Social bonds should draw one to Christ
It is incumbent upon us in the panoramic overview of our life to analyze in great detail our social relationships, which consist most likely of both relatives and friends. To do this, we must first understand the timeless truth of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises no. 23, “Principle and Foundation: Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this mean save his soul. The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.”
… Let us enter into a plan of life for our social relationships – let us study, analyze, and examine each one to see if it is a true friendship, or a friendship that should be cooled, or a pseudo-friendship that should be ended once and for all.
Step back and observe all your social contacts, but try to view them through the divine perspective, through the eyes of God, the Father of all.
Bad contacts. Being dead honest and sincere, in the presence of Jesus, Mary, the angels, and the saints, ask yourself if there are contacts – be it relatives or so-called friends – who are truly jeopardizing or damaging your relationship with Jesus, Who is really your best friend.
End them! Even though this may appear somewhat extreme, as well as exceedingly difficult, Jesus might be challenging you to cut, sever, and end those relationships. If some person whom you call friend is hurting your friendship with Jesus, why wouldn’t you take the drastic measure of ending that friendship once and for all!
Less time and energy. Then there might be a middle-ground experience or relationship. By this we mean a friendship with a person who is noble, good, spiritual, with high ideals and pursuits like yours. However, the time you spend with this person is extreme. It is too much! … You are aware that you are neglecting your time with God, with your spouse, with your children, and with other aspects of your life that need attention. Conclusion? This is not a call to end this, but a call to moderate it; that is to say, give less time and energy to this relationship.
Upgrade your social life. Maybe it has happened that there is a person – in some parish group or setting – whom you believe is holy, dedicated, hardworking, prayerful, and inspiring, with many other virtues. After talking with them several times, you realize that each time you leave filled with spiritual consolation and peace. This could be Jesus, your best friend, speaking through this inner consolation that He wants you to expand your horizons and establish a friendship with this person.
Excerpt taken from Road Map to Heaven: A Catholic Plan of Life, by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV (TAN Books, 2019). From Chapter 14, “Our Social Relationships,” pp. 115-118.
ED BROOM, OMV is a member of the religious order Oblates of the Virgin Mary, and a priest, speaker, author, radio talk-show host, and retreat master – with a particular focus on devotion to Catholic Ignatian Marian spirituality. He serves as associate pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, CA