Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Loneliness of Sundays

Many of my single friends and I have talked about how difficult Sundays are for us, particularly since many of us are far from our families. This morning on my way to 8:30am Mass at the Nashville Cathedral, I was thinking about how much I dislike going to Mass alone. I have felt that way ever since college since I would sometimes end up at a Mass without my close friends and be sitting in the pews next to strangers.

The loneliness of Sundays is exacerbated by the fact that Sunday is a family day, and our families are far away; we don't have the opportunity to attend Mass with our families, participate in family brunch, or spend the day hiking or museum perusing with our siblings.

Naturally, this loneliness is felt even more acutely for someone like myself who has moved to a new city and hasn't yet found a parish "home" or set community of like minded people to share Mass and meals with.

I was thinking that maybe experiencing Sundays alone is just harder for me than other people, because of my introverted, melancholic nature. However, when searching for something completely different, I stumbled upon this article on Heather King's blog, Shirt of Flame. (As an aside, for more information on Heather King and an orthodox assessment of her book, check out Matthew Lickona's review.) King writes about what she calls "The existential loneliness of Sundays", and I found her perspective very gripping:

"I've never quite understood why, but of all the times of the week, Sunday
tends to be when I most keenly feel my existential loneliness. Maybe it's
because Sunday is the day traditionally spent with family and (by choice) I
am far from my family. Maybe it's because Sunday reminds me of the poverty
of sleeping alone. Sunday is when I see my death before me and simultaneously feel so sorrowful, and so over-awed and grateful that I ever got to live at all, that my entire being “becomes” the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem.

I used to think I felt sad because the weekend was coming to a close--not that the weekend had usually been all that stellar. But recently I’ve been thinking maybe it’s because Sunday is the day we're most likely to go to Mass, and then we all leave, and Christ is alone for the rest of the week. Maybe Christ, too, feels especially far from his family on Sunday. Maybe Sunday is the day that he, too, feels most keenly the poverty of sleeping alone. Maybe, if we
wonder whether God ever hears us, he wonders whether we ever hear him. "

Good food for thought on this Sunday afternoon.

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