Saturday, January 24, 2015

Some thoughts on Friendship for the Feast of St. Francis De Sales

I'm reading all this stuff on friendship and 'that' particular inclination, which reminded me of something I once copied for another post from Francis De Sales.  I thought it might be a nice followup to yesterday's post.  Forgive me, I took a couple of liberties with the text.
"Whatever is founded on mere sensuality, vanity, or frivolity, is unworthy to be called friendship. I mean such attractions as are purely external; a sweet voice, personal beauty, and the cleverness or outward show which have great weight with some. You will often hear women and young people gay men unhesitatingly decide that such an one is very delightful, very admirable, because he is good-looking, well-dressed, sings, or dances, or talks well. Even charlatans esteem the wittiest clown amongst them as their best man. But all these things are purely sensual, and the connections built on such foundation must be vain and frivolous, more fitly to be called trifling than friendship. They spring up chiefly among young people, and gay men who are easily fascinated by personal attractions, dress, and gossip—friendships in which the tailor and hairdresser have the chief part. How can such friendships be other than short lived, melting away like snow wreaths in the sun!" - St. Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

Too simple?  Perhaps.

There are some who will tell you that you should avoid all special affection or friendship, as likely to engross the heart, distract the mind, excite jealousy, and what not. But they are confusing things. They have read in the works of saintly and devout writers that individual friendships and special intimacies are a great hindrance in the religious life, and therefore they suppose it to be the same with all the world, which is not at all the case. - Ibid

NB: Truth be told, St. Francis De Sales' direction on spiritual friendship is more practical for lay people than the work of St. Aelred... just saying.

Don't listen to me, go to confession and get a spiritual director instead. 


  1. What do you make of John Henry Newman & Ambrose St John + our Lord & St John ? Obviously I'm not suggesting anything untoward - just the "special friendship" thing.

    1. I think it was very Victorian.

      I always say that anything impure - such as the vice that could not be named at that time - would/could never have existed between the two. It was completely unacceptable on any level. Many today want to equate it with gay partnerships - but they are wrong. That said, it seems to me they model chaste, male friendship very well for our day.


    1. Thanks Jackie - I read that again - very good.

    2. This is an interesting read - I picked it up in the com box of John Allen's latest article:

      it's titled: UnEnglish and Unmanly: Anglo-Catholicism and Homosexuality


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