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From the category archives: Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

Churches must look in mirror for reason for falling numbers

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 15, 2014

It's no secret that there's been a massive drop-off in church attendance. Moreover, that drop-off in churchgoing is not paralleled by the same widespread growth in atheism and agnosticism. Rather, more and more people are claiming to be spiritual but not religious, faith-filled but not churchgoers. Why this exodus from our churches? The temptation inside religious circles is to blame what's happening on secularity. Secular culture, many people argue, is perhaps the most powerful narcotic ever perpetrated on this planet, both for good and for bad. It swallows most of us whole with its seductive promises of heaven on this side of eternity. Within our secularized world, the pursuit of the good life simply squeezes out almost all deeper religious desire.

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Spiritual warfare and the battle against powers, dominions

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 1, 2014

Spiritual literature has always highlighted the primordial struggle between good and evil, and this has generally been conceived of as a war, a spiritual battle. Thus, as Christians, we have been warned that we must be vigilant against the powers of Satan and various other forces of evil. We've fought these powers not just with prayer and private moral vigilance but with everything from holy water, to exorcisms, to a dogmatic avoidance of everything to do with the occult, the paranormal, alchemy, astrology, spiritualism, séances, witchcraft, sorcery and Ouija boards. For Christians, these were seen as dangerous venues through which malevolent spirits could enter our lives and do us harm. Scripture does, seemingly, warn us about these things. It tells us that for our world to come to its completion and fulfillment Christ must first triumph over all the powers that oppose God. For that to happen, Christ has to first vanquish and destroy death, darkness, evil, the powers of hell, the powers of Satan and various "thrones, dominions, principalities and powers."

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Carrying your cross can lead you to live a deeper life

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 17, 2014

Among Jesus' many teachings we find this, rather harsh-sounding, invitation: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. I suspect that each of us has a gut sense of what this means and what it will cost us. But I suspect too that many of us misunderstand what Jesus is asking here and struggle unhealthily with this invitation. What concretely does Jesus mean by this? To answer that, I would like to lean on some insights offered by James Martin in his book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage. He suggests that taking up our cross daily and giving up life in order to find deeper life means six interpenetrating things:

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Redeem memory of loved ones who died from suicide

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 17, 2014

Each year I write a column on suicide. Mostly I say the same thing again, simply because it needs to be said. I don't claim any originality or special insight, I only write about suicide because there is such a desperate need to address the question. Moreover, in my case, as a Catholic priest and spiritual writer, I feel it important to offer something to try to help dispel the false perception which so many people, not least many inside the Church itself, have of the church's understanding of suicide. Simply put, I'm no expert, not anyone's saviour; there's just so little out there. Each year, that column on suicide finds its audience. I am surprised and occasionally overwhelmed by the feedback. For the last 10 years, I don't think a single week has gone by when I did not receive an email, a letter or phone call from someone who has lost a loved one to suicide.

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Resentment helps make the world go round

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 3, 2014

It's not only love that makes the world go round. Resentment too is prominent in stirring the drink. In so many ways, our world is drowning in resentment. Everywhere you look, it seems, someone is bitter about something and breathing out resentment. What is resentment? Why is this feeling so prevalent in our lives? How do we move beyond it? Soren Kierkegaard once defined resentment this way. Resentment, he suggested, happens when we move from the happy feeling of admiration to the unhappy feeling of jealousy. This, sadly, happens all too frequently in our lives and we are dangerously blind to its occurrence. Me resentful? How dare you make that accusation!

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Paranoia strikes deep; into your brain it will creep

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

October 20, 2014

Have you ever noted how we spontaneously react to a perceived threat? Faced with a threat, our primal instincts tend to take over and we instantly freeze over and begin to shut all the doors opening to warmth, gentleness and empathy inside us.< That's a natural reaction, deeply rooted inside our nature. Biologists tell us that whenever we perceive something or someone as threatening us, paranoia instinctively arises inside us and has the effect of driving us back towards a more primitive place inside our bodies, namely, the reptile part our brain, that remnant inside us from our evolutionary origins millions of years ago. Reptiles are cold-blooded. So too, it seems, are we when we're threatened.

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God's abundant generosity undercuts our sense of scarcity

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

October 6, 2014

My youth had both strengths and weaknesses. I grew up on a farm in the heart of the Canadian Prairies, a second-generation immigrant. Our family was large, and the small farm we lived on gave us enough to live on, though just enough. There were never any extras. We were never hungry or genuinely poor, but we lived in a conscriptive frugality. You were given what you needed, but rarely anything extra. You got just one portion of the main course at a meal and one dessert because these had to be measured out in a way that left enough for everyone.

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Law of karma based on timeless moral wisdom

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

September 22, 2014

In 1991 Hollywood produced a comedy entitled, City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal. In a quirky way, it was a wonderfully moral film, focusing on three, middle-aged men from New York City who were dealing with midlife crises. As a present from their wives, who are frustrated enough with them to attempt anything, the three are given the gift of participating in a cattle drive through New Mexico and Colorado. So these three urbanites set off to ride horses through the wilderness.

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Life of goodness can sap our joy and leave us bitter

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

September 8, 2014

Sometimes everything can seem right on the surface while, deep down, nothing is right at all. We see this, for example, in the famous parable in the Gospels about the Prodigal Son and his Older Brother. By every appearance the Older Brother is doing everything right: He's perfectly obedient to his father, is at home and is doing everything his father asks of him. Unlike his younger brother, he's not wasting his father's property on prostitutes and partying. He seems a model of generosity and morality.

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Aging bodies enable souls to deepen, mellow and mature

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

August 25, 2014

There are few more insightful studies into the spirituality of aging than the late James Hillman's book, The Force of Character. Ironically, Hillman was more critical of Christian spirituality than sympathetic to it; yet his brilliant insights into nature's design and intent offer perspectives on the spirituality of aging that often eclipse what is found in explicitly Christian writings.

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