Columns

Uniting wisdom with the pulse of God's life

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 14, 1998

Some years ago, I was visiting a Benedictine monastery in Belgium when an episode occurred that still haunts me. What happened? Well, you need to picture a scene to get the full impact: It was April, but still cold and the chapel where we had just celebrated the Eucharist and the cafeteria to which we had retired for coffee lacked both for heat and light. There were about a hundred of us present, monks and seminarians mostly, along with a few lay people.

Read the rest of entry »

Three reactions to the world today

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 7, 1998

A couple of years ago, David Tracy, a leading Catholic intellectual, wrote a particularly insightful essay which he entitled, On Naming the Present. In it, he tried to name the present moment by pointing out three major reactions. The first of these, he calls modernity. This version of things sees what is happening today as simply more of the same, namely, more of what has been happening already for a long time. Rationality and technology are the ultimate values.

Read the rest of entry »

Our call to deeper conversion

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 30, 1998

In her masterful book, Guidelines for Mystical Prayer, Ruth Burrows has a section within which she lists the faults of those who are beyond initial conversion. What are these faults? Burrows has her own list. What I offer here is the perspective that Henri Nouwen gives in his spiritual masterpiece, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Among many things in that book, Nouwen tells us that as persons who understand ourselves as already committed, we still need to make a three-fold conversion movement:

Read the rest of entry »

Why fewer people are going to church

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 23, 1998

Recently I was listening to a radio talk show that was debating the question: "Why are fewer and fewer people going to church?" The question sparked a lively response and the phone-lines were busy as callers voiced opinions. But they kept canceling each other out. Half the callers, more liberal in bent, made it clear that for them the reason people are not attending their churches is because the churches are too old-fashioned and not in step with the times.

Read the rest of entry »

A soul both nameless and precious

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 16, 1998

In her brilliant, haunting book, Random Passage, Bernice Morgan describes the physical and psychological trials of the first families that journeyed from England to Newfoundland to settle at Cape Random. Life was hard. Food was scarce and of only one kind, fish; drinking water was bad, the climate was harsh, and sometimes people died because there were no doctors or medicines. Everyone had to work constantly. There were no luxuries. The struggle was for life itself and starvation was ever a threat. Then there were the cold winters with inadequate housing.

Read the rest of entry »

The best atheist: Camus or Bill Gates?

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 9, 1998

Contrast clarifies vision. To set two things in opposition to each other is to see both more clearly. With that in mind, it is interesting to contrast two views on God, religion and the human soul. One is the perspective of Albert Camus, a Nobel Prize winning writer and an avowed atheist; the other is that of Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, the richest man in the world and someone who appears to be rather indifferent religiously.

Read the rest of entry »

Columnist takes on a new challenge

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 2, 1998

Having a columnist around for a number of years is a little like having a neighbour around for a while. Even if you don't like him, you can't help but be a little curious about his life and appreciate being told if he's making any major moves. With that in mind, I risk, in this column, sharing about a major new move in my own life. Last month I attended a general chapter of the religious order to which I belong, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Among other things, that meeting elected a new leadership for our order.

Read the rest of entry »

Church must weep over Jerusalem

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

October 26, 1998

It is hard to believe that God still loves this world and smiles upon it as does a mother upon her child. Our spontaneous impulse is rather to protest, condemn and point out the world's faults, its sin, its injustice and its indifference to God. But the world is still God's creation, still lives under God's primal blessing and, post-modern or not, is still loved by God. Like the original chaos, so full of both life and potential, our world today is still spinning and creating itself under the influence of God's breath. Its marvellous achievements reflect upon God's greatness and human cooperation with God's power. The world still honours both God and humanity.

Read the rest of entry »

Private and public lives should be in sync

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

October 19, 1998

The key to remaining within a marriage, a friendship, a neighbourhood, a church, or a religious community, is not so much communication as it is transparency. Nothing destroys community as much as does lack of transparency. What does this mean? Essentially transparency is a question of being trusted. The most transparent person you know is not necessarily the one who is the most friendly, extroverted, articulate or has the best communication skills. It is the person you trust the most. Transparency is a question of trust and one is worthy of trust when one's private life is in harmony with one's public persona.

Read the rest of entry »

The Spirit's love is inside all things

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

October 12, 1998

Someone once said that the law of gravity and the law of love ultimately have the same source and are both driven by the same spirit, the Holy Spirit. Would that we realized the truth of that! If we recognized how the Holy Spirit is present in everything – physical creation, love, human creativity and morality – perhaps we could hold more things together in a fruitful tension rather than so often opposing them and having different gifts of the Holy Spirit fight each other within our lives.

Read the rest of entry »