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From the category archives: Columns

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

Politically correct? Just swallow hard and accept the truth

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
August 31,2015

Just because something is politically correct doesn't mean that it might not also be correct. Sometimes we have to swallow hard to accept truth. Some years ago, I served on a priests' council, an advisory board to the bishop in a Roman Catholic diocese. The bishop, while strongly conservative by temperament, was a deeply principled man who did not let his natural temperament or spontaneous feelings dictate his decisions. His decisions he made on principle, and sometimes that meant he had to swallow hard.

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Tell it like it is when writing a suicide obituary

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
August 17, 2015

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That axiom still holds true surrounding our understanding of suicide. Despite all the advances in our understanding, there remain a number of stigmas around suicide, one of which pertains to how we write the obituary of a loved one who dies in this way. In writing an obituary, we still cannot bring ourselves to write the word suicide: He died by his own hand.

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Wild love meets humanity and divinity

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
July 27, 2015

The renowned spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, made no secret about the fact that he was emotionally over-sensitive and that he suffered, sometimes to the point of clinical depression, from emotional obsessions. At times, he, a vowed celibate, was so overpowered by the feeling of being in love with someone who was hopelessly unavailable that he became psychologically paralyzed and needed professional help.

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World is saved, not by heroes, but by knights

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
July 13, 2015

Several years ago, the movie Argo won the Academy award as the best movie of the year. I enjoyed the movie in that it was a good drama, one that held its audience in proper suspense even as it provided some good humour and banter on the side. But I struggled with several aspects of the film. First, as a Canadian, I was somewhat offended by the way that the vital role Canadians played in the escape of the U.S. hostages from Iran in 1979 was downplayed to the point of simply being written out of the story.

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Eucharist's wisdom comes from beyond understanding

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
June 29, 2015

Christian de Cherge, the Trappist abbot who was martyred in Algeria in 1996, tells this story of his First Communion. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family in France and on the day of his First Communion he said to his mother: "I don't understand what I'm doing." She answered simply: "It's okay, you don't have to understand it now, later you will understand."

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Jesus' only 'secret' is in the open for all to know

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
June 15, 2015

Everyone longs to know something that's secret, to know something that others don't know, but that you know, and the knowledge of which gives you some insight and advantage over others who are outside the inner circle of that secret. It has always been so. Historically this is called Gnosticism, which is the belief that a secret insight into spiritual truth is the key to salvation.

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Light of the World is brighter than torches, lanterns

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
June 1, 2015

What's the use of an old-fashioned, hand-held lantern? Well, its light can be quite useful when it's pitch dark, but it becomes superfluous and unnoticeable in the noonday sun. Still, this doesn't mean its light is bad, only that it's weak. If we hold that image in our minds, we will see both a huge irony and a profound lesson in the Gospels when they describe the arrest of Jesus. The Gospel of John, for example, describes his arrest this way: "Judas brought the cohort to this place together with guards sent by the chief priests and Pharisees, all carrying lanterns and torches."

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Eucharistic Prayer should include prayer for other churches

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
May 18, 2015

Dear Bishops:

I write to you as a loyal son of the Catholic Church, with a particular request: Could you make an addition to our present Eucharistic Prayers to include an explicit invocation for other Christian churches and for those who lead them? For example, could the prayer for the Church and its leadership in our various Eucharistic canons have these additions: "Remember, Lord, your entire Church, spread throughout the world, and bring her to the fullness of charity, together with N. our Pope and N. our Bishop, together with all who help lead other Christian churches, and all the clergy." Might our Eucharistic Prayers have this kind of inclusivity?

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Refrain from offering judgements in God's name

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
May 4, 2015

Perhaps the single, most-often quoted line from Pope Francis is his response to a question he was asked vis-à-vis the morality of a particularly-dicey issue. His infamous-famous reply: Who am I to judge? Although this remark is often assumed to be flighty and less-than-serious, it is on pretty safe ground. Jesus says basically the same thing. For example, in his conversation with Nicodemus in John's Gospel, he, in essence, says: I judge no one.< If the Gospel of John is to be believed, then Jesus judges no one. God judges no one. But that needs to be put into context. It doesn't mean that there are no moral judgments and that our actions are indifferent to moral scrutiny.

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After crucifixion, rise and go forth into Galilee

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

April 20, 2015

Everything that's good eventually gets scapegoated and crucified. How? By that curious, perverse dictate somehow innate within human life that assures that there's always someone or something that cannot leave well enough alone, but, for reasons of its own, must hunt down and lash out at what's good. What's good, what's of God, will always, at some point, be misunderstood, envied, hated, pursued, falsely accused and eventually nailed to some cross. Every body of Christ inevitably suffers the same fate as Jesus, death through misunderstanding, ignorance and jealousy.

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