From Madonna House’s Restoration about something we all experience.
Loneliness: A Short-cut to God
by Fr. Émile Brière.
In 1997, I was giving a retreat to staff worker Alma Coffman. The first question she asked was: “Now that you are 80 years old, what do you wish you had known or practiced at age 53, which is what I am now?”
My answer: First: to accept loneliness and rejection as the quickest ways to God. Second: not to seek to be consoled by people, but to console them.
Why is loneliness so difficult to accept? Why does rejection cause so much pain and anger? Because both are a kind of death. In loneliness you enter a certain darkness where there are no clear guidelines by which to find your way and no companion with which to share this suffering. We all need love in our lives or else we perish.
But there comes a time when no one can touch or fill that empty spot at the core of our being. Why not? Because that place is reserved for God. He is waiting for us there. But we get frantic and rush around trying to distract ourselves as best we can with food or drink or sex or work or games or videos or the internet. None of these things work.
The problem only grows, and the anxiety gradually becomes unbearable until we can even have a breakdown.
What to do in moments of loneliness? First and foremost, realize that loneliness is a good thing. God is calling you to himself. You are made for him. You are made for a very intimate relationship with him. Often it takes place through our loneliness and rejection.
Pray for a spiritual director and get one if at all possible who will support you but not take the place of God for you, one who will direct you to God.
And pray to Our Lady. Tell her exactly the state you are in and ask her to help you to trust the ways of God which are not our ways.
This is how the saints became saints. There is no other way. Go to the Lord Jesus Christ and beg him to console you and in so doing you will console him, because he is lonely too.
Then you will no longer be lonely or feel rejected since you are in the company of the great Lover, the great Healer, the great Consoler, who treats you as his beloved, as his friend.
I knew all that when I was 53. I wrote about it in a book entitled For Uncomplicated Christians or The Power of Love.
But I didn’t really know it. I had to go through a series of difficult experiences to be taught this supreme and supremely important lesson of the spiritual life: God alone.
Seek God alone and all the rest will be added to you. Seek God alone, and you will be able to touch the hearts of many and to bring them the tenderness and gentleness of God and of Our Lady.
Your heart emptied of its desires, save one, will grow larger, opening up to the immense gifts that God wants to pour into it before you die, so that you can be transformed into a more loving person, passing on God’s love to others and ready to meet him who loves you infinitely and whom you love with all your heart.
The saints knew loneliness and rejection. They were, each one of them, at times misunderstood, rejected, lonely, condemned, persecuted, even by their closest friends, relatives, community. Many came close to despair as did St. Therese, the Little Flower and Blessed Brother André. The saints prayed for faith, hope, and love and more faith, more hope, more love, and more trust, and through their suffering, came closer to God.
We can too.