Faith and Solitude

What does it really mean to be “alone”? And how can we live that “finite infinity” that all of us are? A talk from the president of CL at the “Solitude, the Enemy” conference (Florence, November 16, 2019), published in February Traces.
Julián Carrón

Solitude is a phenomenon with many facets, something which I am sure will be expertly addressed during the course of this conference. The very definition of solitude that appears in the program attests to the large range of meanings the word may take on: solitude is “defined as the subjective sensation of a lack of support in one’s moment of need. [...] Solitude [...] has a negative influence on one’s health” (from the website Yet, as well as these statements capture the phenomenon, the question of the nature of the need and the lack that cause solitude remains open.

This brings to mind some verses from the poet Mario Luzi:

“What is this lack a lack of

o heart,

of which all of a sudden you are full?

Of what? Once the dam is broken

it floods and submerges you

the inundation of your poverty...

It comes,

perhaps it comes,

from beyond you

a recall

which you now do not listen to because you are in agony.

But it exists, fostered by strength and music

the perpetual music will return.

Be calm.”

(Under Human Species, Green Integer, Los Angeles, 2010).

The question posed by the poet only magnifies the urgency of fully comprehending the nature of solitude. In the context of this conference, which seeks to offer, as you can read in the program, “a comprehensive view of the principal causes behind the solitude of people of all ages, in particular those of advanced years,” I was asked to speak about “faith and solitude.” To highlight the contribution that faith can make, however, we first need to more precisely identify that which constitutes human solitude, a phenomenon that is most dramatic for the aging.


Download the pfd of the text of the talk.