When a guy speaks in an Australian accent – and yes, it’s real – most of us listen just a little more attentively. And it’s a good thing, especially when Matt Fradd is speaking.
After making fun of his accent, and ours – Matt led us in a beautiful acoustic guitar version of the Hail Mary so that we could consecrate his talk and the rest of the weekend to our Blessed Mother. Then he dove right into his inspired talk.
Matt began with a familiar phrase: God is love. However, it’s important to know what exactly what love is. There must be the lover, the beloved, and the love that they share. If God is love, and we are made in His image, then we are made to love.Friendship fills this desire in our hearts to love. If love is not revealed to us and if we don’t partake intimately in love, our lives are empty.
Matt showed a sad video to illustrate how we can sometimes isolate ourselves. He then shared about a concept of “hikikomori” which is the abnormal avoidance of social contact. This condition prevents us from reaching our full potential to love.
Then Matt did something unique. He had the students briefly discuss in groups of 2 or 3 a burning question, “What are the things that are hurting friendships in the 21st century?”
Members of the crowd astutely responded with things like: talking behind people’s backs, trust issues, people being fake, insecurities about what others might think of us, not putting enough effort into friendship…how true is that?
Then Matt asked them another question: What can you do in your life today to start developing authentic friendships?
The crowd had some superb responses. Many pointed out the need to have face to face interaction. There seems to be a real need for opening up and being honest in friendships. One teen encouraged his peers not to judge people from their pasts but to be open to their new selves. In all of this, one common theme rang loud and clear among the young people in the crowd: They want REAL friendships so that they can share their real selves.
At the end of the talk, Matt Fradd gave a few practical tips for making REAL friends…
1) Go to bed so you have enough energy to give to others
2) Turn your devices off.
3) Look up and notice what’s around you.
“Being awkward is okay. Let’s forget being cool and just all be awkward together.”
“Remember that we are not an island, and that we do really need each other.”
(From Sirach 6:6-7) “Let those who are friendly to you be many, but one in a thousand your confidant. When you gain friends, gain them through testing…”
(From C.S. Lewis) “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”