October 2012 - Vol.  63
Friendship, Health, and Wisdom Are Essential
by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)

Two things here on earth are essential – health and a friend. They are the two things most to be prayed for. Woe to the person who despises them.

Health and friendship are natural gifts. God has made human beings for living – hence health – and for not living alone – hence the search for friendship.

Friendship begins in the family, with your spouse and children and extends from there to strangers. But who, in fact, is a stranger? All human beings share a common parentage. Do you fail to recognize that person? There’s a human being there! Are you dealing with an adversary? There’s a human being there! With an enemy? There’s a human being there too! Let a friend remain a friend and turn an enemy into a friend.

However, to these two things that we need to have in this world, health and friendship, we must add a third which is not of this world, namely wisdom.

Divine wisdom is on a different plane from human beings – stupid, sunk in error, attached to superfluities, ignorant of the eternal verities. Divine wisdom is no friend of the foolish and, because it is not their friend, it is to be found far removed from them.

Nevertheless, by taking to itself what was close to us, divine wisdom has come close to us. In this consists the mystery of Christ. Nothing is further from foolishness than divine wisdom and nothing is closer to human beings than their humanity – divine wisdom has assumed humanity and come closer to human beings by means of what is close to them.

So we believe in three things – health, friendship and divine-human wisdom.

[Click here for a brief bio of Augustine of Hippo]

[Excerpt from Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, edited by Thomas Spidlik, translated by Paul Drake, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan - Spencer, Massachusetts,1994. Original Latin source from Serm. Denis, 16, 1 (Miscellanea Agostiniania, 75-77).]
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