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From the category archives: Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

The dance of life struggles to find an ethical two-step

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

February 13, 2012

Henri Nouwen used to publish some of his diaries under the title, On Mourning and Dancing. The title was wholly appropriate since those diaries chronicled much of his own struggle to give public expression to what was bubbling up inside of him and, at the same time, respect a highly sensitive self-consciousness and reticence that made him hesitate to publicly express those same feelings.

His writings are a rare expression of both inner freedom and inner fear. His thoughts and feelings are sometimes tortured, but that's what makes them rich. It's not always easy to find that delicate balance between healthy self-expression and unhealthy exhibitionism.

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A haunting equation: suffering balanced with joy

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

February 6, 2012

In her novel, Final Payments, Mary Gordon articulates an equation that has long influenced Christian spirituality.

Her heroine, Isabel, is a young woman within whom a strong Catholic background, an overly-strict father and a natural depth of soul conspire together to leave her overly-reticent and overly-reflective, looking at life from the outside, too self-aware and too reflective in general to enter spontaneously into a dance or trust any kind of gaiety.

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The mosquito bites of life can cause us to forget grace

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

January 30, 2012

When grace enters, there is no choice – humans must dance.

W.H. Auden wrote those words and, beautiful as they sound, I wish they were true. When grace enters a room we should begin to dance but, sadly, more often than not, we let some little thing, some minor mosquito bite, blind us to grace's presence.

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Chastity lets sexual energies flow in life-giving ways

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

January 23, 2012

To live a chaste life is not easy, not just for celibates, but for everyone. Even when our actions are all in line, it is still hard to live with a chaste heart, a chaste attitude and chaste fantasies. Purity of heart and intention is difficult.

Why? Chastity is difficult because we are so incurably sexual in every pore of our being. That is not a bad thing. It's God's gift. Far from being something dirty and antithetical to our spiritual lives, sexuality is God's great gift, God's holy fire, inside us. The longing for consummation is a conscious or inchoate colouring underlying most every action in our lives.

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Dark night of the soul allows God to make us in his image

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

January 16, 2012

Few people have ever written as penetrating a critique of faith and religion as have Friedrich Nietzsche and Ludwig Feuerbach. "God is dead," Nietzsche declared, "and we are his murderers." We murder God, he contends, in subtle ways to which we are entirely blind.

In a vast over-simplification, their critique might read as follows: Faith and religion are, in the end, human projections. We believe in God because we need to, pure and simple. We create God to serve our own needs. We need to believe in God because without a belief in God, we cannot deal with the pain, brokenness, inadequacy and limits within our own lives.

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Only prayer can open our eyes to our call to share in divine life

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 26, 2011

Familiarity breeds contempt. It also blocks the mystery of Christmas by breeding a view of life that cannot see divinity within humanity.

Yet all of us are hopelessly prone to see most everything in an over-familiar way, namely, in a way that sees little or nothing of the deep richness and divinity that is shimmering everywhere under the surface. G.K. Chesterton, reflecting on this, once declared that one of the deep secrets of life is to learn to look at things familiar until they look unfamiliar again. Alan Jones calls this a process of unlearning what's familiar.

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Surrender to God in prayer and you shall be answered

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 19, 2011

In her autobiography, The Long Loneliness, Dorothy Day tells of a difficult time in her life. She had just converted to Christianity, after a long period of atheism, and then given birth to her daughter.

During her season of atheism, she had fallen in love with a man who had fathered her child, and she and this man, atheists disillusioned with mainstream society, had made a pact never to marry, as statement against the conventions of society.

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Surrender to prayer and release yourself from paralyzing fear

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 12, 2011

One reason we need to pray is so that we don't lose heart. We all do sometimes. We lose heart whenever frustration, tiredness, fear and helplessness in the face of life's humiliations conspire to paralyze our energies, deaden our resiliency, drain our courage and leave us feeling weak in depression.

Poet Jill Alexander Essbaum gives us a poignant example of this in her poem Easter. Reflecting on the joy that Easter should bring into our lives, she shares that Easter can instead be a season of defeat for us because its celebration of joy can highlight the shortcomings of our own lives and leave us with the feeling that everyone I've ever loved lives happily just past my able reach.

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Only prayer can take us to the deepest depth of our souls

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 5, 2011

In our more reflective moments we sense the importance of prayer; yet, we struggle to pray. Sustained deep prayer doesn't come easy for us. Why?

First, we struggle to make time for prayer. Prayer doesn't accomplish anything practical for us, it's a waste of time in terms of tending to the pressures and tasks of daily life, and so we hesitate to go there. Coupled with this, we find it hard to trust that prayer actually works and brings about something real in our lives.

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Entry to heaven requires reference letter from the poor

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 28, 2011

I doubt that any of us would have the raw courage to preach this, just as it is written in the Gospels, from any pulpit today. Yet Jesus meant it. Nobody gets to heaven without a letter of reference from the poor.

Now there's a whole series of challenges in this.

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