Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 13, 2006
Don't die angry
Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells retreat audience to forgive, forgive, forgive
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Oblate Fr. Ron Rolheiser encourages his audience to be mature Catholics.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
As we grow older and mature both humanly and spiritually, at a certain point only three things become important - forgive, forgive and forgive.
That was part of the message Oblate Father Ronald Rolheiser delivered to about 3,000 teachers and support staff of Edmonton Catholic Schools Feb. 7.
Rolheiser said forgiving is necessary because we don't live in a daydream world where everybody loves each other and never disappoints each other.
In fact, he said, it is impossible to live in any kind of human community - in marriage, in family, friendship, school board or a parish without seriously hurting each other and seriously being hurt by each other at one point.
Don't exit angry
"Before you die, forgive your father, forgive your mother, forgive your friends and most of all forgive God so you don't die angry," Rolheiser said. "You don't want to exit the planet angry. The last thing we need to give up is our hurts. We need to forgive our families, our friends and God."
Rolheiser, a renowned author, lecturer, writer and president of the Oblate School of Theology in Texas, gave three presentations during Edmonton Catholic's Faith Development Day at the Shaw Conference Centre. In addition to forgiveness, he spoke on the importance of building community and of being mature Catholics.
"What we dream alone remains a dream: What we dream with others can become a reality," he said as he spoke about the importance of community.
"You make community by forming together around the person of Jesus Christ," he said. "That's what brings us together."
The Oblate called on his audience to build a community that is as inclusive as the communities Jesus built. The word "catholic" means universal and that means there is room for everyone.
"Jesus said in my father's house there are many rooms. He said his father is so compassionate that he embraces the good and the bad."
Like Jesus and his Father, Catholic communities must embrace differences, Rolheiser said. "Church community is where pro-life and pro-choice come together."
Those who say they can't worship in a community that's too large aren't really looking for community, Rolheiser said. "I come to church on Sunday and there are 800 people here. We don't know each other. How do you make community with 800 people?"
People who say that are looking for a family, not a vibrant apostolic community, he said. "If 1,000 people came to church every Sunday, even better. See, church is about stretching the heart wide."
What's the invitation Jesus is giving us today? "We are called today to a new maturity," Rolheiser said. Why? Because our level of maturity is below the level of freedoms we enjoy.
"In the Western world, the secularized world, we are living with the greatest freedoms humanity has ever enjoyed. We have an opportunity to travel, to develop ourselves, we have opportunities for relationships, and we have opportunities for mobility.
"We also have opportunities for personal destruction and self-pity and hatred and to misuse sexuality. Sometimes people argue that things go wrong because we have too much freedom. But freedom is good. Freedom is a gift from God."
A mature freedom
But freedom is only worth something if we have it compounded with maturity, Rolheiser said. "We need to have a maturity that is at the same level with our freedom. And somehow our maturity hasn't caught up with our freedom."
He urged his audience to look at those parts of Scripture where Jesus calls for a deeper and profound level of maturity. One of those is Jesus' invitation to the rich young man who wanted to "possess" eternal life.
"You have to sell everything you have and give the money to the poor," Jesus told the young man.
"Scripture says he couldn't do it and he went away sad because he was very rich. He comes to Jesus as a good, sincere, pretty well developed Christian disciple. He is given an invitation. He doesn't accept it and he goes away sad."
Jesus' invitation for those at the Faith Development Day is somewhat similar to that extended to the rich young man, Rolheiser said. "It is not an invitation to turn your life around. It is an invitation to move from goodness to greatness. We are already mature. Jesus is asking of us for a new maturity."
Letter to the Editor - 03/20/06