Finding Faith: The Friendship Project Book Club Chapter 1

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Welcome to The Friendship Project Book Club! We’re reading The Friendship Project by CatholicMom.com contributors Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet!

"The Friendship Project" book club chapter 1 (CatholicMom.com)

As the years have gone by, I have been beyond blessed to experience friendships that have changed my life. Like Emily and Michele so beautifully detail in The Friendship Project, these friends have come in many different sizes and shapes, from those that have formed due to familial connections to those that have blossomed out of challenging circumstances. Some friends and I have walked together on our journeys for a short time before our paths led us in different directions, while others have continued to be my support system and strength to this day.

However, as illustrated in Emily’s story regarding the nail technician and her customer, so many today do not understand the true nature of friendship. The culture of self-centeredness and relativism has found its way to the very core of relationships, acting as dark-colored glasses that blind us to what is true and good as children of God. Adding to this are the increasingly fast-paced lifestyles that allow us to accept a facade of friendship that withers in the face of any real test or challenge.

Michele and Emily have hit the nail on the head when they discuss the need to reflect on the part that we, ourselves, play in the friendships that we claim to have. This book has reminded me to ask myself, As a child of God, am I being the friend that God calls me to be? As the authors point out, St. Augustine strongly asserted that “In this world, two things are essential: life and friendship.  Both should be highly prized and we must not undervalue them.” He understood the value that God Himself has placed on friendship as a building block in forming the Body of Christ, His Community of Love. Understanding this, am I taking my part in building this community seriously?

Choosing to be a good friend has a unique effect on the world. Not only does this choice provide the opportunity for great growth in virtue for our own souls, but it allows the fruits of these virtues to extend not only to the friendships we have made but to the world as well. As The Friendship Project so beautifully illustrates, the lives of many saints, like Gertrude and Matilda, are perfect examples of this extension, and it would do our souls good to read more of their stories to grow in appreciation and understanding as to the effect that virtuous friendships can have on the world.

During the Introduction and Chapter One, I found myself questioning my own response to God’s call to true friendship, and I rested on several thoughts:

  1. I am a Child of God, and this truth brings with it a call to emulate the perfect witness of friendship He has given me: Himself.
  2. The call to being a true friend provides a unique opportunity to grow in virtue. Living a life of faith can be incredibly challenging, but the special gift of friendship promotes the perfect seedbed for faith to be cultivated and to mature.
  3. Since friendships rooted in God are a “foretaste of heaven,” I should be excited to work on my relationships! This should also motivate me to resist the urge to back down when a friend is reluctant or refuses to allow God into our relationship.

These two chapters in The Friendship Project give us plenty to chew on. What thoughts are ruminating in you?

To Ponder, Reflect and Discuss:

  1. I need to take a moment and consider the friendships in my life. Upon reflection, can I think of any that need improvement on my side of the relationship?  Can I honestly say that I am being a true friend?
  2. How can developing a life of faith be cultivated through my friendships? Where can I find examples of faith development that have already taken place in my relationships?
  3. Chapter One provides a list of beautiful suggestions entitled “Friendship in Progress: Developing and Deepening Friendships of Faith.” Which of these suggestions can I incorporate into my existing friendships? Which can I use to develop new ones?

"The Friendship Project" book club chapter 1 (CatholicMom.com)

See the video for this week’s chapter, plus download a printable journal and more at The Friendship Project Group Study page.

Next week, we’re reading Chapter Two: Holding on to Hope. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit The Friendship Project Book Club page.


Copyright 2017 Christina Nagy

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About Author

Christina Nagy is a freelance writer and blogger at www.catholicconundrum.com. She is also the creator of the Catholic Conundrum YouTube channel for kids and teens, which offers fun, faithfully Catholic content. She endeavors to bring the joy and beauty of the Catholic faith to others by sharing her experience in caring for her domestic church of 6, homeschooling, caregiving, ministry and business, and hopes to inspire others to pursue their God-given potential on their path to holiness.

11 Comments

  1. Great insights Christina. I too found myself taking pause to reflect on Michelle and Emily’s words. I highlighted the book authored by St. Gertrude for additional reading.
    Some friendships that I have found the most rewarding are those of extended family ie: inlaws. These aren’t necessarily relationships I would have sought out, however they are important to loved ones and therefore require friendship on my part.
    When I consider these types of friendships with your reflection I am compelled to reframe my own expectations of a friend as well as my ability to be friend. In the context of inlaws, I am growing and learning alongside another how to navigate through the awkward heairarchy of roles within family. Where I am just another face amongst the masses in one setting, I am an elder in another. It is interesting to transform these social standings into mere friendships where there is no familial role to fill and no expectation other than a friend.
    To me these core relationships are vital and can even be the most delicate to nurture. I strongly feel these are the friendships that give witness to the “effect that virtuous friendships can have on the world.”

    • So beautifully said, Gina! I have been gaining much insight from this book on a topic that I would have otherwise put little energy into at my current stage in life. I have already seen its fruits, as my soul has awakened to a deeper desire to honor the friends in my life, both familial and otherwise. My journey seems similar to yours; I am so glad that together we can participate in developing virtuous friendships around us that please God and have the power to change the world!

      God bless you!

  2. Christina,

    Sadly, authentic friendships, where two are gathered in His name are few and far between. I’m more aware of this as I age. On the positive, I’m grateful for the few I have! Your reflection sparks in me the need to be true to God, and therefore, myself. It is then that I can listen with empathy to my friend. I can meet her where she is, instead of where I am. I think of the Prayer of St. Francis. Oh Master, Grant that I may never seek, so much as to be consoled, as to console. I’m seeing a greater burden on my part to be a friend. What a great discussion! Hats off to the authors!

    • Susan, thank you so much for your beautiful thoughts! I love your reference to St. Francis. And I echo “hats off to the authors.” This book is helping me to reframe my attitude towards friendship and towards my other relationships as well. I am so grateful for inspired writing!

      God bless you on your journey!

  3. I have to say that I am intimidated by the whole “meeting new friends” thing. This is a big obstacle for me to get over. It may be because I fear my invitation would not be accepted, or because I worry that the prospective friend might not have room in her life for another friend, or … so many reasons. I’m not outgoing by nature and that’s a big part of it for me.

    • Barb,
      One of my teenage relatives would completely agree and understand! She is an introvert, and has struggled greatly with the idea of making friends. She is an incredibly sweet and faith-filled girl, but is quiet and quite shy. On the subject of friendship one day, we talked about the idea of finding at least one or two good friends, centered on Christ. Now that I am reading this book, I think I would now tell her (and myself!) to focus more on the idea of BEING a good friend, putting into practice the virtues discussed by Michele and Emily. In doing this, and in being open to accepting new friends, I have a feeling that Godly friendships would be an inevitable result of this outpouring of virtue (because nothing is more attractive than a virtuous life!). 🙂

      God bless you, Barb!

  4. I find this book so helpful at this stage of my life. We are living in a new place, worshipping in a new faith community, and in a new situation as “empty nesters” (without the ability to meet friends via connections with our children). I find myself taking proactive steps to join new groups and to try to cultivate new friends intentionally, for the first time in many years. It sounds weird to say that one is “working” to make friends, but I’m keenly aware that this won’t happen unless I put in the effort. The big stumbling block in my case is the busyness that keeps me from going deeper in my friendships. It’s easy to meet people and be cordial, but am I willing to put in the time and energy that will help true friendship blossom? That’s what I’m praying about today. Thanks for your beautiful reflection!

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