Knowledge of God and Friendship

The following is the beginning of a series by the author.

In a friendship, having correct knowledge of one’s friend is necessary and foundational.  For example, let’s say that one has a friend and holds that this friend lives in Houston, works at an aquarium, is unmarried, and graduated from Miami University while in reality this other individual actually lives in Reading, works at an office, is married, and graduated from West Virginia University.  If such a one were to base his interactions with his friend based on the false things he holds about the friend, then this friendship will be stifled.  Additionally, the deeper the friendship is, the more intimate the knowledge the friends will have of each other.

And just as these are true on the level of human friendships, it is also true when it comes to developing a friendship with the Triune God.  Our Catholic Faith teaches us that God desires to enter into a profound friendship with each one of the faithful (see, for example, John 15:15).  Just as there is an analogy between the natural life of man and the supernatural life of grace (see S.T. III, q. 65, a1. corpus), there is an analogy between the development of human friendship and divine friendship.  This means that if one desires to have a deep friendship with God, one must have correct knowledge of Who God is, just as one must have correct knowledge of one’s human friend.  This does not mean every believer needs to be a trained theologian, but it does mean that each needs a solid foundation of truths regarding the Divine.  Failure to do so will result in one’s friendship with God being stifled or, even worse, one might end up trying to form a friendship with a figment of one’s imagination.

And how is one to arrive at this required knowledge?  In the first place, by being docile to that which God established to teach mankind with His authority and under His guidance – the Holy Catholic Church.  There can be a temptation to see the Church’s teachings on God, such as those expressed in the Creeds, as too academic, too scholarly, too removed from the lived experience of Christians.  While the truths taught by the Church do perfect the intellect, they should not be viewed as doing only that.  They should also be seen as expressing truths of one’s Friend.  Under this light, the articles of the Creeds move from the head to heart and rather than being seen as abstract theological considerations, they are seen as intimate knowledge concerning one’s Friend touching on what He is, His intimate and hidden inner life, and what He has done out of love for us men.

To be continued…

Fr. William Rock, FSSP is a priest and writer of the Fraternity of St. Peter. He is also a veteran of the US Air Force. Currently he is serving at Regina Caeli parish in Houston, Texas.