WHAT do I mean by a friend?
I mean something that is almost too much to be looked for in this world. I mean one whose nature is so large that it will understand and sympathise with all my myriad varied moods. I mean a man who, when he finds me mean and grovelling, will not despise me; when he sees me harsh and critical, will not condemn my hardness of heart; when I am cruel in judgment, or in word, or in action, will bear with me till I recover my senses; when I am proud, or vain, high-handed, or inflated with myself, will smile and endure knowing that this is only a passing whim; when I am ill-tempered, or peevish, or melancholy, will pity me and wait till the disease has run its course, and the colour of health has returned.
I mean by a friend one who will give as well as take. I mean one who, when he in turn is in trouble, will not hide it from me. I mean one who will not give me the everlasting feeling that the weakness is all mine, while he is in possession of unending peace and calm. I mean one who will trust me far enough to let me see his weakness as I let him see mine, knowing that I too will not misunderstand, or misinterpret, or become impatient, or condemn, or turn upon my heel and walk no more with him, even as I know he will not do the like to me.
This is the other side of friendship harder to discover than the first; yet if one would be my friend, in the deep sense in which I understand it, he must give me this as I give the same to him; he must trust me thus far, even as I trust him; if he is only my patron, my protector, my guide, my model, my ideal, he may be very much to be loved and honoured, but he is not strictly my friend....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918