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Leigh Ann Roman finds strength for the journey in faith-filled friends.

On May 31, we celebrated the Feast of the Visitation, a beautiful part of the Gospel story that I also see as an illustration of early Christian friendship. Mary and Elizabeth were cousins, it is true. But they shared a bond far stronger than a familial relationship. The two women were connected through their faith in God and by God’s miraculous work through them to bring forth new life. They surrendered to God’s will and found support in one another. 


The earliest story of female Christian friendship

I like to think of the Visitation in Scripture as the earliest story of female Christian friendship, something I treasure in my own life. Without good, female Catholic friends, I don’t think I would be able to walk the Chrisitan walk in this world. There are so many temptations. Some, such as anxiety, reside in my own mind. Others come from the outside world, such as a temptation to find fault with people on the “other side” politically, rather than to pray for them and try to correct my own faults. 

Elizabeth was said to be too old to have a child. Mary, of course, had not known a man, but was still expecting. Both women cooperated with God’s plan — one to bring forth a prophet, the other to bring the Messiah into the world. Indeed, during the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel told Mary of Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy when he explained to her that her own child would be conceived by the Holy Ghost and be called the son of God.

“Nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37) 


Mary went in haste to her cousin Elizabeth, and we all know the story of how the child in her womb leapt when Mary arrived bearing the son of God in her own womb. This passage of Luke also includes one of the few female conversations in the Bible.  




Godly friendship is a gift

A friendship based on a love of God and pursuit of good is indeed a gift that brings joy. I have a few friends like this, and when we get together, we can share the trials and blessings of one another’s lives. We pray for one another and fast for each other’s intentions. 

By sharing Jesus with one another as our Blessed Mother did with Elizabeth, we are building up the kingdom of God in our own small way. Being there for one another, and sharing our lives in conversation and friendship, are uniquely feminine ways to strengthen our own Christian commitment. 

One dear friend recently compared our friendship to Mary and Elizabeth, saying that when we ask one another for prayers, we are going in haste to help one another, just as Mary did. This is the same friend who is having a novena of Masses said for my family this month — a loving and powerful gesture that touched me deeply. 

Without the help of my Christian friends, my journey in faith would be far more rocky and the path much more difficult to discern. I would feel as if I were on my own in this world of self-centered individualism. Thanks be to God for these faithful women, and for our wonderful Blessed Mother whose example we seek to emulate. 


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Copyright 2024 Leigh Ann Roman
Images: Canva