Friendship according to St. Francis de Sales
"Love everyone with a strenuous love based on charity, but form friendships only with those who can share virtuous things with you." - St. Francis de Sales, from The Introduction to the Devout Life
1. The greater the virtues you share and exchange with others, the more perfect your friendship will be.
If this participation is in matters of knowledge, the resulting friendship is certainly praiseworthy. It is still more so if you have virtues in common, namely prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice.
2. If your exchanges are based on charity, devotion and Christian perfection, O God, how precious this friendship should be! It will be excellent because it comes from God, excellent because it leads to God, excellent because its bond will endure eternally in God.
"How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity." - Psalm 132:1
3. Embrace true friendship by encouraging one another to perform good deeds. For those who live in the world and desire to embrace true virtue, it is necessary to unite together in holy, sacred friendship. This way they assist and encourage one another to perform good deeds.
4. It is necessary to find those who will support us and need our support in promoting the devout life. This is holy partiality that separates good from evil, the sheep from the goats, the bees from the hornets. It is a distinction that has to be made.