I am a horrible friend
Some people appear to have a natural aptitude for being a friend. Me, not so much. I've often said, "I stink as a friend". I don't mean to. My self-centered needs usurps my best of intentions. Aware of my friendship deficit, I was unsure if I possessed the acumen to review Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet's new book. To be honest, when I received my copy of The Friendship Project: The Catholic Women's Guide to Making and Keeping Fabulous, Faith-Filled Friends from Ave Maria Press, I placed it in the "maybe review" pile.
I began my "reading" by exploring Michele and Emily's The Friendship Project website. My history with these two ministry powerhouses afforded a confidence that I'd find a storehouse of rockin' supplemental material. Likewise, I trusted TheFriendshipProject.com to guide my "review or not to review" decision, once I was acquainted with the book and the accompanying group study. After perusing the sample chapter and watching the group study videos, my enthusiasm for the book blossomed but I was still apprehensive about posting a review.
In their introductory video, Michele and Emily beautifully illustrate our shared belief that there are no coincidences in life as they share many moments in their friendship that only the Lord could have orchestrated. I call those "only God could have done this" type of moments a godcidence. My answer as to whether I was qualified to review a book on friendship came as my own godcidence moment. When I received an email graciously invited by my new friends, Michele and Emily, (thanks to gift of social media) inviting me to be a part of The Friendship Project blog tour. Clearly, the Lord knew I (like so many others) would benefit from reading (and sharing) this book. It was also the perfect opportunity to practice the virtues of friendship highlighted in The Friendship Project.
You Had me at No Guilt
The tipping-point came in a simple statement from the authors assuring me there is no guilt within these pages. After hearing that I knew I'd love this new book as much as I did their first, Divine Mercy for Moms. Her words reassured me that I could read this book and feel better (not worse) about my ability to be and accept friends in my life. Women are so hard on themselves. We set these ridiculous goals of perfection and even if we are reaching them never feel good enough.
Thank goodness for the blessing of friendship, beginning with the one God blessed Michele and Emily with, which made this fabulous new book and group study possible.
In The Friendship Project, Michele and Emily explore the cardinal and theological virtues with an eye toward friendship. Focusing on faith, hope, love, prudence, gratitude, loyalty, generosity, and prayerfulness, they help us answer questions such as, “What does it mean to be women of hope, and how does that change our lives and make us more compassionate friends during difficult times?” and “How does prayerfulness teach us how to listen to and talk with both God and our friends, which helps us reach out to those we love?”
Why Is This Important?
God did not create us in isolation nor to live in isolation. We are created from love, to love and to be loved. God does not ask the impossible of us. He provides all the grace, wisdom and understanding to accomplish his desires for our lives that includes fabulous, faith-filled friends. The Friendship Project offers amazing insights, resources and guides to bring your friendships to a whole new level.
The Author's Introduce the Project
Friends of Virtue
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter:
Making and keeping friends has been a long standing struggle. I have often felt like a round peg trying to be the square peg to fit in with others. True friendship, I have discovered, comes from being able to be myself - and loved even when I am not being the best me. Wish The Friendship Project existed when I was in my twenties as I began to juggle work and friends; or my thirties as I navigated even bigger strains on my time for friends - marriage and motherhood. The more responsibilities added to my life the less time I found for others.
In 2006, I began attending a weekly faith sharing group. This was a game changer. My relationship with God strengthened but more importantly came an unexpected blessing of the addition of godly friends in my life. Though not without missteps and misunderstandings, my friendships have definitely evolved into sturdy shelters and cherished treasures. The excitement of sharing The Friendship Project with my faith-filled friends envelopes me with a Christmas Morning type anticipation. I can only imagine the soaring heights of joy, peace and hope God has in store for our relationships as we incorporate newly honed virtues into them.
Some of My Sturdy Shelter Posse
Michele and Emily's friendship project not only affirmed the wisdom of the power of friends of faith but also provide much needed guidance in making, building, and maintaining those relationships.
I highly recommend adding The Friendship Project: The Catholic Woman's Guide to Making and Keeping Fabulous, Faith-filled Friends to our reading list. As an advocate for Group Study, I highly recommend reading this with friends as well. God blesses us in many ways while we are upon this earth. One of His special gifts are the people he places in our lives. Let The Friendship Project become your owner's manual to getting the most of this precious present from our Loving Father!
About the Authors:
Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet are busy wives, mothers, and volunteers. They are also friends, Catholic speakers, and the dedicated coauthors of Divine Mercy for Moms, which continues to inspire women to come together to pray, study, and live in friendship around the Divine Mercy devotion. In the midst of their active lives, Faehnle and Jaminet found themselves missing their old friends and searching for new ones. They also realized that they needed to continually work to develop deep, meaningful relationships that would allow them to be themselves, to care for others and be cared for, and to deepen their Catholic faith.
In The Friendship Project, Faehnle and Jaminet explore the cardinal and theological virtues with an eye toward friendship. Focusing on faith, hope, love, prudence, gratitude, loyalty, generosity, and prayerfulness, they help us answer questions such as, “What does it mean to be women of hope, and how does that change our lives and make us more compassionate friends during difficult times?” and “How does prayerfulness teach us how to listen to and talk with both God and our friends, which helps us reach out to those we love?”
Faehnle and Jaminet answer these questions and more by employing Church teaching and telling us stories of their own friendships and those from the lives of saints and biblical women—including the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and her sister Servant of God Léonie, and Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. Not only will you be drawn closer to friends both new and old but you’ll also be reminded how these friendships—and the virtues you practice to nurture them—draw you closer to God.
Prayers, discussion questions, and a study guide make this a perfect resource for women’s groups.
(from The Friendship Project product page ~ Ave Maria Press)
This post is a part of a Marian Virtue Series, running every Wednesday and Friday. It will conclude on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
If you are just joining the series now and want to learn more
you can start here: Introduction to Marian Virtue Series.
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Ardent Charity at A Beautiful, Camouflaged, Mess of a Life
Next Blog Article:
Heroic Patience at Fresh Starts and New Adventures
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The Twelve Most Important Things to Know About Angels:
Mary's Angelic Qualities
Evidence of Mary's Sweetness in Scripture
Leading up to the days of Jesus Passion, Death and Resurrection, St. John's Gospel shares these poignant words from our Lord, "“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27) As a world-class worry-wart, this promise of peace brings me great joy. How will Jesus bestow this peace?
Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus endows the faithful with two magnificent gifts. First, the promise to send the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. The grace of God's Holy Spirit living within us, when evoked and cooperated with, offers a peace this world can not give. Second, Jesus from the cross, generously gifts to us His Mother.
As he looked down upon His Mother, whose very presence must have filled his own heart with peace and comfort, he speaks these words:
Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. ~ John 19:25-27
These words are not spoken merely for John's benefit. Jesus bequests Mary to all willing to accept her. The Marian Virtue of Angelic Sweetness has been described as, "radiating joy and peace to everyone she encountered." Mary, by her very nature, can not help but impart peace, comfort, and joy.
How Can I Emulate this Virtue?
We can seek opportunities to be caring, compassionate, and welcoming. Although busy, and probably overwhelmed by our to-do lists, we can carve out time to be present and aware of the needs of others. Angelic Sweetness challenges us to be tenacious in our living out the Catholic faith, no matter how many (or how big) the obstacles.
The Marian Virtue of Angelic Sweetness manifests in my life through the blessing of being an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. I have discovered my home-bound friends are not only thrilled to be receiving Jesus in the Eucharist but also to have av visitor. This ministry grants me the opportunity to practice caring, compassion and being ever present to others.
I will never forget my first Christmas delivering Communion to four sweet residents of our local assisted living complex. I arrived to find a note on the door of the complex, "WARNNG: Stomach Flu epidemic. ENTER AT OWN RISK." What? NO! My germaphobe alarms sounded and I could feel myself on the verge of a panic attack. I looked down at the pyx holding Jesus. How could I allow my anxiety to keep me from bringing my new friends, "Christmas Jesus"? Mother Mary, I prayed, help. In that moment, a peace that surpassed all understanding, flooded my heart. We enjoyed a joyous visit and gratefully I did not spend Christmas in the bathroom.
How have you experienced the Marian Virtue of Angelic Sweetness in your life?
Share your story in the comment section below!
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Funny story -- I am a late entry to this inspiring Marian Virtues Series. I am so grateful for this opportunity to fill in and write on Angelic Sweetness. The late entry really WORKED out awesome because that left me eligible to WIN the first week's giveaway - a gorgeous print of Mary by Providential Co.
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The Sin I Hate to Admit to is Envy
A few years ago I was sitting in a conference hall awaiting the next speaker. It was Jeff Cavins and he was coming up to speak about envy. I actually contemplated going to do something else for that hour because although I knew I had an occasional issue with jealousy, I was all set in the envy arena. OH my, was I wrong!! Probably why the Spirit sat me mid-row that day; and as I looked down the row and realized how many people I'd have to vault and navigate to leave, I decided to leave my bottom planted and listen.
The First Tough Lesson
Envy is a much more sinister emotion than jealousy. It is not wanting us both to have the promotion, healthy body or fancy car - it is an actual sadness that the other does and you do not. For me, there is a feeling of defeat especially if it is an idea I have contemplated but never acted on. Perhaps my envy is also mixed in with my personal disappointment that I'd allowed procrastination or doubt keep me from following through again; but still I should not be so sad that another is being blessed!
This is one of the best explanations of envy I have found, written by Fall River Diocesan priest, Fr. Thomas Kocik, as part of an article called, The Seven Deadly Sins — and their Remedies, in which he says, "Envy poisons our whole being. Because Cain was envious of his brother Abel, he “was very angry, and his countenance fell” (Gen 4:5). Because the sons of Jacob envied their brother Joseph, “they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him” (Gen 37:4). Because Saul was envious of David, he “eyed David from that day on” (1 Sam 18:9). “Jealousy and anger shorten life, and anxiety brings on old age too soon” (Sir 30:24)."
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Social Media has Absolutely Fueled This Sin
Every morning I have the same routine - wake up, say a quick prayer, make coffee, jump on the Social Media. Where I then search, read, and share Catholic content from Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+. I sometimes spend hours perusing through all the great things other people are saying, doing and photographing; however, what I should be doing is admiring it not allowing it to deflate me. Admiration is the opposing virtue to the vice of envy therefore the most powerful weapon against falling into that sinful behaviors that can accompany envy.
As I explore, read, and yes even re-post comparisons develop. As I become aware of other people's opportunities or good fortune, a seed of sadness grows. As I look at the shiny coverings of the other Catholic (or otherwise) bloggers, media savvy eye-catching and entertaining posts or the bevvy of shared good news, my own efforts appears duller and duller. Insecurity creeps in as I look at the degrees people hold, ideas they had the 'luck' to share first, the whole myriad of successes they or their family are blessed to have. Some days the dark shadow of discouragement bought on my envy overtakes me. It can be subtle and may even go undetected for a while but I know it is there because I can feel my JOY wane and all too often my anxiety abound.
So there you have it - my weakest link - I am an incredibly envious person. It is a battle that every day I have to consistently and consciously fight.
My Personal Remedies for Envy (and many other things)!
These are the tools I utilize (daily) to wage war against them - so that I can remain focused on doing the "Will of the One who sent me," (John 6:38), and not paralyzed by my own insecurity.
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017
This desire to conquer my envious tendencies and celebrate the awesomeness of others was actually the genesis of #WorthRevisit !