FRIENDSHIP IN LIFE
On December 1st and 2nd, I joined the novice’s common study, where I met many novices from different Dominican congregations. We are from different parts of Asia -East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Set aside the diversities, we gathered under the roof called “Dominican Family”. This great family invites us to continue to live in fraternity and build up friendship among its members. Thus, to better understand true friendship for the young candidates, the formators decided to give the novices the sharing on “the Friendship of the Dominican Saints”.
The speaker of these days was Sr. Amelyn Intia (OP DDIM), succeeded in taking the topic and discussion on friendship. “To have a real friend is more than having a treasure, for no one can live as an island.” We are capable of living together to journey through life side by side. So, what are the qualities or traits of a best friend? That person is the one who will pass through good and bad moments in life with us, who will share with us the intimate things and goals, whom we can count on, and who will never abandon us amidst our trials.
Trust is the key to opening to a true friendship, to mke it grow is to nurse it with self-sacrifice, understanding, dialogue, time, endurance, sharing, care, compassion, love, and even giving up one’s life as Jesus said that “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:14). Jesus died to prove his sincere and true friendship with us. He died to show out that “God is love”, that He gave us His Only Son who lived among the people, shared the cultures, languages, and all of human weaknesses except sin.
From the speaker’s living experiences of friendship (mother and the children), she portrayed the beautiful friendships in the Bible. How beautiful the friendship between David and Jonathan who protected David’s life from his father’s hand – King Saul. We need a friend who journey with us, share the same vision and goal in life, and who will never leave us alone such as Ruth and Naomi “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). And sometimes, we need a friend who silently sits beside us when we are in adversaries and shares with us the feeling of suffering; it is the friendship between Job and his friends, they were those who came to Job, sat down with him and fasted through days and nights with him.
How about the friendship in Dominican Family? Such admiration to learn from the friendships among our Dominican saints, their spiritual bonds such as that of Bl. Diana & Jordan Saxony, St. Thomas Aquinas & St. Albert the Great, St. Rose of Lima & St. Martin & John, St. Catherine & Raymond, and Fr. Angelico & Antonius… They shared intimacy on the matters of the soul, gave spiritual advice, and shared friendship in Christ. Many other friendships in Dominican Order were not able to present. Infact, the friendship between our founder and our foundress was one of them. Being a novice in the MDR family, the story of our founders inspires me about such friendship. They were faithful companions to each other, sharing dreams and mission for God’s kingdom so as to present them to marginalized people.
The journey to be a missionary is yet very long, to which I need to live what lies ahead as a novice like me. Am to learn, to build up and maintain true friendships with others. Friendship sets no limits on gender, age nor nationality. Finding strength in the Lord for times of weakness. Temptations may occur and lead us to search for the pleasure of material hoarding, obsessions and the inclinations of pleasure of the flesh. The question on how to have an intimate companionship, faith, and grow in Christ together? That is to have Christ as the center and strive to live according to Christ, to love sincerely, and trust in Him above those who I call friends.
Ann Cecilia (Asian Continental Novitiate, Manila Philippines).