Review by Julie Abell
One thing I have learned over my life is that thinking that I am the only person I know experiencing such and such emotions is false. Loneliness, for example, is something I have felt at parties and on camping trips accompanying family friends. Early on I would have myself a pity party, but as always, when I finally confided in a friend or just listened to a friend having her own pity-party I discovered that I am certainly not the only one experiencing loneliness. I picked up Kevin Vost’s book The Catholic Guide to Loneliness hoping to find some answers, coping techniques, and support. I was not disappointed.
Because the lay Dominican author holds a Doctor of Psychology Degree in Clinical Psychology he can address the issue of loneliness from both scientific and Catholic vantage points. He goes through “The ABCs of Lonely Thinking” and then covers “Why and How You Should Hone Your Social Thinking Skills.” He includes action plans which address reading, reflecting, remembering, reciting, and reconnecting.
As a Catholic, Kevin Vost draws from the lives of the saints to explore virtues that can conquer loneliness like temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice. The virtue of charity as well is key. Vost argues that if we lived out the two greatest “commandments in the words of Christ Himself: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matt. 22:37-39; cf. Luke 10:27; Mark 12:30-31), how could we possibly speak of a worldwide epidemic of increasing loneliness?”Finally, in the last chapter Vost “Sounds the Alarm for a Greater Awakening” and lists 30 ways to love our neighbor and lighten their burden of loneliness. These ideas include making eye contact to acknowledge the dignity of another human, smiling, eating together, reconciling, being polite, thanking, etc. And always, always, always we need to remember that we are indeed not alone because Christ Himself said, “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matt. 28:20) Pick up this helpful book and enjoy!