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"Friendship" by Danielle Heckencamp (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: Pixabay.com (2016), CC0/PD.[/caption] In today’s world, if is often assumed that relationships survive on personal gain, a selfish form of love. But that is not true. Perfect love can only be grown through self-sacrificing acts. It would be naïve of us to ignore this important aspect in relation to love. When we contemplate the Passion of Our Lord, or the Nativity, or the Annunciation, we cannot avoid the presence of an everlasting, selfless love given by Our Lord and Our Lady. Every saint also strove to emulate this love – let us follow their examples. We may be drawn toward selfish desires due to the effects of Original Sin, but that is no excuse to have such desires consume us. We were created by God to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this life and to spend eternity with Him in heaven. This is our purpose, yet, we allow our love to diminish not only for Our Lord, but for his creatures that are a part of our earthly lives. Coldness and selfishness were never characteristics of Jesus’ earthly life, nor how the Blessed Virgin lived. Instead of remaining lukewarm and only doing the bare minimum, or become self-serving, we must strive for excellence out of a burning love for God and His creatures. We should not only be kind to those around us because we fear hell and desire heaven, but we are to love all out of love for God. That is perfect love.
“Love everyone with a deep love based on charity … but form friendships only with those who can share virtuous things with you. The higher the virtues you share and exchange with others, the more perfect your friendship will be.” (St. Francis de Sales)
True selfless love and loyal friends may be difficult to find, but what makes a good friend and do we also offer these gifts not only to our earthly friends, but to God as well? We must remember that God created us, and we cannot expect unending gifts and graces from Him if we (his creators) never strive to be His friend and servant. If we obtain qualities of a good friend on earth to those around us, it will be that much easier to transfer these characteristics of love and friendship to Our Almighty God who so desperately desires our love in return.
“The inner life of another that is known to God alone becomes to a much less degree open to us through friendship. It partially fills the desire of our incomplete, lonely hearts for completeness in another. Friendship brings out the best in a person through forgetfulness of self.” (St. Thomas Aquinas)

What makes a good friend?

  • Friendship begins in the heart. Neither person can expect to only receive and give never back. This is the same with God. His mercy is beyond comprehension and His love deeper and more perfect than we could ever find on earth, but He is also a just God and it is our duty to grow in love and learn to serve Him.
  • True friendship, based on more than selfish interest, is difficult to earn and it also involves a lot of work to build that servitude. This is the same with God. We must be willing to grow daily and align ourselves with God’s goodness. Isn't it true that people with similar characteristics are drawn to each other? Are people drawn to you because they see a joyful love that ultimately connects you to God?
  • A true friend is never in the relationship for their own personal gain. We all desire a person to talk with, to laugh with and to be ourselves with, and these exchanges between friends are a blessing – ones that we can also enjoy with God, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Such friendships take years to obtain and we cannot expect it to be any quicker with God. It is through years of prayer and sacrifice that this relationship can be found with God.
  • Friends put their friends before themselves! It's true devotion, dedication, and compromise. These characteristics are necessary in our daily lives – with our spouses, our friends, our extended family, and our children. True friendship never grows on rocky soil only supported by sand. It cannot grow on superficial means. It only grows on a solid surface with goodness and devotion. If we are to begin an everlasting friendship with God, we must begin with the roots. The beginning can be the most difficult, but also the most rewarding. Through daily habitual prayer, we can find the beginnings of a growing connection with God.
  • Patience is a virtue. Do not expect gifts in return. This is true of earthly friendships and also a relationship with Our Lord. God loves and has an abundance of mercy. There is nothing he desires more than for us to choose to love Him. He will never force us, as that is not true love, for we are given a choice. What do you choose?
  • Love God and love your friends. We are to love others as we love God. As God created all creators, our love for others should be equivalent to our love for God. The more we learn to love God, the more we will love to serve others. Appreciate the virtues and see past the vices of others, as we are all works in progress. Always offer to assist others, as giving of oneself is the greatest act of love, just as Christ died on the Cross for our sins. Be present for God throughout the day, as we can serve Him through our daily actions and prayers.
All souls desire happiness, and ultimately heaven. Let’s build our friendships with our neighbors and God so that one day we will reach heaven for all eternity to adore God among the souls of our friends, the saints.
Copyright 2019 Danielle Heckenkamp