Presence and Sacrifice

Father Cassilly discusses two more characteristics of true friendship: the desire to be in the presence of the beloved and the desire to make sacrifices for the beloved.

As to the first, he draws upon the wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas, who regarded the nature of friendship such that “friends are impelled to seek each other’s company, for the heart desires the presence of the object it loves.”

Father Cassilly adds: “Friendship is best content when basking in the sunshine of the friend’s countenance. It is but pain and duress, said Buddha, to be separated from what we love. Yet, almost irresistibly as one is drawn to the presence and conversation of a friend, this propensity does not constitute the essence of friendship, which is rather to rest in the well-being of another.”

Regarding the desire to makes sacrifices for one’s friend, he writes: “It is characteristic of friendship to make, and wish to make, sacrifices for another. Sunshine friendship, the idle sport of a summer day, endures only so long as it is pleasant and agreeable, and cannot weather the storms of adversity. When the halcyon days of prosperity are gone, and dark clouds shut in the horizon of the soul, and chilling blasts freeze the heart, then is the time when the cheer and warmth of friendship are needed most. To love as long as convenient is but another name for selfishness. But to come to the assistance of another, when it means the sacrifice of ease and comfort, the risking of property, and the braving of the world’s obloquy—this is the part of friendship loyal and true.”

“The inspired writer tells us he is a friend that ‘loveth at all times, and a brother is proved in distress’ (Prov 17:17). Nor does it matter that the object of affection be poor and outcast, but rather the more helpless and pitiable he is the more attentive and solicitous is the friend. And in such circumstances is friendship proved as gold in the furnace.”

“Friendship is everywhere, but it reaches its perfection of growth only in generous natures. Splendid examples of it are scattered through history, and are conserved in sacred and profane literature. Jonathan’s soul was knit to David’s, Ruth would not leave Noemi, and Paul never forgot his spiritual son, Timothy.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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