“God sends us friends to be our firm support in the whirlpool of struggle. In the company of friends, we will find strength to attain our sublime ideal.” St. Maximilian Kolbe
I couldn’t travel during the pandemic and recently, after overcoming a lot of fear, I found myself on a plane to Italy finally. It was nerve-wracking to get back into the habit of flying again but it was well worth the trip. I wanted to see my many friends that were waiting for me there. However, traveling for me is not some tour that I think I should be on. I have seen so many places that I am happy to simply stay with friends and enjoy a good coffee or a nicedinner. While in Venice, I needed to go to daily mass, and we found a small chapel with only one person attending. I was asked to read in Italian and without my glasses, I did. Such simplicity in that chapel. After mass, we spent some time trying to visit the Island of the Armenians in Venice but to no avail. It was closed that day. Nevertheless, it was a great day.
“A friend is long sought, hardly found, and with difficulty kept.” St. Jerome
Having not seen people you care about for so long was difficult, but being able to see good people again was amazing. All this made me think about my faith. I was struck by two saints who are remembered this week that reminded me of this simplicity. Blessed Alessandra Sabattini was a lifelong laywoman in Italy. She studied medicine and she wanted to work in Africa. She spent much time with the poor and lived at times with less than they did. She died in a motor vehicle accident. Her friendship was offered to people who did not have much. This opened her cause to her canonization. Blessed Helena Goldberg was a nun in Poland from 1905 to World War II. In her care were patients in a sanitorium and then young girls in the orphanage. When the Soviet soldiers made their way through Poland, she did her best to prevent the girls from being attacked by the enemy, but she was martyred for it. Blessed Boleslaw Strzelecki also suffered in World War II and died in a camp ministering to prisoners. This is real friendship.
“Do things for people Not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who You are.” Blessed Teresa Calcutta
I enjoy very much the readings at daily mass after Easter. There is a moment when the Apostles were fishing, and Christ appeared. The Apostle that Jesus loved told Peter that it is the Lord. Peter rushed quickly to meet him. What joy there must have been in Peter’s heart in that moment. I can only imagine. We cannot expect to have thousands of friends because of who follows us on social media. We can only stay faithful to Christ. He will send us what and who we need because he already knows what we need. When my father died recently, a great group of friends made the short drive to the next city over to be part of the mass and memorial. These people were my friends. I did not have to ask them to come. I have a surprise friendship with Carmelite nuns. I have nothing in common with them, yet they are great people. Friendship does not follow a criterion or common interests; real friendship comes through a relationship with Christ.
“What a great favour God does to those He places in the company of good people!” St. Teresa of Avila