Wednesday Quotes
By His Countenance and His Words
November 25, 2015

A Man's Head, Van Dyck

“For a friend, if he is sympathetic, is a consolation both by his countenance and his words, as he knows our feelings and what grieves and comforts us.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics IX

The ‘if’ clause is important. Not all the people we call friends are really sympathetic.

What grieves me and what comforts me are evident to me. These things are not evident to others. Only those who make an effort, will really see what grieves and comforts us. When a friend actually does, this is a great gift. In times of sorrow especially, so much is in his face, even without his saying anything. Like a healing salve, a friend is truly present through that face: whether in cherished memory, or in the flesh.

But then come the words; perhaps a few, perhaps a number, but always well-measured, springing from the root of compassion–a suffering-with-me. A friend knows what to say, as a way to buoy and be with me.

And to think that I can do this for others, in turn. May I live in such a way that my own countenance and words can be a consolation to those I hold dear.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher. The Nicomachean Ethics is his main moral treatise.

Image: Anthony van Dyck

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  1. I love this post! It touches on something most dear to me, Devotion to the Face of Christ. In order to be a true, sympathetic and compassionate friend we need to contemplate the Face of Jesus. We are invited by Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year to contemplate the “living face of His Mercy.” Thank you for another thought-provoking post!

  2. Patricia, Thank you very much for sharing this–I love the phrase “living face of His Mercy.”

  3. Well said Dr. Cuddeback and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I am thankful for your Wednesday quotes!

    How grateful I am too for those who gently see me through my own eyes, demanding I be more kind in my assessment, all the while having the courage to oppose me at any moment for my own sake despite any resistance I might enlist. Untouched by time and distance, true friendship reflects the eternal.

  4. Malia, Your words give evidence that you are very blessed in your friends! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  5. Thank you for the sharing this great insight. It makes me grateful for those in my life that fit this description (they are rare!), and for bringing the challenge to each one of us to be that friend, that person who is truly sympathetic. It reminds me of a quote that is worth repeating and pondering: “Be the person that you want to meet.”

    1. Zinman, That is a great quote; worth pondering indeed. Thanks.