The experience of love and friendship, the awareness of being loved at the level of our souls, is the very desire of God for our human fulfilment. It is interesting that the United Kingdom's Prime Minister, Theresa May, has appointed a "minister of loneliness" to tackle the personal and health issues caused by communal isolation. In Canada, Dr Robin Lennox, an assistant professor at McMaster University reported that “anywhere between 25 and 30 per cent of Canadians across various age groups are reporting persistent loneliness or social isolation.” (January 2019) The experience of such loneliness is not due to the absence of people or the availability of means to communicate with each other. Indeed, technological progress and the various social media provide many ways to communicate, text, phone, and to express “likes” and even human emotions to each other.
The feeling of loneliness can reflect an inner emptiness which eludes human fulfilment. St. Augustine speaks to such desolation when he prays, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Through the grace of God, we come to realize that the feeling of emptiness cannot be filled by distractions or acquiring things. Rather, it is during moments of openness or spiritual awakening that the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the fullness of God’s love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "God is Love and love is his first gift, containing all others. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (CCC 733) God’s work of grace in our souls is directed towards helping us to love God wholly and generously, as God loves us.
At the closing Mass of WYD 2019 in Panama, Pope Francis spoke in his homily about the importance of love, “we may possess everything, but if we lack the passion of love, we will have nothing. Let us allow the Lord to make us fall in love!” Love seeks out, welcomes, accompanies and serves. Love inspires us to hold others in our hearts desiring for them the fullness of God’s love and grace. This act leads not to loneliness or isolation in our human experience but rather to true love and friendship in union with God and others.
Most Reverend W. T. McGrattan, D.D. Bishop of Calgary January 29, 2019