We continue this week with a short selection from the book of Fr Robert Hughes Benson, "The Friendship of Christ":
The emotion of friendship is amongst the most mighty and the most mysterious of human instincts. Since it is independent of those physical elements necessary to a love between husband and wife, it can rise mysteriously higher in certain respects. It seeks to win nothing, to produce nothing -- but to sacrifice all.
On the other hand, there is hardly any experience more subject to disillusionment. When my friend fails me at a crisis or when I fail my friend, there is hardly any bitterness in life so bitter. And, while friendship itself has an air of eternity about it, seeming to transcend all natural limits, there is hardly any emotion so utterly at the mercy of time: We form friendships, and grow out of them.
There is but one supreme friendship to which all human friendships point; one Ideal Friend in whom we find perfect and complete that for which we look in type and shadow in the faces of our human lovers.
It is at once the privilege and the burden of Catholics that they know so much of Jesus Christ. [To know God] is a greater wisdom than all the rest of the sciences put together. To have a knowledge of the Creator is incalculably a more noble thing than to have a knowledge of His Creation.
Yet Catholics, above all others, are prone -- through their very knowledge of the mysteries of faith, through their very apprehension of Jesus Christ as their God, their High Priest, their Victim, their Prophet and their King -- to forget that His delights are to be with the sons of men more than to rule the Seraphim, that, while His Majesty held Him on the throne of His Father, His Love brought Him down on pilgrimage that He might transform His servants into His friends. For example, devout souls often complain of their loneliness on earth. They pray, they frequent the sacraments, they do their utmost to fulfil the Christian precepts; and, when all is done, they find themselves solitary. They adore Christ as God, they feed on Him in Communion, cleanse themselves in His precious Blood, look to the time when they shall see Him as their Judge; yet of that intimate knowledge of and companionship with Him in which the Divine Friendship consists, they have experienced little or nothing. They long, they say, for one who can stand by their side and upon their own level, who... himself suffer with them, one to whom they can express in silence the thoughts which no speech can utter; and they seem not to understand that this is the supreme longing of His Sacred Heart is that He should be admitted, not merely to the throne of the heart or to the tribunal of conscience, but to that inner secret chamber of the soul where a man is most himself, and therefore most utterly alone.