Patricia Carroll OCSO draws our attention to Aelred of Rievaulx, a Cistercian saint and spiritual writer who specialised in writing about friendship as an image of. Spiritual Friendship has ratings and 39 reviews. Sally said: This short book was written in the form of a dialog between the author, Aelred ( He saw that his reluctance to part from his friends at court, delayed his adopting his monastic calling. For Aelred, the source.
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For example, advice–presumably ported wholesale from Cicero–about worldly goods, bribery, and friendship has been included when revaulx, particularly Cistercian monks of the twelfth century, would not have had personal property to distribute.
So far as I know, then, some of Aelred’s advice is otiose for its compositional context e.
Does he expect circulation outside monasteries? Throughout aelrec dialogue, in fact, Aelred and his several companions express their wish to be alone with each other, to exclude others, meaning friendsnip monks, from their conversation and thus from Aelred’s lessons. We therefore have the sense, throughout, of eavesdropping where we’re not wanted.
Aelred also implicitly shows the dangers of friendship through the squabbling of Gratian and Walter. Notably, Aelred treats these exclusions not morally but practically. His concern in what amounts, for large sections, to a how-to manual, is to provide a guide for admitting another into one’s confidence while minimizing the chance of betrayal.
Indeed, the person who merits inclusion in the inner circle of friendship is, as in Cicero, an alter ego, but it is–contra Cicero–an alter ego guided by God, by service to the state, by adherence to the lawsand especiallyand thus wholly bounded within various predictable legal structures.
In presenting friendship this way, Aelred aims to minimize the engagement with the ‘wholly other,’ and therefore with vulnerability, surprise, hospitality in the openness treated by Derrida in [Book: Acts of Religion]and to advance rational guidance above all other concerns Friendship may be an end in itself, it may be a guided by both affection and mainly reason, it may be just this side of the relation with God e.
In short, it provides almost nothing for thinking an ethics of friendship, let alone an erotics of friendship the preference here is for Proverbs over the Song of Songs. You have all the wealth, have complete Edenic mastery over animals, but are you happy? Wouldn’t you be happier with another person, even if you didn’t speak his language? Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
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Return to Book Page. Preview — Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx. Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx. Throughout his life, Aelred took great joy in his friends and he believed that by loving and being loved by them, we learn to accept and return God’s infinitely greater and enduring love.
Real friendship always includes a third person, the Lord Jesus. Paperbackpages.
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Aelred of Rievaulx
Lists with This Book. Sep 13, Sally rated it really liked it.
This short book was written in the form of a dialog between the author, Aelredwho 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. Douglass Roby provides a splendid introduction to Aelred’s This short book was written in the form of a dialog between the author, Aelredwho was the abbot of the monastery at Rievaulx in Yorkshire, and a few of his monks.
Douglass Roby provides a splendid introduction to Aelred’s Spiritual Friendshipproviding details of Aelred’s life and placing this work in the context of its time.
For Aelred, friendship is a specific case of the more general phenomenon of love. Christians are commanded to love all people, but friendship is a special form of love in which we naturally enjoy someone’s company.
According to Aelred, “the fountain and source of friendship is love. There can be love without friendship, but friendship without love is impossible” Book 3: Rievxulx may friedship 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 spiditual 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: 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 aelded whom you can place all rlevaulx plans!
What therefore is more pleasant than to unite oneself to the spirit of another and the two to form one Cicero’s De Amicitia clearly had a major impact on Aelred’s thinking about friendship, and he quotes Cicero liberally in Spiritual Friendship. However, he also differs from Cicero on some points, and a distinctly Christian perspective permeates Aelred’s philosophy of friendship. He insists that friendship springs directly from God, allowing one of Aelred’s interlocutors in the dialog to propose the formula “God is friendship.
Cicero struggled with the limits of friendship–how far should one go for the sake of friend?
Aelred of Rievaulx: on spiritual friendship –
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: As Douglass Roby summarizes: Aelred notes that we use the term “friendship” for all sorts of relationships friendhsip do not zelred the demands of true friendship. He takes Cicero’s definition of friendship as “agreement on matters human and divine with charity and aekred, and makes a distinction between true friendships, which are based on true love–a combination of both charity and goodwill–versus false friendships, which are based on imperfect or corrupt love–love that is lacking in the combination of both charity and goodwill.
As Roby points out, Aelred perhaps differently than Cicero intended uses friiendship 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 firendship false friendships have a certain value and rievauox have the potential to develop into true friendships: 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 2: 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 rievauox in my life, true friendship seems to be rare and undervalued.
Spiritual Friendship – Aelred of Rievaulx – Google Books
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 sspiritual 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 friendshop 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. Apr 15, Kenneth rated it it was amazing. A book that emerges from the dark walls of Benedictine monastic life at the beginning of the Middle Ages, yet this timeless religious classic on spiritual friendship still echoes relevantly to our age.
Written in the 12th century, the abbot Aelred of Rievaulx speaks eloquently of the kind of life that friendahip those called in the brotherhood of religious community, yet the very same wisdom that comes from him speaks significantly in our age where relationships have become characterized by u A book that emerges from the dark walls of Benedictine monastic life at the beginning of the Middle Ages, yet this timeless rievaylx classic on spiritual friendship still echoes relevantly to our age.
Written in the 12th century, the abbot Aelred of Rievaulx speaks eloquently of the kind of life that characterizes those called in the brotherhood of religious community, yet the very same wisdom that comes from him speaks significantly in our age where relationships have become characterized by utility and impermanence.
His notion of spiritual friendship is one of marital nature that breaks the boundary of race, gender and even of age. A must read for those seeking meaningful and intimate relationships that are more than skin deep. Aelred gives us some theological and philosophical basis for the depth and sacredness of friendship. Friendship is a true vocation in which one can come to know and participate in the eternal love of God. Far aekred someone you just hang out with, a friend is someone with whom you share the depth of yourself–your failures, hopes, and secrets.
A friend is one with whom you cultivate a true and deep affection. Set as a philosophical friwndship, it was certainly dry reading–but with such great ge St. Set as a philosophical dialogue, it was certainly dry reading–but with such great gems hidden within.
Well worth the investment. May 11, Andrew rated it liked it Recommends it for: Students into Medieval Theology or Philosophy. Aelred was a monastic who wrote a guidebook about the selection and cultivation of spiritual friendships. The book club that I am spiritjal part of recently read and discussed this work – and I was surprised to hear that very few people felt that it was relevant to their relationships or even all that interesting.
So I say that to qualify what follows. I experienced this book quite differently. I envision Aelred as a highly sociable young man, confident that God created relationships for some good purpos Aelred was a monastic who wrote a guidebook about the selection and cultivation of spiritual friendships.
I envision Aelred as a highly sociable young man, confident that God created relationships for some good purpose. It is fair to say that Aelred’s discussion of spiritual friendship centres on questions that the modern mind does not ponder.