I was reading some of the stories on 49weeks.blogspot.com the other day, and the repeated mention of loneliness by some of the girls struck me. In the legion I and others experienced loneliness. For some it was a real cross, for others, less. But it made me wonder why loneliness was encouraged. Not directly, but it was favored by the environment of silence and the norm to avoid personal friendships.
Lonliness is common among those who God has called to serve him in the Church. It is not specific to religious congregations. Among diocesan priests it is prevalent. I have been living alone for about a year and a half, the only priest in a small, growing parish. I am living in a diocese where I did not attend the diocesan seminary. Most priests have friends from their seminaries that the get together with from time to time. Others have family within driving distance.
I realized that I need someone to relate to and talk to. During my retreat a few weeks ago, I made not of that and asked around, “What do you do on Monday?” Monday is generally the day priests take off to rest. Some get together with old friends. But there were others who pretty much just stayed at home doing nothing.
I reached out to a couple of them, and have stated to get together with them. It is so helpful just to go out to lunch or dinner, take in a movie, or sit around and talk.
Now getting back to the topic. To say that loneliness in the legion and the RC is not sought is a mistake. The system was set up just for that purpose. The underlying reason is to dedicate you whole being to God and the mission, and I’m sure that some have a vocation to do just that. But for the rest who have never discerned that vocation and have been brought into the legion, it is sometimes an unbearable cross.
For those who are favored from the beginning and given active apostolates, that cross is less burdensome. But for those who the legion isolated to move them out of the congregation, it is an effective and sometimes devastating tool. Therein lies the cruelty, the psychological abuse and the disregard for personal dignity. It is the abuse of authority that needs to be addressed, the second point of the Vatican Communiqué of May 1, 2010 I would love to have more information on.