Aelred of Riveaux on the Value of Friendship

de_speculo_caritatisI remember in my DTS’ orientation week, one of the staff saying, “We are all more than worth the inconveniences that we cause each other.” I was recently reminded of this teaching when I came across the following quote in Aelred of Riveaux’s Spiritual Friendship:

What kind of wisdom is it to loathe friendship in order to avoid anxiety and to be carefree and absolved of fear? As if any virtue could be acquired or kept without anxiety! Isn’t it true that you experience great anxiety in your battle against error, for temperance against lust, for justice against wickedness, and for courage against cowardice? Let me ask you who, especially among young people, can safeguard chastity or rein in wanton attachment without the greatest fear or grief? . . . Do you see how those who dare to eliminate such anxieties, which always accompany virtue, do not fear to remove the virtues from the world? . . .

Those who claim that their lives should be such as to console no one and to be a burden or the occasion of grief to no one, who derive no joy from others’ success and inflict no bitterness on others with their own perversity, I would call not human beings but beasts. They have only one goal: neither to love nor to be loved by anyone.


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