Monday 7 June 2021

Finding God in Loneliness - Father Antonio Ritaccio - CTS Finding God Series

Finding God in Loneliness
CTS Finding God Series
Fr Antonio Ritaccio
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784696634
CTS Booklet PA53

I have read several books in the ‘Finding God Series’ from the Catholic Truth Society. The first book I read in this series was by Deacon Donnelly as well, Finding God When Prayer Doesn't Work. I have read almost 200 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society over the last several years. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. But this series is very different. All the titles and volumes in this series are about difficulties in life, or in the family, in faith. I have benefitted from all the books I have read from the Catholic Truth Society. I believe that Father Ritzccio has published just three books and they are all in this series. The description of this volume is:

“Loneliness can point to the very question of our identity – “who am I?” This question affects everyone in every generation, yet very few people are willing to admit that they feel lonely because of the stigma attached. With the help of the saints and other Christians who have experienced loneliness, Fr Antonio Ritaccio offers practical and spiritual help to sufferers – revealing that loneliness, instead of crushing us, can become a significant mechanism that leads us to discover who we really are, and to recognise that we are loved by God.”

The chapters in this small volume are:

You Are Not Alone!
Hungry for a Word
When We Cannot Escape Loneliness
When We Can Do Something about Loneliness
Praying in Loneliness
Useful Resources in the UK

This book begins with these words:

“Are you lonely? Feelings of loneliness can affect everyone – young mothers and their babies, the elderly and their carers, pupils and teachers, the police and criminals, soldiers and doctors, seafarers and truckers, clergy and lay people, the rich and famous as well as the poor and homeless. It is tempting to see the feeling of loneliness as a modern problem that needs to be fixed like a broken machine. Countless books have been written on the subject with advice on how to eradicate loneliness from our lives, but often without addressing the reason why we feel lonely in the first place.”

When I picked this book up it was only because I really enjoyed the series. And I wanted to review all of the books in it. But as I was reading it I realized there was a lot I could learn from and apply. I picked it up just to complete the series but have benefitted greatly from reading it. As much as I have loved some of the other books in the series, I believe this is one of the most important titles in the collection. I know many people who have struggled with loneliness in their single state, and have tried to fill that void. This book offers several helpful tips for how to counter loneliness and fill the void. 

Father Ritaccio states:

“We can find ourselves alone even though we may be surrounded by people who love and accept us. For some of us, having poor experiences with trusted friends can lead us to put up barriers to prevent ourselves from being hurt again. We can become emotionally distant with our friends, pushing them further away from us. Our experience of loneliness can lead us to deeper levels of depression. Loneliness can feel as if there is no escape. We may think that we must change our behaviour to be accepted. However, for some of us, our loneliness is a call to change our circumstances, to challenge our thinking patterns, to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness from those we may have offended. If we have hurt the person we love, it is not surprising that we find ourselves alone. In this case, the cure for loneliness is to accept that we were wrong and to say sorry without reservation.”

And further on:

“For others, our loneliness is a trial that cannot be changed. For example, in the case of sickness and death or homelessness. For some of us, the death of a beloved pet can be as devastating as losing a relative. The loneliness and pain of finding ourselves unable to express our loss to someone who understands us can be made worse if we feel we are being ridiculed for being overly sentimental. We may end up helplessly alone because we have been abandoned by our family in our old age, or because of life-changing experiences such as sickness, leaving our home behind, starting a new career or beginning our studies at university. We can feel isolated because we are misunderstood or we find it hard to understand others. These are the sorts of circumstances that we have little control over. In these trials, the Lord calls us to trust, to wait and to hope in his providence and to know that our trial will come to an end.”

And one of the most important lines in the book is:

“However, there are some instances where it is not so clear if we are called to change our circumstances, or to carry our burden with patience. In these cases the Holy Spirit makes us know the difference and how we should deal with our situation.”

Interspersed throughout the book are prayers and tips. Each chapter ends with a prayer and tips in fact. An example from the chapter Hungry for a Word is: 

Heavenly Lord, at times my loneliness overwhelms me, and I have no strength to carry on. Forgive me for the times I have failed to find rest in you and instead turned to distractions to feed me. I thank you for waiting for me and loving me in the Holy Eucharist. Please allow the fruit of the Good News to take root in my heart. Amen.

Tips for Finding God in Loneliness
 • God is waiting to be discovered in others who are in need. Find ways to reach out to others who are lonely and in need. If you cannot leave the house, make a list of people that you know who would appreciate a phone call.
 • Volunteer your time in visiting others who live alone. Ask your parish priest if he can arrange for you to visit or call someone who would like some company.
 • Meditate on Christ’s Judgement of the Nations. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 31-46).”

This is an excellent read in a wonderful series. And it was one that I really needed. I look forward to reading the remaining books in the ‘Finding God Series’. Now I have several different series from CTS on the go, and over 100 books on my want to read list from the CTS. So many great books so little time. An excellent resource that I highly recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

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