Monday, August 5, 2013



Photo: R.Massaro (C)2013SpiritSinging
Our Lady of the Elms Convent Akron, Ohio

Friendship plays an important role in the writings of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila).  She desired to make foundations of monasteries, so that she could gain more good friends for Jesus Christ. She exhorted her nuns to be good friends of Jesus. She speaks of true friendship in her writings as "spiritual love."

St. Teresa also warned of the dangers of excess love in friendships. "Particular friendships" in the convent were prohibited.  These were friendships in which a nun sought the company of another, excluding the other sisters.  The nuns were not to greet each other with terms of endearment, such as, " dear, and "sweetheart." St. Teresa instructed her sisters to save these terms of affection for the Beloved, Our Lord.

Speaking of true friendship, St. Teresa describes the person who possesses this gift:

I say once again that spiritual love seems to be imitating that love which the good lover Jesus had for us...These lovers cannot in their hearts be insincere with those they love; if they see them deviate from the path or commit some faults they immediately tell them about it. They cannot help but do so...nor are they going to flatter or hide anything from the other, either that other person mends his ways or the friendship is broken...

When you know some person like this, Sisters, let the Mother prioress diligently strive that he speak with you. Love such persons as much as you like. They must be few, but the Lord does desire that it be known when someone has reached perfection...

This spiritual love is the kind of love I would desire us to have. Even though in the beginning it is not so perfect, the Lord will gradually perfect it. 
The Way of Perfection, Chap. 7, No. 4-5.

Perhaps many people will remember St. Teresa's famous line which illustrates the intimate friendship she enjoyed with the Lord. After she fell in a mud pond, Jesus spoke to her and said, "That is how I treat all my friends." She responded with her wonderful sense of humor, "Perhaps that is why you have so few!"  

Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey, in his classic work, The Spiritual Life, speaks about the Sanctification of Friendship:

Friendship can become a means of sanctification or a serious obstacle to perfection accordingly as it is supernatural or merely natural and sentimental in character.

Three important advantages of true friendship, especially for the priest in the ministry:

1.  A friend is a protection for virtue...We need an equal to whom we can speak with perfect freedom. If we do not find such a one, we are liable to be betrayed into indiscreet disclosures to persons unworthy of our trust...

2.  A friend is also a sympathetic counsellor to whom we willingly bring our doubts and offer our difficulties in order that he may help us to reach a solution. He is likewise a mentor, prudent and devoted, who observing our ways and aware of what is said of us, will tell us the truth and save us from many an act of imprudence.

3.  Lastly, a friend is a comforter who will listen with sympathy to the story of our sorrows, and who will find in his heart words of comfort and encouragement.
The Spiritual Life, Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey, Pg. 285-287.

St. Teresa teaches us that prayer is a conversation between friends, between our soul and the One whom we know loves us, Jesus Christ.  He is our true friend. He is the one who never disappoints or fails us. Let us place all of our trust in him.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

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