Calling Dr. Wadell,Calling Dr. Wadell!

Dr. Paul Wadell is a Saint Norbert professor who is loved and respected by all: his colleagues, his students, his fellow parishioners, his Norbertine friends. Attending a class or a lecture conducted by Paul is like engaging in a retreat or spiritual direction; he's just that good.

Paul is a theologian whose area of expertise is Christian Ethics. He can make the most dense concepts seem so understandable, so attainable. No wonder people are poised during his lectures, ready to devour the ear-candy that comes from his reflections.

You can only imagine how great it is to hear Paul expand theologically on Christian Friendship. In fact, I loved his book, "Friendship in the Moral Life" so much that I purchased it in bulk several years ago for vocation contacts and for members of the Packer organization. But there is a new twist on friendships that I think Paul could unload and unpack for his students to consider in class this fall -- the notion of "friends for hire." What's up with that?

Over the past week, I've heard news stories about and encountered advertisements for The company makes it clear what their services do not provide: this is not "eHarmony," it is not an escort service nor is it a service that will offer any sort of sexual pairing of any shape, form or matter. Rather, this site assists those who are lonely by offering a friend with whom one can go shopping, watch a movie, go out to a fine restaurant -- a service that offers companionship for those who do not want to go it alone. The friends for hire range in age from 18 to 80 and beyond; from $10 a hour to as high as $150 per hour.

Listening to the story while in the car yesterday, I felt a tremendous sense of sadness. There are so many material possessions and services that one can purchase with the hope that happiness will come as a result of such ownership or patronage. "Rent a Friend," as sad as that sounds, is a reminder that there are some very lonely people out there looking for companionship. How do we respond to such a reality?

Our Sacred Scripture is filled with stories of how Christ consistently finds those who are lost, and brings them home closely to his heart. Specifically he asserts, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you."

Christ befriends us with the hope that we will befriend one another. Having ears to hear God's Word, we need minds, hearts and eyes that are open to encounter those who are searching for a blessing -- perhaps even from you! If the Gospel is to be fulfilled in our hearing, we can become a blessing to one another by befriending the lost. Just imagine the blessing we might receive ourselves by celebrating true Christian Friendship -- in the Moral Life!


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