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Save spiritual pruning for those over 50

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

September 28,1998

Several years ago, I preached a homily on the importance of taking our self-image from who we are rather than from what we do. The Gospel passage for that Sunday was the famous incident where Mary sits at Jesus' feet, seemingly doing nothing, while Martha is consumed with the practical business of doing things. Jesus, as we know, tells us that Mary "has chosen the better part." This has long been a favoured passage for anyone trying to make the point that being is more important than doing, that our value lies in who we are and not in what we do, and that spiritual maturity lies in appropriating this important truth.

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The poverty of sexual unattractiveness

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

September 21, 1998

In a recent novel, Love, Again, Doris Lessing, with her usual genius, paints a picture of the soul of a late middle-aged woman, Sarah Durham, as she, Sarah, spends a summer painfully infatuated with a man young enough to be her grandson. The love is hopeless, of course, and it brings Sarah nothing but heartache and restlessness. And it is surprising too for she is the epitome of maturity and common sense and has, for more than 20 years since the death of her husband, felt herself beyond the tears that come with these kinds of falling in love.

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Faith found in selfless service to others

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

September 14, 1998

There is a story about St. Christopher, probably more legend than truth, which runs this way: As a youth, Christopher was gifted in every way, except faith. He was a big man physically, powerful, strong, good-hearted, mellow and well-liked by all. He was also generous, using his physical strength to help others.

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The desire for higher love-making

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

August 31, 1998

William Blake once coined a series of pithy aphorisms on desire and frustration. Among them, we find: "Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained – and in being restrained it does by degrees become passive until at last it is nothing but the shadow of a desire. . . . Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires."

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A true gift must be given twice

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

August 24, 1998

A gift is only a gift if given twice. Understood correctly, this is not a conundrum but a key to help us out of an inchoate guilt that afflicts us all. Inside each of us there are guilt feelings. Some of these have a clear root within our lives and are painful reminders of things we have done or left undone.

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Promise Keepers offer tough discipline

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

July 20, 1998

It draws very different reactions. Liberals see it as a dangerous move by the religious right. The National Organization for Women in the U.S. calls it "the greatest danger to women's rights." Thousands of other women praise it. Tens of thousands of men flock to its gatherings where they weep tears of repentance and pledge to rejoin family and church. What is Promise Keepers and what's to be said about it?

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Suicide is most misunderstood of all deaths

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

July 13, 1998

There is perhaps nothing more painful in the world than for us to lose a loved one to suicide. A couple of months ago, I received a letter from a woman, a mother, who had recently lost her 28-year-old son in this manner. The young man had been suffering from clinical depression for nearly eight years when he took his own life.

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Seeing God as masculine and feminine

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

June 29, 1998

The issue of God's gender is not one that can be trivialized and seen simply as something arising from feminist ideological concern – "It is important for women that God not be conceived of as exclusively masculine!" Much more is at stake than a feminist agenda. How we conceive of God has immense consequences for all of us, in ways that we rarely imagine.

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Sexuality bursts into full bloom

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

June 22, 1998

The Greek philosophers used to say that we are fired into life with a madness that comes from the gods and that this energy is the root of all love, hate, creativity, joy and sadness. A Christian should agree with that, then add that God put that power, sexuality, within us so that, ultimately we might also create life and, like God, look upon what we have helped create, overflow with a joy that breaks the very casings of our selfishness, and say: "It is good; indeed, it is very good!"

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Our need for a personal faith in God

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

June 8, 1998

Karl Rahner once said that the time is fast approaching when one will either be a mystic or an unbeliever. He's right. None of us can rely much longer on the fact that we were once given the faith and that we still walk within a community that, seemingly, has some faith. These things are no longer, of themselves, enough to sustain faith in an age which is as agnostic, pluralistic, seductive and distracting as is our own.

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