This is a topic that is dear to my heart, and I’m very happy that The Christophers have taken up the subject in one of their newest booklets, written by author Mary De Turris Poust, who coincidentally, also wrote Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship.
Here’s a snippet:
The definition of “friendship” has taken some hits in recent years. After all, we live in a world where social media allows us to “friend” or “unfriend” someone with the click of our computer or smartphone. But that’s precisely why face-to-face and heart-to-heart friendship is needed more than ever. These are the times that call for spiritual friendships, the kinds of bonds that reach to a place deep within our souls, far beyond shared interests, book clubs, and shopping dates.
Spiritual friendship is not an invention of our modern times. In fact, we can trace it back into the Old Testament. “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure,” we read in Sirach 6:14. We’re not talking about just any good friend here; we’re talking about a friend whose hunger for spiritual connection, whose journey toward God mirrors our own.
Aelred of Rivealux, a Cistercian monk who lived in the 12th century, wrote the original book on spiritual friendship. His collection of letters was meant to help readers discover the beauty of this kind of soul-to-soul relationship. Five centuries later, St. Francis de Sales took up the mantle and wrote extensively about spiritual friendship in his classic “Introduction to the Devout Life.”
“If the bond of your mutual liking be charity, devotion, and Christian perfection, God knows how very precious a friendship it is! Precious because it comes from God, because it tends to God, because God is the link that binds you, because it will last forever in Him,” wrote St. Francis.
But spiritual friendship is not some remnant of a bygone era. It is alive and well among faithful friends who want to be companions on the spiritual journey through highs and lows, good times and bad, from here to eternity.
There’s a lot of good stuff in this piece, so don’t miss it! I’m also pleased that my book gets mentioned.
Pat Gohn, author of “Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood,” talks about the importance of “spiritual motherhood,” those relationships where a woman—whether biological mother or not—nurtures the spiritual life of another. This is just one of the many incarnations of spiritual friendship available to us today.
Gohn says, “As the parent of a child, we freely pour our love and energy into their growth, even though a child is often not capable of a reciprocal giving back. A spiritual mother willingly gives of herself, and lets her love be planted in another person’s life, investing without expectation of a return, yet leaving the results to God, because God is the source of all our goodness in the first place.”
That same spirit is very much at the heart of spiritual friendship—loving without expecting anything in return, offering without strings attached. And it’s something that flies in the face of what our society tells us. In a world where there’s “no free lunch,” spiritual friendship is counter-cultural. It says, yes, you can give and receive this love, this bond, this communion without fear of indebtedness or guilt.
Read the rest here.