Skip to comments.“True and Living Friendship Can Not Thrive Amid Sin” ~ Saint Francis de Sales and the crisis of post-Christian friendship
Posted on 01/29/2020 10:19:24 AM PST by Antoninus
A lamentable feature of modern post-Christian life in the West is the inability of many people to form strong, lasting friendships. This observation has popped up with increasing frequency in the secular media, particularly as it relates to the Millennial generation. A recent poll that made the rounds last year indicated that 22% of Millennials who responded said that they had no friends at all, 27% said that they had no close friends, and 30% said that they had no best friends.
The article accompanying the poll suggests that social media usage has been a major driver of this phenomenon. Online "friends" may be myriad, but they are also distant and illusorynot really friends at all in the traditional sense. Most young people seem to understand that implicitly.
As families shrink, and young people grow up without knowing the joys of a multitude of siblings and cousins, this lack of friends means that more and more people are feeling isolated, lonely and are lacking any sort of social safety net to help them when they encounter financial, health, or emotional problems.
But this sad dilemma should not be left at the doorstep of social media alone. Rather, I posit that the problem is at least partially due to a general loss of the traditional Christian virtues as a given among most people, and the tendency to fill that void by congregating together based on vain and trivial interests or worse, outright sinful desires and activities. As St. Francis de Sales taught in his excellent work, Philothea: Introduction to the Devout Life, such trivialities can never form the basis of a true friendships. Instead, true friendship requires that we bear with the trivial, actively discourage the sinful, and encourage virtue in our friends. It should go without saying that the same should be true of married couples and family members.
In Philothea, Saint Francis explains the difference between true and false friendship in great detail:
Friendship demands very close correspondence between those who love one another, otherwise it can never take root or continue. And together with the interchange of friendship, other things imperceptibly glide in, and a mutual giving and receiving of emotions and inclinations takes place; especially when we esteem the object of our love very highly, because then we so entirely open our heart to him, that his influence rules us altogether, whether for good or evil.The distorted modern concept of love is often rendered as being unconditional and all-accepting. That is, we are enjoined to demonstrate our love for each other by accepting, celebrating, or even adopting the faults and sins of our friends and family members. Saint Francis continues, saying, to the contrary:
Of course we should love him notwithstanding his faults, but without loving those faults. True friendship implies an interchange of what is good, not what is evil .Saint Gregory Nazianzen tells us how certain persons who loved and admired Saint Basil were led to imitate even his external blemishes, his slow, abstracted manner of speaking, the cut of his beard, and his peculiar gait. And so we see husbands and wives, children, friends, who, by reason of their great affection for one another, acquireeither accidentally or designedlymany foolish little ways and tricks peculiar to each. This ought not to be, for everyone has enough imperfections of their own without adding those of anybody else, and friendship requires no such thing. On the contrary, it rather constrains us to help one another in getting rid of all sorts of imperfections. Of course we should bear with our friend's infirmities, but we should not encourage them, much less copy them.It should be pointed out that St. Francis is only talking about small flaws herepersonal idiosyncrasies and imperfections. As to actual sinful behaviors and desires, he speaks without any equivocation: these should never be encouraged or tolerated in our friends. To do so renders the friendship a perverse fiction that can not be maintained without considerable self-deception:
Of course, I am speaking of imperfections only, for, as to sins, we must neither imitate nor tolerate these in our friends. That is but a sorry friendship which would see a friend perish, and not try to save him, would watch him dying of an abscess without daring to handle the knife of correction which would save him. True and living friendship cannot thrive amid sin....Friendship will banish a casual sin by brotherly correction, but if the sin be persistent, friendship dies outit can only live in a pure atmosphere.
As to those who attempt to lead their friends into sinful behavior, St. Francis says adamantly that we should not consider anyone who does so a friend:
Much less can true friendship ever lead any one into sin. Our friend becomes an enemy if he seeks to do so, and deserves to lose our friendship, and there is no surer proof of the hollowness of friendship than its profession between evil-doers. If we love a vicious person, our friendship will be vicious too. It will be like those to whom it is given. Those who draw together for mere temporal profit, have no right to call their union friendship. It is not for love of one another that they unite, but for love of gain. [de Sales: Philothea, Part III, Chapter 22]In a previous chapter, St. Francis describes what a true friendship should look like:
Love every one with the pure love of charity, but have friendship only with those whose interactions are good and true, and the purer the bond which unites you so much higher will your friendship be. If your relationship is based on science it is praiseworthy, still more if it arises from a participation in goodness, prudence, justice and the like. But 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. Truly it is a blessed thing to love on earth as we hope to love in Heaven, and to begin that friendship here which is to endure for ever there. I am not now speaking of simple charity, a love due to all mankind, but of that spiritual friendship which binds souls together, leading them to share devotions and spiritual interests, so as to have but one mind between them. Such as these may well cry out, Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity! [de Sales: Philothea, Part III, Chapter 22]Today, January 29, is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales on the traditional calendar. This great saint and Doctor of the Church had many profound things to say about friendship, love, and other aspects of life that are sadly forgotten today. Click here to read more from his Philothea: Introduction to the Devout Life.
Of course, this is a book that every Catholic should have on their bookshelves, so go ye and order a copy here.
I just returned from noon Latin mass where we celebrated St. Francis de Sales’ feast day. One of may favorites!
St. Francis de Sales ora pro nobis
Our priest explained that St. Francis de Sales had converted thousands back to the faith from Calvinism when he was Bishop of Geneva.
I’m not catho0lic- but I’ll post something relevant here- The bible states that if we ‘regard iniquity’ (Keep sinning without trying to turn from it with God’s help, ie we keep gossiping, getting angry unjustly, speaking evil of others, sexual sins, steal, whatever those sins may be), God will not hear us- period- We may as well not even pray because God won’t hear us- and our relationship with Him is severely hampered by this-
God is serious about sin- He aint joking- We though dont’ take sin anywhere nearly as serious as we should, and think we are living in a close relationship to God when in reality He doesn’t even hear us when we have unconfessed sin in our lives that we refuse to deal with
We call it mortal sin. You can't do anything of any spiritual worth whatsoever when you're in mortal sin, because the sin --- unresisted and unrepented --- contaminates everything you do and everything it touches.
You can say "But I talk to God!!!!!" when in reality, like the self-satisfied Pharisee in the parable, you're actually just talking to yourself.
Only a mighty act of mercy from God will shake you up so that you can even (1) have the light to *see* and repent that sin, and (2) have the strength to confess it and be joined to Christ's infinite atoning work. "Take up your cross and follow Me."
But fortunately Calvin brought even more catholics into the Jansenist movement which gave them a true understanding of the Jesus of scripture.
I've read about him since I was a teenager. It's a wonderful feast day for a wonderful saint but it's NOT new.
***If the Catholic Church had been SO wrong and SO bad the ensuing Protestant Reformation SHOULD have formed ONE movement exclusive of the Catholic Church.
***Instead there are a myriad of Protestant teachings with every new Reformer that came along.
***I thought that BEING UNITED was the ideal. Being scattered into different denominations isn't UNITY at all. It seems to be even MORE scattered than BEFORE the Protestant Reformation.
***The Bible does NOT teach that whole categories of doctrines are "minor" and that Christians freely and joyfully can disagree in such a fashion. Denominationalism and divisions are vigorously condemned.
The only conclusion we can reach from the Bible is what we call the "three-legged stool: Bible, Church and Tradition are all necessary to arrive at truth."
Look up "A Quick Ten-Step Refutation of Sola Scriptura" if you like. One of the FReepers posted it. You can Google it and see for yourself.
As opposed to the myriad of catholic teachings which are generally just made up on the spot and called Traditions
Lol. You wouldn't know the difference between a teaching and a tradition if it came up and kicked you in the shins.
I dont have to know, I can just make it up like the papists do.
It was just a comment, not meant personally.
And yet the Catholic Church doesn't believe it matters whether or not one believes in total Biblical inerrancy, Adam and Eve, Jonah, Daniel, Noah, etc.
You're sure one to talk.
WHY, oh WHY do you care SO MUCH about what the Catholic Church believes or doesn't believe? What's it to you?
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