This is very beautiful and touches upon the depths of a woman’s soul and the loneliness within. We are reminded that our husbands cannot fill our every need and longing…they are human, too, and have their own battles to fight…
by Father Daniel A. Lord, 1950’s
The loneliest thing in all the world is a woman’s heart. Human hearts are all, it is true, doomed through life to a certain amount of loneliness. Separated from the rest of the world by a thin but impenetrable wall of flesh, their deepest emotions, their moments of supreme exultation and crushing grief cannot really be shared by anyone.
We humans may express fluently enough our surface feelings, those momentary enthusiasms or joys; but the things that are of deepest concern remain for the most part locked forever unuttered in our secret hearts.
Great love, great sorrow, great joy leave us inarticulate, silent.
If this be true of all mankind, as it surely is, it is particularly true of women. There have been great men who caught the essence of their loves or sorrows between their two hands and imprisoned it forever in a poem for the whole world to see.
Dramatists have with rough fingers stripped their hearts naked and made them play their parts upon the stage. Musicians have turned inarticulate cries of pain and sorrow into the terrifying harmonies of a great symphony. Men have even, at rare times, dragged out their secret selves to walk through the pages of a diary.
But for every hundred men who have given the world the secrets of their hearts in drama, poetry, novel, or music there has scarcely been one woman who did so.
Men have tried in literature to tell the secret emotions of women’s hearts (as if for a moment they really could divine them); but when one reads these studies of women by men, one wonders if the most brilliant of them has touched ever so lightly even the surface of woman’s soul.
At any rate, self-revelation by a woman is rare in literature and rare in life. Her heart is an unentered sanctuary, a sealed casket, a secret garden guarded from all intrusion.
Whether from shyness or from fear, woman has kept to herself the feelings that concern her most deeply. Her moments of truest emotional significance she keeps hidden in her locked heart. She shares them with no one.
Who Knows Her Heart?
Who but the girl herself knows how she feels as the day of her wedding draws near and she faces the realization that soon she will place her whole happiness in the keeping of one who, for all the fact that he is dear to her, is still almost a stranger?
No nun, as far as I have read or heard, has ever told the emotions that filled her heart when on her vow day she went to meet her invisible Bridegroom.
Men have written beautifully of motherhood and given us the glorious Madonnas: but what mother has really been able to share with a curious world the glory, the deep peace, the sense of blessed accomplishment, the flood of maternal love that suddenly overflowed as her first-born child was laid against her breast?
Priests have attempted, badly in most cases, to describe the emotions that exalted them on the day of their first Mass; but the little mother kneeling there in the first pew and looking up with joyous astonishment as her son brings her God down upon the altar is mutely inarticulate.
And though the world is full of Pietas, statues of the Mother holding her dead Son in her arms, not the mother of Christ nor the bereaved mother of any first-born has told us the anguish of her heart at that terrible moment of loss.
In its sharpest joy and sorrow, in its supreme happiness and grief, the heart of a woman is alone and lonely. Certainly no man understands it—least of all, perhaps, the man who is surest that he does.
No One Who Understands
Yet loneliness is not only a sad, it is a perilous thing. Pent-up emotions are explosive; sometimes they are poisonous. God gave us our instinct for human companionship and our possibilities of social intercourse and confidence just because we all, men and women alike, need someone to share our emotional life and help us bear burdens too heavy for us to bear alone.
Yet with women this outlet is almost always extremely limited.
Man, her natural companion, is, by the very force of his nature, preoccupied, intent on the ruthless fight and hunt that is life.
He must give so much of his physical and mental energy to the crude problems of food, clothes and shelter. Even in the most civilized man there is something of the warrior and hunter going forth at dawn to beat back the enemies that close in about his home and to bring back at the day’s end the food and skins he has gathered.
This is a desperately tiring and engrossing business, and it kills, often enough, the finer responses of his emotions and the keener sympathies and sensibilities of his soul.
Men are frequently so busy with the fight for their own existence and the existence of their dependents that women find them, even the men who tenderly love them, absorbed, abstracted, matter-of-fact, out of touch with the thought and emotions that fill a woman’s life.
The most devoted husband, the most affectionate son, the most loyal brother is still the hunter and fighter of the family; and hunting and fighting, even in their very civilized forms, do not fit a man to be consistently gentle, understanding, or sympathetic where a woman’s emotions are concerned.
Besides, about a woman’s heart God has placed as a protective armor her natural modesty and reticence. She draws back instinctively from giving her real confidences.
Men will, she feels, be bored by them. Some men will be cruel enough to take advantage of them. Her sad experience has made her wonder just how far she is safe in trusting not merely the casual stranger but even the close but thus far untested friend.
Can Any Man Satisfy?
“Is there anywhere in the world,” women have asked from the depths of their lonely hearts, “anyone who will give us the sympathy, understanding, and response that we crave?”
That question has been at the back of all the yearning for romance that fills a woman’s life, a yearning that does not die from the dawn of girlhood to the golden glow of far maturity.
Its answer would be, of course, the perfect man, who could receive confidences without abusing them, understand scarcely understood hearts without troubling them, give affection without presumption, strength tempered with gentleness, and a sympathy that could be accepted with safety.
The unceasing search of a woman’s lonely heart is for the ideal man. Is there such a man? For a long period in the history of the world there was not.
Now, thank God, there is—the man to whom women turn trustingly, who understands them better than they understand themselves, who fulfills in every detail the ideal which women carry in their hearts, who is strong but kind, heroic but gentle, never impatient, never abstracted or self-centered, who knows women so thoroughly that they hardly need to tell Him their secrets, and who unfailingly solves the problems that they bring to Him —Jesus Christ.
Armed with Barbeaus wisdom, you’ll grow closer to your wife and to your children, while deepening your love for God. You’ll be able to lead your family to holiness amidst the troubles and temptations that threaten even the best of families today: infidelity, divorce, materialism, loneliness, and despair.
The Father of the Family makes good fathers and good fathers are the secret to happy homes….