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From the category archives: Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

Too often good looks tend to trump all else

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

October 17, 2011

Nearly a century ago, Oscar Wilde wrote a famous novel entitled, A Picture of Dorian Gray. It begins this way:

Basil Hallward, a painter, has just finished a portrait of a young man of extraordinary good looks, Dorian Gray. Just as he finishes the painting, a brilliant, though highly cynical, young lord, Henry Wotton, wanders into the room, marvels at the painting and compliments Dorian on his good looks.

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Joy and fulfillment comes when a circle is complete

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

October 10, 2011

Today we don't attach a lot of symbolism to numbers. A few, mostly superstitious, remnants remain from former ages, such as seeing the number seven as lucky and the number 13 as unlucky. For the most part, for us, numbers are arbitrary.

This hasn't always been the case. In biblical times, they attached a lot of meaning to certain numbers. For example, in the Bible, the numbers 40, 10, 12 and 100 are highly symbolic. The number 40, for instance, speaks of the length of time required before something can come to proper fruition, while the numbers 10, 12 and 100 speak of a certain wholeness that is required to properly appropriate grace.

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Today's celebrity culture blinds us to true heroism

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

October 3, 2011

Among all the great stories in the world, the most common, best-known and perennially intriguing are those that deal with heroes and heroines. These are stories that describe someone, a man or a woman who has to journey through danger, suffering, opposition, misunderstanding and humiliation to achieve some noble goal.

These kinds of stories abound in classical mythology, Scripture, epic novels and popular movies. The details of the stories vary enormously, but they have a common pattern: For noble reasons, the hero or heroine must descend into some underworld of suffering and endure that suffering, usually in the face of fierce misunderstanding and opposition, so as to eventually emerge victorious, a conqueror, a hero, an object of admiration and as one who now somehow stands above others because of this achievement.

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Passionate fire fizzles, but devout faith builds a solid, sufficient creed

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

September 26, 2011

Several years ago, a friend of mine made a very un-Hollywood type of marriage proposal to his fiancé: He was in his mid-forties and had suffered a number of disillusioning heartbreaks, some of which, by his own admission, were his own fault, the result of feelings shifting unexpectedly on his part.

Now, in mid-life, struggling not to be disillusioned and cynical about love and romance, he met a woman whom he deeply respected, much admired, and with whom he felt he would like to build a life. But, unsure of himself, he was humble in his proposal.

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The mystery of Christ binds the whole universe

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

September 19, 2011

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in one of his dialogues with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, was asked: "What are you trying to do?" His answer was something to this effect: I'm trying to write a Christology that is large enough to include the full Christ because Christ isn't just a divine saviour sent to save people; Christ is also a structure within the physical universe, a path of salvation for the earth itself.

What is meant by this? How is Christ a structure within physical creation?

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Sacred fire fuels all of life, infuses saint and sinner alike

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

September 12, 2011

See the wise and wicked ones, who feed upon life's sacred fire. That's a lyric from a song by Gordon Lightfoot that tries to interpret the struggle going on in the heart of Miguel de Cervantes' mythical hero, Don Quixote. Goodness separates him from the world, even as he understands that wickedness has the same source.

There's perplexing irony in this: Both the wise and wicked, saints and sinners, feed off the same, sacred source. The energy that fuels the dedicated selflessness of the saint who dies for the poor also fires the irresponsible acting-out of the movie star who proudly boasts of thousands of sexual conquests. Both feed off the same energy which, in the end, is sacred.

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Diligent prayers nurture a deep bond with God

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

September 5, 2011

Do we ever really understand or master prayer? Yes and no. When we try to pray, sometimes we walk on water and sometimes we sink like a stone. Sometimes we have a deep sense of God's reality and sometimes we can't even imagine that God exists.

Sometimes we have deep feelings about God's goodness and love and sometimes we feel only boredom and distraction. Sometimes our eyes fill with tears and sometimes they wander furtively to our wrist-watches to see how much time we still need to spend in prayer. Sometimes we would like to stay in our prayer place forever and sometimes we wonder why we even showed up.

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God gifted us with hearts as deep as the Grand Canyon

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

August 29, 2011

It's common, particularly among religious commentators, to describe the human heart as small, narrow and petty: How small-hearted and petty we are. I find this distressing because religious thinkers especially should know better. We are not created by God and put on this earth with small, narrow and petty hearts.

The opposite is true. God puts us into this world with huge hearts, hearts as deep as the Grand Canyon. The human heart in itself, when not closed off by fear, wound and paranoia, is the antithesis of pettiness. The human heart, as Augustine describes it, is not fulfilled by anything less than infinity itself. There's nothing small about the human heart.

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Columnist, diagnosed with colon cancer, describes its impact

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

July 25, 2011

When I began writing this column, I shared that occasionally I would do a column that was more exclusively about my personal life. I have tried to limit myself in that and, in the 28 years I have been writing this column, have probably done fewer than 10 pieces whose main focus was my own life. When I have done so, it was almost always to share with readers a major transition in my life.

This column is one of those personal pieces. My personal life is again undergoing a major transition, though this one does not concern a move to a new job or to a new city. It has to do with my health:

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Life of learning may undermine our child-like dependence

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

July 18, 2011

I've lived and worked in academic circles for most of my adult life, studying in various universities, teaching in university circles and having university professors as close friends and colleagues. What's that world like? What kind of folks inhabit academic circles?

Perhaps my experience is atypical because most of the scholars under whom I studied and most of the theologians and other scholars who have been my colleagues became professors and university lecturers in function of ministry, as a vocation, rather than as a career.

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