Loneliness: a short-cut to God

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.

Spoon Chimes

Originally posted on Mary Ann Morgan’s blog:

365 PROJECT 2016

Day 91 Spoon Chimes

April 2, 2016

Singing

You wouldn’t notice them except on windy days. They are hidden in the weeping cherry, hanging by the garden and dancing on the lowest branches of the oak out front. There are spoon chimes all over our yard. He made them for me from a box a spoons leftover from a church project. He knows how much I love the sound they make.

I want to be a chime, sitting at the ready for the Spirit to move me. But I need to bump into other chimes to actually sing. A chime will never make a sound swinging solo on the most blustery days. We need each other. That’s the way God set it up. He designed us for dependence on him and for community.

I think about this on the lonely days.

There are days that this house echoes with a quiet that is hard to bear. What keeps me from the friendship I crave? Probably fear. It is strange that when we need others most, we feel the least presentable. My house is in utter chaos with 9 puppies and all the poo and pee that comes with them. I wash blankets from morning until midnight daily. On top of that the normal housework has been seriously neglected as well as our own laundry. Inviting someone into this mess feels preposterous.

This adds to the grief I am already sorting through. To surrender to this fear might bind me to a silence that was not meant for me. I was made to sing within a beautiful community, offering a song while rubbing elbows with others.

Like the spoon chimes we need each other to truly become what we were made to be.

Psalm 133 ~”How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when brothers live in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the fragrant anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head and ran down onto his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew on Mount Hermon, on the mountains of Israel.”

The still small voice

Some of you may remember Colleen’s post a couple months ago.  She’s the sister of one of our Sisters who broke her leg severely.  She is now on the mend and can walk with a walker.  Here she shares the tough time she went through after Christmas and the beautiful work God is doing in her life:

Along with my outward healing the real renovation is happening on the inside. A peace has come over me that has never resided in me before… it is profoundly stripping away the exterior noise. When I gave my life to the Lord in a new way 3 years ago I jumped into everything I could to “soak up” the Lord – I sought Him in programs, retreats, charismatic renewal events, the crazier the better – and all of those things were good, I think they served a very necessary purpose at the time… I was leaving an entertainment rich lifestyle but entering into something rich and busy and the transformation wasn’t horrible – it was livable – God filled the gap of missing friendships with new friendships in Christ, our social calendar was just as packed and God was always a topic at social gatherings. I thought “this is it Lord, this is what conversion is all about! it isn’t so bad, you have filled my plate – and it is good.”

I began going to daily Mass, weekly confession and thought “oh, oh, okay God, THIS is what you meant by conversion, the crowds are smaller a lot older more quieter… but this is what you are putting on my plate – and it is good”.

When my fall first happened I was filled with God’s grace, seeing a blessing in every day. I knew that people’s prayers were sustaining me, I felt full of hope, I had many visitors, things were a bit quieter than daily Mass as I relied on others to drop by – but God often brought people at my doorstep and my days were filled with lovely visits and tea and prayer. I had finished my first course at Sacred Heart Seminary, I felt like “wow this isn’t so bad – even in physical difficulty God filled my plate – and it is good”

After Christmas the change was different, I had to go out of the house for doctors appointments and weekly Mass bringing a fear that wasn’t there before. Day’s were much lonelier as life resumed, kids went back to school and less apt to help with my day to day needs, I no longer had personal support workers in,  My husband was taken away for several days at a time with work presenting new challenges and fears about being alone, I began a new course in Sacred Scripture – which was totally of God, but much more challenging and I didn’t see His reasoning in that right away… my plate felt empty, abandon. Weekly confession (in my home, Father would drop by) wasn’t possible anymore as Father’s schedule had changed, the people who were bringing me communion during the week stopped for valid reasons too. I was confused, I thought “Lord you know I need to receive you in the Sacraments, why are you not providing this for me?” I felt like the Lord had somehow dropped the ball, did He not see that I needed Him more than ever??? For weeks I was agitated and I couldn’t focus on prayer or school or anything. Many church related social things were happening and I thought “Lord I am supposed to be doing all these things, learning about You, growing in faith – why am I shut in? why am I being removed from all of these GOOD things??” No answer. No answer. No answer.

I was looking for the fire and the earthquake, the action so to speak. Feeling empty and useless, I picked up scripture… and I heard a small voice. The next day I picked up scripture, and I felt the Lord speaking to me. I had read scripture and certainly felt the Lord before – but this was different – this was very very different. Each day I poured over scripture and something inside of me changed. I would go to mass on Sunday and cry through the readings and then the liturgy of the Eucharist came alive like it never had before.

The other day a friend came to visit and confided in me about things that were happening on a social level, which I would normally jump into and try to problem solve and I felt the Lord tell me it was no longer my place – the Lord was clear, I clearly heard His voice and I knew my life as I had known it would be changed again. Who I thought I was, was fading away… my old habits, even one’s I thought were good – were not inline with what God’s plan for me is. I have no idea what His plan is, yet I am being told clearly to abandon the ideas I had for my life. Open you schedule, clear your calendar, listen to My voice. I remember my mum emptying her purse twice a year, and then transfer everything from her “winter purse” to her “summer purse”…. the Lord is telling me to empty my purse and there is no indication of picking up anything from the old and putting it in the new – like scripture talks about the wine skin…

At the beginning of lent I received a scripture that I know is God’s living word for me right now ““Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14 And God is, and in this the pace for my life has changed. Whatever happens around me, is going to happen around me, but God is fastening me to His Word – He is setting up an eternal desert for me to return to – not a desert of tumble weeds and desolation – this desert is a quiet place to hear His voice, where an oasis of living water stands and when the world claims to have the answers, or life is difficult on the outside, or busy in a good way with the Lords’s work….I will be drawn back. It is our place, where He allures me and speaks to my heart.

Loneliness: a short-cut to God

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.

The battle of your emotions

More from Fr. Marc Foley:

What does it mean to leave childhood?  What does it mean to become an adult?  It means having the strength not to be ruled by one’s emotions or allowing one’s feelings to dictate one’s choices,and possessing the determination to stand upright in the face of an emotional storm. This was the grace given to Thérèse.

Thérèse was not healed of her hypersensitivity.  Rather, she was given the strength to deal with it.  . . .  God did not remove Thérèse from the battle of her emotions but gave her the fortitude to remain in the battle.

. . . . .

Reflect upon your own life . . . What do we suffer in doing God’s will?  Is it not some painful emotion that accompanies our choices?  Is it not fear that makes an act of faith harrowing?  Is it not the sadness of mourning that makes ‘letting go’ difficult?  Is not loneliness or emptiness the price of remaining faithful to one’s vows?  Is not tediousness and boredom the burden of being dutiful to the daily round?

Love and suffering are inseparable.  If we are unwilling to suffer, then we cannot love.”

Some things I have learned to do

Reblogged from Mary Ann Morgan:

It was one of those days. I never saw the ledge, but I surely stepped off and fell right into the darkness. I am surprised by these dark days and I am grateful that they are more the exception and not the rule anymore. For a brief period of my life, they were my normal. For a season — an awful season — I found myself swirling, spiraling into the blackness every day.

If this is something you know well, I am so sorry. Here are some things I have learned to do when these days come.

1. Rest. Sometimes I just need to pull back from the stresses of life and rest. Giving myself permission to take a nap or a walk instead of working incessantly can do wonders for me.

2. Remember. This is just a day. This will not last forever. I remember God’s goodness in my life and ask for his perspective. Mine is obviously skewed and I need to know things from his point of view. Counting gifts does wonders for the heart.

3. Reach out. When I am feeling this way, the last thing I want to do is reach out to my friends. I don’t know why we are like this. Maybe pride? Fear? I have to remind myself of the times others have reached out to me in need and how it endeared them to me. We love to help others. Why would I deny someone the joy of being my friend when I need them?

It’s days like this I miss my daddy most. I just want to call him and hear his voice again. “Hey Mary Babe” he would always say. He was always so glad to hear my voice. I loved chatting with him about the flowers. He was a gardener and we shared a love for planting things. He would always tell me what was coming up in his yard. The tulips I planted for him are coming up around my birdhouse now. I just want to tell him about them, “Dad, I planted Tulips for you. They are red, your favorite color.”

I miss my dad, and it’s okay to cry about it. I think I can finally do that.

If you have had a hard day, or a bad week, my heart aches for you. I think we  go through things sometimes just so we can be a better friend to others. Compassion sews threads of kindness into the lives of others. We cannot have it if we have not experienced pain of some sort in our own lives. Know this: God is with you and he loves you dearly. He is present with you and he will give you just what you need. You are not alone. Ever.

Psalm 34:4-7 ~

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
    He freed me from all my fears.
 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.
 For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
    he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”