I want this, if I can find one who agrees with me.'  Then the hermit said to him, 'You do not want to follow the will of anyone, you want to follow your own will, and that is why you will be at peace with him.'  Then the brother saw the sense of what he said, and prostrated himself in penitence, saying, 'Forgive me, I was very proud of myself, I though I was saying something good, when in fact there was nothing good about it at all.' - The Desert Fathers on Discretion

What?



Song for this post here.

20 comments:

  1. +JMJ+

    I'm reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein now, and one of its themes is friendship. (Yes, that surprises me, too.) Shelley's characters have a very Romantic view of ideal friendship (note the big "R") and it's very close to what you wanted years ago. One of them imagines that a truly good friend would be "gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans." He adds later, "I greatly need a friend who would have sense enough not to despise me as romantic, and affection enough for me to endeavour to regulate my mind." And well, it made sense to me. There are things in those lines which bother me, but I can't put my finger on them yet . . . and while I can't, they do seem to describe what good friends do for each other. Or maybe just what I want good friends to do for each other. =P

    It seems that I should be reading the Desert Fathers at the same time, as a guard against all that swoony Romanticism!

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    1. Shelly's Frankenstein is a hard read so good for you and it is surprising that it themes make Karloff and Company look like kids playing (though I do love Universal's non scary scary monsters.) I prefer Dracula which is a much easier read and and a good take on a plucky group of friends willing to face down great evil. But then it also includes Stokers kind of weird hidden sexual fever dreams so...

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    2. E - That's it! I'm Dr. Frakenstein and my friends turned out to be monsters!

      No - I'm the monster - filled with loneliness and regret ...

      No - I'm Igor.

      What?

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    3. All kidding aside - I'm Walton - no, I'm Frakenstein.

      Enbrethiliel - your post is providential - it fills in the blanks of what I was describing - kinda.

      From your post:

      "And we first see this longing for a true companion in the loneliness of Robert Walton, who lives and works among men whom he admires but cannot truly consider his peers.

      . . . I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy, and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil, I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection. I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend. I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans. How would such a friend repair the faults of your poor brother! I am too ardent in execution and too impatient of difficulties."

      Thanks for your insights..

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    4. +JMJ+

      Mack -- Frankenstein is my latest readalong novel, and I actually let my readers choose between it and Dracula! The vote was very close. =)

      Terry -- Thanks for reading. And I'm Igor, remember? ;-) If we're assigning characters, you're definitely Frankenstein, warning others so that they don't make the same mistakes.

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    5. That's right! I forgot you are Igor. Haha!

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    6. Terry, I see you more as Frau Blücher!

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    7. Well if you are going by the characters in Young Frankenstein, I think I'm definitely Inspector Kemp.

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  2. You know it's funny, but if I looked for someone like me as a spouse, I never would have married my husband. He's an engineer; I'm an English major. He's a sports' nut. The only games I want to watch have my kids or grandkids playing in them. He's quiet; somewhat introverted. I'm an extrovert. I'm a choleric- melancholic personality; he's a cross between sanguine and phlegmatic. But there is no one on the planet I respect more or would rather have for a friend.

    People who share the same fundamental values can almost always find common ground on which to build a friendship. On the other hand, I think those who expect to have hundreds of friends don't know what friendship is. I have only a few whom I would call friends of the heart. I have other friends, but I would not call them to share a deep joy or a deep grief. "A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure." Read Sirach 6: 5-17 for the best advice on friendship.

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    1. I think you have a blessed life! I really do.

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    2. I do! And I feel blessed in many of my internet acquaintances from whom I learn so much. You are one of the most insightful ones. Thank you.

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    3. That is extremely kind - many thanks.

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  3. "Just like my friend, God sent along some really great guys to hang out with. But they weren't the type of friends I expected. This guy was too old, that guy too simple. This guy was really conservative, that guy too liberal. One guy was a recovering alcoholic - that couldn't work out well if I wanted to stop someplace for a drink. Another guy wasn't very sophisticated, not very cool, you know ... "

    Geez Terry, ga....uh SSA guys are alike no matter if they are celibate.... or sexually active.."someone better will come along!" : )

    Anybody would be happy to have a friend like you Terry..though you remind me of a friend of mine who is somewhat of a loner (I know that conjures up images of a weirdo making a bomb in his basement but I don't think its bad.) and okay with it. I have to remember not to push to much with him to do things, come over for dinner, or a party and meet new people or he snaps back..."Everyone's not like you Marcia Brady!" So different people bring different things to your life.

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    1. I think I grew out of that stuff quite awhile back - but when my friend mentioned his situation I thought back to how I used to be... kind of a superficial jerk. Haha! That's the reason for painful purifications and dark nights.

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  4. Every time I invite you to go clubbing,you whine that there isn't a disco ball and they never play Gloria Gaynor.


    What?

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    1. That's true Nana, that's true.

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  5. Since I've been in the Church my friends in the faith have typically been women 10-30 years my senior. It's difficult to find Christian men who want to talk about and explore the faith, as well as share their own spiritual journey. Too many men are too much like... ummm... men. So I didn't last long with the Knights of Columbus.

    Maybe your friend should explore something like the street apostolate that I do. I've found that deep friendships come from shared struggles or profound experiences, and some of the more radical ministries offer that--like Forty Days for Life or maybe St. Paul Street Ministries. One guy joined me in the apostolate (at least in part) because of the friendship issue. Of course we basically agree on everything--even the Third Secret. We're the trad branch of the Jesus Caritas family. LOL

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    1. That's a great idea - really. I think he's part of Courage as well - so that works too.

      The real point of the post is that we might pray for the perfect friend but the friend is in our own image or some ideal - and we really just want things our way. The main point is expressed in the Desert Father's story.

      That said - going outside ourselves - reaching out as you do is perfect. As the saying goes, 'if you want a friend, be a friend.'

      Thanks Scott!

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  6. My four year old grandson was in a supermarket in Rome with his mother recently when an announcement came over the tannoy that it was the feast day of San Tomasso.

    As he shares the same name the child asked his mother, “Who is San Tommaso?”

    “He’s a friend of Jesus” she responded.

    “Does that mean I’m a friend of Jesus as well? asked little Tomasso.

    “Of course,” answered the boy’s mother.

    And now the little Tommaso happily tells people he meets that he’s a friend of Jesus!

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    1. I love that! What a sweet kid!

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