My thoughts and reflections on my Catholic Faith, Fulton Sheen, the problem of suffering, and books

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Prayer Request, and a Few Thoughts on Friendship--UPDATED

UPDATE via his brother: Brendan's surgery has been completed, and it was successful. Obviously, he still has a long road of treatment ahead, so please continue to keep him in your prayers.

My dear friend and former history professor Brendan is having surgery today to remove the tumor (recurrence of Ewing's sarcoma) in his shoulder-blade. Please keep him in your prayers!!!

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for Brendan!
St. Peregrine, pray for Brendan!

(Brendan in January 2012, one month after he finished chemo the first time)

As Brendan has been fighting cancer again this year, I've been reflecting on friendship and the various ways it is expressed.

Email is the first and the most frequent form of our friendship. I must admit (though I hate to) that it's probably the lowest form of communication; neither of us can see the other's body language or facial expression; so sometimes there are miscommunications and misunderstandings, and it hasn't been pretty at those times. However, he has kept in touch, and that has been good.

Secondly is hearing his voice...this, in a disembodied way, as in over the phone. The day that I got my driver's license, I was able to talk to him and tell him the exciting news "in person," as it were; and it was so good to hear his congratulations, to hear the tone of his voice...much better than if I had just read "Congratulations!" in an email.

The third and highest level of friendship is actual in-person, specifically the sense of touch; not just seeing him across campus, but giving him a hug, reassuring myself with the senses of sight and touch that he is in fact doing okay.

* * *

Venerable Fulton Sheen, in Life is Worth Living (the transcript of his television show) calls these "Three Degrees of Intimacy": hearing, seeing, and touching.
Every human heart knows that there are various degrees of intimacy: some distant like an echo, others close enough to vibrate the soul. ...
The first intimacy of the senses ... is the intimacy of hearing. We would never know that anyone loved us unless he told us so. (Emphasis added.) 
The next intimacy of love among the senses is vision. The heart is never satisfied merely at hearing the words of the beloved or at reading his message. It wants to see the words born on human lips, see the earnestness of a visage, the flash of an eye, and the sincerity of character in the expression of the face.
But there is still another intimacy--an intimacy so deep, so profound, and so personal that the greatest insult anyone can show us who knows us not is to make use of it: that is the imtimacy of touch. In the order of senses, touch is the high point of contact of personality with personality.   
If you love someone, you're not content with merely getting emails from your friend. Hearing his voice isn't even enough, nor is seeing him. You want to touch him, to have that reassurance that
St. John the Apostle references these three "intimacies" in his first letter, 1 John 1:1: "That...which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands."

In your charity, please pray for Brendan!

Prayer to St. Peregrine.

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