“Every form of suffering is—at an existential level—related to solitude. The ultimate punishment is not in God inflicting some pain upon you but in you being totally and completely alone.” —Stephen A. Gregg
“Spiritual seclusion has its role in developing a spiritual connection with God and control of the ego that allows you to be in the world much better than you were before the retreat.” —Asad Tarsin
Fr. Stephen A. Gregg, a twice-contributor to the journal speaks, with Asad Tarsin about the inspiration behind his Renovatio essay, “The Only Real Solitude.” A monk, Gregg found a practical need to contemplate solitude because of his commitment to a manner of living that necessitates a great deal of it. Before writing the essay, he practiced a years-long habit of collecting quotes about the pleasures and pain of being alone. Solitude calls to mind experiences that differ widely, from the purposeful aloneness of a devotee in worship to the isolation inflicted upon someone as punishment. How then should we understand the nature of being alone?
Fr. Stephen A. Gregg is a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, in Texas. After undergraduate studies in classics and in medieval studies at the University of the South, he entered the Cistercian monastery in 2006. He completed a licentiate in patristic theology at the Patristic Institute Augustinianum in Rome and is now a doctoral candidate in the Institute of Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas. At both the University of Dallas and the Cistercian Preparatory School, he has taught courses in English literature, grammar, music, Latin, philosophy, and theology.
Asad Tarsin, an emergency room physician and a student of the Islamic sciences, has been designing Islamic educational programs and teaching the basics of Islam for more than a decade. He lectures and teaches across the country, often with a focus on his first published work, Being Muslim: A Practical Guide.
“The Only Real Solitude,” Stephen A. Gregg, Renovatio