Solitude1. A man who has no love for solitude does not love God. It can easily happen that worldly objects dazzle the mind and enchant the heart, so that anyone who is greatly occupied with them does not see or experience God in any way. A man who talks a lot with other men rarely speaks with God. God's voice is heard in silence and in solitude, and we must listen for it if we wish to have any ease of conversation with Him. It is fatal to allow ourselves to be deafened by the noise of the world and never to listen for the voice of God which speaks within us.
Only those who have been called to a higher vocation can live in a cloister, but a little solitude is necessary for everybody from time to time. It may be a course in the Spiritual Exercises, or a monthly day of recollection, or a quarter of an hour spent every day in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. In these moments of detachment from the world and of intimacy with God, we can enjoy conditions far above any which can be found on earth. Such moments can be the beginning of a new life. The Holy Spirit incites us through the prophet Osee to find these necessary intervals for silence and prayer: “I will allure her and will lead her into the wilderness: and I will speak to her heart.” (Osee 2:14) Jesus set the standard for us when He spent forty days alone in the desert, fasting and praying. Even though the Apostles were engaged in public missionary activity, He was anxious that they should retire from it for a while in order to refresh themselves spiritually. “Come apart into a desert place,” He said, “and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) St. Bernard wrote that silence and peace far away from the noise of the world helped the soul to meditate on God and on spiritual matters. (Epist. 73) “Solitude is Heaven to me,” (Epist. 4 ad Rust.) said St. Jerome. The Blessed Virgin also took refuge from distraction and loved the solitude of her home in Nazareth, where the Angel first announced to her that she was to be the Mother of God.
2. A little solitude is necessary for everyone, but “it is dangerous to concentrate our attention too much on ourselves if, having discovered our own weakness we do not raise our thoughts towards God to implore His mercy.” (P. Cordovani, Breviario Spir., P. 14) It is disastrous if solitude leads to laziness or to futile mental rambling. Solitude should be active and fervent. It should be an ascent towards God. It should help us to form the habit of continual conversation with God so that nothing can break our union with Him. A man who only prays when he is on his knees prays very little. The Gospel says that we ought always to pray. Solitude of the heart enables us to obey this precept. “Of what use is the solitude of the body,” asks St. Gregory the Great, “without the solitude of the heart?” (Lib. XXX Mor., cap. 12)
If we wish to have this spiritual solitude which will keep us close to God, our hearts must be detached from worldly affairs. “If a glass vase is filled with earth,” writes St. Alphonsus, “the light of the sun cannot penetrate it. Similarly, the divine light cannot penetrate a heart which is preoccupied with the love of pleasure and of honours.” (Al Divino Servizio, III, 2)
Let us love solitude, then. Let us look for it whenever it is possible, but above all let us keep our hearts free from earthly attachments and united to God.
3. Mary, my beloved Mother, you found in spiritual solitude a true detachment from created things and a loving intimacy with God. Grant that I may not be led astray by the attractions of this world, but may focus my thoughts and affections on Heaven and on Him Who is the final end of my life and will one day be my everlasting happiness. Amen.
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