Updated: Nov 3, 2021
What is a true friend?
A true friend is more than someone who enjoys your company and knows how to have fun. Friends often share many of the same interests and goals. St. Thomas Aquinas writes that “for a true friendship there must be some common ground.”
Good friends share their ideas, life experiences, and concerns with each other. More than that, they care about each other. They offer support and encouragement through the challenges of life. They have your best interest at heart. St. Thomas Aquinas writes that “True friendship is based on unselfish love for another person.”
In Proverbs we read that “There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). A true friend would never betray the other through gossip, lies, or bad advice. A good friend cares enough, like a brother would, to let us know if we’re making a mistake or heading in the wrong direction; they’ll risk upsetting us to help us. The best of all friends will go even farther. Jesus says that “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
That’s the kind of friend I want to be, and those are the friends I want to have. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find a good friend. For some, similar-aged people who share their faith and values just aren’t around—especially as worldliness spreads more and more throughout the world, even into our parishes, neighborhoods, and families. For others, a person’s personality can make forming friendships hard, especially for a shy person. Still others might’ve thought they had good friends only to face difficulties and find their friends fade away.
Maybe you have no close friends near you at all. You’ve made friends who share your faith and interests through social media or online groups, but they live far away. They often inspire and encourage you, but the distance still leaves you feeling lonely.
Fortunately, God provides the best of friends for us!
The saints want to be our friends. We are in communion with them by virtue of our baptism. So while they live in heaven, they can still come as close to us as we need.
The saints in heaven share much common ground with us. They don’t just share our faith, they’ve shared our struggles. They know what it’s like to face personal weaknesses and faults. Regardless of what you struggle with, there is a saint who faced that trial too—and overcame by the grace of God. And many saints have shared our particular goals too, regardless of our vocational call or interests.
These friends truly care. We can call on these friends anytime, day or night, sharing our ideas, concerns, and needs. And we can have confidence that these friends will be there for us, offering us counsel through the witness of their lives and praying on our behalf. And because they are so close to God, their prayers are incredibly powerful!
These friends will never betray us, take advantage, or lead us astray. They will always help us in our troubles and guide us to the path that leads to happiness and holiness. They care about us and want better things for us than we want for ourselves. They want us to become saints too!
How can we develop friendships with the saints?
We can get to know them by reading biographies or the saint’s own writings. And we can ask them to pray for us. But we can also get to know them in a more personal way through fictional stories. Saint stories stir the imagination and allow us to walk side by side—so to speak—with the saints. As we face challenges with them, we wonder what we might do in similar situations. We can see how they faced temptations and trials just like the ones we face. We can witness how God transformed their hearts and often used even their weaknesses to bring about their sanctification.
In the NEW RELEASE Saint Cloud of Gaul: The Prince Who Traded Kingdoms readers not only run for their lives with the saint, they get to face the trials and temptations right along with him. They get to see grace blossom in his soul and to long for holiness right alongside the saint.
Treasures: Visible & Invisible not only has a story about St. Patrick, but it shows how this saint influenced people in several generations. In fact, there's a saint story in each of the Catholic Teen Books short story anthologies!
You’ll find a saint for strugglers in A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of St. Camillus de Lellis. As a young man, he excelled in soldiering, gambling, brawling, and drinking. So how did he become a saint? When God has a plans for a person, anything can happen.
Get to know another amazing saint in St. Magnus: The Last Viking. When you crack open the pages of this book, you’ll go back in time 900 years, to the fierce and desolate Northern lands, where Norsemen ruled with ax and sword. A dying king, a shocking death-wish, his heirs divided with an oath of blood . . .
The King’s Prey lets readers get to know St. Dymphna of Ireland, the patron saint of anxiety, stress, mental disorders, and depression. This young saint had to flee from her insane father, the king.
In 6 Dates to Disaster (third book of the Bird Face series), Wendy asks St. Gemma to pray with her and to hold her best friend's hand after she is severely injured in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver.
In The Boy Who Knew, Daniel gets the worst news a teen can get—he’s diagnosed with cancer. While the adults in his life crumble under shock, the parish priest introduces him to a boy his age, Carlo Acutis—who just happens to be dead. As he struggles to come to terms with his uncertain future an unlikely friendship develops between him and the holy dead boy—who may not be quite so dead after all.
Franciscan saints “appear” in many of the West Brothers series, influencing characters in so many ways, including St. Conrad of Parzham, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Nicholas Pieck. St. Catherine of Siena plays a pretty big role in Caitlyn’s life in Fire Starters (the last West Brothers book), and this saint also provides inspiration in Fight for Liberty (book 3 in the dystopian Chasing Liberty series)!
So when you are feeling lonely, let the saints remind you that you are never alone. The best friends are closer than you realized. Thank God for raising up saints. Let’s get to know them!