― Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist
This issue of Luminescence began with the realization at St.Amant that one of the most profound sources of suffering within those living with chronic and persistent disabilities was loneliness. As it turns out, this is an issue worldwide. Recently, in Britain, there has been a newly appointed government official, the Minister of Loneliness. Although that might sound like a Monty Python skit, research is suggesting that loneliness is more toxic than smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is associated with illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression and dementia. Brigham Young University reports that loneliness and isolation are deadly.
Tending to this phenomenon, however, is not new. Catholic Social Teachings have always invited us to attend to the common good, to nurture a sense of community and to call upon solidarity, especially with those on the margins of society including those experiencing homelessness, those that have come from war-torn countries and increasingly, our elders. Science is beginning to catch up to the wisdom traditions of faith. Dr. Lisa Jaremka, at the University of Delaware, recently shared that there is a wealth of research showing that a sense of being cared for and loved is crucial to our well-being.
And the truth is in this postmodern age where we are more electronically connected than ever before, it could very well be that loneliness lives inside all of us. How many times are you observing that when two or more people are gathered, most often each is looking at a device rather than in the eyes of the other? It may very well be that it is time for all of us to pause and look up and see the face that we have been longing to see, one that deeply recognizes the desire and need to be loved and appreciated.
How are your colleagues doing? How about your neighbours? And what about your family? And what about you? We are delighted to share these stories where our Communities of Service are attending to the heart of our mission – it’s vital that we remember that each person is both sacred and social.