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From the category archives: Columns

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

Beware early stages of love; you could be falling for yourself

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
May 2, 2016

The famed Jungian writer, Robert Johnson, makes this observation about falling in love: "To fall in love is to project the most noble and infinitely valuable part of one's being onto another human being. . . . "We have to say that the divinity we see in others is truly there, but we don't have a right to see it until we have taken away our own projections. . . . Making this fine distinction is the most delicate and difficult task in life." Indeed, it is. Sorting through what is genuine in love and what is projection is one of the more delicate and difficult tasks of life.

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Ritual can help us when there's nothing one can do

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
April 18, 2016

In the movie based upon Jane Austen's classic novel, Sense and Sensibility, there's a poignant scene where one of her young heroines, suffering from acute pneumonia, is lying in bed hovering between life and death. A young man, very much in love with her, paces back and forth, highly agitated and frustrated by his helplessness to do anything of use. Unable to contain his agitation any longer, he goes to the girl's mother and asks what he might do to be helpful.

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Tears free us to accept unfinished symphonies of life

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
April 4, 2016

Several years ago, while teaching a summer course at Seattle University, I had as one of my students a woman who, while happily married, was unable to conceive a child. She had no illusions about what this meant for her. It bothered her a great deal. She found Mother's Day difficult. Among other things, she wrote a well-researched thesis on the concept of barrenness in Scripture and developed a retreat on that same theme which she offered at various renewal centres.

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Dying process calibrated to bring union with Spirit

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
March 21, 2016

In a deeply insightful book, The Grace of Dying, Kathleen Dowling Singh shares insights she has gleaned as a health professional from being present to hundreds of people while they are dying. Among other things, she suggests the dying process "is exquisitely calibrated to automatically produce union with Spirit."

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Do you feel like an orphan at life's banquet?

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
March 7, 2016

They say the book you most need to read finds you when you most need to read it. I've had that experience many times, most recently with Heather King's book, Shirt of Flame, A Year with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. The title of the book is borrowed from T.S. Eliot's, Four Quartets. Eliot suggests love itself, God, is behind the torment we often feel in our fiery desires and that the burning we feel there is an "intolerable shirt of flame." King writes this book from a fiery context in her own life. She is a freelance journalist and writer, single, divorced, an alcoholic in recovery.

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Scripture holds out difficult passages to contemplate

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
February 22, 2016

A colleague shares this story: Recently, after he presided at a Eucharist, a woman from the congregation came up to him with this comment: "What a horrible Scripture reading today! If that's the kind of God we're worshipping, then I don't want to go to heaven." The reading for that day's liturgy was taken from Chapter 24 of the Second Book of Samuel where, seemingly, God gets upset with King David for counting the number of men he had for military service and then punishes him by sending a pestilence that kills 70,000 people.

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Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
February 8, 2016

At the end of every Roman Catholic liturgy, the people are invited to receive a blessing. That invitation is worded this way: Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing. The idea behind that, obviously, is that a blessing can only truly be received in reverence, in humility, with head bowed, with pride and arrogance subjugated and silent.

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Spirituality, novels, suicide: Books that moved me in 2015

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
January 25, 2016

Taste, as St. Augustine said some 1,700 years ago, is subjective. That should be acknowledged upfront whenever someone recommends a reading list. In my case, I need to state too that I'm not a full-time critic. It's not like I've read 200 books this past year and these rose to the top. I read when I can, follow book reviews, live with academic colleagues who tip each other off on good books, and I have friends who will occasionally tell me that a certain book "has to be read."

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As intimacy deepens, so does the mystery of God

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
January 11, 2016

When I first began teaching theology, I fantasized about writing a book about the hiddenness of God. Why does God remain hidden and invisible? Why doesn't God just show himself plainly in a way that nobody can dispute? One standard answer to that question was this: If God did manifest himself plainly there wouldn't be any need for faith.

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Too distracted to make room for Christ

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
December 21, 2015

Many of us arrive at Christmas tired, running, distracted, and already fatigued with the lights, songs and celebrations of Christmas. Advent is meant to be a time of preparation for Christmas; but for many of us it is not exactly a time for the kind of preparation that enables Christ be born more deeply in our lives. Instead our preparation for Christmas is mostly a time of making ready to celebrate with our families, friends and colleagues.

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