Spiritual Friendship

Feast of St Herman of Alaska
De_Speculo_Caritatis_Square.jpegSpiritual Friendship by Aelred of Reivaulx

BORN TO an influential clerical family in Northumbria, Aelred was educated in Latin and the Classics at the court of the King of Scots. The great influence of Cicero's On Friendship led Aelred, after his conversion to Christianity, to wonder what treasures on this subject might be in Holy Scripture and the writings of the Fathers. He found that King David spoke eloquently of his grief at the death of Jonathan, and Solomon, perhaps impressed by his father's kindness to Jonathan's descendants, wrote, “A friend loveth at all times,” and, “Do not forsake your friend or the friend of your father.” The result of his appreciation for the ancient philosophers, his love for Christ and the dearness of good friends led him to write Spiritual Friendship for the edification of his fellow monks. Douglass Roby’s introduction helps us see this work in its proper setting: the unique confluence of feudal culture, Catholic reform, and Cistercian monasticism of twelfth-century Britain. But Aelred’s insights into the benefits and dangers of intimate friendships are not bound by history. In the style of Plato’s dialogues, the reader “overhears” two monks’ philosophical reflections on the role of friendship in leading them to Christ, the Eternal Friend.

144 pp. paper $19.95

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