Faith on the QuadCollege Friendships

He who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself. (Sir. 6:17)

Friendship is an important aspect in our lives as human beings.  In Genesis, God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gn. 2:18) God created us as creatures with a need to interact with other people, to be part of a community.  For this reason, friendship is very important.  We share many of life’s most powerful experiences with our friends - from our moments of greatest joy to our times of deepest sorrow, our friends constitute an essential part of our lives. 

Friendships are particularly important for college students.  Freshmen starting college experience an entirely new level of independence – with no parents to hold us accountable for our actions, we start to make many of our own decisions as we journey into adulthood.  Many of us arrive at school knowing few, if any, of our new peers.  It is a fresh start and a new setting.  As the weeks go by, we meet countless new acquaintances, and strangers slowly become friends. 

Maintaining a strong faith in college is a real challenge.  The friends that we choose will play a big role in determining whether our faith will stay strong or start to dwindle during our college years.  Good friends will encourage and support us.  They are friends who share our Christian morality; they are fighting the good fight alongside us, and they are striving for the same ultimate goal.  Good friends are important to keep us accountable for our actions, to help us stand firm against temptation, and to give us encouragement and support in difficult times. 

Bad friends, in contrast, will drag us down.  Because they do not share our common sense of morality, their behavior may not reflect the Christian virtues we promote.  At first, it is tempting to silently tolerate their actions while thinking that we would never do these things ourselves.  But over time, we become numb.  The line between right and wrong becomes blurred, and we start justifying their actions to ourselves.  Without realizing it, we have been desensitized, and certain actions, which at one time repelled us, no longer seem that bad.  Eventually, we get drawn in.  It becomes more and more difficult for us to resist temptation, and when we suddenly find ourselves behaving in ways that we never believed we would have, we are puzzled as we wonder what has caused this change in us.  Closer reflection reveals to us our friends’ role in shaping our own behavior.

Although we may not always realize it, our friends have a big influence on us, and we have a big influence on them.  It is important for us to have good friends to support us, especially in our college years, when our faith and morality will constantly be challenged and assaulted.  The words of Sirach remind us of the immeasurable value of a good friend: “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.  A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.” (Sir. 6:14-15)  Students should heed these words as they make decisions about the people with whom they will spend their college years, remembering the immense help that faithful friends can provide in the battle to live out our Christian faith on a college campus.

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