Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn

The Devil Wants You Isolated

September 3, AD2016

 

Pixabay_Desert

I write this article thinking about a friend. This friend is Catholic and recently got into a situation which is obviously not very good for her, involving renting a room and a single, older man.

Instinctively, I am sure she knows deep down this was a bad decision, although she tried to play it off as normal when she told me. However, what most saddened me was that she didn’t come to a dinner with common friends of ours a few weeks later. I am almost sure that this was because she was possibly embarrassed about explaining this to the group.

It occurred to me that this is exactly the pattern of sin. There is a rationalization, there are excuses and there is defensiveness. Most of all, however, there is isolation.

“I can fix it myself

 

Another friend recently shared with me how in his late adolescence and early adulthood he would close in on himself when he was stressed and be aggressive toward others. He thought he was old enough and “man” enough to resolve his own problems.

It is precisely the opposite. Christ made himself completely vulnerable in His suffering. He opened himself up to God the Father and asked for His help every step of the way. Jesus even accepted human help. Simon of Cyrene helped Him carry His cross. Veronica wiped his face. Our Lady accompanied His every step. Sts. Mary and John stayed at the foot of the cross.

If the Lord Himself asks for and accepts help in his tribulation, why shouldn’t we? Perhaps we are prideful creatures who sometimes get drunk on our own self-sufficiency. This mind frame of not needing help and not asking for it is a step to isolation.

“They don’t understand”

It is of course necessary to protect your intimacy from others. You can only reveal certain things to your spouse and your spiritual director, other things to your family members or close friends. There are certain things that you might feel a need to protect from others who criticize and judge. Even Jesus was not accepted by the world.

However, when someone makes a negative comment about my option to stay at home as a mother, or to have closely-spaced kids, I pity them. I don’t get angry or feel I have to prove them wrong. I just feel sad that they don’t have as much joy as I do (probably).

This is quite different from the pattern of sin in which you retract from society, friends and even family members. You are so misunderstood. Your communion with others doesn’t get bigger and bigger as it should, but instead gets smaller and smaller. You are on a high horse about an option or several options you took in your life and others can do nothing but judge you. Especially those “religious” people.

It is the shame of Adam and Eve as they hide. It is the shame of Cain as Adam’s blood cried out to God. Even my two-year-old daughter hides to do things she knows I won’t approve of, such as playing with my camera or smashing my lipstick with her chubby little fingers.

My friend who didn’t come to our dinner with friends probably thought that we weren’t “open-minded” enough to accept her living situation. (I am assuming my friend’s feeling here because of past experiences of my own.) Really, she was scared of being judged. This is exactly what the devil wants.

Progressive isolation

The devil wants you isolated. Any sin is isolation from God, whether it is venial or mortal. A jealous thought is a thought that turns you away from God, who is all love. An act of adultery is more serious, but also turns you away from God in a more dramatic way.

Sin also has social consequences. It isolates you from people. It isolates you from people that can help you, that are set in your path to be God’s instruments. It isolates you from your community, like the lepers that Jesus healed. God wants us in communion, intertwined with one another.

If you are in a state of Grace, like Mary, love impels you toward helping your neighbor, as with the Visitation. If you are in a state of sin, not only are you unable to help anyone else, but you progressively take yourself out of situations which make you insecure or uncomfortable, and isolate yourself from any help.

What is hell but eternal isolation from God? Many people live in “little hells” here on Earth already. Let’s not let that happen to ourselves nor to the ones around us. Let us be people of communion, of friendship, of vulnerability, of self-sacrifice and of love.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

Filed in: Health & Spirituality • Tags: ,

About the Author:

Julie Machado is a 30-year-old Portuguese-American who grew up in California, but moved to Portugal to study theology. She now lives there, along with the rest of her family, her husband and her children. She believes the greatest things in life are small and hidden and that the extraordinary is in the ordinary. She blogs at Marta, Julie e Maria.

If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe below to receive a daily digest of all our essays.

Thank you for supporting us!

  • Raquel Gompy

    Do you know portuguese? Thanks for this article.
    I’m a catholic Brazilian living in America recently, and your article served for reflection. I’m learning about your country and you are learning about your parent’s country who have a lot in common with mine. That is a kind of isolation that does not seek but God and life brings us.

    • Julie Machado

      Sim, falo português e moro em Portugal. 🙂 and my husband was born in Brazil!

    • james

      Have you ever heard Osvaldo Golijov’s La Pasion segun san Marcos ? It was first performed
      in Germany in September 2000, dedicated to Maria Guinard and received a 20 minute ovation. The composer is Jewish and the explanation of how he needed to prepare himself is telling.

    • Julie Machado

      I had never heard of Osvaldo, but he is great. I am now following him on Spotify. Thanks! I didn’t find anything on how he prepared himself though.

    • james

      The latter is in the liner notes on the two CD set of La Pasion.

    • Raquel Gompy

      Que maravilha! Deus os abençoe, e abençoe toda a família! 🙂

  • janeasinner

    My Jesus, pardon and mercy through the merits of your Holy Wounds. Be merciful, My Lord, for I am a sinner. I am in a conundrum. I am out of money, no car, live in a rural area where I have no friends. I moved here to be with someone and then that someone up and left, took everything. I have survived 16 months but now I am flat out broke and will be in the street or a shelter at the end of this month. A very good and old friend has offered to rent me a room along with his daughter and will come and get me and move me there. I am out of options. I don’t want to move away from this area. I am guilty, I am a recluse now. and I like it. I have prayed and prayed on this. I have thought and thought and begged and begged Jesus,Mary, Joseph, St. Rita, St. Jude (Jude sent me a miraculous lotto winnings of 2500. on a tix I didn’t order, on numbers I didn’t pick, but that’s another story of miracles in my life) St. Gemma, God, The Archangels. and all the Novena’s in the world, and still I don’t know what to do. I have to pay my bills ( to Caesar), I have medical issues, I have rent, elect, food and clothes to pay for. What is a girl to do?? Jesus, I Trust In You. God save us all.

    • james

      But you have access to a computer and a great screen name and luck, you have luck, jane and with
      the right kind of medication you may even get stability in your life.

  • smk629

    Well done, and I appreciate it.

    The other side of the coin is when we are shunned and isolated from others, even our brothers and sisters in the Faith and our priests. It is not so easy to deal with either.

    But your good advice reminds us not to hide in our inner “caves”. Even if we have to force ourselves to continue to go to Mass and interact. Forgiveness and mercy starts with ourselves before we can extend it to others.

    Pax et bonum!

  • Lynette

    Very good article! Reminds of St. Faustina’s reflection on the despairing soul. Lord, grant us the grace to be humble!

    • Julie Machado

      Thanks! That is so funny… I just now finished reading St. Faustina’s diary. Yes, Lord, grant us that grace. She says in her diary that there aren’t more saints because humility is hard to come by.

  • Elijah fan

    There is truth in your view but on the other hand, the Church honors contemplatives who are alone often…some more than others…Carthusians and Camaldolese being the most alone. Very complex area but satan is like a seducer and a seducer wants his target to be alone…yet Elijah was the most capable human of aloneness and is the only being picked by God to return just prior to Christ. Catholicism doesn’t discuss him much because it doesn’t emphasize the individual hero and it had few heroes in the abuse scandal as a result of too much team player/obedience emphasis.

    • Angelica

      I would say God gives me the spirituality you mention (contemplative), and I enjoy solitude… I was not like this before, socially or during prayer… But I know that the evil one likes to isolate his “prey”… The moment to share and talk is when the temptation comes, I know this for experience. Don’t be afraid to share your temptations, but it must be with a person who is in Communion with God, and who you know will give you a wise advice. In first place, your Spiritual Director, but you can aslo have a friend or a trusted person, for the times you can’t meet with your S.D.
      If you have the tendency to talk a lot, then be careful of what you share, because you may start a gossip, or instead of telling your own mistakes, fears, temptations, you could start telling the others’ faults instead, and that would not be good for you or the person who is listening, not only because this is a different temptation, but because you would be wasting time, words, and that would not be pleasing to God. Always pray to the Holy Spirit and you Guardian Angel before you speak