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True friendship

"One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple." Psalm 27.4

The insight which activated, transformed and sustained Gregory the Great was that, through deliberate consecration of one's heart as an inner sanctuary, one might maintain a busy public life without losing the contemplative spirit, which is so essential to faith in God and integrity as a person. The context in which this might be done is that of sincere friendship, Not the utilitarian networking, which was as pervasive then as it is now, but the cultivation of anam-caraidean (soul friends). This is no self-help strategy for it is suffused and dependent upon the grace of God, received through prayer. And the fruit? The evidence is in one's external life.

Certainly there is ample evidence in Gregory's case, through his copious correspondence with everyone from fellow clerics to emperors. All of it bears witness to the potential within every human being who channels their experience of insight and transformation (apokalupsis kai metanoia) into that process whereby our character (ipse) changes our identity (idem) through the maturing of our habits by the grace of God and in the context of human friendship. And the benefit is to be found not only in the individual but in their impact on those around them, as they reflect Christ, care for others and creation and love their enemies.

Can you imagine a better way to prepare for the Lord's return?



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