"Do not be deceived: bad company ruins good morals."
1 Corinthians 15:33
Our Lord's unwavering command is to love one another as He first loved us. And how does He love us? Without limit. With a love that is steady and constant that is long-suffering and passionate. With a love that never tires. With a love that nailed His sacred body to a cross. This love. And this is what He commands of us, to love one another.
Friendships are a gift from God and as Psalm 133 states, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, as on Aaron’s beard. The oil which ran down upon the edge of his robes." To have friendships that are of God are truly a blessing. Friendships that encourage one another to live a holy and virtuous life and to seek what is above. Friendships that are based in mutual understanding and love. It is so necessary to surround oneself with good company. The company that one surrounds themselves with, will eventually become like them in their morals and values. Keeping company with good and holy people encourages the soul to aspire after sanctity. To keep company with people who are living and encouraging a sinful life is harmful. It does not mean that you don't love and pray for them, it simply means that to remain in company with them is imprudent.
"Love everyone with a deep love based on charity... but form friendships only with those who can share virtuous things with you. The higher virtues you share and exchange with others, the more perfect your friendship will be."
-St. Francis de Sales
A priest had once told me that by praying the Rosary, Our Lady will send holy friends. I can testify to this. I've been blessed with holy men and women in my life through praying the Rosary. She sends people into a soul's life who will encourage and support them; friends who will love them and pray for them. I can also testify that the days where I kept bad company, I found myself doing the same sinful actions and engaging in the same sinful conversation. Of course, I had my own free-will and I chose to do these awful things, nonetheless, keeping bad company was the doorway to living this sinful lifestyle.
"Fly from bad companions as from the bite of a poisonous snake. If you keep good companions, I can assure you that you will one day rejoice with the Blessed in Heaven; whereas if you keep with those who are bad, you will become bad yourself, and you will be in danger of losing your soul."
-St. John Bosco
The soul is in a constant battle. Persecutions arise from within and without. The enemy of the flesh and the enemy of our salvation are constantly seeking to destroy and overthrow. Support in the battle is necessary. As you see, bad company would only cause the soul to struggle more and discourage the soul from following the pathway of holiness. Yet, of course if the Lord had sent someone into a person's life who is seeking to live a holy and virtuous life after living sinfully, both the person and the friend would be seeking the ideal of sainthood and be of support to each other. But to keep company with sinners and engage in their sinful lifestyle is both imprudent and wrong.
"God sends us friends to be our firm support in the whirlpool of struggle. In the company of friends we will find strength to attain sublime ideal."
-St. Maximilian Kolbe
Friendships should mirror God's faithfulness and loyalty, as Our Lord is faithful even when we are unfaithful. God is the best of friends and He is always seeking ways to bring us happiness and joy. His loyal friendship never quits or delays. He is ever present to us in all our needs. This friendship and loyalty should be the basis of all our other friendships, to allow the God of peace to live within our souls and to allow Him to nourish and bless our friendships.
You see, every good thing can only be found in Him and nourished in Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. He is the vine, we are the branches. With Him everything, without Him, nothing.
Let us implore Our Lady of the Rosary, to send us holy friends so as to aspire after sanctity, perfect love of God.
St. John Bosco, pray for us.