Living Alone

“Living Alone. The Inward Journey to Fellowship” by Martin Israel (New Library of Pastoral Care) SPCK/Sheldon Press1982
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“Living alone is a very individual experience. Each one treads it according to his own gifts, insights and temperament. But one fact stands out: until one has come to terms with one’s own personality and has attained an inner rest in the silence of aloneness amid the outer turmoil of the world all one’s gifts are inadequate to assuage the loneliness, indeed the meaninglessness, of one’s present existence. This book explores the inner life of a person with special reference to living on one’s own. It outlines the path to awareness that finds its end in the direct encounter with God. It is to this end that man was fashioned. It is first glimpsed in the silence of aloneness, but it is finally consummated in a truly communal life that is the fruit of a period of living alone well spent and fully used.”

“…it must be emphasized that, although the experience of living alone is crucial for the development of a authentic personality, by which I mean a personality that can communicate in depth with the world and all its creatures, it is nevertheless equally true that man was not meant to be alone, as we have already seen in the Genesis myth. There is a great difference between living alone and being alone. The first is, as I have already stated, a necessary experience for coming to true maturity. The second is a tragedy which, if unrelieved, will end in death. Indeed it would not be inappropriate to define hell as an atmosphere of complete aloneness where there is an absence of communication with any other being. In such a state the comfort of God is not available; although he is most certainly present everywhere, his presence cannot be appreciated by those unfortunate persons immersed in the negative field of hell. But perhaps even the experience of hell on earth is a necessary precursor for the ultimate knowledge of God.”

“To summarize the situation: living alone is a certain way towards integrity, for in the silence no secret can remain hidden from our gaze. When we are cleansed of all that separates us from God and man by the winnowing fire of self-revelation, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit who binds us into a new community. The source and end of this community is God, and as we work within it, so we are raised to the stature of sons of God following the path of the Son of God who is Christ. He is the supreme person.”

The full text of the book is available at
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Martin Israel (30 April 1927 – 23 October 2007) was an English pathologist, Anglican priest, spiritual director, and author of numerous books on Christian life and teaching.

“The Reverend Dr Martin Israel, a distinguished pathologist, former lecturer at the Royal College of Surgeons, and a priest in the Church of England, has been described as “one of the most sought after spiritual guides in this country”. He is deeply involved in healing, counselling and spiritual direction.
Dr Israel has long been concerned about the spiritual component of human nature, as is witnessed in the lives of the world’s great mystics and religious geniuses. In the current trend towards scientific materialism, with a growing danger that the inner life may be disregarded and brushed aside, he has been active in propagating a view of humanity that pays due regard to the spirit without denigrating man’s animal inheritance. He has lectured widely on this theme, and is an active member of a number of societies that are attempting to bridge the gulf between scientific objectivity and religious faith. He believes that a full life cannot disregard the spiritual quest after reality, and that an enlightened return to the great principles that have illuminated the world’s higher religions can alone bring peace to a distracted humanity.”

For his obituary, see


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