God is our true Friend
his Confessions (Conf. 8, 6, 15), St. Augustine tells a
story that was related to him by an eyewitness, a story that helped to
bring about his conversion. Two
friends, who served in the court of the Emperor at Trier and courted his
friendship, retired one day to an outlying garden house.
There on the table they found a copy of the life of St. Anthony.
One of them read it, was touched by its contents and said to the
other: “Tell me, I pray thee, just what do we wish to attain with all
these efforts? What are we
seeking? Why do we serve in
the army? Can we have any
greater goal in the palace than to become friends of the Emperor? And then what is there that is not perishable and full of
danger? And through how many
dangers must we ascend to a greater danger?
And when shall we attain it? But
if I wish to be a friend of God, behold, I can do so in a moment.” These words, spoken out of the depth of his soul, made a
great impression on the other, and both immediately resolved to leave the
court and seek in quiet retirement the friendship of the highest Lord,
which lasts forever.
imitate these wise men. And
if we do not leave the world entirely, as they did, let us trouble
ourselves at least to prize the friendship of God highly than the
friendship of the world. Let
us strive, according to the fundamental law of friendship, to unite
ourselves with God, as He unites Himself with us, to become like Him, as
He has made Himself like us and wishes to make us like Himself.
He has united Himself to us so intimately only that we may be, as
true friends, of one mind, one will, one heart, and one spirit with Him.
will the same things and to reject the same things, that is true
friendship,” according to an ancient philosopher. (Sallust. Catil.
20). Let our aim be to will
only what God wills and to love only what He loves.
For we can repay His love in no other way since we cannot raise Him
up and enrich Him, as He has exalted and enriched His friends.
is one of the greatest needs and one of the most exalted blessings of the
human heart; to love and to be loved is man’s desire and happiness.
The heart of man is so lonely that it must seek another heart
outside of itself, to which it may attach itself and in which it may
confide. It cannot rest until
it has found another heart that will share its sentiments and have
compassion on its sufferings. It
becomes then one with such a heart, so that they both seem to beat with
one pulsation. Therefore we
esteem ourselves fortunate when we have found such a heart.
Holy Scripture itself says: “Blessed is he that findeth a true
friend.” (Ecclus. 25-12).
yet we never find perfect contentment here.
The heart of our fellow man, no matter how noble and lovable, is
always weak and imperfect, and it likewise seeks its consolation and
happiness in our own heart. Though
the two give mutual support to one another, yet they are too narrow to be
sufficient to themselves and therefore too weak to weather all storms.
a happiness for us if we should find a heart that, itself infinitely noble
and lovable, could penetrate our own and make it one wit itself, a heart
that could give us along with itself all that we desire!
a heart you find, Christian soul, in your Lord and God, when you are
united to Him by grace. His
divine heart comes so near to yours that it penetrates it and the two are
melted into one, which then only one soul, one spirit vivifies.
And this heart is at the same time the highest good, containing in
itself every good, every beauty, everything amiable.
All the love, all the sweetness that is in all the hearts in Heaven
and on earth is found united in this heart-and infinitely more.
this heart alone is that entirely true which Holy Scripture says of true
friends: “A faithful friend is a strong defense: and he that hath found
him, hath found a treasure. Nothing
can be compared to a faithful friend and no weight of gold and silver is
able to countervail the goodness of his fidelity.
A faithful friend is the medicine of life and immortality.” (Ecclus.
is a friend who is present to you, not merely from time to time, but who
remains with you always, if you do not drive Him from you (by committing
mortal sin). God is a friend, not merely that you can press to your heart
at times, but whom you have dwelling in your heart continually.
God is a friend to whom you do not have to express your sentiments
by words; He understands and feels every beat of your heart.
You can reveal yourself entirely to Him, even more so than to
yourself. He understands and
fathoms all your needs, your wishes and your feelings, better than you
yourself. He is a friend who
has no faults, but He does have all perfection; a friend whose nearness to
you is so much the more lovable and delightful the longer you enjoy His
friendship. His conversation
hath no bitterness, nor His company any tediousness.
(Cf. Wis. 8:16). And
do you prize so little this one Friend and His friendship, to which grace
introduces you, that you seek refuge in strangers rather than in Him?
Will you not attach yourself and give your heart to this great and
only Friend, as He has given His to you?
How cruel you are to yourselv, not to mention ungrateful toward
Glories of Divine Grace by Fr. Matthias J. Scheeben (1835-1888),
translated from German by Fr. Patrick Shaughnessay, O.S.B., published by
Tan Books & Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, 2000)