All of us experience loneliness at different times, and sometimes we experience long seasons of loneliness: when someone we dearly love dies, when we’re going through an illness, when we take on a new responsibility, when we age and are facing death. I’ve come across some good reflections on loneliness that I thought I would share with you:
I think that part of being human is being alone. And being lonely. I think that one of the stresses on a lot of our friendships is that we require the people we love to take away that loneliness. And they really can’t. And so, when we still feel lonely, even in the company of people we love, we become angry with them because they don’t do what we think they’re supposed to do. Which is really something they can’t do for us. (Rich Mullins)
The grace of loneliness is one of the most precious gifts that God gives to us in our path to sanctity. (S.C. Biela)
Loneliness is the place of encounter with God. At the same time, it is a difficult trial of faith. Therefore, we should never face it by relying on our own strength. (S.C. Biela)
The Holy Spirit is the answer to our loneliness, which along with fear and weakness, is the greatest cause of human suffering. What really overcomes loneliness? . . . having a friend, someone to share thoughts with, a companion. If we are open to him, this is what the Holy Spirit wants to be to us. It is again St. Basil who says that the Holy Spirit was ‘the inseparable companion’ of Jesus during his life on earth, and that the Spirit wants to be the same for us . . . .
If it is possible for weakness to provide an occasion for us to experience the strength of the Spirit, it is possible for loneliness to be the occasion and also the stimulus for us to experience the Spirit as ‘sweet guest.’ (Fr. R. Cantalamessa)
6 thoughts on “Loneliness”
Can you share the source of these quotes? I suspect they are found in rich soil…
Rich Mullins’ quote comes from Rich Mullins, an Arrow Pointing to Heaven by James Bryan Smith, p. 132. Fr. Cantalamessa’s is from his book, Come Creator Spirit–a book I highly recommend. And S.C. Biela’s book is Open Wide the Door to Christ (In the Arms of Mary Foundation).
Thank you. I’ve read Come, Creator Spirit. That must be why it sounded familiar. I am still pondering the connection between loneliness and solitude. It stikes me that there is an alone-ness that is good – an emptiness that gives room for God, but fears and temptations can turn it into a loneliness that is not of the Lord. “Fear is useless, what’s needed is trust.”
I think you’re absolutely on the right track. There is definitely need for discernment about what’s going on. On the other hand, I think many folks are afraid of what you so aptly referred to as ‘solitude’ and ‘alone-ness’. Many married women don’t expect to experience loneliness in their marriages. Also, the loneliness that is caused by fears and temptations can be turned into that “emptiness that gives room for God.” I think that’s exactly what Jesus had to do during His agony–constantly keep turning the ‘alone-ness’ He was experiencing because of fears and temptations over to the Father. We can so easily run from it and turn to other things, can’t we, instead of letting it be “an emptiness that gives room for God”?
Thanks for your recent blogs on loneliness. They are precious and helped me get my loneliness in perspective. I am doing much better and letting the Holy Spirit feed me at this time.
The quote about the fact that in loneliness even the consolations and support of others don’t help us is so true. I was given lots of support and love, but it wasn’t able to penetrate the loneliness I felt at the death of Harriet and my not being able to be back with my family for the mourning and funeral. Thanks be to God for HIS LOVE IS EVERLASTING!
As for me, to be alone and lonely are rather different things. As one poet said “It’s ok if you’re the one and not the zero”.