Hans Urs Von Balthasar - Two Sources of Friendship

After a mother has smiled for some time at her child, it will begin to smile back; she has awakened love in its heart, and in waking the child to love, she awakens also recognition. The sense impressions, at first empty of meaning round the “thou;” the whole apparatus of knowledge and understanding comes into play with its power to perceive and to conceive because the play of love has been started by the mother. In the same way, God explains himself before man as love. Love radiates from God and instills the light in the heart of man: precisely a light in which he can perceive this—absolute—love. These notes were developed from Person to Person: Friendship and Love in the Life and Theology of Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Alba House (July 1999). I. Divine-human relationship prefigured in mother and child Sense of oneness. Beginning with the womb, mother and child exist together almost is if they were one. And yet, the child is a physically and psychologically separate person. Glimpse of divine intention. The mother-child relationship points to a deeper reality: the child’s identity in God. This identity is formed by God’s intention for the child worked out in reality. This intention is realized in the loving communion with another. Within the human interpersonal communion, the relationship is open to the divine. In the loving communion with the mother, the child glimpses the possibility of greatest good. Openness to the other. True self-consciousness, an awakening illustrated by the miracle of a mother’s smile, demands an attitude of openness to the “other.” Boundless possibility of the person. Self-awareness is the result of a gift received. “The love between a “thou” and an “I” inaugurates the reality of a world which is deeper than simple being because of its absolute boundlessness and plenitude. Fading of the primary gaze. Over time this innate recognition of love due to the call/gaze of the mother can weaken and weather. Friendship may become a place where we relearn that loving gaze. It is a gift from God to reawaken us to the mystery of His love. In some ways, this may be what Jesus is referring to when he tells us to become little children in order to enter the kingdom of God. II. Triune relationship expressed in the action of Jesus Christ. A true understanding of friendship is only possible in Christ. Friendship involves mission. Christocentric. True friendship implies a dynamic mutual loving encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. Love originates in God. The love shared between humans does not have its origin in man. Human love, though imperfect, finds its roots in divine perfect love. Revealed in Christ, divine love is not static. Rather the love of God is dynamic because it is triune.

Human expression of divine call. At the very source of consciousness of self there is a call from God mediated by the call of another. Jesus unites human-divine love. In the Christ event the command to love God become indissolubly linked with the love for man. Jesus in word and action reveals the love for neighbor. Love is dependent on God. Without the love of God, I am not free to simply be. Instead I am always seeking to become and am unable to love freely. Only in the love of God can I truly learn to love my neighbor as myself. Peter’s denial teaches us that we are incapable of love. It is only by God’s mercy and grace. God initiates love. The love of God revealed in Christ through the cross and resurrection, reveals that God initiates the action of love. I am participating in His action. This connects to the divine mission of reconciling all things in Christ. Love leads to suffering. Our participation in God’s love leads us to willingly embrace/share in His suffering. Love proceeds from and leads back to the cross.

David Benner – Friendship and Spiritual Formation
Notes from Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction by David Benner and Larry Crabb, InterVarsity Press (October 2004). Spiritual friendship is not a reward for good behavior. It is a gift of God. I. Spiritual formation is the process of fully becoming the person we were created to be. Jesus leads us on this path of spiritual formation, and the route we follow is uniquely personal. A. Becoming a great love B. Becoming whole and holy C. Becoming our true self in Jesus Christ II. God gives us friends to share this journey. They help us discern the presence of God and the leading the Holy Spirit. Spiritual Friendship is a gift of not doing: not interrupting, not attempting to solve problems, not prematurely or erroneously advising, not assuming what works for us will work for others. A. Hospitality – This gift of taking another person into my space, into my life. Soul Host – Cultivates a place of quiet within themselves. From this inner stillness they can offer gifts of presence, stillness, safety and love. B. Presence – This gift is to be present to another person and to the Holy Spirit. C. Dialogue - This is beyond the chitchat of conversation to expressing the core of who we are with one another. III. Ideals of Spiritual Friendship A. Love B. Honesty C. Intimacy (various forms of intimacy open the door for friends to share the deep reserves of their heart; this requires attentiveness to our inner world; the danger to intimacy is possessiveness; friendship should allow a healthy amount of space) Spiritual intimacy Emotional Intimacy Sexual Intimacy Intellectual Intimacy Vocational Intimacy Recreational Intimacy (laugh and play together) Creative Intimacy Aesthetic Intimacy Social Justice Intimacy D. Mutuality E. Accompaniment (walking the journey together)

Paul O’Callaghan - Thoughts on Friendship
From The Feat of Friendship by Paul O’Callaghan, Eighth Day Pr (March 2002). Requirements for Friendship A. Fundamental honesty – This may begin in a limited way and progress as the friendship develops B. Sufficient Wholeness – Real friendship are never seized by the coercion of neediness, they are discovered in the exercise of free authenticity. C. Naturalness – A lack of self-consciousness, allowing friends to make profound acts of selfdisclosure without hesitation. Characteristics of Friendship A. Free flow of conversation between souls. Conversation is not simply exchange of ideas but a process of sharing intimacy and exploring who we are through mutual revelation and understanding. B. Friendship can only be realized in absolute freedom. There can be no inducement or force of necessity. C. Friends help constitute our moral development as well as our identity. “Friends are those who by being lovingly and patiently attentive to us make us into a person we could never have become on our own.” Paul Wadell writes: The moral life is often such retrospective activity because sooner or later we try to understand what has made us who we are. This leads us to certain people. We remember them, we cherish them, we are grateful to them because we realize we could not have been ourselves without them. We call these people friends…When we think of the moral life, it is not surprising we think of them. They taught us the good. They formed us. Through their love they chiseled in us qualities we could not have reached alone. When we think of the moral life, we do not remember only the decision we sometimes had to make, even the problems that may have beset us, we also remember our friends and the life that was shared between us. There seemed to be nothing better than to be with them, that somehow being with them was being our self, that somehow who we were was exactly the friendships that meant so much to us. D. Friendship provides a place to share our struggles. E. Friends help to draw out hidden aspects of our person from creative gifts to unformed moral intimations. Through dialogue, they help us to express and solidify these potentialities and convictions. Through them we see what we could not see before. F. Distinctiveness – it develops it own language and its own secrets. (Secrecy is not kept from others but rather the unique characteristics of the relationship.) In deep friendships, friends have a sense that their friend actually dwells in them. David Ford calls this “the community of the heart.” We live in their presence whether we are physically present or not. This is manifested in sudden and dramatic ways. Like two friends who have the same idea at the same time. Even though they may be separated by large distances, sometimes they may find they’re both reading the same books, having the same experiences, dealing with the same problems, and even buying the same products. This gives friends the sense of sharing the same soul. G. The relationship between friends has an ontological reality. The sum is greater than the parts. H. An expression of our personhood.

In relationships, we transcend our created physical limitations by uniting to the uncreatedness of Jesus Christ. The reality of shared experience does not exhaust the personhood of each friend. In the relationship, we discover part of our own personhood. I. Our particularity of love with one person does not exclude the world. Actually the reverse is true. Love that concentrates on one person as the expression of human nature, “sees in this person the hypostasis through which all men and all things are loved.” Healthy Friendships Avoid A. Over identification/possessiveness by maintaining distance. This is why two friends should be fundamentally sound—otherwise the neediness of one will begin to control the relationship for satisfaction. The other is not a true person but merely a role in the world of the needy individual. B. Detailed expectations – This can become another way to control the person. Unhealthy expectations is a false substitute for a commitment based in values, ideals and morals. C. Mutual involvement in mundane obligations (like going into business together) can pose a threat. D. Crossing sexual boundaries – Sexual union eliminates the space between the two people. This can be particularly dangerous in male/female relationships but it also poses a threat in same sex relationships particularly two women. Women tend to share on a more intimate level than men plus if they both share pain cause by women it may push them closer together, causing them to eroticize their friendship.