Columns

From the category archives: Columns

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

A fond farewell to the paper which birthed this column

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
September 26, 2016

Endings are often not easy, and this one's no exception. It's with a sad heart that I digest the news that the Western Catholic Reporter is shutting down its operations after 51 years. I first met the Western Catholic Reporter when I moved to Edmonton as a seminarian in 1972. That was 44 years ago. The paper has been important to me ever since and, as someone who sees dozens of Catholic diocesan newspapers each week, I've always believed that the Western Catholic Reporter stands out healthily, both for its content and its aesthetics. Perhaps I'm biased. Your home team can do that to you, but I don't think so. The Western Catholic Reporter has through most of its 51 years of existence been, within its particular genre, a class act.

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With God, we never exhaust chances for heaven

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
September 12, 2016

Hell is never a nasty surprise waiting for a basically happy person. Hell can only be the full-flowering of a pride and selfishness that have, over a long time, twisted a heart so thoroughly that it considers happiness as unhappiness and has an arrogant disdain for happy people. If you are essentially warm of heart this side of eternity, you need not fear that a nasty surprise awaits you on the other side because somewhere along the line, unknowingly, you missed the boat and your life went terribly wrong.

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Image of good death ignores life's uncertain bounces

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
August 29, 2016

In the Roman Catholic culture in which I grew up, we were taught to pray for a happy death. For many Catholics at the time, this was a standard petition in their daily prayer: "I pray for a happy death." But how can one die happy? Isn't the death process itself excruciating? What about the pain involved in dying, in letting go of this life, in saying our last goodbyes? Can one die happy? But the vision here, of course, was religious. A happy death meant that one died in good moral and religious circumstances.

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Vagaries of mental health mirror those of physical well-being

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
August 15, 2016

As a boy, I longed to be a professional athlete but I had to accept the unwelcome fact that I wasn't gifted with an athlete's body. Speed, strength, coordination, instinct, vision - I got by in ordinary life with what I had been given of these, but I wasn't physically robust enough to be an athlete. It took some years to make peace with that.

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Growing tribalism a symptom of me-first mentality

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
July 11/25, 2016

More than 2,400 years ago Socrates wrote these words: "I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece, but of the world." Today more than ever these are words we need to appropriate because our world and we ourselves are sinking into unhealthy forms of tribalism where we are concerned primarily with taking care of our own. We see this everywhere. We tend to think that this lives only in circles of extremism, but it is being advocated with an ever-intensifying moral fervour virtually every place in the world.

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Growing tribalism a symptom of me-first mentality

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
July 11, 2016

More than 2,400 years ago Socrates wrote these words: "I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece, but of the world." Today more than ever these are words we need to appropriate because our world and we ourselves are sinking into unhealthy forms of tribalism where we are concerned primarily with taking care of our own. We see this everywhere. We tend to think that this lives only in circles of extremism, but it is being advocated with an ever-intensifying moral fervour virtually every place in the world.

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Spiritual connection offered by a great hamburger

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
June 27, 2016

The spiritual writer, Tom Stella, tells a story about three monks at prayer in their monastery chapel. The first monk imagines himself being carried up to heaven by the angels. The second monk imagines himself already in heaven, chanting God's praises with the angels and saints. The third monk cannot focus on any holy thoughts, but can only think about the great hamburger he had eaten just before coming to chapel. That night, when the devil was filing his report for the day, he wrote: "Today I tried to tempt three monks, but I only succeeded with two of them."

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Death can surprise with either agony or simple peace

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
June 13, 2016

'A common soldier dies without fear, yet Jesus died afraid." Iris Murdoch wrote this. It's a truth can be somewhat disconcerting Why? If someone dies with deep faith, shouldn't he or she die within a certain calm and trust drawn from that faith? Wouldn't the opposite seem more logical, that is, if someone dies without faith shouldn't he or she die with more fear? Perhaps the most confusing of all: Why did Jesus, the paragon of faith, die afraid, crying out in a pain that can seem like a loss of faith?

The problem lies in our understanding.

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Young people wait unconsciously for God's embrace

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
May 30, 2016

A seminarian I know recently went to a party on a Friday evening at a local university campus. The group was a crowd of young college students and, when he was introduced as a seminarian, as someone who was trying to become a priest and who had taken a vow of celibacy, the mention of celibacy evoked some giggles in the room, some banter and a number of jokes about how much he must be missing out on in life. Poor, naïve fellow!

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Berrigan affected minds and hearts of a generation

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
May 16, 2016

'Before you get serious about Jesus, first consider how good you're going to look on wood!" Daniel Berrigan wrote those words and they express a lot about who he was and what he believed in. He died May 1 at age 94. No short tribute can do justice to Dan Berrigan. He defies quick definition and facile description. He was, at once, the single-minded, obsessed activist, even as he was one of the most complex spiritual figures of our generation. He exhibited both the fierceness of John the Baptist and the gentleness of Jesus.

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