By St. Aelred of Rievaulx


 Aelred of Rievaulx Med. illum. MS

English Translation based principally on that of  Sr. Mary Eugenia Laker, SSND: Spiritual Friendship, (Cistercian Publications, 1974) pp 45-47, 129.  Latin text ed. by A. Hoste, O.S.B. & E. H. Talbot: in Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Medievalis (Brepols, 1971) v. 1, pp. 347-358.











WHEN I was still a [young] boy at school, and the charm [gratia] of my companions pleased me very much, I gave my whole soul to affection and devoted myself to love amid the ways and vices with which that age is wont to be threatened, so that nothing seemed to me more sweet, nothing more agreeable, nothing more practical,

1. Cum adhuc puer essem in scholis, et sociorum meorum me gratia plurimum delectaret, et inter mores et uitia quibus aetas illa periclitari solet, totam se mea mens dedit affectui, et deuouit amori ; ita ut nihil mihi dulcius, nihil iucundius, nihil utilius

     than to [be] love[d]
           [and to love]

  quam amari
    et amare uideretur.

 (2). AND so, torn between conflicting loves and friendships, I was drawn now here, now there, and not knowing the law of true friendship, I was often deceived by its mere semblance.

2. Itaque inter diuersos amores et amicitias fluctuans, rapiebatur animus huc atque illuc - et uerae amicitiae legem ignorans, eius saepe similitudine fallebatur.





  AT length there came to my hands the treatise which Tullius wrote on friendship, and it immediately appealed to me as being serviceable because of the depth of his ideas, and fascination because of the charm of his eloquence. (3). And though I saw myself unfitted for that type of friendship, still I was gratified that I had discovered a formula for friendship whereby I might check the vacillations of my loves and affections.

 Tandem aliquando mihi uenit in manus, liber ille quem de amicitia Tullius scripsit ; qui statim mini et sententiarum grauitate utilis, et eloquentiae suauitate dulcis apparebat. 3. Et licet nec ad illud amicitiae genus me uiderem idoneum, gratulabar tamen quamdam me amicitiae formulam reperisse, ad quam amorum meorum et affectionum ualerem reuocare discursus.







And towards the end of the text, decades later, having grown older and wiser, Aelred reflects on the experience of real friendship and concludes:




THERE was no pretense between us,(p.125) Nihil inter nos simulatum,

  no simulation, no dishonorable flattery,

         no unbecoming harshness,

                   no evasion, no concealment,

fucatum nihil,
nihil inhoneste blandum,

nihil indecenter durum,circuitus nullus, nullus angulus,

but everything open and above board;

sed omnia nuda et aperta;

for I deemed my heart in a fashion his,

       and his mine,

          and he felt in a like manner towards me.

qui meum pectus quodammodo suum putarem,

et eius meum,

ipseque similiter,





AND so we were progressing in friendship without deviation,

Ita in amicitia recta linea gradientibus,

neither’s correction evoked the indignation of the other,

nullius correptio indignationem,

neither’s yielding produced blame.

nullius consensio culpam pariebat.





What more is there, then, that I can say?(p.127)

Quid ergo?

Was it not a foretaste of blessedness

Nonne quaedam beatitudinis portio fuit,

thus to love and to be loved;

thus to help and thus to be helped;

sic amare et sic amari;

sic iuuare et sic iuuari;

and in this way from the sweetness of fraternal charity

et sic ex fraternae caritatis dulcedine

to wing one’s flight aloft

in illum sublimiorem locum

to that more sublime splendor of divine love,

dilectionis diuinae splendorem altius euolare;

and by the ladder of charity

et in scala caritatis

now to mount to the embrace of Christ himself;

nunc ad Christi ipsius amplexum conscendere,

and again to descend to the love of neighbor,

there pleasantly to rest?

nunc ad amorem proximi

ibi suauiter repausaturum descendere?





And so in this friendship of ours, which we have introduced by way of example, if you see aught worthy of imitation, profit by it to advance to your own perfection.

In hac igitur amicitia nostra quam exempli gratia inseruimus, si quid cernitis imitandum, ad vestrum id retorquete profectum





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