Learning to be Alone
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Learning to be Alone


(sad voice) I’m lonely. (normal voice) Remember that Brian Regan bit when he
was talking about the the whales? Uh, like, *whale call*
The whales are talking and the guy’s up there, (sad voice) “He sounds lonely. He’s lonely.” (normal voice) and the guy’s like, “No, you’re lonely.” Hi my name’s Father Mike Schmitz and
this is Ascension Presents. A number of years ago, my oldest sister was talking
with a man who’s a good friend of both of ours. And this man, ah, really was sharing
with my sister that he really desired to- basically this relationship that would
not have been a licit relationship, wouldn’t have been a good relationship and he said in this, in the midst of this, he told my sister, he said, “I just … I’m just afraid of being lonely.” My sister, she’s so awesome
and she’s just wise and she’s insightful and she is not afraid to tell people the truth or what she thinks, and she says, she says, “Listen, unless you become OK with being alone, no number of relationships, no … any … no kind of relationship will fill that- that void. You have to become OK with being alone first before you can really enter into
any kind of serious and mature relationship.” I thought that was so wise because a lot of us, again, we experience loneliness, we are alone. We don’t know how to do this well and one of the reasons why I think a lot of us
experience loneliness is, well, of two reasons. One is because we’re made in
God’s image and likeness. Obviously, God’s image is he’s reason
and he is will and and he’s creative and that we share in those, that likeness
with God. We have an intellect and we can choose and we can make things, we can
create but Jesus Christ reveals the innermost secret of God, the Catechism says. And it says, the innermost secret of God is that he is an eternal exchange of love, that he’s a communion of persons, that God is a Trinity, that God is love. That’s what Jesus reveals to us, that God is love and so if you and I are made in the image and likeness of God, that means we’re made for others as well. We were
made for communion. We’re made for relationship—that’s the first truth. The second truth is we live in a broken world, where we don’t know how to give love. We don’t know how to receive love. We live in a world that’s run by people who don’t know how to offer or aren’t even willing to offer love and so here we walk through this world, made for relationship but in a broken world where we’re not loved well, we don’t know how to love well and so we
experience loneliness. So we all experience loneliness, but what do we do with that? What we do is we fill it with some
other things. I experience loneliness and so I distract myself. I experience this pain, this sharp stab of loneliness and so rather than enter into it, rather than let it purify me, rather than let it actually move me out of myself to go give love to someone else, what I do is I distract myself and so I watch TV or I watch Netflix. Can I get an Amen, anybody? Or I what? You know, some people turn
to alcohol or they turn to gossip or they turn to being a busybody, they turn to overwork. They turn to something. Blaise Pascal once said,
All of humanity’s problems stem from one source: our inability to sit alone by ourselves
for one hour. Think about that. If you just turned off all, you know, sources of stimulation, all sources of distraction, could you just sit in a room by yourself
doing nothing for one hour and be content? If I can’t, then it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you as in any more
than or something wrong with anyone else. It means that I’ve got a loneliness
problem, because why? Because I keep trying to find—I’m made for relationship—and keep trying to find solace in my pain by some kind of distraction.
Even Jesus experienced loneliness. I mean, think about this. Even God, made for relationship God—not made for relationship— God who IS relationship, Jesus Christ, there were times when he experienced incredible solitude, incredible isolation and even incredible loneliness, where there were times when
the people that he trusted the most and he loved the most and loved him the most, weren’t there for him in the Garden of Gethsemane. There were times and he had to go
on a journey where no one else could accompany him. Jesus experienced incredible loneliness.
What did he do with it? He didn’t run away from it. He entered into it. And again, I think one of the biggest temptations all of us are going to experience is when I’m lonely, I try to fill that loneliness with
something that shouldn’t be there, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I’m lonely so I’m going to fill that loneliness with work. I’m lonely so I’m going to fill that loneliness with some other kind of diversion or some other kind of distraction rather than, “I’m lonely. What is this telling me?
What is it revealing to me? Where is it moving me to act?
Who is it moving me to love?” Here’s this crazy thing. We live in a world surrounded by other people who are
also lonely, but rather than letting that loneliness be the motivation for us to go out of ourselves, to reach out to others, to connect with others,
we soothe that loneliness with that diversion or that distraction. Loneliness should be a motivation for us to move out of ourselves. Loneliness should be a motivation for us to say,
“You know what? I can give of myself rather than looking to receive from someone else.” Ultimately, all of us
are called to be lonely well. To be lonely is human. To let that loneliness both purify your heart as well as move your heart to love others, that’s what it is to be a saint. So, today, tonight, this weekend, if you experience loneliness, I invite you, don’t run away from it. Allow it to purify you. Allow it to move you and allow it to make you into a saint. This is one of the biggest tasks of life, to learn how to be lonely well. From all of us
here at Ascension Presents, my name’s Father Mike. God bless.

53 Comments

  • Retrogamer71

    You talk a lot of sensible things. It's those searing good looks which are distracting as they are charming.

  • Paddy BEME

    God bless you father Mike I love all of your videos but this one especially spoke to me I've been single for a long time and I could actually see the reason a lot of my previous relationships didn't work out was because of my fear of being alone I also could see that …unknowingly to me… to cover up the loneliness I have dived into worked …working way too much overtime or i have turned to other distractions
    God bless you and thank you very much for this video you have open my eyes to a new possibility that I could actually be okay being alone I will try to let loneliness cleanse me instead of running from it … again God bless you father Mike and peace be with you always

  • al meggs

    Please STOP WATCHING NETFLIX. I remember seeing a hallmark movie (thinking it was safe )and in the middle two young men started kissing
    Which didn’t even have anything to do with the movie!

  • Sarah Smith

    I am not catholic but I enjoy all your words. I am going through a rough time. I recently walked away from a abusive relationship about two months ago (I was in it for 4 years) and have been watching your videos to enhance my mind and relieve it a bit. Im on a path of finding myself again…Your words all make sense to me and I am loving all the videos. They are my therapy. Thank you!

  • Jasmin Hernandez

    Just wanted to build on these truths Fr. Mike mentions in this video: I found that it is easiest for myself to "embrace the loneliness" by simply entering into prayer. Which in itself is so difficult but is truly a treasure…

  • Tim Kane

    My father taught me that the way to troubleshoot a problem is to isolate the problem. Sometimes relating to others and interacting causes us to grow, to heal, and to do the same for others, but sometimes you can’t heal unless you are in isolation which allows you to feel what’s going on inside you and contemplate it, to isolate a problem and contemplate it. It was in utter isolation, thousands of miles away from home that I realized the source of a great pain that had bothered me for decades: i had lost a great good friend my first friend when we had moved to another city as a child. When I told my mother that I couldn’t leave she said don’t worry there were children just like her where we are going.That caused me to suspend my grieving in anticipation of an ersatz reunion that never happened. Decades later I met someone who seemed like she could be that person to me, but when it turned out she wasn’t a huge grief came forward and drowned me in pain. I sought every solution for decades, through friends, thru prayer, thru reading tons of books, thru therapy, daily mass, religious retreat. I got little nuggets of solace, or help, or small epiphanies thru these that helped but they came with lots of noise too, but eventually to solve this pain I drove myself into utter isolation, I took a position in a small provincial town in South Korea were I spent massive amounts of time cut off alone. In truth I didn’t want to do this, I tried to avoid it, but I knew that if I didn’t figure out my source of pain eventually isolation was going to be the only way and I did not want that. I did it in two blocks of nearly four years. 6 weeks into the 2nd block I finally realized the real source of my pain, the loss I experienced when I was so very young, and that I had failed to grieve for it, an that grief only grew in time until I paid attention to it and fixed that sense of brokenness – it was a massive amount of relief. From there I have slowly begun to recover. That was six years ago. Three years later, before I left Korea to return, I went thru a series of catharsis. It might have been better if I would have access to a therapist to coach me thru that but I didn’t. Being a lone meant I did have space to do that too. I love people, take great joy in connectedness but sometimes being alone, isolated is the only way to separate yourself from everything else and do an inventory of your self and give attention to or fix what needs it. Then begin the process of reconnecting although there will be people who really don’t understand or like any of this. Life is difficult.

  • mel saint

    Science contradicts your premise: “Loneliness is a disease, an epidemic”. But you take it differently as a “path to sainthood”. That is where the divergence is with science vs faith. Science reduces loneliness to a “chemical imbalance in the brain”. That antidepressants will magically cure that. But you instead, take a different opinion and suggest to just embrace it, be lonely well.

  • Mya

    Extending yourself with a simple smile, holding the door open for someone in need, or telling someone Jesus loves you will open the floodgates of gushing graces from the TRINITY of God.
    Then it will be a way of life where loneliness no longer resides.
    God is madly in love with you!💞
    Tap into it!
    🙏

  • Mya

    I learned that when we develop our faithfulness to God first, before self, we will receive More than when we satisfy our own desires.

    People look in the places for fulfillment where it will Never last beyond the temporary act that is distracting us from facing ourselves.
    Facing ourselves and accepting the goodness God loves about us will grow and fill us with a deep lasting complete grace like no other!
    With this we immediately are transformed,and a quality of love and seeing the beauty in life takes over.
    Its a given!
    A no brainer . He's waiting for us to give us His embrace and hold us close to His heart.
    We are called to the mystical body of CHRIST!
    🙏
    Nothing else will ever top GOD!
    💞

  • richard hare

    Yeah but it's not easy when family,or friends don't email or write, text and at least say I love you I try to fill the time by getting stuff for a good charity but I'm still lonely.

  • Michael Fleetwood

    I'm extremely grateful for Father Mike's advice and I really can relate to it – but the one thing that all practising Christians really do need to be made much more aware of is "Electronic Harassment" as the perpetrators are able to target, manipulate and distract the thinking processes, prayers and social lives of whomever they wish to target with their incredibly sophisticated electromagnetic weapons. I know it sounds like something from a science fiction movie but it's real, and if they have zero success in distracting your way of life, prayers and meditation through their anonymous methods they'll resort to plan b which will become personal, in your face and blatantly obvious with the perpetrators in your ear holes, eyes and personal lives – which is what they had to resort to with myself!

  • Em Wai

    One usually meet people who got a natural smile either on mouth or on eyes. You got a smile on both father Mike. Thank you for your videos with which you inspire us with something new.

  • Michelle Mukhia

    I recently had a break up. And that very day this video kept popping in my recommendation. I ignored it. Today again it popped in and i finally got to saw this beautiful message. It's so incredible to see how God works in our life. How he consoles us. Its so beautiful to experience his true love which no humans can give. Thank youfor such a beautiful video. I really needed this

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve been feeling pretty lonely lately and I’ve been kind of depressed because of it, but I saw this video in my suggestions just a little while ago and had a feeling there was a purpose behind that. It’s always possible I’m wrong and it was all a coincidence, but it didn’t feel like that to me. Either way, thank you Father Mike for this video! I thought it was full of helpful information!

  • Tommy Mulcahy

    do you think if i tried to do the sitting alone for 1 hour but prayed during it, does that really count as being alone?

  • Patricia Bedolla

    So last Sunday at mass I asked god to help me not feel so lonely and lost because I will be going to college. I see this video and I know I was meant to see it.

  • GreyPhoenix117

    Challenge accepted:

    I sit one hour without distractions only with myself.

    10 minutes in: I am heavily day dreaming…

    This might need a few attempts…

  • oliverrando

    I like being alone sometimes cause sometimes living with someone that you dont get along and nobody really telling you what to do

  • DrunkenSquirrel

    Fr. Mike, you saved my life tonight. The Holy Spirit works in beautiful ways. I'm glad that I distracted myself by coming here & finding you. Thank you, and God Bless you. And I'll never see "loneliness" or suffering in the same way again.

  • Lucia R

    THANK YOU FATHER MIKE, from Bavaria, Germany!! We need much more priests like you, thank you so much for doing the Lord's work! <3

  • Kelly Long

    If I'm going to sit in a room by myself for an hour, I'm probably going to pray, because I can, with no distractions. Or I'll daydream. Or write or doodle. I am blessed to rarely experience loneliness since growing closer to Jesus.

  • Eddie Anderson

    I LOVE being alone… it gives me time to productively pray to God and meditate the way I want to. To ask God for me to tolerate the annoyances of other people in this world so u can slowly start to love them better when interacting with them. Being alone allows me to be excited to be around other people when it's time to be. I will never be "lonley". I think that's an adjective that describes not being around others as a depressing thing.

    👍

  • Anne L

    Thanks so much Fr Mike very inspiring. One question – how do you let loneliness purify you? Do you offer it up in prayer? …….Could you do a 'Learning to be alone part B'. It would be wonderful to hear more about this.

  • Peace and Joy Be With You

    I have a family of 5 and I enjoy when they all leave and I'm all alone with God in the house. I can't be surrounded by noise all the time, I need time to myself to think. To much noise erks me and I find it disturbing to my ears.

  • Andy Wellman

    Thank you for this video Fr Mike. I have never been married but I have had many relationships. Many of them were bad ones because I was lonely. I finally realized that being a lone can be a blessing. I can come and go as I please. Do what I want to do without asking for permission or making her mad. I really hate being alonely during the Holiday's, but I am doing other things to loose that loneliness. People ask me how I deal with it? I tell them, "I have my radios (I'm a ham radio operator) and my model trains." The BIGGEST thing Fr Mike. I hate going to Church alone. Then I remembered from my Catholic School teachings. "You are not alone in God's house." Thanks Fr Mike!

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