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Single Living

Before getting married, I found it difficult to attend Church on Sundays by myself. After all, Sunday is supposed to be a family day, a day of joy.

Yet, people who are single can often find themselves very lonely. Ever since moving away from my family in Massachusetts and coming to Connecticut, attending Mass every Sunday by myself was tough.

Though I loved Jesus, I still often felt very alone, surrounded on all sides by other couples and families. Sunday is supposed to be a family day, but I felt like the only person who didn’t have one.

I knew I would get married someday, but at the time, I wasn’t married, wasn’t engaged, and wasn’t even dating anyone. It was just me, and I felt the weight of that. 

To rub salt in my wounds, I then had to go home and eat by myself on the Lord’s Day making the loneliness all the more tangible. I often filled the silence while I ate by watching a lighthearted movie.

Every once in a while, my best friend’s family would invite me over to eat and play games all afternoon with them. Each and every time, I felt whole and complete.

As someone who finally got married, I can say that I love going to Mass with my wife now, going to eat with her after, and spending the whole day with her. I had to wait a long time for this, but it was definitely worth the wait!

So, if you are feeling empty and alone on the Sabbath day, I completely understand and empathize with you. And, while it may not cure you completely, I would like to offer some friendly advice. My hope is that it will help you to cope until that day when your soul mate becomes a reality!

1. Learn the Spiritual Lesson: No one can make us happy except God! No marriage and no person can give us peace or joy that lasts. Every time we experience disappointment or loneliness (in or out of marriage), it’s supposed to remind us that nothing on this earth can satisfy us except God. 

As empty as it may feel, it is important nonetheless to run even more to Jesus, to cling to Him, and to beg for His peace and fulfillment in your life. Ideally, we should be fulfilled in God whether or not we ever get married. It’s helpful to remember that God is love and the source of all love. Thus, coming closer to Him and growing in the spiritual life will only prepare us for a happy marriage and make us better lovers.

2. Hang Out With People:  As often as possible, it is helpful to hang out with family, relatives, or friends. If your family is not around, it is important to have positive people you can spend time with. Now, this may entail you doing more of the calling, making plans, and inviting people over for dinner/out to the mall, etc., but doing so is important.

It helps you make that important human connection on a day when loneliness threatens to take over. Even if you hang out with a friend or group of friends in the evening for a short while, this helps because it gives you something to look forward to during the day, the promise of good company to bond with.

3. Get Out:  When no one is available, there are other possible options. You can walk around the mall, go to a coffee shop and people watch, take a long walk, etc. I realize that these options won’t be useful to everyone, but sometimes it’s helpful to just be around other people and take your mind off yourself.

4. Employ a Hobby: People who have meaningful hobbies are more likely to put their time to better use rather than just twiddling their thumbs. I used to write Catholic pamphlets on different subjects every Sunday, and I could do this for hours. While it doesn’t compare to hanging out with people, finding something you like to do can be a good helpful alternative.

5. Serve Others: Serving others makes us happier and more fulfilled for it is always in giving of ourselves that we receive! So, look for ways you can serve and make a difference (volunteer at a soup kitchen, cook someone food, help someone in need, etc). As a result, you too will grow and become a better person.

Don’t lose hope! Keep your head up and remind yourself of the long term perspective. If you’re called to marriage, then it’s only a matter of time until you find your soul mate. At that time, every Sunday will be a family day where love is present and where you worship and thank God together!

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47 Comments

  1. Lisa-727959 June 2, 2013

    Excellent article! You hit the nail on the head, Bryan. When I was single after my divorce (and living in CT) Sundays were very hard. Coming from a large family where Sunday mass and Sunday dinner was always a big deal, it was very hard to live on my own and be happy on Sunday. But your advice is spot on and I hope others will take it to heart.

    - Lisa Duffy

  2. Philomena-687435 June 2, 2013

    Excellent thoughts. Everything you said is very true. I live in CT too. After I became a widow, I feel so lonely eventhough there are many people in the church I noticed that couples and families stay together. Sometimes I am left on the pew alone, as if they are afraid of me or may be it is my color. However, I don’t miss my Mass no matter what because I know that Jesus is there and He is waiting for me always. May be I have to step out of my cocoon and reach out to others.
    Philomena

    • Jennis-939259 June 4, 2013

      yeah you have to learn on how to be open and reach out to others.

  3. Jaime-556629 June 2, 2013

    I feel Lonley but I don’t feel that bad I visit my Parents and Family always even go to Mass with them ,I understand if you relocated it’s tough then but I also say get involed in Church and do outdoor stuff too and of course sports watching or playing

  4. Christianne-908595 June 2, 2013

    Loved the article! I found it difficult to go to mass by myself for some time. I always felt so lonely sitting between families and it brought some insecurity out of me. But I realized that I was more alone when I didn’t attend and the guilt kept weighing down on me. God should always be first and we have to trust that he will bring someone in our life when it’s the right time. Since I made the decision to always attend mass and rather then being lazy and insecure, I’ve been much happier and have been able to focus more on my relationship with Christ. I know it can be hard but God is always there for us and we should never forget His love.

  5. Bob-179105 June 2, 2013

    Excellent article! I have been divorced for over 23 years. The circumstances of our divorce were potentially very damaging to both my Faith & self-esteem. Yet, just like everything in my “new life,” I turn both my successes & shortcomings over to God! I do 2 activities, which I feel are critical to the problem of my potential;”loneliness.” 1) I volunteer at an “assisted-living center” daily and 2) I sing with my choir every Sunday at Mass. On the short drive home, I reflect, upon the activities & I can feel my dear folks smiling at me from Heaven. I firmly feel that the best decision I have made since I moved to New Jersey was joining the choir! :-) I truly derive much joy and inner-peace singing with my new friends to our dear Lord. And just like joining the choir was a great decision, I have been a loyal member of Catholic match for going on 14 years now. Thanks for this time & may our dear Lord bless each and everyone of you abundantly! Your’s in Christ, Bob

  6. Graeme-379437 June 2, 2013

    This is a great article. I felt this just this morning at Mass. The toughest time for me is during the Sign of Peace. Everyone else turns to their family, significant other, etc. to shake hands, exchange hugs, etc., and you stand there – waiting. I wish there was more of a focus on middle aged singleness at church. There are often young adult groups, and every 40+ singles group I’ve been to has members who are 55+, not 40.
    I do everything Bryan suggests. I put the Lord first, I hang out with people, I get out, I have hobbies, and I serve. I serve a lot, it is my hobby, and I mostly serve at my church. But, still, the one time that is the loneliest and most painful for me is when I finally get home at night. Even though it is already time for bed, those minutes coming in the door with no one to greet me, no one to hug or kiss, no one to share my day with, are excruciating.
    Thanks for the article. God bless you. Graeme

  7. Diana-956573 June 3, 2013

    Graeme- I understand how you feel.

    There are times that I felt alone on the sabbath day. Literally, yes, I am alone at the second pew of the church kneeling down and have a senior couple on my left side and a whole family on my right. I do try not to dwell on the feeling of being alone that’s why I always attentively listening to the readings and sing on the top of my lungs together with the choir to eliminate the feeling of loneliness. That helps me alot. I also greet everyone around me with a great smile in giving the sign of peace. (That helps me to feel good about myself by sharing the smile.) I will definetely try your advice. :) I am glad to know and thank you for Hoping that your advice will help us to cope until that day that our soulmate becomes a reality.

    May God Bless you more! :)
    Diane

  8. Marla-870417 June 3, 2013

    Great article, thank you for sharing and for everyone’s advice. God Bless:)

  9. Sheila L. June 3, 2013

    after my divorce, going to mass was so hard by my self, but with time God heeled my heart and Mary took my hand and brough me back to her son.

  10. Rob-362135 June 3, 2013

    I don’t always feel lonely when I attend Mass by myself and see many other couples or families, but sometimes I can’t help but feel lonely. I’ve gone to Mass alone about 95% of the time for most of my adult life, so I guess I’m used to this. I don’t know if I will ever get married, as I don’t know God’s will for my life. I have a great family and wonderful friends and much love in my life, but at the end of the day, I’m walking through life alone. I hope and pray that my situation will change some day and enter the sacrament of matrimony, but if that is my will and not not God’s will, it will never happen.

    I don’t mean to sound hopeless, but I’m a realist and I understand that some people will never get married. It has happened to some men and women in every past, present and future generation. I pray for understanding and acceptance if this is His will for me. In the meantime, I’ll continue to attend Mass alone.

    p.s. I understand and practice every one of your suggestions, they work to lessen feelings of loneliness, but do NOT remove those feelings.

  11. Leslie-881978 June 3, 2013

    I like this article. My strategy is going to church Saturdays nights, in that mass going less person and I feel comfortable.

    • Robert-937382 June 5, 2013

      I’m with you on the Saturday mass! While I’ve never really felt alone in church while I was married or single (count that as a blessing), Saturday masses are clearly attended by less families and more individuals (I’m not saying more singles, just more individual people).

  12. Patrick-955401 June 3, 2013

    Great article, Bryan.

  13. John-917143 June 3, 2013

    Good article. Although it doesn’t apply to me now, 2 and 5 certainly helped me pull through the feeling of loneliness a few years ago. Joining our parish’s praise and worship band not only helped me overcome such feelings, but it also helped me grow spiritually and socially.

  14. Chris-427945 June 4, 2013

    Great article. Every day is lonely if you’re single, but Sundays hurt the worst. I am a Trad convert (parents are still strictly ‘Ordinary Form’, and my siblings never go to Mass, period), so I only go to mass with them on Christmas Eve, and go by myself to the Latin Mass every Sunday. So I’m used to going to church alone, but it sucks afterward, when all of one’s married friends go home as a family while you go home alone.

    But God continually brings comfort during these lonely times, I’ve found. Praying to Him and the Blessed Mother does help banish the lonliness, if/when one is open to that grace.

    • Jack-131359 June 4, 2013

      Not to mention, there’s usually TONS of kids in your typical TLM parish. While I love kids, I can’t say it thrills me to be surrounded by them at Mass when I’m sitting there by myself. If it wasn’t for my love of the Latin Mass, I’d stay home and happily sleep in on Sunday mornings.

  15. Nancy-242896 June 4, 2013

    Whenever I feel lonely, I pray for a sense of peace. It follows shortly thereafter.

  16. Pamela-569326 June 4, 2013

    As a convert since 1998 I have only found consolation while in prayer after I receive communion. The sign of peace is very difficult; yet when you ask for Jesus to comfort you, everything else dissolves around you.
    He will give you a greater portion of love, just ask :)

  17. John-196873 June 4, 2013

    I wonder how many people who feel lonely at Mass aren’t on this forum because they are no longer Catholic? How sad that we feel lonely in our own community. I wonder what St. Paul would say in a letter to a church that completely neglected a growing segment of its population?

  18. Annette-217074 June 4, 2013

    You know, one way to overcome that is to get involved in your parish ministries, make friends, and perhaps they will invite you to things. There may be other singles with whom you could share a lunch or breakfast after Mass, etc. I am always single, have always attended Mass solo, and yet 95% of the time, I don’t have those same experiences. Guess perhaps I ought to leave CathMatch because I figure God has intended me for the single life and I’m okay with that. I’m choosing not to wallow in self-pity…..

  19. Elynne W. June 4, 2013

    If God has called one to single life, he or she may not have the same experience in going to Mass alone as someone who is called to marriage…just a thought :) I, for one, appreciate the honesty of the author and those who have shared their pain openly in the comments in hopes that it may help others. Another thought: consider attending an earlier or later Mass than the very family-oriented mid-morning options (and avoid children’s Mass like the plague)! Depending on your parish, there may be one that is less crowded and more suitable for those who are walking alone with God.

  20. Bernita R. June 4, 2013

    Wow, I am single too and try to attend Mass on Sunday when my work permits (I sometimes have to work on Sunday) I don’t think I ever felt what this writer did. I never feel lonely once I cross the threshold to the Church, even when I have attended Mass in a different city. I have felt the love. I remember a Christmas eve in Clearwater. I had to travel there for work and spent the holiday with my co-workers, none of whom wanted to attend Mass. So I went alone and sat in a pew by myself for the longest time. Then the Church filled up and I had people around me and soon I truly felt part of that parish. As I was leaving, a nun stopped me and pulled me aside to stand next to her and the celebrants. I was greeted by hugs from total strangers..maybe because it was Christmas but I believe that because I was open to it, I was not alone. I am sorry for anyone who feels they can ‘t attend mass because of lonliness..I dont know what that feels like once I enter a church….I look at the Cross and feel the love that is greater than all others

  21. Richard-928572 June 4, 2013

    I really liked the article. It reminds me of the true meaging of loving others. I’ve been going to mass by myself now for about 2 years, and I just keep having faith i n God. As long as I put him first He will bless me with a wife when He knows Im ready.

  22. Maggie-98581 June 4, 2013

    Attending mass every Sunday is something I always look forward to even though I’m still single. For one it is Jesus that I am coming to see and receive and that gives me so much Joy. And living away from my immediate family, my church family had become my second family. I serve in the Parish anyway I can so I can serve God’s people in little ways I can I lector and I’m in the choir.

  23. Charles-211696 June 4, 2013

    While it appears this blog post rings true for the folks who have responded (thus far), from reading the fora on CM, it appears that Friday and/or Saturday night are the most lonely times for those singles.

    I conjecture that the primary argument of this post is selfish, because it misses the basic precept and focus of “keeping holy the Sabbath,” which would be directing and focusing our attention to/on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. We come together to worship with Christ’s family through the Mass, and in so doing, we reaffirm our belief (and membership) in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” This universal aspect of Mother Church is an essential aspect of our Faith, because it transcends all other facets of our secular life. By analogy, consider if you have ever attended Mass while out of town, perhaps on a business trip? Did you feel any less a sense of communion as a “stranger” than in your “home” church? Perchance, because you don’t recognize any of the faces. However, remember what the focus of Mass is.

    Now, please know that I understand what you are saying, and I agree that there are other ways to celebrate the Lord, especially when we come together in fellowship and family outside outside of Mass. But these are _outside_ of Mass. And I appreciate your suggestions. Again, however, these are outside of Mass. Granted, I also recognize that by engaging in the activities suggested, that we can strengthen the ties with Christ’s family through the crossover between our secular and spiritual lives. I’m glad that you have found someone with whom to enjoy the Lord’s Day. However, I think therein your post misses the point. How does your new life with your wife celebrate the Lord and His day?

  24. Joan-904712 June 4, 2013

    Thanks for the article. I have been blessed to belong to a wonderful parish which I had attended for several years before I married. I’ve been widowed now for about 5 years and the love and support has been incredible. Then I do come home to my empty house, but I’ve learned to accept and appreciate the solitude when I don’t have after Mass plans/activities. I try to have a positive attitude and focus on what I have …. a loving and supportive faith community rather than what was missing.

  25. Kay-404275 June 4, 2013

    what a shock….I really thought I was truly alone feeling that way….I thought I was different/strange to feel great discomfort amongst “families” in the pew next to me. Often though I am alone in the pew….like no one wants to sit next to one who doesn’t “look” like them….. how very very depressed that made me feel. Don’t these people feel or sense our feelings? My pastor reminds me of the great abundance of love God feels for me. THAT really gives me the right feeling….I do feel loved and wanted. And, still feel a need for another person to make me feel I’m loved during the remaining years of my life.

  26. Lisa-750289 June 4, 2013

    Loved the article! I go to church in the morning. Most people that go to church in the morning go by themselves and you also get wine! (the blood or Christ) ;-)

  27. Holly-786516 June 4, 2013

    Amen, Bryan.. Thanks for this..:)

  28. Marion A. June 4, 2013

    I have never felt lost at church. I sing in the choir and have joined many ministries in the church. However, I do feel lonely on Sundays sometimes but that is life. I know that God has something special for me in the very near future and I look forward to that end.

  29. Keith M. June 4, 2013

    You know this is kind of sad. Im single and when I go to Liturgy and while Im in the nave or in the choir loft the thought of loneliness never enters my mind. Because Im thinking about being in the presence of the Almighty, the Angels and the Saints. I mean are you there to worship or socialize? I see all the families and stuff and Im glad kids are being raised in the faith. You obviously attend a Novus Ordo parish. Because its irreverent as all get out and thats why youre distracted. People at the Tridentine Liturgies are busy being in the presence of God. At St. John’s Liturgy as well. The atmosphere is decisively different. You have a secular mind. I sometimes feel the pang of singlehood. But not when the Heavens meet the Earth in a true Traditional Liturgy with reverent priests and laity. Im there to worship fully “Lay aside all earthly cares”.
    Thats in the St. John Chrystosom Liturgy(4th century), which is a Shortened version of St. Basil’s Liturgy, which was in turn a Shortened version of the Liturgy of St. James which was handed down to St. James from Christ himself. It was about five hours long. Not a liturgy contrived by freemasons from a Lutheran text in the 1960′s. The church has lost its flavor, all thats left is to trample it underfoot. After Church I do feel bored and perhaps a bit lonely as well, but going to Liturgy is the highlight of my day for sure. You didnt like going to mass because you were more concerned about yourself (selfishness is a distinct spirit of this age and the anti-christ) than about being in the presence of Christ.

  30. Kathy-304036 June 5, 2013

    Great article Bryan! I’m 64, came from a large family that filled a whole pew, had my own children, went through an annulment, and now attend Mass alone. I have definitely grown in my minute by minute relationship with the Lord, but the trip home, down the streets of cozy homes, is still creating tears! I have noticed that there are many people in the back of the church, on a consistent basis, that are alone. It has made me realize, along with all the dating sites, that there are thousands of singles going through the same thing. It would be great if the homilies would inspire and strengthen all the singles in their spiritual journey. Thanks for bringing this up! We might all pray for each other each Sunday now!

  31. Vi-973050 June 5, 2013

    Great Article!! I felt the same after returning to Mass when I became a widow. It is surprising how many other people are there and feeling the same way. There is a small group of ladies now that we sit together and usually go out to eat after Mass. Just hang in there and be open to some new friendships – it will work out.

  32. Linda-671000 June 5, 2013

    I’ve never felt this way. I go to church by myself every Sunday and sit up front with families, couples, and some singles. When I walk inside, I don’t feel alone. I volunteer as a lector, as well. After Mass, I go out to breakfast by myself and read my Sunday paper. I think it’s what YOU make of it — the cup being half full is how I look at life. I’m an Army vet and was stationed at some not so nice places. I could choose to sit in the barracks or get out and learn the city/culture. I chose the latter. I don’t let my relationship status define my happiness or restrict me from enjoying life.

  33. Steven-94269 June 5, 2013

    Well since I go to Saturday Mass I guess I have nothing to worry about. Yes Sundays can be lonely However I teach 1st grade Religious Education I also try to stay busy doing Yard work or cleaning house or doing things to keep my mind and body busy. However the older I get the worse the lonely feeling become.

    • Steven-94269 June 5, 2013

      However I do have cats to help me through the times They seem to know when I need to be cheered up a little.

  34. James-975873 June 5, 2013

    Lonely? Sometimes, but I never really tried to think of going to church as a “couple/date” thing, I thought it was to honor your obligation to the Lord. But as a single guy I try to juggle up when I go to church, like one week I go to 6 p.m. on Saturday (mostly an older crowd) then 8 a.m. the next week to see and meet a different group (except for the ushers) each week. I will agree that during the sign of peace there is that moment of uncomfortableness when you have no one with you so you give a pause then turn to everyone else around you. I would say the loneliness part would come into play after mass, but if I go to 8 a.m. Sunday mass then I go to my parents after for coffee or like this past week I went fishing with a friend. I think it’s all about refreshing yourself with church (it doesn’t matter that you’re attending alone because you really aren’t alone) then taking that renewed attitude and use it the rest of the day. Don’t just leave church and head back home……go to a park for a walk or a bike ride or meet some friends for breakfast or brunch. I guess what I’m getting at is when I get out of church I’m feeling reinvigorated and I’m going to use the day to continue that feeling be it talking to my folks, going out disc golfing with friends or just sitting around chatting with friends keeps that feeling going. I guess if I just went home I would kind of dwell on being alone. So I don’t.

  35. Flo V. June 5, 2013

    Nice article and it’s true sometimes but as long as you put God first we will never be alone. We feel alone because or maybe we getting jealous with others because they going to church with families,husband/wife or couple one..And yes Sundays is for families,couple gathering and yes sometimes i feel jealous with them but i believe as long as i put Him first,He will bless me with a husband when He know i am ready for it..

  36. John-344683 June 5, 2013

    Good points expressed by many. I guess the “don’t forget why we came here” factor comes through for me – to honor Our Lord. I’ve become very used to attending Mass alone, not to say I like attending alone – but, there may come a time when I won’t be able to get to Mass on my own & not be able to attend Mass. Which presents a question for now – maybe there are some who would appreciate having someone bring them to Sunday Mass – elderly, etc. I’m guilty of not following through on that possibility.

  37. Deborah-970898 June 5, 2013

    I attend Mass alone and I feel less lonely when I attend Mass. My faith is my anchor and I love being with everyone at Mass and sharing in the Eucharistic celebration. I often see some of my friends at the parish who are very supportive despite my divorce — which I cherish immensely. I also joined the choir to stay more connected with my parish since filing for divorce and my kids have gone off to college.

  38. Thomas-964733 June 8, 2013

    I have made a decision as a single person to become an acolyte at the Cathedral of St. Simon and Jude Cathedral. This ministry gives me an intimacy with our Eucharistic Lord that far exceeds the potential intimacy a human spouse and family or other church ministry can give me. My family becomes my fellow acolytes and altar boys and God the Father becomes my new “man of my house.” For those attending churches that traditionally use only children in this ministry, as your priest how you can assist in the liturgy.

  39. Ed-501357 June 9, 2013

    This was a great article, highlights something that needed to be addressed.

    I was also perusing through the comments and while suggestions such as joining a choir, becoming a reader, or just volunteering in general are all helpful ideas.

    The only negative I saw was having to go on Saturday evenings on the hope that more singles would be there, however as in the case in my parish it’s mostly elderly people who attend. Anyhow I’m lucky that I’m a part of an organization that runs outdoor activities, mostly on Saturdays.

    I find it amazing that there are so many ministries that cater to families and children but not enough to engage the singles of the church of who would prefer to meet their significant other at a church function as opposed to singles dances, which personally I find boring and attract “players “ as it were.

    That being said, I was also thinking if some kind of an arrangement such as a meetup.com organization can be done here at CM so that perhaps a designated individual in each of the metropolitan areas of North America can organize a group that would attend mass together and go to brunch or a picnic afterwards at least once a month (or more if demand warrants it).

  40. Linda-255454 June 12, 2013

    I think that we all need to remember the reason we attend Mass. You are never alone because Jesus is always with you. He is the reason you come to church. He sits next to you, he walks in with you, he walks out with you. When I finally realized that fact, I now feel free. I no longer feel lonely. It is a good feeling.

  41. Brian-906925 June 14, 2013

    I think we need more people to aid in the welcoming committie, to extend dialog with those of us that go to mass alone, every Sunday, always alone. I some times feel like a ghost, not even the priests will give me the time of day much of the time. I am there to worship our Lord, and I do so with our Blessed Mother Mary by my side. It’s not unusual to have whole pews to myself, it’s not unusual to even have a circle of empty seats in a circumference around me. I shrug it off, I participate in mass, and I do it with zeal, and I sing on key and if the place is lagging behind with enthusiasm, I’ll make up for it myself. Do I feel bad that I’m always alone, I’m typically alone most of my days, but the Lord’s presence is with me and known, so I don’t feel alone, nor lonely, but I do have my weak moments where it does get to me and I do lose hope along ever finding a wife.

    That all said, I have to extend Sunday to the rest of the week, to include Friday and Saturday evenings, when everybody is out socializing in the usual spots or at home with their families, I’m pretty much left high and dry, for bars and clubs don’t do it for me at all. In my case, I have a gift for music, and I like to take my horn downtown and jam with anybody I encounter that’s also playing music, and if nobody is there, I’ll just pick a random spot and start playing. I always get an audience, also get positive dialog and feedback and instantly make new acquaintances along the way. Going this rout, one doesn’t typically make any meaningful connections, but at least you are socializing, meeting new people, and doing so in a healthy, fun way.

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