Our Lady and Sheen

Loneliness

I recently had an experience with a person who told me that the entire world hated him. My heart ached at the familiar pangs of rejection and self-loathing, which seem to me to be long ago and recent, as most things do that are large in one’s life.

Just a few days later, I have been delving further into Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s book: Footprints in the Darkened Forest. His third chapter is entitled “Loneliness,” and now so is my post.

There are many types of loneliness, but there is one source. That source is the desire to be loved more and more. Loneliness happens, as Sheen points out, to all in this world, and is natural and to be expected; but the lonesome fall deeper into despair because they think it is not so. In this world, after the fall, corruption ensued, including in our relationships.

We can even be lonesome together, once we have found that true love. “A basic loneliness exists in all human love simply because we become used to it or take it for granted,” Sheen writes. Impossible, you reply! “I love my husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend/parents/etc. I will not cease loving them!” It is true that you may have found the perfect one for you to love and spend a lifetime with, and praise God! You have the proverbial pearl of great price, you have seen the richness of a jewel and have entered into a very powerful love! But, Ven. Sheen finishes his sentence with, “as the jeweler becomes used to handling precious gems.” We must be on guard against complacency in our relationships before we begin to lose that enjoyment we have in the beginning of our relationships, when we notice every sparkle and glow! (pg 22)

Ven. Sheen reminds us that love is not simply two people meeting at a well saying, “I will not hurt you, if you do not hurt me.” We must make ourselves open to another, bold and courageous in love, for as he continues, “To love is to make oneself vulnerable and softens one to a point of becoming a target to the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.'” (pg 22)

In 2007, I heard Rev. Fr. Boniface Hicks, OSB tell an auditorium of Penn State students one Sunday about this idea of love. He informed them, and this recent alum, of the most painful part of friendship and love: betrayal. Betrayal hurts the worst, and I can’t put ideas as eloquently as this holy monk can, because we open ourselves up to love and nothing protects us. Our bodies have a rib cage to protect our heart, but emotionally, as we get closer to ones we love we open that rib cage, thus nothing can protect us from the wound we incur. Our immediate action is to cover up our wound, yet Christ asks more of us. Christ asks us to turn back towards those who have wounded us and present them our exposed heart again. How hard is this challenge that Fr. Boniface presented to the group at Mass! But, how right he was. To retreat from love is loneliness, and loneliness is detachment, and detachment is death, as Sheen points out (pg 23).

How do we leave loneliness? Well, my plane is landing… So I’ll try to present Archbishop Sheen’s answer in my next post! Sneak preview… Love!

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September 20, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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