Pick your friendships well

Not too long ago I wrote about the rarity of a certain sort of close friendship. St. Francis de Sales takes up the same (or at least a similar) subject in Introduction to the Devout Life.

‘Perfect friendship cannot be extended to a great many persons.’ Perfection therefore consists, not in having no friendship, but in having none but with such as are good, saint-like, and holy. (III.19)

I wrote that we do not get many opportunities for what de Sales calls perfect friendships. St. Francis tells us they’re rare because we can’t have them with everybody even if we wanted to. We’re finite after all. This being so, it only makes sense that we should seek such friendships with people who make us better than we are: people who help us to live well and to live more holy lives. Why is that? Why does that matter?

A friend becomes an enemy when he would lead us to sin; and he deserves to lose his friend when he would destroy his soul. (III.22)

We need friends who will help us to lead godly lives. The more time we spend with such friends, the better. That is why St. Francis encourages us to seek “perfect friendships” with “good, saint-like” people. People who don’t bring out the best in us may bring out the worst in us instead.

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Posted in Charity, Etc, Saints

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