--Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew V, 29, 30
Difficult topic today that came upon my heart during, and walking home from calculus this morning: What kinds of social lives should Roman Catholics have and cultivate, and which should they avoid?
This passage from the Holy Gospel speaks of occasions of sin (there are near, remote, voluntary, and involuntary) which are the "wickedness and snares of the devil" from which we invoke St. Michael the Archangel to protect us. They inspire vice, weaken the Theological Virtue of Charity, can lead to indifference, and ultimately, to the eternal flames...
(Un)fortunately, the Church tells us that people (friends, family, etc.) can be those scandalous means by which satan leads us away from glory and down that way that leadeth to destruction (Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew VII, 13).
Consider the following Proverbs of the Holy Ghost through of the Holy Prophet Solomon:
"Be not a friend to an angry man, and do not walk with a furious man: Lest perhaps thou learn his ways, and take scandal to thy soul." (XXII, 24, 25)
"He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise: a friend of fools shall become like to them." (XIII, 20)
Our friends have influence on us. If our friends are full of vice and unrepentant, we can become the same. Do our friends accept the teachings of the Church, are they living pious and devout lives, and are they encouraging us to do the same? Are we returning the favor?
"Better are the wounds of a friend, than the deceitful kisses of an enemy." (XXVII, 6)
This is an interesting one. Friends should be practicing the Spiritual Work of Mercy called Admonishing the Sinner (confronting friends about their sins) especially with each other, and should be able to do so without fear of offending. Will non-Catholics (or the impious in general) be very concerned with this?
And so on and so forth (please spend some time in the Book of Proverbs, it's very good).
So what should our friendships be like? Ask yourself these questions...
- Do most of our conversations and interactions center around Roman Catholicism?
- Are my friends seeking the Lord and the intercession of the Blessed Mother and the Saints through prayer?
- Do we pray together frequently if posssible?
- Are we offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass together if possible?
- Does this person have or is this person persuing a spiritual/interior life with the Lord?
- Do I feel like I grow in Christ with this person, or does His Name hardly ever come up?
- Does this person have great reverence for the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist?
Here's the problem, I and many of people who want to be faithful to the Church but who do not really have any sense of community in terms of a parish seem to have all these friends to whom religion (especially Roman Catholicism) is irrelevant, offensive, old-school, controlling, and FALSE and these comprise the majority of my friends. OR, most of the "Christian" friends we have are very devout Protestants or Eastern Orthodox, but not devout Roman Catholics. I'd even go so far as to say that the more traditional Protestants (and some of the evangelical types) and most definitely the Eastern Orthodox are very devout people and good friends sojourning to make it to Heaven (please pray for their conversion, Our Lady of Hope, convert us!). But these people are not in the Church, Noe's Ark, the Barque of Peter, the Fold under the Good Shepherd. How do we deal with these ones who are good friends, but who do not understand our doctrines? Any thoughts?
What about the other "good friends" who aren't believers period and are even further from the Kingdom (at least externally)? I would even say that these friends are some of the best I have and do offer me Christ when I'm hurting or down, even as unbelievers, and I really enjoy being with them. Surely we cannot have ONLY Catholic friends because then we become like the SSPX, Charismatics and other fad groups, and refuse to spread the Gospel because we're stuck in our own little world. I would definitely say that MOST of our friends should be very devout Roman Catholics.
I often feel like it is my duty and burden to keep being friends with the godless because I feel like they'll never come into contact with the Faith if I abandon them, but at the same time I feel like they can be occasions of sin for me, hopefully not near occasions. These friendships have gotten me through so much (I can't emphasize this point enough)! But these friendships go nowhere spiritually, or maybe I'm just not being patient enough.
The Lord clearly has spoken on this, but please pray that I have the courage to either sojourn alone (meaning at a distance from these ungodly friends) or that God send me strong Christians to surround myself with.
Losing friends is very hard for me, especially when I am the one who has to break it off (I don't think I have ever done that before).
I know what to do, just not how to do it...