We are dynamic people, living dynamic lives. As a Catholic man with more than a few decades under my belt, I have made the acquaintance of a large variety of folk, and have developed an assortment of friendships over the years- not every person with whom I’ve come to know (to whatever degree) has shared my same outlook or religious beliefs, but there has mostly been some level of mutual respect or appreciation for what one or the other held to. Really, you cannot have a true friendship if you need to hide a part of yourself, or if something that you find as part of the core of who you are is such an affront to your companion(s) that there is an unhealthy tension or some manner of disdain. It just won’t work- and if it does for a time, it won’t last for long.
Friendships are integral to life. Generally speaking, we can’t go at it completely alone or isolated from one another (in typical social settings). We are meant to live and thrive within a community. That, necessarily, takes us beyond the microcosm of immediate (or even extended) family, and into macrocosm of society, where we develop connections of all manner with others outside of the scope of kin. While it can be argued that not every person with whom we connect needs to be on the same footing in every regard, it does remain essential that our closer circle of friends (at least) are on that same footing- especially where moral or religious outlook is concerned. In other words, it’s important for the devout, Catholic man to have the friendship of other (likewise devout) Catholic men.
Let me briefly share an example that I feel illustrates this need rather well:
When my family first moved to Florida, we were very lucky to find a great neighborhood of folk and would all quickly become good friends. Our kids played together, and we adults shared enough common interests to enjoy many fun times, lively talks over a couple of beers, and just simply hanging out with one another. We could count on each other in times of need, and we all shared in keeping an eye on the kids when they were outside, playing…. you get the idea.
One evening, we (adults) were enjoying laughs and companionship, as the setting sun painted the sky in brilliant hues. One of the guys suggested a quick run for a bottle of wine an a twelve-pack of beer (we weren’t looking to get hammered, just share a few adult beverages between four or five couples). So, I and a few of the guys jumped into one of the cars and set off for a nearby supermarket. As soon as I shut my door, my friend (who was driving) turned and informed me that we weren’t heading to the market straightaway. Rather, that errand was just the excuse for setting out on the real quest: the nearest strip joint. I politely excused myself, and went back to those of the group who had remained behind.
I am no man’s judge, so I’ll leave it at that. The point to which I would rather return is that Catholic men need to have the friendship of other Catholic men. We need to know that those guys in whom we place our comradeship and trust will not be a catalyst for temptation or for falling into serious error and grave sin. We need to be able to be fully relaxed in the security of friendly trust- in a world in which we must be constantly guarded, we need to have companions with whom we can enjoy true leisure, free from the cares and worries that otherwise gnaw at our souls. Troubles will find us easily enough in this life- we don’t need the guys we’d otherwise rely on for support to be inviting such in our down-time. Having the friendship of other Catholic men ensures against falling into such snares. So too, it gives us the firm reassurance that men of like mind and moral outlook really do “have our back” in our times of distress and need. We know we can turn to our Brothers in Christ in trust, and not be led astray or along the dark road into sin. We are after all, the company we keep.