By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.
Few of us are immune to the pangs of loneliness. Like the common cold it hits everyone at one time or another. Most don’t know how to handle this common ailment of the human heart. Every priest knows that many a soul plunges into the frivolous and the sensual just to dull the pangs of loneliness. Not that serious sin ever does that -it merely adds a burden of remorse to it.
It should be reassuring to us to realize that our Blessed Lord shared practically every kind of loneliness that we can experience, excepting that caused by the separation from God resulting from sin.
There’s the loneliness caused by our not being accepted for what we are. Who can truly say that he or she doesn’t want to be found acceptable…to be loved and wanted for what one is? It’s not easy when the world passes us by. We may say: “I couldn’t care less,”
but do we really mean it?
Our Lord didn’t find it easy to be accepted as the Son of God. St. John said that, “He came unto His own, but His own received Him not.” As a thrilling wonder-worker, or the peerless preacher He was acceptable. But when He demanded His just recognition as
the very Son of God, they crucified Him!
There’s the loneliness of not being understood. How many people get married just to dispel their loneliness or to have someone on hand who really understands them. Yet, every marriage counselor will tell you how many couples have slammed the doors on mutual
communication. It’s a tragedy that marriage has denied them one of life’s greatest comforts-a truly understanding friend.
Who was more misunderstood than Christ? The common people didn’t want the kind of spiritual kingdom He offered them; the Apostles considered His Passion and Death a scandal for a God-man to contemplate; and we consistently fail to understand that God’s
ways are not our own.
There is also the loneliness of suffering. We seem to be never so alone as when we are crucified by physical or spiritual pain. Even those nearest and dearest to us are unable to share the burden of our suffering. Yet, even our deepest suffering is but a faint reflection of the pain of mind, heart and body suffered by Christ in His Passion. His abandonment on the cross made Him feel as though He was abandoned by His Heavenly Father.
Many a personal life-history is pierced with the loneliness of rejection. To have your talents, your efforts to please, your very love rejected is the most painful cross to human nature. Yet, none of us have been so rejected as our Lord. There was no room for Him at His birth and He died as an outcast.
There is, finally, the loneliness of one who loves unselfishly-and often one-sidedly. For all true love is creative-putting love and understanding where it was nonexistent. Unrewarded and unappreciated often, it remains in its aloneness. And wasn’t it that way with Christ? He “emptied” Himself of all the love that a God could give, and still He eceives very little from us in return.
Our Blessed Lord was willing to suffer all these kinds of loneliness, not only to give us the courage and example we need, but also to teach us that personal friendship with Him is the only answer to a lonely heart. Nothing that this life can offer you can take away that deep-seated “aloneness” that is part of human nature. We must ask Christ to show us how to sanctify our loneliness. We must beseech Him to share it with us. Borne with Him, it can fashion a saint!
With special thanks to http://www.cukierski.net