Today, psychologists and journalists explore the world to look for resolutions to what they call a loneliness epidemic. The New York Times recently published an article titled “Is Loneliness a Health Epidemic?“. Kevin Voist, a clinical psychologist, devoted an entire book, The Catholic Guide to Loneliness about the current phenomenon of being lonely and what we can do to fix it. The United Kingdom even appointed a Minister of Loneliness to deal with what Prime Minister Theresa May calls “the sad reality of modern life”.
It really doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, surrounded by people or living alone, single or in a relationship, most of us experience times of loneliness.
But feeling lonely is not a new problem. Loneliness is addressed right off the bat in the Bible when God says, in Genesis, that “It is not good for man to be alone.” Even the saints know what it is like to be lonely.
Mother Teresa was surrounded by people everyday. The world adored and honored her. She lived in close community with sisters who shared a bond stronger than blood. But she was so lonely that she spent many years of her life writing pleas to God to rescue her from the sting of solitude.
As Catholic singles, it’s important to stop and remember that going back to the Lord can provide relief for a soul that is seeking a companion. Below are seven prayers to turn to when you’re feeling lonely and need to be redirected back to the one whom your soul desires.
1. Litany of the Love of God
When the feeling of loneliness strikes, this beautiful prayer can help remind us of our love for God. He is the creator of everything we hold dear to our hearts. This prayer, written by Pope Pius VI gives us comfort in knowing that if we place the Lord first, the rest of life’s plans will fall into place accordingly.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us. Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us. Thou Who art Infinite Love, Have mercy on us.
Thou Who didst first love me, Have mercy on us.
Thou Who commandest me to love Thee, Have mercy on us.
With all my heart, I Love Thee, O My God
With all my soul, I Love Thee, O My God
With all my mind, I Love Thee, O My God
With all my strength, I Love Thee, O My God
Above all possessions and honors, I Love Thee, O My God
Above all pleasures and enjoyments, I Love Thee, O My God
More than myself, and everything belonging to me, I Love Thee, O My God
More than all my relatives and friends, I Love Thee, O My God
More than all men and angels, I Love Thee, O My God
Above all created things in heaven or on earth, I Love Thee, O My God
Only for Thyself, I Love Thee, O My God
Because Thou art the sovereign Good, I Love Thee, O My God
Because Thou art infinitely worthy of being loved, I Love Thee, O My God
Because Thou art infinitely perfect, I Love Thee, O My God
Even hadst Thou not promised me heaven, I Love Thee, O My God
Even hadst Thou not menaced me with hell, I Love Thee, O My God
Even should Thou try me by want and misfortune, I Love Thee, O My God
In wealth and in poverty, I Love Thee, O My God
In prosperity and in adversity, I Love Thee, O My God
In health and in sickness, I Love Thee, O My God
In life and in death, I Love Thee, O My God
In time and in eternity, I Love Thee, O My God
In union with that love wherewith all the saints and all the angels love Thee in heaven, I Love Thee, O My God
In union with that love wherewith the Blessed Virgin Mary loveth Thee, I Love Thee, O My God
In union with that infinite love wherewith Thou loves Thyself eternally, I Love Thee, O My God
My God, Who dost possess in incomprehensible abundance all that is perfect and worthy of love, annihilate in me all guilty, sensual, and undue love for creatures. Kindle in my heart the pure fire of Thy love, so that I may love nothing but Thee or in Thee, until being so entirely consumed by holy love of Thee, I may go to love Thee eternally with the elect in heaven, the country of pure love.
2. Prayers of suffering, sacrifices and penance
Peter Kreeft once wrote that our suffering can help both ourselves and others we may not even know. “If we are ‘in Christ’, we, like him, can offer up our sufferings to the Father – and he uses them. They become seeds, or rainwater, and something beautiful springs up that we seldom see in this life,” he writes.
The following beautiful prayer is one that Our Lady taught the three Fatima visionaries to be said when offering up sufferings, sacrifices or penances. When we offer up feelings of loneliness for a purpose, often we find that by the end of our prayer, the hold these feelings once had over us is greatly lifted.
Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In a similar vein, we offer this prayer: Dear Lord, help me to remember in these troubled times the cross you carried for my sake, So that I may better carry mine. And to help others do the same. As I offer up (whatever your concern or problem here) to you for the conversion of sinners, for the forgiveness of sins, in reparation for sins, and for the salvation of souls. Amen
3. Psalm 139:1-5
All throughout the New Testament we witness times of loneliness that even Jesus struggled with. He was human and knows our deepest feelings and our most precious desires. When you are feeling down, go to Him. Here’s a beautiful Psalm to pray in moments of loneliness:
O Lord, you have probed me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I stand. You understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it. Behind me and before, you hem me in and rest your hand upon me.
4. Prayers of Saint Teresa Of Avila
Saint Teresa of Avila had a beautifully pure interior life which is radiated through her writings. She eloquently reminds us in moments of loneliness that God sees us. “May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”
Saint Teresa was a practical intellectual who also struggled with loneliness throughout her life. Go to her words of wisdom when you feel especially lonely and know that this too shall pass.
Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing away; God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.
5. The Memorare
Is there anyone whose heart better understands loneliness than that of the Blessed Virgin Mary? She watched her only son die upon the wood of a cross as an entire world abandoned him. Go to her when you are feeling lonely. Like a good mother, she is always there.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
6. Prayer of Saint John of the Cross
Sometimes the most powerful prayers are also the most simple. Saint John of the Cross so perfectly captures a prayer of purpose in just a few short sentences. He writes:
O Blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in You. Let Your mighty calmness reign in me. Rule me, O King of Gentleness, King of Peace.
7. The Psalm of the Good Shepherd
When the world closes in and life becomes dark, dreary, and lonely, break open your Bible. Turn to the most famous of all Psalms and know that Jesus walks with you and He will fortify you with courage and strength.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
In the quiet and stillness, He is there and He will not let you down. His plan may sometimes be difficult to see or embrace, but God is always ready to share it with you. Go to him.