Every year on March 7 we celebrate Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, young mothers who were imprisoned and martyred together in ancient Rome.
Felicity was technically Perpetua’s servant, but their close and loving friendship was much more than that description would imply.
Their friendship helped them both to be better women. They encouraged each other in their faith, and helped each other remain steadfast in the face of persecution.
Their story makes me think how important it is to find good Christian friends who can be a support and encouragement to us on our own pilgrimage to heaven.
It’s said that “You are who you surround yourself with.” Friends really influence us, for better or worse.
I’ve seen this in my own life, when I went to a Catholic high school and was lucky enough to fall in with a great group of friends. These friends would invite me to daily Mass with them, or to stop by the school chapel “just to say hi” to the Blessed Sacrament. I grew in my faith thanks to them, and I was grateful for their positive influence.
Years later, in college, I fell in with a different kind of crowd, and started spending a little too much time partying instead of focusing on my studies. Again, I experienced the importance of good friendship when one of those wonderful high school friends came to visit me at university.
After seeing how I had started spending my time, she gave me a stern talking-to. “You know better than to spend your time like this,” she lovingly admonished me. “You know this isn’t how God wants you to spend your college years.”
Her words were just what I needed to hear. She was a good and true enough friend to tell me what I needed to hear, even though I’m sure it felt a little uncomfortable for her.
That conversation stopped me in my tracks and I snapped out of my silly phase, thanks to her honest tough love.
Whether they encourage us to do good or discourage us from doing bad, good friends change our lives for the better.
I feel incredibly lucky to have friends who invite me to go to Adoration with them, who ask my family to join them for a family Rosary and potluck night, who are there to support and encourage me on the path to heaven. My husband and I actually moved to a new town a few months ago to be closer to this vibrant community of Catholic families.
Every one of us needs friends who will inspire and encourage us in our faith, who will help us be better people. Every Perpetua needs a Felicity, and I’m endlessly grateful for the dear friends who play this role in my life.