St. Therese of Lisieux, patroness of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, was a shy child growing up in 19th-century France, and while she enjoyed her time spent with her sisters and cousins, she did not find much joy with other children.
She did try making friends, but it didn’t always go as planned, as she writes in her Story of a Soul, “At this time I chose as friends two little girls of my own age; but…all I got was a glance of indifference—my friendship was not appreciated. I felt this very keenly, and I no longer sought an affection which had proved so inconstant.”
At times this led St. Therese to feelings of loneliness, but in her loneliness she knew there was one friend she could always count on.
“I was so shy … I had no special friend … with whom I could have spent many hours like other old pupils…I found my one consolation—for was not Jesus my only Friend? To Him alone could I open my heart; all conversation with creatures, even on holy subjects, wearied me. It is true that in these periods of loneliness I sometimes felt sad, and I used often to console myself by repeating this line of a beautiful poem Papa had taught me: ‘Time is your ship, and not your dwelling-place.’ Young as I was, these words restored my courage, and even now, in spite of having outgrown many pious impressions of childhood, the symbol of a ship always delights me and helps me to bear the exile of this life.”
This little story from St. Therese’s life reminds us that we are never truly alone. We might feel that sharp pain of loneliness, abandoned by our family and friends, but the good news is that Jesus’ friendship is always open to us. He may not be able to play games with us, but he can speak to our souls and give us a peace that will never end.
Jesus always accompanies us and this presence should also urge us on to accompany other people, especially those we know who feel the sharp pain of loneliness. We can bring Jesus to them and reassure them that they are never alone.