In a recent Sunday Parade magazine there was an article about two young men who were best friends. One died fighting in Afghanistan and the other in Iraq. Their families had the two friends buried side by side in Arlington Cemetery. Similarly, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman asked to be buried in the same grave as his best friend (something that was done in those days). The Sisters of Notre Dame began with two French friends, and our branch originated with two German friends.
Working together, saints support each other and accomplish great things. Friends encourage, give advice, warn, share, and simply journey through life with you. Writer Francois Mauriac noted, “No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.” Friendship is a blessing to be enjoyed and cherished. Like a lovely flower, it is to be cultivated.
One of my favorite saint friendships bloomed between a sister and brother, St. Benedict and his twin, St. Scholastica. A charming story goes that one day when he visited her in the convent, she begged him to stay. It was against his rule to be away from the monastery at night, so he refused. Scholastica put her head down and sobbed. At that a terrific storm arose. Benedict asked his sister, “What have you done?” and she replied, “I asked you and you wouldn’t listen, so I asked God and he did listen.”
Other famous saint “couples” are St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross (whom she called the “half-monk” because he was short), St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare (who nursed him as he died), St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac, and St. Frances de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. In the Old Testament, David and Saul’s son Jonathan were best friends. David’s descendant Jesus too had special friends. Three apostles belonged to his inner circle: Peter, James, and John. Jesus enjoyed relaxing in Bethany at the house of brother and his two sisters—Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. When Lazarus died and the sisters were overcome with grief, Jesus cried. He loved his human friends that much.
A husband and wife must first of all be friends. Sharing their lives, they provide love and strength for each other. They make each other holy.
Someone defined a friend as someone who knows all about you and likes you anyhow. Of all the friends we consider precious— and they come and go throughout our lives—the best friend and the most constant is Jesus. He is truly a friend to the end. Coincidentally June 8 was Best Friends Day and Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is the one who binds us to Jesus.
What two friends do you know of who are models of friendship? Why?