[continued from yesterday]
...I mean by a friend one with whom there are no differences. Whatever be our respective gifts of nature and of grace, it must be all the same between him and me.
If he thinks me clever, or learned, or strong, or even holy, he will neither bow before me, nor treat me as a being of another grade; though I may know him to have rank, or wealth, or athletic ski11, or wit, these things, when I think of him, will scarcely enter my mind.
We take each other for granted, without suspicion, without reserve, without doubt; the rest are mere appendages, belonging to one as much as to the other, affecting so little our equality that we never give them a thought.
Such is what I mean by a friend; so perfect a union is friendship. But where is such a friend? Am I asking too much of human nature? Is a relation so perfect possible in this life?
I wonder. The young soul sets out on its journey, and hopes to find such a comrade on its way. It takes hold of first one and then another, telling itself that it has found what it needs; but how often has it been disappointed! First it gave its friendship to one older than itself, and soon discovered it had a patron, not a friend; good, true, loyal, sound, but not what it meant by a friend.
For this first would-be friend, for all the longing soul gave, showed but one side in return; he was too good, too loyal, too sound - let us say it - to be wholly true. He had the strength to guide, the virtue to endure; he lacked the humility which is essential to the ideal of friendship....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918