This was done in part to end the inheritance of benefices. Aelred spent several years at the court of King David I of Scotland in Roxburgh , possibly from the age of 14,  rising to the rank of echonomus  often translated "steward" or " Master of the Household " before leaving the court at age twenty-four in to enter the Cistercian abbey of Rievaulx in Yorkshire. For Aelred, the source and object of true friendship is Christ. The result of the journey was that Aelred brought back a letter from Pope Innocent summoning the superiors whom Aelred represented to appear in Rome the following March to make their deposition in the required canonical form. The resulting negotiations dragged on for many years.
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Start your review of Spiritual Friendship Write a review Sep 13, Sally rated it really liked it This short book was written in the form of a dialog between the author, Aelred , who was the abbot of the monastery at Rievaulx in Yorkshire, and a few of his monks.
Aelred answers their questions about the nature of friendship--its benefits and pitfalls and how it is to be cultivated. The work is divided into three short books, the first of which was written ca.
For Aelred, friendship is a specific case of the more general phenomenon of love. According to Aelred, "the fountain and source of friendship is love. There can be love without friendship, but friendship without love is impossible" Book Love may proceed from reason alone as when we love our enemies or from affection alone, and sometimes from both simultaneously, "when he, whom reason urges should be loved because of the excellence of his virtue, steals into the soul of another by the mildness of his character and the charm of a praiseworthy life.
In this way, reason unites with affection so that love is pure because of reason and sweet because of affection.
Benedict had a rather cool view toward particular friendships because of their potential to introduce favoritism, jealousies and divisiveness into the community of monks. Aelred, while cognizant of the need to be watchful for and vigilant against the potential dangers, nonetheless maintained that true friendship is a virtue that is not only worth pursuing but is positively necessary for one to be truly human: "Scarcely any happiness whatever can exist among mankind without friendship, and a man is to be compared to a beast if he has no one to rejoice with him in adversity, no one to whom to unburden his mind if any annoyance crosses his path or with whom to share some unusually sublime or illuminating inspiration.
But what happiness, what security, what joy to have someone to whom you dare to speak on terms of equality as to another self; one to whom you need have no fear to confess your failings; one to whom you can unblushingly make known what progress you have made in the spiritual life; one to whom you can entrust all the secrets of your heart and before whom you can place all your plans!
What therefore is more pleasant than to unite oneself to the spirit of another and the two to form one Cicero struggled with the limits of friendship--how far should one go for the sake of friend? Should one commit sin for the benefit of a friend? For Aelred there is no limit to friendship. We are called by Christ to lay down our life for our friends. The decision of whether or not to do wrong for the sake of a friend is almost a non-issue for Aelred: "For that love is shameful and unworthy of the name of friendship where anything foul is demanded of a friend" Book , and "any action should be denied a friend which brings about the death of the soul, that is sin" Book As Douglass Roby summarizes: "It is thus impossible to prefer a friend to morality; as soon as morality is damaged, friendship vanishes.
Aelred notes that we use the term "friendship" for all sorts of relationships that do not meet the demands of true friendship. As Roby points out, Aelred perhaps differently than Cicero intended uses the term "good will" for "a rational and voluntary choice to benefit someone", and he uses the term "charity" to mean "the enjoyment of our natural affection toward someone. Yet Aelred allows that even false friendships have a certain value and may have the potential to develop into true friendships: "True friendship advances by perfecting itself, and the fruit is derived from feeling the sweetness of that perfection" Book According to Aelred, even a true, spiritual friendship requires careful tending to weed out seeds of corruption that might degrade the goodness of love into mere cupidity.
It is cupidity that can breed jealousies, factions and divisiveness, whereas "true love builds up the community and can only serve to unify, not to tear apart" Roby, p. In terms cultivating true friendship, Aelred advises "the beginnings of spiritual friendship ought to possess, first of all, purity of intention, the direction of reason and the restraint of moderation" Book Despite all challenges, the rewards of true friendship are worth the effort.
To renounce friendship as too difficult is not only to renounce virtue, but even true humanity" Roby, p. All in all, I think this work is a gift to humanity.
In our day, or at least in my life, true friendship seems to be rare and undervalued. I recall a number of years ago being asked to be a guest speaker at a conference for 6th grade girls about women in science. She winked at the girls, smiling at the clever way in which ordinary socializing could be made to seem more valuable and important by calling it networking.
This almost made me gag. What have we come to if friendship or even mere socializing is not considered valuable in and of itself? Do we really imagine that networking can replace friendship? I suppose that at least we are being honest to not even pretend that networking is a form of friendship, but I worry about promulgating the perception that true friendship is not a necessary ingredient of a happy life.
Until fairly recently, the only true friends I had were those relationships that I formed in graduate school. The demands of life as a new faculty member left little time for friendship, and the fact that the decision about my tenure would be largely in the hands of my peers, made it difficult for me to really open up to my colleagues. At the same time, I felt I had little in common with the Christians that I met at church.
I had only colleagues whom I needed to please in order to gain their approval, and acquaintances whom I tried to love, but without much natural affection or connection.
It took me a long time to realize that my heart longed for something more—for that true friendship that Aelred describes.
Actually, Microsoft Word informs me that this is only words. Aelred, a 12th-century Cistercian abbot, insists that we need to test our beliefs about friendship with Scripture. The treatise is a series of dialogues in which three monks join Aelred to examine their ideas about friendship in light of their Christian faith. He points out that friendship is based on shared goals, and distinguishes between different kinds of friendship: carnal friendship, based on shared pursuit of pleasure; worldly friendship, based on mutual advantage; and spiritual friendship, grounded in shared discipleship.
Start your review of Spiritual Friendship Write a review Sep 13, Sally rated it really liked it This short book was written in the form of a dialog between the author, Aelred , who was the abbot of the monastery at Rievaulx in Yorkshire, and a few of his monks. Aelred answers their questions about the nature of friendship--its benefits and pitfalls and how it is to be cultivated. The work is divided into three short books, the first of which was written ca. For Aelred, friendship is a specific case of the more general phenomenon of love. According to Aelred, "the fountain and source of friendship is love.
Aelred of Rievaulx: Spiritual Friendship