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Aelred of Rievaulx of Spiritual Friendship

Aelred of Rievaulx of Spiritual Friendship

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Published by Doug Floyd
A couple years ago, I led a retreat on friendship. I handed out this highlight from Aelred of Rivaulx so people could see a the great flowering of medieval monastism on friendship.
A couple years ago, I led a retreat on friendship. I handed out this highlight from Aelred of Rivaulx so people could see a the great flowering of medieval monastism on friendship.

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Published by: Doug Floyd on Apr 27, 2007
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Aelred of Rievaulx on Spiritual Friendship
I drew the following ideas from Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rivaulx, CistercianPublications; Reissue edition (September 2005). Doug Floyd
Why is friendship important?
A. God created man for companionship.
God has not left his creations alone but gives them a society. Human, likewise,were not left alone but given fellowship. By forming the second human from therib of the first, God reveals that human beings are created equal.
Man is born with a desire for friendship.
Since a need for love is built into out nature—even evil men desire friendship(however false)B. To live without friendship is to live like a beast.
I would say that those men are beasts rather than human beings who declare that aman ought to live in such a way as to be to no one a source of consolation, to noone even of grief or burden; to take no delight in the good fortune of another, or impart to others no bitterness because of their own misfortune, caring to cherishno one and to be cherished by no one.
Without companionship riches hold no charm for the greedy, nor glory theambitious, nor pleasure for the sensuous man.
He is entirely alone who is without a friend.C. Friendship is essential to enter into love.
Love of neighbor does not diminish our love of God but is essential if we are totruly love God.
While cupidity (false love) tears apart community, true spiritual friendship buildsup a community of love.D. Spiritual friendship is its own reward.E. We do not enter friendship for the benefits but benefits proceed from the friendship.
Advantages – counsel in doubt, consolation in adversity, and other benefits of likenature.
What is friendship?
A. True friendship is mutual harmony in affairs human and divine coupled with benevolence and charity.B. The human and divine relationship comes together in friendship.
He dwells in friendship, dwells in God, and God in him.
Here we are, you and I, and I hope a third, Christ, in our midst.C. Friendship must be rooted in love (the affection of the heart).
Love is
o
Attraction – Some object or person is desirable
o
Intuition – Inclination of the will toward the person or object
o
Fruition – Act of the will and benefits of that act
Friendship is a love that is beyond the love for all people (which sometimesdepends on the will). The love expressed in friendship is a foretaste of heaven.Spiritual Friendship, 1
 
Friendship is called a “guardian of love” or “guardian of the spirit.” My friend is aguardian of our mutual love.
Love vs. cupidity. If we love God or others for the benefits, our love is reduced tomere cupidity. (Cupidity – loving wrong objects or right objects for the wrongreason)
Friendship is that virtue by which spirits are bound by ties of love and sweetness,and out of many made one. The roots of friendship are eternal.
Although he unjustly accused, though he be injured, though he be cast in theflames, though he be crucified, “he that is a friend loves at all times.”
In a kiss two breathes meet, and are mingled, and are united. As a result, a certainsweetness of mind is born, which rouses and binds together the affection of thosewho embrace.
True friendship unites reason with affection so that love is pure because of reasonand sweet because of affection.D. Friendship acts in a benevolent way. Carrying out the relationship in good deeds.
Medicine is not more powerful or more efficacious for our wounds in all our temporal needs than the possession that meets every misfortune joyfully, so that,as the Apostle says, shoulder to should they bear one anothers burdens.
Friendship is a stage bordering upon that perfection which consists in the love andknowledge of God, so that man being a friend of his fellow man becomes thefriend of God, according the words of the Savior in the gospel: “I will not call youmy servants but my friends.” (Friendship is a stage toward the love andknowledge of God.)
Four traits in friendship: love, affection, security and happiness.
Four qualities to look for in potential friends:
o
Loyalty – There is nothing more praiseworthy in friendship. A truecompanion no matter what may come. Hidden in prosperity; conscious inadversity.
o
Right Intention – That he may expect nothing from friendship but love of God and its natural good
o
Discretion – That he may understand the expectations of friendship (whatis required; what sufferings are to be endured; what good deedcongratulated; what faults to be corrected and when is the right time and place to address them.
o
Patience – That he might not grieve when being rebuked or unwilling tostand beside you during persecution
Friendship brings equality between friends.
Friendship bears fruit in this life and in the next.
Friendship heightens the joys of prosperity and mitigates the sorrows of adversity.E. False friendship must be avoided.
Friendship for carnal pleasure – offends good will, indulges our sin causing us tohate our own soul; carnal friendship has charity but lacks good willSpiritual Friendship, 2
 
Friendship for material gain – simulates affection in order to manipulate someoneto get what we want; self-seeking friendship has rational choice (basis for goodwill) but lacks charity
Childish friendship—unfaithful, unstable, and always mixed with impure loves, to be guarded against in every way by those who take delight in the sweetness of spiritual friendship. This is friendship’s poison.
A friend will not help another friend do evil. A friend will not befriend to receivegood and services from another friend.F.Friendship that can end was never true friendship.
How do we cultivate friendship?
A. Selection of friendship
Aelred recommends testing of acquaintances before admitting them to intimacy.
There is a danger in being too eager for friendship and be deceived by its meresemblance, mistake the counterfeit for the true, the imaginary for the real, thecarnal for the spiritual.
How to avoid false friendship? The beginning of friendship ought to possess, firstof all, purity of intention, the direction of reason and the restraint of moderation;and thus the very desire for such friendship, so sweet as it comes upon us, will presently make friendship itself a delight to experience, so that is will never ceaseto be properly ordered.B. Foundation of friendship
Spiritual friendship begins in Christ, continues in Christ, and is perfected inChrist.
Friend cleaving to friend in the spirit of Christ is made with Christ but one heartand one soul, and so mounting aloft through the degrees of love to friendship withChrist, he is made one spirit with him in one kiss. (This is a unity of wills, a unityin charity)
The foundation of friendship is the love of God.
The can be no friendship without love.C. Cultivation of friendship
Even true friendship has to be weeded to prevent corruption into self-seeking.
True friendship advances by perfecting itself, and the fruit is derived from feelingthe sweetness of that perfection. And so spiritual friendship among the just is borna similarity in life, morals, and pursuits, that is, it is a mutual conformity inmatters human and divine united with benevolence and charity.
Four stages of climbing to friendship: (1) Selection; (2) Probation; (3) Admission;(4) Harmony (human and divine with charity and benevolence)
You can test a person’s fidelity and ability to hide secrets by telling them minor things you wish to keep hidden. If they reveal it, you know they cannot be trusted.
Reverence is the best companion to friendship. We respect and reverence our friends.Spiritual Friendship, 3

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