Sunday, January 28, 2007

Loneliness, Longing and Love

Well, its been a semi rough patch here in the old house. We have just about survived a tumultuous renonvation (three months) and my sons are down to only one weekend visit per month... from their previous usual two or more. I can still recall the days of being a more or less full time dad, 3 weeknights and every other weekend. Seems like yesterday.

At the same time I am feeling that creeping loneliness of being somewhat single as well as single minded. I have my work, which I love and my church activities which give me a lot of deep joy and my formation as a worldly monastic, or an oblate, or a third order, whatever you choose to call it.

But deep inside there is a growing longing to be alone with God, even as that same longing produces a very tangible loneliness. Yes, I know that God is my All and that I can and do turn to Him many times every day.

But lately I've begun to suspect that there is some unsuspected, hidden connection between my interior life and the capacity to love another or many others as Christ loves us.

Now my spiritual director has me reading some of Hans Urs von Balthasar, and this Catholic systematician seems to have a communitarian and mystical streak in him a mile wide and just as deep. I discovered that he helped a German woman found a secular institute, a group for people who want to live the consecrated life of poverty, chastity and obedience, while also staying "in the world."

I've often doubted whether that could truly be done, but I am interested enough to find out just what happened to this group. But first, I've told myself, I'll read an introduction to Balthasar and his book on the Christian State of Life. Only then can I truly appreciate the historical circumstances that led Balthasar et al to form this community. Then, perhaps I might also find some help for my own journey, as solo as that has been thus far.


Kyle said...

It sounds like it'll be rewarding. :0)

Phil B. said...

definitely.... but I am no longer used to reading Systematic theology. It always seemed so dry and academic. But somehow Balthasar appears differently to me... maybe I'm older, if not wiser, or perhaps because I've become assimilated t a Roman Catholic viewpoint. We'll see!

Antony said...

Hey Phil?

I love you and I'm praying for you.


Phil B. said...


Deep Furrows said...

Contact information for the Community of St. John is here:

good luck!

Phil B. said...

Thanks!. This looks to be very helpful. I am still working my way (slowly!) through "The Christian State of Life."

Read a little of your blog. Yikes! I am what is termed a "church professional." And not at all sure I like being segregated out by that function. I'll have to pray about that.

Deep Furrows said...

The whole "church professional" distinction is one that Rahner makes. Balthasar and von Speyr take a different perspective that tends toward bringing different persons in the Church together. There's really just one thing that matters, which is listening for the ever-greater call of Christ.

So, are you reading The Christian State of Life by Balthasar or von Speyr? I confess that I found Balthasar's very confusing.


Phil B. said...


I'm reading Balthasar.... deep and thick, but not confusing to me. In fact, it reminds me of Barth's Systematics....VERY slow reading with extensive references bu one is well repaid for the effort it takes to read.

I have not read any of Rahner... one deep thinker at a time. And hearing that he makes the distinction makes me less interested in investigating him. I struggle with the lack of canonical recognition and regularization of all of us who serve our Bishops and pastors in a lay capacity. In my opinion, the struggle over application of the word "ministry" to our work is one symptom of a deeper adjustment needed.

I AM interested, though, in the concept of secular insititutes and knowing how one goes about connecting with them. They seem to be all "out there" and none of them "near here." I can't travel to Europe or even a distant point in the US in order to investigate any of these fine orgianizations. Yet I hunger for a connection to a larger discipline (beyond or different from my Benedictine roots).

Any suggestions?

Deep Furrows said...


I don't talk about it much, but I was once in discernment for a secular institute (I'm married now and almost 40 years old). This discussion with you is making me see that Balthasar was not at all interested in making distinctions between states of life, but instead on how each person can follow the ever-greater call of Christ.

I participate in Communion and Liberation, a movement that has both celibate and non-celibate forms. The original recognition of CL in the Church came not from a bishop, but from the (Benedictine) abbot of Monte Cassino. Come to School of Community sometime and see if you find what you're seeking.

Are you in Minneapolis/ St. Paul? The contact there is Bunny, (see I heard her talk during summer vacation and was very moved.


Phil B. said...

Thanks Fred. It sounds as though the School of Community might be a good thing. I'll contact Bunny.

Deep Furrows said...

let me know how it goes!
Fred K (Kansas)