Tag Archives: friendship

Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

On this second day of the new year, the Church gives us the liturgical memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church. They were both well educated. These fathers of the Cappadocia were instrumental in forming our theological precision, for example, on the monastic life, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity and the Creed. Saint Basil, a convert, comes from a family of saints, was a monk, a priest and worked for church unity, and worked to the reform of prostitutes and thieves. He was ordained a bishop at age 40.

Perhaps the best description of true friendship ever written was by Saint Gregory Nazianzen:

Basil and I were both in Athens. We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning, and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.

I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct, and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.

What was the outcome? Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honor that his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.

Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together. In this way we began to feel affection for each other. When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognized that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires, the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.

The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.

We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that “everything is contained in everything,” yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.

Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.

Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.

The nail links friendship

nailToday we buried an old friend, Julius S. Markowski, 100. May God grant him mercy, peace and light. May St Stanislaus assist him.

Julius and his family’s history is intertwined with my family’s these past many decades. So many memories of Julius and Betty with my grandparents Julius and Helen. There is also a long friendship with Julius and his grandson John with whom I went to primary school.

One of Julius’ sayings: “The nail is a wonderful thing.” Indeed it is. Among other things, nails hold things together, including friendship.

Remembering Melissa Ann Morrissey

Melissa Ann MorrisseyToday, I had the sad privilege to join my voice with many others in praying for God’s mercy and abundant love on a longtime friend, Melissa Ann Morrissey. The Mass of Christian Burial was offered at our home parish, Our Lady of Pompeii Church, East Haven.

Melissa, 42, died a week ago today of a heart attack after a few days of feeling unwell. She unexpectedly died.

In the hours following the news of Melissa’s death, the 4th neighborhood young person to have died in the last 5 years, had me pondering the meaning of this terrible event. No words can make sense of Melissa’s death; no act of kindness can restore her life. Only the mystery of death coupled with the Divine Mystery can assist and give comfort in the fact that Melissa’s humanity had given meaning, hope and life.

As my mom said several times since the news broke, it’s not supposed to be that parents bury their child. Indeed, I can’t imagine the grief of Joann and Pat and Melissa’s brother Pat. I can only hope that Our Lady of Sorrows will wrap them all in her mantle relating the real experience of a child’s death.

In friendship let us call out to God with the words of the Mass,

Show us, Lord, the immense power of your goodness, that, as we weep for our sister Melissa, we may be confident that she has passed over into your eternal company.

Eternal memory.

For Giovannimaria

Emily and GMR 2013.jpgThis morning a dear little friend was called home to the Lord following a long and stressful encounter with neuroblastoma. Giovannimaria (GMR), 7, has been in the USA for the last few years, coming from Rome, to receive the best treatment possible from the health professionals at Memorial Sloan Kettering, NYC.

Giovannimaria suffered much, especially in the last few months. He bore significant pain and an experience of several hospitalizations.
Having been with the GMR and his family has been a good thing for me for this reason: he has helped me in no demonstrable way to reflect on the meaning of life, suffering, faith, friendship, healthcare, people’s dignity and the like. This was a profound experience for me; it was life altering for GMR. While I can say that GMR and his family opened new doors to what it means to belong to Jesus in a concrete way. I was with GMR when he first received the Eucharistic Lord but he alone made the journey to meet the Lord personally.
I hope when GMR met Jesus earlier today he asked Him why he had to live and die from a disease as painful as neuroblastoma. I am looking forward to the real answer. Perhaps the Lord said to GMR, “you had the tumors to show the world what it means to have mercy for oneself, others and those who are not like me; to allow me to love you and the others in a big way.”
With the Church we pray,
O God, who called your servant Giovannimaria to serve you in affliction and sickness, grant, we pray, that he who followed your Son’s example of suffering, may also receive the reward of his glory.
In this picture is Giovannimaria and our friend, Emily. Photo courtesy of George Goss, Dominican Foundation.

Charlotte’s Web still rocks

Charlotte's Web cover.jpgThis afternoon I watched an exceptional movie that I haven’t seen in years, “Charlotte’s Web,” based on the 1952 famed book by the same name by E.B. White.

The movie I saw was the 2006 version with a star cast of speakers. Do you remember the animal cast?
Charlotte – the spider
Wilbur – the pig
Templeton – the rat
Uncle – the rival pig in the county fair
Terrific, Radiant, Humble
I’ve always admired E.B. White’s novel for its portrayal of the beauty of friendship among those who ordinarily wouldn’t share friendship –the outcasts and the very unusuals, and I don’t mean among the animals. The animated friendship the animals exhibit is the real friendship we all desire to share among family and friends, especially those of the extend type, too. We are given each other for a purpose. The question is, do we have the capacity to expand our hearts to let others in? Have had an experience of an unexpected someone being a terrific, radiant and humble friend given by Christ for companionship?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory