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Spiritual Friendship (Cistercian Fathers 5) Paperback – April 1, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'There is much to be admired in Aelred's work: the glimpse into his heart, the realistic descriptions of situations and human behavior, the still-valid psychological insights and practical counsels, the balanced view of man's nature, and, in some instances, a delightful sense of humor combined with occasional teasing' -- Church History

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cistercian Father Series
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Cistercian Publications (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879077050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879077051
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #910,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Modern readers are often amazed at the content of Aelred of Rievaulx's SPIRITUAL FRIENDSHIP. Immediately people may ask "What would a twelfth century Cistercian abbot have to say about friendship?" The answer turns out to be "Quiet a bit". St. Aelred takes Cicero's writings on friendship and gives them a Christian perspective. The writings are set up as dialogues in the style of Plato. For St. Aelred, friendship involves love and commitment and is part and parcel of the Christian life. He believes that friends should be carefully selected and once selected, deserve the best that one can offer. In these relationships one not only finds God, but one is able to do effective work on behalf of God's people. Many commentators believe that St. Aelred was writing about the secrets of his success in the spiritual life in this work. Prior to entering religious life, Aelred was in the court of the Scottish king and was known for his political savvy and ability to accomplish things through his relationships with others. He used these same gifts in the monastery and accomplished a great deal in his lifetime, both in his abbey and for the Church as a whole.
Since Aelred speaks about friendship in poetic terms, and often times writes about friendship the way one would write about marriage, it is not surprising that his writings did spark controversy and for many years after Aelred's death, the work was largely unknown. Commentators believe that this is due not just to the controversy of the writings, but also to a combination of changes in religious life to a more aesthetic form as well as a fear of "particular friendships" (a Catholic euphemism for unhealthy, usually illicit sexual encounters). Whatever the actual reason, the book is a treasure today.
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Format: Paperback
Toss out your pop psychology driven books of the past century. Aelred of Rievaulx provides keen insight into the soul and into friendships between those who share the Spirit of Jesus Christ. A simple but profound read, the book does more than just talk about spiritual friendship, it is the very expression of its topic. Not a treatise where you, the reader, sit through a monologue, the book comes out of conversations with real spiritual friends of Aelred. Although the conversations are obviously reconstructed, there is a freshness in them with their expressions of anger, frustration, confusion, interest, and playfulness that makes the book a joy to read.
See also James M. Houston's Mentored Life for the role of spiritual friends in a time when spiritual direction is all the rage.
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This book was a nourishing and insightful read. Writing in the style of a Platonic dialog Aelred builds off of the insights of Cicero, the writings of the Church Fathers, his own experience of life in common as well as his experience of the depths of friendship in order to present this series of dialogs on the joys of friendship. He offers much wisdom for choosing and keeping friends. Much of what he has to say would fly in the face of today's outlook, but it certainly resonates with the desire of a soul to seek companionship and spiritual communion in the journey of life. This treasure trove of wisdom is certainly useful in coming to a deeper appreciation of the riches we have or should desire to have in our friends.
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Format: Paperback
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 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.
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