Day 31 – Friendship
Our Augustinian life of fraternity and community leads us to the careful cultivation of the values of friendship. Friendship begets and nourishes loyalty, trust, sincerity and mutual understanding. It joins us together in Christ, for God fastens us in friendship by means of the love poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The idea of friendship evolved in the mind of Augustine. It is in the Confessions where he gives us a formulation that is mature and elevated: “No friends are true friends unless you, my God, bind them fast to one another through that love which is sown in our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom you give.” (Conf. IV,4) Here, Augustine christianizes the idea of friendship.
When he calls it ‘true’ he meant that any other type of friendship is criminal, frivolous or remains in the natural order and therefore is empty and false. For him, that friendship alone which is true is that friendship which God grants to those who love each other in Him. He considers it as a gift from God. This is the heart of the Augustinian concept of friendship and its grand novelty: God alone unites two persons. In other words, friendship is not under the control of man; it is a gift of grace.