1. In this world two things are essential: life and friendship.
Both should be highly prized and we must not undervalue them.
Life and friendship are nature’s gifts.
God created us that we might exist and live: this is life.
But if we are not to remain solitary, there must be friendship.
[Sermon Denis 16,1]
Blessings of friendship
2. Good human beings seem even in this life to provide no small consolation. For, if poverty pinches, if grief saddens, if bodily pain disturbs, if exile discourages, if any other disaster torments, provided there are present human beings who not only know how to rejoice with those in joy, but also to weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15) and can speak and converse in a helpful way, those rough spots are smoothed, the heavy burdens are lightened, and adversity is overcome. But he who by his Spirit makes them good does all this in them and through them. If, on the one hand, riches abound, no death occurs, bodily health is present, and one lives in a country safe from attack, but evil beings also dwell there among whom there is no one who can be trusted, no one from whom one does not suffer and fear deceit, fraud, anger, quarrels and attacks, are not those former things bitter and hard without anything joyful or pleasant in them? Thus in no human affairs is anything dear to a human being without a friend.
3. Particularly when I am worn out by the upsets of the world, I cast myself without reservation on the love of those who are especially close to me. I know I can safely entrust my thoughts and considerations to those who are aflame with Christian love and have become faithful friends to me. For I am entrusting them not to another human, but to God in Whom they dwell and by Whom they are who they are.
A friend is to be loved for his/her own sake
4. “Hold faith with a neighbour in his poverty. So that you may also enjoy his good times.”
You must stand by him, and not change friendship just because his circumstances have changed for the worse; you must keep faith with determined constancy. After all, if my friend was a friend when he was rich but is not a friend when he's poor, then it wasn't him that was my friend, but his money..... But the second part [of this maxim], I must confess to you, I find objectionable. If the reason you stick by your friend in his poverty is in order, when he's rich again, to enjoy his riches, then it's still the case that it's not the friend you love, but something else in the friend.
5. The first thing, you see, that your graces should observe, is how the love involved in friendship ought to be gratuitous. I mean, the reason you have a friend, or love one, ought not to be so that he can do something for you; if that's why you love him, so that he can get you some money, or some temporal advantage, then you aren't really loving him, but the thing he gets for you. A friend is to be loved freely, for his own sake, not for the sake of something else.
(Continued on the next page.)