I like the above definition of a friend, using the word as an acronym: Few Relations In Earth Never Die. Ok, the grammar could be better, but as an acronym, it’s awesome. I think it says a lot about our topic on relationships.
Videos and corresponding workbook pages for this discussion on relationships can be found online here. (note: I suggest keeping this window/tab open, as we will refer back here for the corresponding videos in each section below).
Note to Annunciation Confirmation Students: Don’t forget to bring your responses to the Discussion Questions for each of the sections below when you come December 7th for our next session!
Let us pray:
Lord of all pots and pans and things, since I’ve no time to be a great saint by doing lovely things, or watching late with thee, or dreaming in the dawnlight, or strorming heaven’s gates, make me a saint by preparing meals, and washing up the plates. Warm all the kitchen with thy Love, and light it with thy peace; forgive me all my worrying, and make my grumbling cease. Thou who didst love to give men food, in room, or by the sea, accept the service that I do, I do it unto thee. Amen. – Brother Lawrence
Psst. Do you know about Brother Lawrence? As you may have guessed by the above, he was assigned as cook of his religious community. He hated the kitchen, yet in obedience, he cooked and cleaned for years for his brothers. He would have rather been in the chapel praying, or on the grounds of the monastery working hard with his hands in the soil while thinking of the Lord. But nope. His superiors assigned him to the kitchen. He could have given in to his dissatisfaction and made his brothers miserable by doing only the minimum (everyone complains about food anyway, right?). But Brother Lawrence chose a different approach; he chose to encounter God in the pots and pans, and you know what? His brothers noticed. They would come to the kitchen to talk with him, and ask spiritual advice from him. He was just a cook. Yet, he didn’t let that get in the way of his becoming holy among the pots and pans.
I. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE (of relationships)?
The Gospel of Matthew 7:24:27. Jesus said:
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
We can all understand the consequences of building a house on sand, especially if we’ve ever lived near the ocean and stood barefoot on the sand. The water gushes toward shore and just as swiftly retreats back to the sea. We feel a bit unsteady on our feet as the current takes some of the sand beneath our feet back out with it. If the consequence is so apparent, why might someone still choose to build on the shore/sand?
- It’s easier. Don’t have to work as hard to get the materials to the building site.
- The work gets done faster, since laying the initial foundation for the house is pretty much done, the land being flatter than if we built in a higher, rockier location.
- Closer to recreation. Won’t have to climb down every time I want to go surfing, right?
- other reasons, too.
But, as the picture above attests, easy is not always better, yet this is often exactly what we do in building relationships. To understand why this doesn’t work, we have to understand the ‘purpose of friendship’. Go watch video 6.1 (remember to click on “Session 6.1: What is the Purpose”).
6.1. Discussion Questions, WB145
- Who are the most important people in your life? Why?
- What is the purpose of relationships?
- What are you pretending not to know about your approach to relationships?
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” – St. Thomas Aquinas
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY (WB148)
The famous scene from Indiana Jones when he must choose among assorted vessels which was the cup of the Last Supper, and the Grail Night tells Indy, “But choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.” False friends can do the same.
In past sessions of Decision Point, we have discussed the consequences of decision making in various aspects of our lives. We are told in Video 6.2 that many of the most important decisions we will make in life will be around relationships (i.e. Friends, Parents, Marriage, Community).
Let’s ponder this Scripture passage from John’s Gospel. Jesus says,
“…the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything…”
Stop what you’re doing right now, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you be faithful in this moment of reading; open yourself up to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Make a commitment in the coming week, every time you have to make a decision, you will ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.
6.2. Discussion Questions, WB151
- What’s the best friendship decision you have made in the past twelve months?
- How do you feel God is calling you to improve your relationships with your parents?
- Are your friends helping you to become the-best-version-of-yourself? Are you helping them to become the-best-version-of-themselves?
III. WHAT IS LOVE? WB154 – (See video 6.3)
We all want to be loved and to love. Read from the First Letter of John 4:7-21:
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.h
This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit.Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.iThere is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.We love because he first loved us.If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen.jThis is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
If we take to heart these words form Saint John, and we think about all the love we have for everyone in our lives, and then multiply that by infinity…imagine how much more God loves you?
How can you share the love of God with others?
6.3. Discussion Questions, WB157
- What did you learn about love in this session (video)?
- Who models selfless love in your life?
- How does your relationship with God influence your relationship with other people?
IV. YOUR QUEST FOR LOVE, WB158 (see video 6.4)
Let us consider one of the best known passages of scripture, often used for weddings, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
6.4 Discussion Questions, WB160
- In what ways have you gone looking for love in the wrong places?
- Who do you know who has a great marriage? What do you admire about their marriage?
- What virtue do you think is most important to healthy relationships?
V. DECISION POINT, WB162 (see video 6.5)
The take a way here is, to live is to love, and it is a choice, not a feeling.
Imagine the day when, following your death, you stand before God. Perhaps the questions he will ask you are, “How well did you love? Who are what did you lay down your life for?
It is for this, we must make the conscientious choice to love – or not to love. We pray you choose wisely, because whom and what you choose to love will determine just about everything.
6.5 Discussion Questions, WB163
- Who or what are you willing to lay down your life for?
- Who loves you in the way God envisions love?
- How is God calling you to love yourself differently so that you can love others more fully?
Once you finish your reflection, take a minute and center yourself in the presence of God with Psalm 25: