Here and in the following posts, we shall be reading excerpts from The Friendship of Christ by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914). This book explores aspects of a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ and is based on sermons Benson preached in London and Rome. This edition bears an imprimatur from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, dated 1912.
Father Benson states: “The emotion of friendship is amongst the most mighty and the most mysterious of human instincts. . . . It is not a manifestation of sex, for David can cry to Jonathan ‘Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women’; it is not a sympathy arising from common interests, for the sage and the fool can form a friendship at least as strong as any between two sages or two fools; it is not a relationship based on the exchange of ideas, for the deepest friendships thrive better in silence than in speech. ‘No man is truly my friend,’ says Maeterlinck, ‘until we have each learned to be silent in one another’s company.'”
“And this mysterious thing is as mighty as it is mysterious. . . . On its own plane, it also ‘beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, . . . seeketh not her own, . . . is not puffed up’ (1 Cor 13:4-7).”
“On the other hand, there is hardly any experience more subject to disillusionment. . . . When my friend fails me at a crisis or when I fail my friend, there is hardly any bitterness in life so bitter. . . . While friendship itself has an air of eternity about it, seeming to transcend all natural limits, there is hardly any emotion so utterly at the mercy of time. We form friendships, and grow out of them.”
“Here then is one of the more princely passions which, while feeding upon earthly things are continuously dissatisfied with them; . . . since in its instance it is impossible to resolve it into earthly elements, points to eternity only for the place of its satisfaction, and to the Divine Love for the answering of its human needs. . . . There is but one supreme friendship to which all human friendships point; one Ideal Friend in whom we find perfect and complete that for which we look in type and shadow in the faces of our human lovers.”
Quotations from Robert Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912).