In one of his daily meditation Bishop Sam Jacobs make a distinction between aloneness and loneliness.
He writes, “One of our unique human qualities is aloneness which is different from loneliness. We need time for aloneness in the midst of our daily, hectic life. Loneliness leads into isolation.
Aloneness leads us into solitude. One is painful and destructive; the other is productive and peaceful. Loneliness seeks to cling to others in desperation to make us happy. Aloneness finds its strength in the Lord, in whom we can rest.”
Socrates (470-399 BC) at his trial for corrupting the youth gave us this great quotation, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Today in our hectic world of technology and “things to do,” many people do not take adequate time to quiet themselves and reflect on what is happening in their relationships with God, with other, themselves and creation.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) once said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.” We tend to go after the things that do not make a difference and we lose sight of what really matters. Our being alone with Lord each day can help us get our priorities in order.
Theologian and spiritual writer Henri Nouwen (1932-96) wrote the following, “Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, ‘Prove that you are a good person.’
Another voice says, ‘You’d better be ashamed of yourself.’ There also is a voice that says, ‘Nobody really cares about you,’ and one that says, ‘Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.’
“But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, ‘You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.’ That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us ‘my Beloved.’”
St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) once said, “If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out. . . . Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter . . . Do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself.”
The saints of the past are always telling us to examine our selves. For example, St. Ephrem the Syrian (303-373) says, “Do not look for the faults of your friend. Do not repeat the shortcomings of your neighbors in your talk. You are not the judge of creation. You do not have dominion over the earth. If you love righteousness, admonish your soul and yourself. Be the judge of your own sins, and chastise your own transgressions.”
When we are reflective, we see life and others in a much better light and we can be more compassionate toward others. Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) once said, “We must stand up for the rights of our neighbor who is suffering from injustice; we must defend them all the more vigorously because we see Jesus present in them. Surely this is our duty because of our love for others for his sake. We have no right to be ‘sleeping watchmen’ or dumb watch-dogs. Whenever we see evil, we must sound the alarm.”
Radio host and author Patrick Madrid (1960-present) tells us of the importance of getting in touch with the hurts in our lives and letting them go. “God will forgive you if you forgive others. Forgiving those who cause offense or injury is often exceedingly difficult. Yet, forgiveness is one of the most beautiful and important teachings of Jesus Christ.
It is central to the gospel because, without it, you cannot go to heaven.”