October 3, 2021
“The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.”
Is solitude good?
In my childhood, information on almost any area of interest or topic could be found in those large and heavy volumes called encyclopedias. Among the things difficult to explain to kids today, encyclopedias were books packed with information. School kids would search the alphabetically listed entries anytime they had an assignment on a historical figure or wanted to more about their favorite animal, or were curious about a scientific principle.
Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has focused on preserving our collective knowledge. The internet and the ability to search digital databases around the world have exponentially expanded this innate drive. For many early doubters, including myself, Wikipedia proved that in many aspects of knowledge, collectively, we get a lot right (which is why the “Ask the Audience” lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is quite valuable).
As our collective knowledge penetrates into the building blocks of life through more powerful tools and expands into the vastness of the galaxy, it is even more critical that we are able to prioritize knowledge. Collecting the most critical questions, St. Thomas Aquinas compiled the Summa Theologica, or simply the Summary of all Theology, delving into the questions, who God is, whom we as humans are in relation to God, and how we are able to follow the Lord’s ways.
Often more important than the answers is the method of his study and the way he communicates the answer to each question, St. Thomas provided. Instead of simply giving an answer, St. Thomas first compiles the answers that other people have shared. His unquenchable curiosity desired to appreciate and understand why others think the way they do. Today, we are eager to give out answers. We are trained to respond quickly (or in the social media world, the topic will have changed before we have cultivated an educated opinion).
In his thoroughness, Thomas addressed the value of solitude, at least in relation to religious life. An isolation imposed upon us, such as solitary confinement punishment in prisons, is destructive to our mental health. Solitude is embraced as a means to perfection.
(or, as we might speak more often, a tool for growth in holiness) should be valued. We need time to process in prayer and thought, to answer big questions, and wrestle with concluding the correct answers. We may not be called to live in solitude as a hermit, but we are called to meditate on the big questions of life in the silence of prayer.
In this Marian month, I encourage parishioners to look to the mysteries of the Rosary as a vehicle to move our minds and hearts to ponder the most important questions about the love of God and how we are called and strengthened to imitate that love. I see in these mysteries the great value of life and the need to care for each precious life that God entrusts to us.
Consider joining us next Sunday, October 10, at 4 pm, as we gather outside on the Church lawn in solidarity with Christians throughout our nation to pray the Rosary together.
As a Church, we are wiser when we listen. Please look for ways to be engaged in the Synod process, by which Pope Francis is allowing the Holy Spirit to lead the Church by giving voice to each and every member of the faithful. Please bring to prayer what is on your heart and in your minds as to what is more important to allow the Church to grow in holiness.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Rev. Michael S. Triplett