Loneliness is a Cognitive Error


This year I’ll turn 45. Closing in on 50, with soon-to-be adult children, has prompted me to look back and take stock of my spiritual journey. One relationship in particular that has become increasingly important to me is that with my guardian angel.

Most people, including most Catholics, give little thought to these incredible beings, but they are worth contemplating. The Church has always taught as a matter of faith that angels exist and that we all have a unique one assigned to us (CCC, 328). These purely spiritual creatures are highly intelligent, powerful, and have submitted their wills entirely to God, all of which makes them unparalleled companions for our journey toward heaven.

I was once driving along, thinking about my own angel, when I realized he has been with me from conception. For the moment I began to exist, I had a loving soldier attached to me, helping me through life. And assuming I make it to heaven, I will always have this most intimate companion with me.  

You know how sometimes you know something factually but you don’t exactly know what it means? A child, for instance, may see a beautiful butterfly and marvel at it, appreciating its beauty, but not fully grasp that its existence declares a Creator beyond imagination. It was like that with my angel in that moment. As a Catholic, I had always known I had a guardian angel. What I didn’t perceive is what that meant: that even when I have pushed God away through sin, I have never been truly alone. My angel has accompanied me through every second of existence, through every experience of joy, confusion, fear, and suffering.

This was consoling, but then I wondered how this could be true when I have experienced times of great loneliness. Loneliness means “to be sad because one is without friends or company.” This can only mean one thing–my feelings were deceptive.

This ought to give us pause. Today, feelings are too often viewed as your truest guide in life: “Follow your heart,” we’re told. “Do what feels right.” But something may feel true but not be true. I can feel rejected, but have misinterpreted someone’s intentions. I can feel scared but be safe. Our feelings, or “passions,” as the Catechism calls them, are only truly good and reliable when we subject them to the gift of reason, which always starts with one fundamental question:

“Is it true?”

Never is this more important than when dealing with the spiritual pain of loneliness. The truth is, I am never actually alone because I am always with my Angel. Loneliness is a cognitive error.

Perhaps God allows those feelings because they can serve as a reminder we have neglected our connections to the spiritual world. Because when I immerse myself in God, pray to my Angel, and lean into the Blessed Mother and saints, there is no loneliness. My soul knows I am surrounded by people who love me. And I can dismiss that cognitive error and rest instead in what is true:


I have never been alone.


I am not alone.


I will never be alone.


Faith is “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Never is that more true than with our holy Angels. May God make us all ever more aware of the gift of these blessed friends!


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