Conversion and loneliness

Hi, I wasn’t sure which forum to put this…

I converted to Catholicism last Easter and am VERY glad I did. I’ve been attending the same parish for a while… this Sunday, I visited another parish in my area just to see what it’s like. I really liked the Mass, the priest, the homily, etc… but there is one thing that was brought to my attention that sort of bothers me now. I’m not sure how to describe it… ever since I started attending a Catholic church, I’ve been going there for God…just to spend time with Him, to pray, the receive the Sacraments… I don’t go there to socialize although I have some friends at my parish. And I never felt lonely. But this Sunday, I realized that everyone else is either with family, or has a family or their own (spouse, kids). I’m single, but I’m a student and live with my parents still. They aren’t Catholic so I go to church alone. For some reason, I just felt so lonely all of a sudden - not while I was at the Mass, but afterwards, thinking about it. It seemed like for everyone else, it was a celebration to be there, and for me, I had no one to share it with… however I have to say that when I’m just focusing on God, I never feel this way, - I don’t think it’s possible to feel lonely when you’ve just received Jesus in the Eucharist :wink:

but have any of you who are converts ever experienced something like this? how do you deal with your family not being Catholic?

I just wanted to elaborate a little bit…

for me church has always been about Jesus, and I never felt lonely cause I knew that He is there.

I think what was different yesterday is that almost everyone was talking to their family members/friends before Mass, - while at my parish, more people pray and it’s quieter…

and also, yesterday I had this terrible conversation with my mom about Catholicism… :frowning: and she was saying about how everyone goes to church with family, and I go alone, and she’s worried that is upsetting to me. It never was…until yesterday lol!! I don’t know how to deal with this… I want to be back where I was before, where the only thing that mattered is that God is there and I’m doing this for Him. I even had this horrible temptation yesterday to just leave the Church and never come back…and take down all the Catholic stuff in my room…and just leave God and never pray to Him again. And that really broke my heart :frowning: I’d never leave Him… I don’t know why I had this temptation but it makes me so sad just thinking about it. I don’t want to leave the Church either cause that’s where I know God lead me and that’s where He wants me, and He gives me Himself in the Eucharist… I can’t leave that!! I’m worried that now Mass for me won’t be what it was… that I’d keep on noticing how everyone else is with someone and I’m alone at church.

do you have any advice/suggestions?

I’m a craddle Catholic and the loneliness isn’t just for converts. I think it is just part of singleness. I can totally relate to what you are going through. I have found that if I think of Jesus at those moments of loneliness, when He is in the Agony of the Garden…I’m no longer lonely, but embracing Jesus in His Agony and somehow that pang in the heart is no longer there. Maybe that will help you.

My family wasn’t religious, so becoming Catholic didn’t bring any loss of religious fellowship with them.

However, lots of converts here lament a relative coldness in social relations in their new church. This is especially true of converts from evangelical churches, in which, apparently, parishioners interact much more with one another.

The loneliness isn’t unique to converts or single people. I am married with two kids and I sometimes feel what I call “spiritual loneliness”. My husband is not Catholic although he does support me and our kids in our faith. But I feel lonely in that I don’t have him to share my faith with. I would love to have conversations about faith experiences, or discussions on the meaning of a certain passage in the Bible, or shared prayer.

It is so important to find someone to share your faith journey with. To help myself combat spiritual loneliness, I attend our parish adult faith formation programs and group rosary prayer, and other activities my parish offers that give me the sense of sharing my faith experience that I need. I encourage you to do the same. Get involved in your parish’s faith life!

No one in my family is Christian, so I dealt with the no family to worship with loneliness a long time ago when I first started going to church.

I do understand the loneliness though, I went from knowing a large portion of my fairly large Church and being recognized by even more to knowing pretty much no one. It was an adjustment. The two biggest things that have helped me though are getting involved and going to daily Mass. The more you are involved in parish life, the more people you will get to know and the less lonely you will feel. As for daily Mass, there are less people there and they are usually the same ones every day. So even though I don’t really know most of the people, I recognize them and they recognize me so there is that bit of familiarity and that helps a lot. :thumbsup:

I converted to Catholicism in 1992, and I have to say, that I, too, am so happy to have “come home”. I think that if you are the only convert in your family then you do experience more loneliness than people who are married and/or have friends that are Catholics. I am also single. I know that the times that I feel the most lonely are holidays. Especially Christmas. It is a challenge for me, because the rest of my family goes to the Methodist Church to celebrate and I go to the local Catholic church alone. So I know exactly how you feel.

Now, that being said, if I feel lonely, then there are certain things that I can do to improve the situation.
First, I always invite my family to go with me. They always turn me down, but remember the Bible story about the widow that kept bothering the official to get justice?? She wore him down by her persistence.
Second, I got involved in my parish. I am single so that means that I have time to do many things…I am an usher and a Sacristan. I started an Adult Education class to help others understand their faith better.I am also helping with RCIA.

I suggest that you look around and see what your peers are doing…and if they aren’t doing anything, then ask Father if you can start something… a midweek bible study class, or praying the liturgy of the hours, or a singles group or a rosary before Mass group! That is a great way to meet other Catholics. I know; it has worked for me!
God bless you!
CC

See if you can get involved in your parish, join a Bible study class, see if you can help out in the Sunday children’s liturgy, etc. It is a good way to meet people in the parish, then when you attend church alone, you won’t feel like you are alone.

thanks so much everyone! :slight_smile:

4everhis,

I want to thank you for posting this. I am a new convert also. This is the same issue I have been dealing with, but could not verbalize effectively until I read your question. I think I may make this issue my project at my church and my parish. To me the question is one of … defining our church community and fellowship.

First, I intend on taking the advice that was given to you and get involved in every activity offered. I need friends. We all do. So I will be getting out of my comfort zone and becoming more outgoing. I have already taken some risks to convert, why not take more. I am not even sure what is offered. I don’t think it is much which brings me to another idea.

If there is not a group study, maybe I will start one. Why not? I did hear of one group that meets after Mass for breakfast.

All I know is this. I’m excited about the path I am on and I want to be around like minded people. I don’t want to go to church to be alone. That idea breaks my heart.

that’s a great idea! :slight_smile:

I agree, if you see there’s a need for something at the parish, like a study group or a prayer group, nothing wrong with starting one :slight_smile: and although it can be difficult sometimes, it’s true we already took a risk in converting, lol!! :wink:

I think that fellowship and having like minded friends is pretty important, it’s a great way to encourage one another in the faith… I also think that we’re never truly alone in church, because Christ is there, and it’s His will for us to be Catholic… but I know what you mean! where two or three are gathered there He is too…
Hope it all works out :slight_smile:

God bless!

When I read your second post, my first thought was that it was really your MOM who was feeling lonely when you go to Mass…
maybe she wants to be invited to go but doesn’t know how to ask?

Is there a young adult group in your church? We don’t have one in our parish, but in the downtown area there is a fabulous group of young single Catholics who can get together and go to Mass together…

And just to be clear… you are at mass with your family. :heart:

Hi 4everhis-
I work with RCIA. I think part of the problem is you were in class with fellow converts. You were a group coming into the faith and sharing. Now you don’t have that weekly sharing and meeting. It’s kind of a letdown from the excitement of entering the Church.

I call it “desert.” These are the times you really appreciate the rituals of the Church - the smells, the bells, the words. They keep you going when you don’t feel like it.

Good luck and welcome home! :blessyou:

I’m a revert, not a convert so I hope it’s okay with you if I post on your thread.

I’ve experienced a lot of rejection in my life and have felt utterly desolate at Mass. Once a woman pulled her kid away from me (I’m a woman, by the way) during the handshake of peace, I didn’t know what I did for her to do that, but I went home in tears, feeling very lonely. Seen and experienced other similar things to this during Mass too.

I was single before the internet happened and there were no resources for me to meet others. I asked a priest about it once and he told me that most people had already gotten married that were around my age (I was 25 or 26…) so he didn’t offer any solutions to me so I sort of felt on my own in this regard.

At that time I could certainly understand why some people left the church when they found another that had much more fellowship, but now I no longer think this.

I do think there’s a terrible insensitivity towards our neighbor, even in church. Yesterday during Mass this big family piled into the pew in front of me, I mean there were about 10 or so of them and I was right behind them, and they were having so much fun doing the peace handshake among themselves that they didn’t really bother noticing others.

Anyway, don’t give up, because this is the faith where Christ is truly present up there, right in front of you in the Eucharist.

And pray to the Blessed Mother Mary and Jesus Christ, and your guardian angel and the saints you know or would like to know, and tell them about your loneliness.

They will give you the answers. And it’s worth the wait and worth the try.

In fact, offer up your loneliness.

I’m so sorry that you’re feeling this way. I will keep you in my prayers and please pray for me.

I am not a convert and so not too sure whether I can help. But let me say this - your post really touches my heart. I thought why such a special child of God (you) who have just known Him in a very special way can be ever lonely? I really feel for you sis because you should never be lonely anymore because God who is ever presence is with you always. He fills the depth of your emptiness. Even when you are alone in the dark of the night, when everything is so quiet not even a chirp of birds and insects is heard you know that out there Someone is watching over you. And He is watching over you just about at any place where you happen to be. So you can never be really lonely because God who loves you like His daughter is there all the time and embracing you always under His wings like a hen keeping her brood under hers.

I really feel for you when you share that you experience this loneliness and more so while in the church during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I think this particular emotion that you felt does tell you about something. It’s perhaps telling you how you long for the rest of your family members to experience what you have experienced. You long for them to be like you. When that has not happen, Oh, what loneliness you feel.

Only God can save us on this – He who can do the impossible. Maybe as a start you can pray for their conversion if you have not already emphasized this in your prayer. God will do the rest but of course it will be in His time, like the song, in His time He will make everything beautiful … . The most effective way to do this (to effect their conversion) is for you to be a Christian daughter/sister to them. When they see the changes in you after you experienced your new found faith, that will put have a very strong impression on them. It has been testified many times that even the entire family would convert when one member underwent tremendous changes for the better after encounter with God. That could happen in your situation.

So cheer up. The lonely feeling indicate something great is about to happen. On the practical level, the Church is also the proverbial mustard tree where the birds and animals take shelter. Get to know the parishioners and serve the church by joining activities and movements in your parish and before long you will be truly part of the church and you will make many friends – different kind of friends that the world can give. What beautiful hope is in store for you. You can only expect good things to come but most of all, bask in the present of God who has just found you. Welcome back to the loving arms of the Father.

God bless you.

I was an RCIA at one parish and when I moved joined another. At the new parish I joined a Bible Study class.

The story is in this little essay I wrote called “Failing Fellowship.” It’s a cautionary tale. I’ve had several people comment privately to me on it. It seems that everyone has someone like Jerome in their parish.

Anyways here it is. Hope things work out better for you.

payingattentiontothesky.com/422/

dj

Dude, I’m right there w. you. My mother raised us Episcopalian, I came to the RCC Easter of '07, Mom was disappointed…(heheheheheh LOL!~!!) but now I have as my closest friends, some baptists…but not just any baptists…Bob Jones University grads no less!!! THESE guys are about as ecclectic as they come! Seriously…they are trying to “witness” to me & Evangelize me. NOT because they think it’s the right thing to do, but because they think of me as family & family believes ONE WAY. um…exsqueeze me!!! yeah. I go to church alone, and I find that I am quite content being alone. It’s all in how you carry yourself when you are alone. join a group. I did. I am now a part of the young adults group. I volunteer @ the soup kitchen, I am going to help distribute thanksgiving dinners to the poor, HOPEFULLY, the right woman is in the midst of all that…lol. THAT is NOT why I am doing it though. I basically immersed myself in the faith after spending a year in kuwait throughout 08 & 09. SO…yes…I know what you mean, but if you want to know someone there, ya gotta meet some people. A turtle never got a breath of fresh air by keeping his head in his shell. :wink: take care bro, good luck!!!

I don’t. I just experience joy in the Lord. I don’t think you should give your distracting thought any more attention than it has already been given. Anyway, we go to the Mass to worship Him. And the joyful sharing in each other’s company doesn’t really depend on whether people are actually sitting in the same pew as us. Just let Jesus be your focus and let nothing else (like being alone in your pew) take away from Him and your joy in being with Him in loving worship.:slight_smile:

4EverHis, I think that this is experience is a prompting from God that you need more Catholic friends. All of us need close loving friends, Catholic, Christian or not. Even Jesus had his close favorites, he was human. I think you might need to take some risks that could be uncomfortable at first but the more you try the easier it will become. Try and see if there is a Catholic singles group at your parish or anywhere locally. Although not every parish has one, there is usually at least one parish in a diocese that has an active singles group. you could call the diocese and ask.

Also your local University might be a good place to start. See if there is a Newman Center attached which serves the student population. At the very least if you make contact with the leadership there I’m confident they will know about other active and committed local Catholic singles.

Keep asking all the Catholic you know if they have any single Catholic friends who would like to go for a coffee. Get involved in your parish. St. Vincent De Paul (SVDP) is a ministry that seems to attract outgoing people who are interested in others.

See if your diocese has a newspaper, read it and find out what is going on locally for Catholics then turn up!

Pray and get yourself out there! Nothing changes if we don’t take risks. To make friends we have to be friendly and it can’t be a one time outing. Keep joining in and volunteering this puts the odds in your favor that you meet a great friend or two.

I’ll be praying for you. I am a convert from a non-Catholic family. I just moved to Germany this year. I don’t speak German and I didn’t know anyone but I still have made some friends Catholic and otherwise. You can’t stay at home wishing someone would call you or be resentful of others because they have families or significant others at Mass with them. Step out in faith and get involved, friends are ready to be made everywhere you go.

God bless you. I’ll be praying for you.

I just converted at last easter and I have felt lonley when looking around I see people with families and such (last christmas was the worst) but I deal becuse I know jesus lives in me. one way I have with dealing with the lonliness is to join a prayer group and help out at a bible study.

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