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10 ways Good Pope John still is guiding

May 4, 2015

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Just for Today cover“Just for Today” meshes the words of the late Pope John XXIII with the imaginative artistry of illustrator Bimba Landmann in a children’s book that will stir the soul and energize people of faith of any age.

Graphically displayed in type meant for young readers on 34 pages across Landmann’s creative scenes, Good Pope John’s 10 ideas for living a better, holier life can become a meaningful morning prayer for young people, especially, for example, first communicants.

As a seven-year-old making his first communion, Angelo Roncalli declared, “I want always to be good to everyone.” When he went on to become pope, the 10 thoughts for daily living that he wrote became well known, valued as much for the humility inherent in them as for the down-to-earth advice they offered.

The daily decalogue of now St. Pope John XXIII is worth finding on the Internet and taping to your bathroom mirror to start your day in a saintly way.

Here is just one example:

“Just for today, I will do at least one thing I do not enjoy, and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.”

It’s another fine edition from the Eerdmans Book for Young Readers collection.

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Coming Home – a Holy Thursday Reflection

April 2, 2015

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Church

Photo ~ Justin Stroh

Coming Home

When I was in college I would take weekend trips home about every other month.  These trips included the usual dirty laundry to be washed and a chance for some good food and time with my parents and sisters. As great as these things were, their was always something more that I experienced when I would walk through those doors.  It was this overwhelming feeling of coming home.

Despite the strain of school or the drama of my peers or the nagging uncertainty of what the future held, when I walked through those doors I knew I had nothing more important to do than just be.

Maybe it was a feeling of unconditional love. Maybe it was the feeling that someone else was in charge and I didn’t have to worry. Maybe it was the feeling of being loved for who I am and not what I could achieve on my report card or on the sports field. I can’t really pinpoint what exactly that feeling was, but you know it when you feel it.

Twelve years ago I attended my first Holy Thursday Mass.  I had recently come back to my faith, or I should say discovered it for the first time.  It might be surprising that a cradle Catholic had never attended a Holy Thursday Mass, but I am sure I am not the only one who has missed this beautiful liturgy. After being hit by the Holy Spirit and hungry to learn more about this new found love, the church, my pastor encouraged me to attend the entire Triduum.

I was overcome by the Mass.  I can’t recall any one specific detail except that it felt like coming home.  It felt like being away at college and making that trip back home. Everything just seemed to fit.

As I left the Mass I spoke with the pastor about this feeling of coming back home. I can only wonder if he thought I was a crazy woman – comparing this liturgy to a weekend trip home from college but he seemed excited at my interest.  He eagerly shared with me an Encyclical I should read and said “I’ll see you tomorrow!”

The church is our home- the church belongs to all of us.  It is a place where we are loved unconditionally. It is a place where we can rely on God to be in charge.  It is a place where we can grow and be loved for who you are. It is our home.  It leads us to our eternal home and it is the closest we can get on this side of the veil.

If you haven’t been home for a while – Come home!

Holy Thursday is also a time where we celebrate the institution of the priesthood.   I always reflect on the priests who have helped me on my journey on this day.  After all, without them I may never had found my way home.

Today, say a prayer for the priests in your life that have been instrumental in your faith journey home.

 

Sharon also writes for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization. Find her at WINE:Women in The New Evangelization

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Top Holy Week and Easter Movies

March 31, 2015

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he took her to a movie. when I was a bird Creative Commons

© Creative Commons

With the premier of the movie “Killing Jesus” on National Geographic Chanel receiving over 3.7 million viewers, it got me curious about what movies people watch during Holy Week and Easter.

I took a very unofficial poll with friends and family and the results were:

1. The 10 Commandments – I think most of us grew up watching this every Easter.  Charlton Heston will forever be Moses in my mind.  One response I got from a friend was:  “It always seemed to be on TV during Holy Week growing up, but our bed times were so early we never saw them get out of Egypt.” Spoiler alert – They did!

2. The Passion of the Christ – No surprise here.  An absolutely great movie and so moving.  When my husband and I saw it at the theater we weren’t able to speak for hours. It hits you so deeply. A great choice to prepare you for Good Friday.  Not family friendly for little ones though.

3. Jesus of Nazareth – Full disclosure here – this is not a movie but a mini- series so you need to put in the time commitment! Worth the effort though as one friend said, ” The kids always looked forward to the movie time with the whole family and it generated many questions and good spiritual conversations during the three days to Easter.”

4. Jesus Christ Super Star – My personal favorite, but my husband and I really like the new 2012  Live Arena Tour version, but the 1973 version is great too. The singing is amazing!

5. Godspell – A modern-day song-and-dance recreation of the Gospel of St. Matthew. I always thought this was a hippy version of the gospel.  Great songs and imagery.

6. The Prince of Egypt – Animated version. Great for kids.

7. The Greatest Story Ever Told – The title says it all – How else do you describe the life of Christ?  An epic film but you better settle in as it is 225 minutes long.

Now to some of the more unusual responses.

8. Lilies of the Field – Who can forget Sidney Poitier as a traveling handyman who becomes the answer to the prayers of nuns who wish to build a chapel in the desert. Catch this video of Sidney Poitier singing Amen.  I dare you not to smile and sing along!

9. Quo Vadis  – The movie or the Mini-series. I have never seen either but the description is: A fierce Roman general becomes infatuated with a beautiful Christian hostage and begins questioning the tyrannical leadership of the despot Emperor Nero.

10. For Greater Glory -A chronicle of the Cristeros War (1926-1929); a war by the people of Mexico against the atheistic Mexican government. Not an outright religious movie but a story of bravery and a fight for religious freedom.  Given our current events in the news lately, this is something we all need to be thinking and talking about.

11 The Robe – One of my personal favorites.  A Roman official who was present at Christ’s crucifixion wins Jesus’ garment.  He becomes tormented at the memory of the man and his death on the cross. He eventually goes on a quest to relieve his torment but find he can only find peace in Jesus.

12. Groundhog Day – This was probably the strangest response.  It is the story of a weatherman who has to relive the same day over and over again until he changes his ways. My friend commented: “This is thinking a little out of the box, and its not a religious movie, but Groundhog Day has underlying Easter-related themes.” and another said “I guess I generally like any movie that has “moral to the story.” I like to see the guys in the white hats win!” All good reasons to include it in your Easter movie list.

What is your favorite Easter and Holy Week movie?  Share it below in the comments.

Addendum – I haven’t seen the “Killing Jesus” movie yet so I can make no recommendation.  They do have an awesome website though! Explore it here.

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Spring training for baseball fans

March 24, 2015

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Podlasek’s was where as just a boy I first was accused of being brainwashed into being a Cubs fan.

On the way home from, well, just about anywhere, dad would stop in at the neighborhood tavern at 47th and Kedvale on Chicago’s southwest side — White Sox territory. Since I was invariably wearing my Cubs cap, I was invariably verbally harrassed and ridiculed by the suds-sipping gentlemen on the bar stools.

I call the teasers gentlemen because they’d regularly buy dad a Pilsner and a root beer “for Eddie’s kid.”

When my father was in his formative years in the 1930s the Cubs had winning teams, which is why he was a Cubs fans.

A Nice Little Place on the North SideThanks to dad, if graditude is in fact appropriate, I’ve been a fan of the Chicago National Leauge Baseball Club literally since birth, a lifer as my Cubs fan brother-in-law Mike says, his words leaning toward meaning fated to a life sentence.

Naturally then I loved George Will’s “A Nice Little Place on the North Side,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist’s history of Wrigley Field and my Cubs, published last year upon the 100th anniversary of the ballpark at Clark and Addison. Any fan of the national pastime — not just Cubs fans — will be be entertained by all the baseball lore Will has dug up.

The 194 pages are actually a history of the nation, the world and life itself captured anecdotal style, because Will works into his book connections that Ernie Banks’ “friendly confines” have had with war, politics, organized crime, racism, love, McDonald’s, beer, and of course, chewing gum.

The famous, oft-told baseball stories are all there and superbly rendered in detail: Babe Ruth’s alleged “called shot” home run in the 1932 World Series; Gabby Hartnett’s “homer in the gloamin’ ” in 1938; the disastrous Lou Brock-for-Ernie Broglio trade; the Bartman foul ball episode in the 2003 playoffs; and the full, expletives-adjusted text of manager Lee Elia’s tirade against booing fans.

The obvious characters are all there, too: owner William Wrigley, his reluctant successor son P.K., Hack Wilson, Leo Durocher, Banks (of beloved memory!), Harry Caray and the infamous “College of Coaches,” plus personalities readers may not have known have a Wrigley Field connection, including Al Capone, Jack Ruby, Ray Kroc and Jim Thorpe.

The stories Will shares and enhances so well with his own research and that of previous Cubs historians understandably couldn’t possibly include everything in Wrigley’s hundred-year history, yet a few classics seemed to be missing, including:

walt moryn• Walt “Moose” Moryn’s catch of a sinking line drive to end the game and save Don Cardwell’s no-hitter in 1960.

• The tragic off-season plane-crash death in 1964 of Kenny Hubbs, the Cubs’ errorless game record-setting, Gold Glove-winning, rookie of the year second baseman.

• Carl Sandburg making the book but not Ryne Sandberg, who in 1984 hit a game-tying home run off legendary closer Bruce Sutter in the ninth inning, then a game-winning two-run homer off Sutter in the 10th, on the nationally televised “Game of the Week.”

Props, however, go to Will for giving the appropriate credit to each and every one of the sources of the tales he shares. And for writing a truly satisfying book that even has a few religious notes.

New Yorker essayist William Zinsser is quoted comparing baseball fans to “parishioners,” who every half-inning pause “to meditate on what they have just seen,” and the author himself finds that fans cheering “a kind of prayer in a secular setting that somehow helps their teams’ successes.”

It would have been easy for Will to take the “lovable losers” theme too far, but “A Nice Little Place on the North Side” avoids what could easily have turned cloying.

Instead Will puts a professorial spin on being a Cubs fan, terming it “a lifelong tutorial on delayed gratification” and Wrigley Field “the most pleasant of purgatories.”

There’s baseball trivia on these pages enough for a game-full of between-innings challenges, and any fan who picks up the book now can consider it their own spring training.

Opening day, after all, isn’t that far away.

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shush

March 23, 2015

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imageOne word…
“Shush”
One word was all it took to bring me a smile.
I have been on a semi-silent retreat at my sister’s cabin. I say semi-silent because being silent is not something I am good at. I have my phone with me and have made regular calls to my husband, son and daughter. But the purpose, or my hope, in this little excursion was to hear God’s voice. So far all I can hear is my own.
On Sunday I snuck away to a cafe with internet to catch up on some of my social media vices. I hopped on my facebook and messaged a few people. Most of my correspondence was rambling and chatty since I have been out of contact for a while. I messaged a priest friend of mine whom I have known for years and rambled on about my silent retreat and the  church up north that I went to Mass at and the retreat center that is up here but I am not staying at and how it would be a great place for a retreat and… Well, you get the picture. You can almost imagine that my fingers were out of breath.

Being a Sunday morning I was surprised that my priest friend replied.
It is sort of their buisiest day!

He replied with one word.
“Shush”
Not hush like a mother would say, but shush like a Father reminding his children and redirecting their attention.
The shush brought me a smile. For one, it was a reminder to redirect my thoughts to God but later that day I reflected on how it made me feel.

The shush brought me a smile because this priest knows me well and knew that I needed that gentle reminder to quiet myself considering my extrovert personality. It also brought my heart a moment of joy to think that this busy priest held me in his thoughts for a moment on a busy Sunday morning. I get these same moments of joy when my husband  sends me a text telling me he is thinking of me or a friend remembers  a special day.

So if this brought me a moment of joy, why am I having so much trouble feeling the joy of knowing that God holds me in his thoughts always? God knows me and my heart better than anyone.
What was keeping me from hearing God’s voice? Feeling God’s love?

“Shush”

Am I not praying well enough? Is their something I am missing? Has God forgotten me?

“Shush!”

and listen…

Lent is a time for Shush… As we head into this last week before Easter, prepare your hearts and quiet your soul and “Shush” to hear God’s voice.
All we need to do is listen…

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Father Robert Jude, a priest for 65 years

January 15, 2015

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Father Robert JudeFather Robert James Jude is being remembered for spreading joy wherever he went over his lengthy priesthood.

A priest of the Archdiocese of
St. Paul and Minneapolis for 65 years, Father Jude died Dec. 20, 2014. He was 92.

Born March 24, 1922, in Maple Lake, the son of Paul and Margaret (Riordan) Jude, he attended Nazareth Hall and the St. Paul Seminary and was ordained a priest June 4, 1949, by Bishop James J. Byrne in the Cathedral of St. Paul.

Father Jude served as associate pastor at St. Joseph in Redwing,
St. Bridget and St. Stephen in Minneapolis, Holy Trinity in
St. Louis Park, St. Mary in Tracy and St. Peter in Delano..

He was chaplain at Red Wing Training School and at the Franciscan Sisters Regional Center in St. Paul, and briefly as administrator at St. George in Long Lake.

He served as pastor at St. Canice in Kilkenny and St. Luke in Clearwater. He retired from active ministry in 1990, but assisted in sacramental ministry at his home parish, St. Timothy in Maple Lake, in retirement.

Father John Meyer, St. Timothy pastor, described Father Jude as “always upbeat” and someone who “made everyone’s day better.”

Family member Anna Maria Jude concurred.

“He had amazing joy,” she said. “When he spoke he was so affirming and charitable. He changed the mood everywhere he went — it was just a natural thing for him.

“You knew about the love of God just by being with Father Jude,” she added.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Jan. 5 at St. Timothy in Maple Lake, where Father Jude had presided at his first Mass in 1949.

He has preceded in death by his parents and brothers John (“Jack”) and Clifton. He is survived by many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews and cousins.

Interment was in the St. Timothy Cemetery.

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Father Charles Froehle, seminary rector and pastor

January 15, 2015

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Father Charles Froehle COLORFather Charles L. Froehle was a role model for the scores of priests ordained from the St. Paul Seminary over the 25 years he served there as professor, dean and rector.

A priest of the Archdiocese of
St. Paul and Minneapolis for 51 years, he died Jan. 6. He was 77.

Father Charles Lachowitzer, moderator of the curia and vicar general of the archdiocese, was one of those formed at the seminary during Father Froehle’s tenure as rector. He told The Catholic Spirit about a few of the things he remembered most about Father Froehle.

“Liturgies. He was a great homilist and modeled a prayerful style of celebrating the Mass,” Father Lachowitzer noted. “It was such a significant part of our seminary formation to do Sundays well, and he certainly modeled that.

“He gave us all an inspiring example of what it means to be a good ‘pastor’ as well as a good priest,” he added. “In so many ways, Father Froehle acted as the pastor of the seminary. He was accessible, thoughtful, caring and pragmatic when dealing with a myriad of seminarian and faculty concerns.”

Charles Leo Froehle was born in St. Cloud April 20, 1937, the son of Leo and Catherine Froehle.

Raised in St. Paul, he attended Nazareth Hall, the minor seminary, and the St. Paul Seminary before being ordained a priest Feb. 2, 1963, at the Cathedral of St. Paul by Archbishop Leo Byrne.

He served as associate pastor at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis for two years before beginning studies in Rome in the years immediately following the Second Vatican Council.

He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in theology from the Angelicum and returned to the
St. Paul Seminary where he served as professor of sacramental theology, and later as dean of studies and vice rector.

In 1980 he was appointed rector of the St. Paul Seminary.

As rector Father Froehle was one of the major architects of the seminary’s affiliation with the University of St. Thomas, which provided financial security for the seminary in exchange for seminary land, which the growing university needed.

In 1994 Father Froehle was named pastor of St. Francis Xavier parish in Buffalo, and later pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis. He retired from active ministry in 2012.

Father Froehle is survived by his brother John and sisters Margaret Cournoyer and Jean Froehle, along with many nieces and nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, great grandnieces and great grandnephews.

Mass of Christian Burial was Jan. 13 at
St. Mary’s Chapel at the St. Paul Seminary, 2260 Summit Ave.,
St. Paul.

Interment was at Resurrection Cemetery.

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Hill-Murray, archdiocese lose ‘Mr. A’

January 15, 2015

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Deacon Frank AsenbrennerThe green-jacketed band director and principal who was widely recognized as the personification of Hill-Murray High School, Deacon Francis “Frank” Asenbrenner, died Dec. 31, 2014. He was 81.

Hill-Murray faculty, coaches, students and alums filled Assumption Church in St. Paul for his Mass of Christian Burial Jan. 5.

Among them was Theresa Goerke, long-time physics and sciences teacher, one of the many teachers Asenbrenner hired during his 30 years as the principal of first Archbishop Murray Memorial High School and soon after, the first principal of the combined Hill-Murray High.

“His enthusiasm was incredible,” Goerke said. “He made everybody feel special.

“He led the music for the school theater productions, and to begin the performance he always came out to welcome everyone,” she recalled. “He made you feel as though they did the production just for you.’

Asenbrenner was born Aug. 27, 1933, in Leopolis, Wis. He graduated from the then College of St. Thomas with a degree in music education, later earning graduate degrees in both music and education administration.

He was principal of Hill-Murray and became chaplain there as well when he was ordained a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1978, a member of just the second diaconate class of in the archdiocese. He served as a deacon at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin in St. Paul, and for a short time was parish life administrator there when the parish was between pastors.

The Asenbrenner family’s parish was St. Rose of Lima in Roseville, where Deacon Asenbrenner was active as a choir director.

Goerke said the man known throughout Hill-Murray as “Mr. A” had high academic standards; music, though, was his passion.

He taught music and directed the school marching band, choir and orchestra, and scheduled performances for the band to take trips to play in DisneyWorld, in parades on the East Coast and in local parades.

“He made it fun,” Goerke said. “The band gave the school a sense of community. The school was proud of the band. Students called him Mr. A. out of love.”

Don Regan, chairman of Premier Banks, sent seven children to Hill-Murray and recalled spending a lot of time with him.

“He was a great people person, just an outstanding individual,” Regan said. “He really looked after his students.”

Deacon Asenbrenner was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Margaret. He is survived by their eight children — Jim Asenbrenner, Mary Zimmer, Jean Liss, Kathy Aziz, Tom Asenbrenner, Sue Eichten, Barb Atkinson and Peg Sutherland — and their spouses and 16 grandchildren.

Interment was in Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville.

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Saint Oscar Romero? Here’s why

January 14, 2015

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romero book coverIt will have been only 35 years this March 30 that an assassin’s bullet through the heart ended the life of the archbishop of San Salvador as he celebrated Mass in 1980.

The late-20th-century martyr for Gospel justice shouldn’t be forgotten by 21st-century Catholics, and author Kevin Clarke helps us all to remember that with his brief but powerfully written life of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Clarke’s book, “Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out,” is one of the newest in the series of biographies that Liturgical Press in Collegeville is publishing, “People of God: Remarkable Lives, Heroes of Faith.”

It captures the essence of Romero and the societal sins of upper-class Salvadorans and members of the military who, as Clarke writes, were either complicit  or blindly implicit in the archbishop’s assassination.

A hard-line traditionalist as a priest, Romero was thought by his nation’s wealthy elite and by the bishops of El Salvador to be “one of them” when he was named to the archbishop’s chair by Pope Paul VI.

For Romero, Vatican II had been an earthquake and the liberation theology of the Latin American bishops’ at Medellin an aftershock, in Clarke’s words. His reputation was that of a strict conservative, but before he was appointed to San Salvador he had already begun to turn away from the status quo that made so few rich and left so many in his country’s in desperate poverty.

As bishop of the Diocese of Santiago de Maria, he visited Tres Calles, a village where six men and boys had just been buried. They had been dragged from their beds, tortured and murdered with bullets and machetes by the National Guard.

On the way back, Romero ran into another incident: the body of a boy was found in a roadside ditch. He too had been tortured and murdered.

He told a priest companion, “We have to find a way to evangelize the rich, so that they can change, so that they convert.”

Clarke notes: “What is telling about the Tres Calles moment for Romero is the beginning of his understanding that what was wanted from the wealthy to give to the poor was not mere material charity, but a conversion of the heart that would allow them to understand that what the poor of El Salvador need most was not a crumb from their table, but a seat at it; not charity, but justice.”

Romero protested the massacre to the local Guardia commander, and in what would turn out to be foreshadowing, the officer shrugged and advised the bishop, “Cassocks are not bulletproof.”

Romero saw that the so-called “political” work of the “liberation” clerics he had previously been suspicious of was “a natural, spiritually sound and even required outgrowth of their pastoral work,” and was supported by recent Church teaching.

Then his friend Father Rutilio Grande was murdered in a hail of bullets. Clarke notes:

“The killing of this Jesuit priest was the signal of an abrupt rupture, for the old Romero was cast off completely and a new Romero emerged: empathetic, soulful and courageous.”

Romero took on the powers that be, using the archdiocesan radio station and newspaper to report the repression and violence, news that wasn’t available from the media controlled by the elites. He refused to participate in government ceremonies or official events or to attend events in which he might be photographed socializing with El Salvador’s political or military leaders. He went further, raising money to feed campesinos hiding in the mountains and arranging to hide victims of political violence at the national seminary.

Although he was accused of being a Marxist, he tried to convert both the powerful and those seeing change. He preached to elites, “Do not make idols of your riches; do not preserve them in a way that lets others die of hunger.”

He also met clandestinedly with guerrilla leaders to try to persuade them of the power of Christian nonviolence in the face of oppression.

Clarke explains well the geopolitical situation of the time — the fear of communism spreading in Latin America — that had both the United States and the Vatican supporting the status quo in El Salvador.

When, at the Vatican, Archbishop Romero tried to explain that his country’s revolutionaries were not communists but campesinos “defending their people against sometimes incomprehensible violence and the life-crushing force of economic and social oppression,” he was reprimanded. Clarke writes:

“After being battered by Cardinal Sebasiano Baggio, secretary of the Congregation of Bishops, he endured more admonishments from the secretary of state office, where a curial operative suggested Romero remember the ‘prudence’ with which Jesus Christs conducted his public life.’

“ ‘If he was so prudent, then why was he killed?’ Romero wanted to know.”

Killing Romero demonstrated how far some are willing to go to protect their status and privilege, and an important point Clarke brings out is how the man’s inhumanity to man kept escalating, with government-backing death squads not satisfied merely to kill. The viciousness turned from brutality to depravity, with, for example, a priest’s face being shot off.

In the end, Archbishop Romero’s death led to 12 years of civil war in El Salvador, ending only in 1992. Tens of thousands of Salvadorans were killed, primarily (85 percent) murdered by their own military, according to a UN Truth Comission.

As the slain archbishop’s cause for sainthood moves forward finally, readers of this 137-page biography will understand why, and perhaps be perplexed as to why it has taken 35 years.

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A toast to friendship

December 31, 2014

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Friends make our lives richer, even when the friendship ends.

Friends make our lives richer, even when the friendship ends.

At a time when we gather to toast and reminisce, I’m remembering New Years’ past and the friends who celebrated with me.

I tend to rewind a lot of holiday memories at this time of year and think about the people who’ve been part of my life. Some are still my friends, which makes the memories that much sweeter. Sadly, others have either passed away, or otherwise passed from my life.

It’s hard to imagine who or where I’d be without friends. Through the years, they have supported me, challenged me, laughed and cried with me, and just been there with me.

Friendship not necessary?

C.S. Lewis calls friendship the most spiritual of the loves he describes in his book, “The Four Loves.” Of all those loves, which include affection and romantic love, friendship is the least natural, instinctive, biological or necessary.

Without Eros (romantic love) none of us would have been begotten and without Affection none of us would have been reared; but we can live and breed without Friendship. The species, biologically considered, has no need of it.

I think the assertion that we don’t need friends for survival is debatable. Mine have bailed me out in many ways and I them. At least it’s hard to imagine life without them. In losing friends I have most fully realized this.

We see in our friends qualities and virtues that we can’t see in ourselves. And true friendship takes us beyond ourselves.

Aristotle presents three marks of friendship.

  1. Benevolence: We actively pursue our friend’s wellbeing.
  2. Reciprocity: Friendship has to be mutual and not done only for the sake of our own desire.
  3. A sense of mutual indwelling: Friends are a single soul existing in two bodies.

Friends with Christ

I think this is the kind of friendship Jesus wants to have with us. He mentions it three times in John 15:13-15:

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…

It has been through losing friends that I have most able to accept and appreciate the Lord’s friendship—and to learn more of what it means to be a friend.

Friendship may be unnecessary, like philosophy and art, and it may have no survival value, as Lewis states. But instead, he writes, it gives value to survival.

As midnight rolls around, I drink a toast to friends who have enhanced my survival by loving me and showing me how to love the Lord!

Happy New Year!

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