January 22, 2013 by lucieromarin
So, I managed to write for an hour yesterday and still omit the one point I really wanted to make, which was this: I’ve never heard a sermon or a talk address the role of loneliness in causing people to make choices that are, legally speaking, unchaste, but which are not really motivated by lust. I’m not saying that such sermons or talks do not exist – just that I’ve never heard them, while I have heard and read a great deal of material about aspirations to the appropriate saints in moments of temptation.
People who feel loved and safe don’t suddenly decide to settle for second best. Every Catholic woman I’ve known who has done an apparent about-face where chastity was concerned did so only once she was brimful with feelings of loneliness or rejection. It was never because she suddenly lost her faith or decided she hated God; it was because she’d come to believe that this was the only way that anyone would ever notice her, that there was no one in her parish she could really talk to, and that her hope of feeling understood was just a dream.
I’m sure that paying more attention to the problem of loneliness would have a twofold reward. First, it would easier for the victim of temptation to understand what was really going on. Instead of wasting time fighting an almost non-existent vice, she (or he, of course) could talk to someone (such as God, among other persons!) about her true feelings, and honesty is the often the first step to healing. Second, we could help each other. If we made sure that no one in our communities was ever really lonely, that no one felt left-out, or judged, or not good enough, or like she was being held in suspicion for the cut of her dress or the movie of her choice, then the self-doubt, the desperation, and the burden of existence that leads a lonely woman to start believing that second-best must really be okay would have no door by which to enter in.
(I think some basic awareness about how the body works would also help. We don’t freak out if we desire a steak on Friday because we know that that desire isn’t a sin, and we’ve learned how to deal with it. Some awareness of how hormones work would save a lot of people a lot of scruple, just as it would save others from mistaking the movements of the concupiscible appetite for true love!)