Sunday 17 December 2017

Catholic Guide to Loneliness - Dr, Kevin Vost - How Science and Faith Can Help Us Understand It, Grow from It, and Conquer It

Catholic Guide to Loneliness:
How Science and Faith Can Help Us Understand It, Grow from It, and Conquer It
Dr. Kevin Vost 
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781622824144

I have read many books by Dr. Vost over the years. They have all been excellent reads. But after finishing this book I have an ever greater respect for the man, and the author. I have known so many people in my life who have suffered from loneliness, some were aware of it, and some not. This is a book I wish I had access to 30 years ago when a friend committed suicide. I do not think the book in and of itself is the answer but it can be a tool for the person themselves, or friends and family to help understand and support those who suffer from loneliness. This book is a tool that should be in every parish office! 

The dedication of this book is as follows:

"To all who are lonely and all who reach out
to lighten the load of their neighbor's loneliness"

Before we even get to the table of contents Kevin is speaking to the hearts that are hurting, and to those who are trying to help and support. The specific chapters in this book are:

1. Rethinking and Relieving Loneliness
2. The Virtues of Loneliness
3. The Solace of Solitude
4. He Came to Call Us Friends
5. The Loneliness of Christ
6. Lightening the Burden of Our Neighbor's Loneliness
Conclusion: With You Always

Chapter one of this book Rethinking and Relieving Loneliness begins with this quote from 1st Corinthians 13:11; 14:20
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. . . . Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature."
And then the first paragraph of that first chapter is:
"Loneliness is a product of our God-given human capacity to think and reflect about things. It is defined as a "perceived social isolation." Note the importance of the word perceived. We feel lonely when we think there is a discrepancy between the social connectedness we would like to have and that which we do have. This is not to say that loneliness is "all in one's head," something to be dismissed or ignored, since the lonely person's perception of a serious lack in social connection may be very accurate indeed. A quarter of the adults queried in a 2004 study reported that they had no one to confide in about serious matters. So, if you or I are feeling lonely, this may in no way imply that we are engaging in the kind of childish thinking that St. Paul has warned about. There may be many valid reasons for us to feel lonely, but what may be childish, or at least inaccurate, distressing, and self-defeating, in our thinking is how we proceed to think about the fact of our loneliness."
The example that follows about a perceived slight is an incredible insight. The breaking of the old stimulus/response paradigm to a newer more stoic model of stimulus (actual event), us (our beliefs about that event), and response (the consequences or emotional behavioural response). One of the key focuses of the second chapter is a striving for balance based on the belief that we have been created for both earthly and eternal happiness. And that this is done through deliberately striving to develop 

Each section of the book contains an Action Plan, that plan is broken down into five sections:
I found that these sections were amazing. I plan on printing them out and rereading through them from time to time just as a reminder to start working on these areas again and again. And then before the next chapter there is sort of a mini essay, basically a summary of that chapter in a one page synopsis. The one at the end of chapter four titled 'Have We Crafted a "Culture of Loneliness"?' was especially insightful. Some of the statistical comparisons between 1985 and 2004 on people we confide in is staggering. I was blown away by the numbers. And what that says about society today.

This at times was not an easy book to read. But it was a much needed read by me personally. And I am sure there and many out there who will benefit from the wisdom contained within these pages. Dr. Vost has written a book that can be used to help oneself, but also and maybe more importantly a tool we can use to help each other. This is another incredible read by a gifted author and I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Dr. Kevin Vost:
Full Range of Motive (2001)
Memorize the Faith! (2006)
Fit For Eternal Life (2007)
From Atheism to Catholicism (2010)
Unearthing Your Ten Talents (2010)
St. Albert the Great (2011)
Tending the Temple (2011)
Three Irish Saints (2012)
Memorize the Reasons! (2013)
One-Minute Aquinas (2014)
Hounds of the Lord (2015)
Seven Deadly Sins (2015)
Memorize the Mass! (2016)
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2016)
The Porch and the Cross (2016)
The Catholic Guide to Loneliness (2017)
The Four Friendships (2018)
How to Think Like Aquinas (2018)
Memorize the Latin Mass! (2018)

Books Contributed to:
Man Up! (2014)

Author profile interview with Dr. Kevin Vost.

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