by Catherine Doherty.
Do we realize how utterly, tragically lonely man is, especially in our Western world? The only way we can begin to assuage this loneliness which cries out for help at the top of its voice in a most profound silence is to use the key of love.
How many of us dare to look into ourselves and behold our loneliness? For who among us these days is not lonely? Do not the theologians, the philosophers, the elite, the young also feel this loneliness? Of course. We are all lonely, those on the top of the human heap, those in the middle, and those below. Yet the answer to all this loneliness is so evident, so simple, so direct.
True, we must share our goods, our physical goods, and many of us do, or try to. But have we forgotten that man does not live by bread alone (Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4), and that it is that very dimension of love that we are reluctant to give our neighbor?
For loneliness has a door and we, each one of us, has the key to it. The key is acceptance of the other, without questions. Acceptance enables the other to experience that he is loved, and because we have given him our love, we can now give him the fruit of love—tenderness, compassion, gentleness and understanding,
Yes, yes, I have the key to the loneliness of the other, and the other has the key to my loneliness. The only thing we have to do is insert it into the keyhole of our hearts, open the door, and enter. But we are afraid, because this means a deep, loving involvement with the other.
We prefer to be involved with others in some other way of our own choosing where we don’t have to use keys to one another’s hearts.
Yes, we have to go into the depths of men’s hearts. We have to go there without fears, for God will be there. He will teach us how to dispel the terrible loneliness that grips men these strange and tragic days.
Christians, growing in wisdom and grace in the school of God’s love, recognize this loneliness perhaps better than anyone else. They see it in the eyes of priests, in the eyes of bewildered religious, in the eyes of husbands, wives, parents, young people, old people, the poor, yes, and in the eyes of the rich.
Loneliness holds the people of our age and times in a grip that seems unbreakable. Yet, it can be broken! It can be broken by love, a love offered silently and gently from one human heart to another.
Or it can be a love expressed in words, but these words must come from a heart united with God in the quiet prayer of contemplation.
For it is not enough for Christians to simply love. They must love with the very heart of Christ himself.
In order to do so we must open our hearts to humanity. We must take upon ourselves the pain of every person as Christ did. We must identify ourselves constantly with the lonely ones; we must share their loneliness. We must die to self. Then Christ will live in us and love in us.
In the face of such love, loneliness will depart and our world will be able to gather itself together. The islands will merge into a mainland—the one body of Christ.
—Adapted from The Gospel Without Compromise, (1989), pp. 21-23, out of print.
But where will we find the grace, the strength, the ability to love like this? Or even to truly love at all? Only through prayer. Editor
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