Columns

From the category archives: Columns

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

Dying person's pain deepens awareness of life and spirit

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

April 6, 2015

Raissa Maritain, the philosopher and spiritual writer, died some months after suffering a stroke. During those months she lay in a hospital bed, unable to speak. After her death, her husband, the philosopher, Jacques Maritain, in preparing her journals for publication, wrote these words: "At a moment when everything collapsed for both of us, and which was followed by four agonizing months, Raissa was walled in herself by a sudden attack of aphasia.

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All are on trial when Jesus faces the authorities

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
March 23, 2015

The biblical accounts of Jesus' passion and death focus very much on his trial, describing it in length and in detail. There is a huge irony in how it is described. Jesus is on trial, but the story is written in such a way that, in effect, everyone is on trial, except Jesus. The Jewish authorities who orchestrated his arrest are on trial for their jealousy and dishonesty. The Roman authorities who wield the final power are on trial for their religious blindness.

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God wants us to take pleasure in using our talents

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi
March 9, 2015

For the past six months, while undergoing treatment for cancer, I worked on a reduced schedule. The medical treatments, while somewhat debilitating, left me with still enough health and energy to carry on the administrative duties in my present ministry, but they didn't allow any extra energy to teach classes or to offer lectures, workshops or retreats at outside venues, something I normally do. I joked with my family and friends that I was "under house arrest"; but I was so grateful for the energy that I still had that being unable to teach and give lectures was not deemed a sacrifice. I was focused on staying healthy, and the health I was given was appreciated as a great grace.

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Daydreams can expand us or turn us in on ourselves

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

February 23, 2015

A good part of our lives is taken up with daydreams, though few of us admit that, and even fewer of us would own up to the contents of those fantasies. We're ashamed to admit how much we escape into fantasy, and we're even more ashamed to reveal the content of those fantasies. But whether we admit it or not, we're all pathological daydreamers; except this isn't necessarily a pathology. Our hearts and minds, chronically frustrated by the limits of our lives, naturally seek solace in daydreaming. It's an almost irresistible temptation.

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Interfaith search involves 'digging a well together'

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

February 9, 2015

Christian de Cherge, the Trappist abbot who was martyred in Algeria in 1996, was fond of sharing this story: He had a close Muslim friend, Mohammed, and the two of them used to pray together, even as they remained aware of their differences, as Muslim and Christian. Aware too that certain schools of thought, both Muslim and Christian, warn against this type of prayer, fearing that the various faiths are not praying to the same God, the two of them didn't call their sessions together prayer. Rather they imagined themselves as "digging a well together." One day Christian asked Mohammed: "When we get to the bottom of our well, what will we find? Muslim water or Christian water?"

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Our differences are a sign of God's grace

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

January 26, 2015

It's common for us to see God's grace and blessing in what unites us. We naturally sense the presence of grace when, at our core, we feel a strong moral bond with certain other persons, churches and faiths. That, biblically, is what defines family. But what if what separates us, what if what makes other persons, churches and faiths seem foreign and strange is also a grace, a difference intended by God? Can we think of our differences, as we think of our unity, as a gift from God? Most religions, including Christianity, would answer affirmatively.

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The best books that I read in 2014

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

January 12, 2015

The pressures of work and ministry, unfortunately, limit the time I have available to read as widely as I would like. Still, addicted as I am to books and knowing that without the insight and stimulation that I draw from them I would forever stagnate spiritually and creatively, I scrupulously carve out some time most days to read. As well, given my ministry and personality, I like to read various genres of books: novels, biography, critical essays, and, not least, books on Scripture, theology and spirituality.

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Greek goddess shows the rich sexuality of being celibate

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 29, 2014

Ancient Greece expressed much of its wisdom inside its myths. The Greeks didn't intend these to be taken literally or as historical, but as metaphor and as archetypal illustrations of why life is as it is and how people engage life both generatively and destructively. Many of those myths are centred on gods and goddesses. They had gods and goddesses to mirror virtually every aspect of life, every aspect of human behaviour and every innate human propensity. Moreover, many of the gods and goddesses were far from moral in their behaviour, especially in their sexual lives. They had messy affairs with each other and with human beings.

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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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