AS our liturgical year draws to a close at the end of July each year, we pause to join hands and remember the bond that unites all of us around the world ... on July 30th ... International Friendship Day.
We the priests of Antinous receive messages every day from worshipers who feel alone and isolated ... stuck in far-flung places ... stuck in jobs they hate ... or stuck in joblessness ... stuck in loveless relationships with hateful family ... stuck in poverty ... not just poverty in terms of money, but poverty in terms of friendship and emotional support.
In earlier days physical isolation meant isolation of the heart. But with the growth of social media, we are learning that geographical distances are no barrier to emotional support and loving friendship.
So on this day it is good to remember that we are never truly alone.
Cynics say that friendships happen by chance, that you happen to stumble upon a person in a coincidental circumstance and that you both open your hearts to each other and then become friends ... all by chance.
But we prefer to believe that friends are in each other all along ... always have been in each other ... always will be in each other.
And we remember that Hadrian loved Antinous so much that, when Antinous died tragically, the Emperor proclaimed him a God ... the last and ultimate Classical deity.
Hadrian could have chosen to grieve alone and to hold the memory of his beloved Antinous in his heart. But instead, Hadrian chose to share Antinous with all of us.
Hadrian's heart was broken, but he chose to open his heart and to share Antinous with all of us ... for the Emperor knew that one day each of our hearts was waiting to be filled with the friendship that Hadrian's heart had known ... and which he shares freely and lovingly with us.