Father Cassilly writes: “Nowhere is the clinging nature of the heart more beautifully displayed than in family life, where husband, wife and children are bound together with the strong cords of affection. In the family has been cradled all that is best and fairest in human aspiration and achievement, and round it cluster the fragrant memories of what is purest and most sacred in each one’s life.”
“But family affections, wide and absorbing as they are, do not exhaust man’s capacity for loving. He seems forced to go beyond its pale and find other kindred souls, on which to lavish his affections.” Here Father Cassilly begins to explore that type of love we call friendship, which “so many of the world’s greatest minds and pens have employed themselves.”
He remarks: “Poets have sung its praises and sages endeavored to plumb its depths, but it ever remains a new and entrancing subject of delight to young generations. No one is satisfied with hearing or reading of it, each would test and experience it for himself. . . . Even inspired writers are impelled to speak of friendship, and when they touch the subject there is an unwonted glow and warmth to their pen. We are told by one of them that a steadfast friend ‘shall be to thee as thyself’ (Sir 6:11), that ‘a faithful friend is a strong defence’ (Sir 6:14), and we are warned not to forsake an old friend, for the new will not be like him until first mellowed with age like rich, old wine (Sir 9:14-15).”
“To understand what is meant by a friend ought not to be difficult, since the word is found in frequent use in all languages and amongst all peoples, and hence must represent one of the early concepts of the mind. One who performs a kindly deed is said to act in a kind or friendly manner, and if he frequently repeats such actions so as to evidence an habitual attitude of disinterested good-will toward another, he is ordinarily styled a friend. It is true that one may be moved to confer a benefit by some selfish motive, by self-interest or the hope of an equivalent return, but such conduct does not merit the name of friendship. The true friend forgets self and thinks only of the welfare of the other. Friendship then requires one to think kindly of another, to esteem him and wish him well, and so is based on love.”
Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).