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  A Christian Faith Magazine February 2004, Volume 9, Issue 7  
The Eighth Sacrament

Rev. Mark Connolly
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All of us from time to time were taught that there are seven sacraments. Theologians and scholars for years have said that there should be an eighth sacrament. They called it the sacrament of friendship. Our lives are going at such a pace we do not make or have the time to develop solid friendships. We have become the culture of Prozac, St. John Wart, Valium, and for some these are necessary, but even these people could achieve even greater peace of mind if they had one solid friendship.

Friendships can be divided into three categories - our relationship with God, our relationship with others and our relationship with one's self.

God has to be your most important and meaningful friend. If you study the teachings of Jesus Christ, he made it clear about the importance of friendships in his life. Greater love, he said, than this no one has than he who lays down his life for a friend. You can recall that he showed us his desire for friendship with us by dying on a cross on Good Friday. The greatest test of friendship are the love and sacrifice that one person will show for another. And Christ was showing his love, his sacrifice, to retain a friendship with us.

Henry Adams
Henry Adams

Another factor of solid friendship is your relationship with others. First of all, we have to get rid of a myth that we all have about friendships. Most of us don't have many solid friendships. We have a lot of associates and companions, but very few solid friendships. Why? The demands of friendship are so great that very few people can afford or pay for a solid friendship with you. Henry Adams, in his classical work on friendship, once said , to have one friend in life is much, two are rare, three are hardly possible. Friendships demand love and tolerance, charity and compassion, and one who is a good listener. Very few want to pay that price. If you have a solid friendship with someone in your life, you have the pearl of great price. Do you remember years ago the book, The Last Hurrah. It is the story of Frank Steffington, the Mayor of Boston. All throughout his days of being Mayor had been surrounded by wealthy and famous people, except at the hour of his death. He was in the hospital and dying. Present in the room was the man who ran all his errands, took his clothes to the cleaners, did small jobs, but was always pleasant and cheerful. He said to the Mayor for the last time, "is there anything I can do for you?" The Mayor looks at him, holds his hand and says, "how can I thank a man for a thousand smiles?"

The last quality of friendship is the one with yourself. If you are always in a perpetual sense of frustration and anger, have little sense of self worth or self esteem, it is going to be hard for you when it comes to the cultivation of solid friendships. Christ gave us a powerful example when he said, love one another as I have loved you. If you do not love yourself, it is going to be difficult to love others.

Christ has told us he did not come from heaven to earth to call us his servants, but to call us his friends. Every friendship enriches your personality and the personality who is the object of your friendship. No one is that old that he or she cannot cultivate a new friendship. The person who does not take the time or make the effort to cultivate a solid friendship is missing a treasury of memories and happy experiences. All of us have been told, because our schedules are so hectic, to take the time and smell the roses. I encourage you to take the time to cultivate a friendship.

A Friend

Take time to love
And time to care,
Take time to feel
For others' fare.
Just let them know
That even when
Their world goes wrong
You'll be a friend.

- Thomas C. Gallagher

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