In some ways we are all lonely.   Loneliness is one of the most universal, most pro-found experiences we have as human beings. Whether they are young or old, single    or married, celibate or sexually active, everyone experiences loneliness.  It is an integral dimension of the human condition, a quiet reminder that we are creatures – limited, mortal, unfinished, and radically interdependent.

In some ways loneliness is like a disease.  It is surely unwanted.  It saps one’s energy. It causes pain, sometimes severe pain.  There is, however, one important way in which loneliness if unlike a disease.  Medicine can’t cure it.  Only the victim can.

Despite the multiple ways modern technology has provided to keep us “in touch” –phones, pagers, text messaging, e-mail, faxes, online opportunities of various kinds, websites – a person may well remain profoundly lonely.

In thinking about loneliness it seems important to point out that it is not simply  the fact of being alone that makes a life lonely.  Loneliness is not something that comes from the outside, from external circumstances.  It comes from the inside, from one’s attitude.  It is common knowledge that one can be at the center of activity, can be associated with a large number of people almost constantly, and still be lonely.

We should remember  that no one can conquer loneliness completely unless they face the fact that there is a type of loneliness common to every person.  In every heart there is a room which no one else can enter.  If we ask ourselves the question: Who really knows me?, we have to recognize that no one except God knows us completely as we really are in our inmost self.  That awareness is not what causes the pain of loneliness.

Loneliness results from looking too much and too long into the mirror of self rather than out the window to the rest of the world.  The lonely person is the one who is so concerned with self there is really no room in their heart for anyone else.  Lonely persons are typically completely focused on themselves which prevents them from recognizing the needs of others and trying to help them.

The true lover of God is not a lonely person.  The reason is simple.  Those who truly love God also love their neighbor.  Christian charity, love of one’s brothers and sisters, takes us out of ourselves and thus is an effective remedy for loneliness.  The challenge we all face is that of being alone without being self-centered, of being alone but not without love.