As a convert to the Catholic Faith, one of the things I’ve always felt a bit behind on is friendship. You probably wouldn’t be off the mark to call me envious of the women I know who grew up in circles of Catholic family and friends. I know women who have gone through life in that community; college, dating, marriage, early parenting. They share all of those moments with other women who share the same world view.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my own group of dear friends that I grew up with and experienced those same stages of life with. But, no matter how lovely they are, it’s sometimes difficult to share my whole self with them, my whole new self, because there is a framework that is missing. And people, especially women, need those friendships.
I’ve been feeling a deep call to be more intentional with my friendships. I need to nurture those real-life friendships I already have, despite worldview differences, with purposeful in person contact. And, I desperately need to seek out solid Catholic friendships, too. So, when I heard that my friends Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet (authors of Divine Mercy for Moms) were coming out with a new book, The Friendship Project: The Catholic Woman’s Guide to Making and Keeping Fabulous, and Faith-filled Friendships, I could not have been more excited.
Michele and Emily explore friendship through the lens of virtues as exemplified in the lives of 8 pairs of Saints who were also friends. Each chapter explores one virtue with a pair of Saint friends, interspersed with relatable anecdotes from Michele and Emily’s real life (future Saintly) friendship. They also address virtue specific obstacles and steps for making and keeping friendships based on those same virtues.
Michele and Emily were kind enough to allow me to share an excerpt from their book with you all:
How do we go about being a good friend and finding good friends? How do we experience this universal need for friendship in a way that is healthy and good for both parties involved? How do we transform our friendships into deeper, more
meaningful relationships? How do we view spiritual friendships, and how can we develop them? Emily and I are not perfect and don’t have all the answers, but we are going to dive in and investigate this topic. With the help of eight pairs of Catholic saint
friends, we will take a deeper look into particular virtues that will help us become better friends and how their spiritual friendships on earth helped them become amazing saints.
A virtue, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “is a habitual and fi disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself” (CCC, 1803). The virtues are key to helping
us change our hearts, and they provide us with the framework we need to make changes in our relationships. We are all in the process of growing, most importantly in relationships with others and God. We need the virtues to help us become the best people we
can be and live lives of happiness and holiness. We are all called to be saints by the nature of our Baptism; however, we can’t be holy without virtue! When we live virtuous lives, we are in control of our passions. When we are not in control of our passions,
our weaknesses are exposed and we are more prone to sin. Our actions and our choices reflect our faith, and when we live lives of virtue, we have joy in living good, moral lives. As St. Paul writes in Philippians 4:8,
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is any- thing worthy of praise, think about these
It is not easy to live a virtuous life, but Christ gives us graces to persevere if we ask for them and desire to become holy.
In each chapter of The Friendship Project, we focus on one of the following virtues: faith, hope, charity, prudence, gratitude, loyalty, generosity, and prayerfulness. We explore how growing in each virtue will help us become better
friends and help us deepen our relationships into spiritual friendships. Included are a “saint pair”: two saints who were friends while on earth. The saints are called so because they lived lives of extraordinary virtue. It was to our great delight to discover
that so many saints who walked this earth had spiritual friendships that inspired a deeper relationship with God and helped them become the amazing heroes of virtue for whom they are known. A priest once shared with us that “one saint begets another,” and
these saints—through their friendships—influenced, mentored, and assisted each other in living lives of heroic virtue. When we allow the right people to influence us and help us, especially in the spiritual world, we can be transformed!
With Christ as our key example and the saints as living proof, we can learn a lot about friendship. If you can learn to be a better friend, it will impact the relation-ships in all areas of your life.
This excerpt from the introduction of The Friendship Project is reprinted with permission of Ave Maria Press.
This is a book that all Catholic women, really all women of faith, should read. And, it just so happens, Michele and I plan to read and discuss the book this fall in our Facebook Book Club. So, check out the group, and join in the fabulous and faith-filled conversations!