Books Catholics Should Read: The Art of Being a Good Friend

I actually read this book a couple of weeks ago but with college move-in and family stuff, I’m only posting on it now.

by Hugh Black

This is a useful and meaningful book for anyone to read.  Friendship is life.  It is the journey towards a greater relationship with God.  Hugh Black teaches that friendship is an exercise in love.   As such we should learn to be as good a friend as possible and to choose the best friends possible — the type of friends who will teach us how to grow in love.

Much advice and reflections abound in this book.  The most important lessons, I think, are as follows:

  • Friendship is based in sympathy — learn to put yourself in your friends’ shoes and to sacrifice without expecting reward.
  • Friendship is your safe haven, and as such, you can’t open yourself up to everyone.  It’s naivety to believe everyone is your friend; you can be friendly with others, but ultimately, you need to choose your closest friends who will help you grow.
  • At the same time, you need to risk your trust.  Because if you don’t risk it, it can’t grow.  And if you don’t trust man, you can’t trust God.
  • Loyalty in friendship is built through little favors, which will then turn into the greatest trust and supremest sacrifice and service.
  • Human friendship is limited.  Some betray us, some of us drift apart, and some of us even move on to a life after death.  But when friendship is successful, it gives us even more hope and trust in the unlimited, perfect friendship with Christ.

This book was quite helpful, insightful, and beautifully written.  It’s the perfect book to read as I begin the new semester as I look to renew friendships with those around me.

Content:  An elaborate yet readable reflection on the nature of friendship and how to exercise it.
Style:  Hugh Black shows a masterful understanding of literature, history, and nature — and he uses images, examples, and metaphors from each of these to demonstrate his point.  This  book is much more of a reflection than a guidebook.
Catholic?:  Hugh Black was not Catholic, but his perspective is compatible with Catholic sentiment.

Overall:  3/5

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