Ronald Rolheiser, a Roman Catholic priest, is the General Councillor for Canada for his order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He has offices in both Toronto and Rome. For most of the 26 years of his priesthood, he taught theology and philosophy at Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta. He remains an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University. He has written many books, (won Catholic Book Award in 1996), is a regular columnist in a number of papers, and has articles published in Louvain Studies, Critic, America, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Spirituality and in various other popular magazines.
Areas of Specialty: Systematic Theology and Philosophy Areas of Concentration: Augustine, Mysticism (John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux) and Spirituality (contemporary spiritualities, contemporary questions: ecology, feminism, masculine spirituality, religion and culture) Graduate Education: University of San Francisco, USA and University of Louvain, Belgium.
When I was in elementary school, we were made to memorize a number of poems by William Blake. We didn’t understand them, but they had a wonderful jingle to them, were easy to commit to memory, and remain branded inside me to this day.
One of those was a piece entitled, Infant Sorrow:
Date posted: 2013-06-19
As a young seminarian in the late 1960s, I was very taken by the writings of Andrew Greeley, a priest in Chicago, who was churning out books on popular spirituality. I found his approach wonderfully refreshing because, at least to my mind, he dealt with our perennial religious struggles in a way that was both more realistic and more hope-filled than most of the religious literature to which I had been exposed to until then. He was the spiritual bread I needed, and when I went on a retreat to prepare for final vows, I had a couple of his books in hand. He helped me make that decision.
Date posted: 2013-06-12
Haste is our enemy. It puts us under stress, raises our blood pressure, makes us impatient, renders us more vulnerable to accidents and, most seriously of all, blinds us to the needs of others. Haste is normally not a virtue, irrespective of the goodness of the thing towards which we are hurrying.
Date posted: 2013-06-04
In a marvelous little book entitled, The Music of Silence, David Steindl-Rast highlights how each hour of the day has its own special light and its own particular mood and how we are more attentive to the present moment when we recognize and honor these “special angels” lurking inside each hour. He’s right. Every hour of the day and every season of the year have something special to give us, but often times we cannot make ourselves present to meet that gift.
Date posted: 2013-05-31
Several years ago, at a conference that I was attending the keynote speaker challenged his audience in this way: All of us, he pointed out, are members of various communities: we live in families, are part of church congregations, have colleagues with whom we work, have a circle of friends, and are part of a larger civic community. In every one of these there will come a time when we will get hurt, when we will not be honored, when we will be taken for granted, and treated unfairly. All of us will get hurt. That is a given. However, and this was his challenge, how we handle that hurt, with either bitterness or forgiveness, will color the rest of our lives and determine what kind of person we are going to be.
Date posted: 2013-05-21
Recently an op-ed piece appeared in the New York Times by Frank Bruni, entitled, The Wages of Celibacy. The column, while provocative, is fair. Mostly he asks a lot of hard, necessary questions. Looking at the various sexual scandals that have plagued the Roman Catholic priesthood in the past number of years, Bruni suggests that it's time to re-examine celibacy with an honest and courageous eye and ask ourselves whether its downside outweighs its potential benefits.
Date posted: 2013-05-14
Some years ago, a woman shared this story at a workshop. She had a six year-old son whom she had conscientiously schooled in prayer. Among other things, she made him kneel beside his bed every night and say aloud a number of prayers, ending with an invocation to “bless mummy, daddy, grandma, and grandpa”. One night, shortly after he had started school, she took him to his room to hear his prayers and to tuck him in for the night. But when it came time for him to kneel by his bedside and recite his prayers, he refused and crawled into bed instead. His mother asked him: “What’s the matter? Don’t you pray anymore?” There was remarkable calm in his reply: “No,” he said, “I don’t pray anymore. The sister teaching us at school told us that we are not supposed to pray, she said that we are supposed to talk to God ... and tonight I am tired and have nothing to say!”
Date posted: 2013-05-07
Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a column entitled, Guidelines for the Long Haul. Revisiting it recently, I was encouraged that my principles haven’t swayed during the past quarter-century, only taken on more nuance. I still recommend those same commandments, nostalgically revisited, somewhat redacted, but fully re-endorsed.
Date posted: 2013-04-30
Today, among many of us church-goers, there is growing-propensity to self-protect rather than risk crucifixion for the world. We are well-intentioned in this, but, good intentions notwithstanding, our actions are the opposite of Jesus. He loved the world enough to let himself be crucified rather than self-protect.
Date posted: 2013-04-23
Embittered moralizing, no matter how valid the indignation enflaming it, takes many forms and is always recognizable in its lack of warmth and its inability to bless others.
Date posted: 2013-04-15
As an adult child of Rene Descartes, I breathe in secularity, a very mixed air, pure and polluted; and I find myself torn between hope and fear, comfortable but uneasy, defending secularity even as I am critical of it.
Date posted: 2013-04-09
From the bible to casinos, seven is often considered to be a magical, perfect, and lucky number. Jesus told us to forgive those who hurt us seventy times seven times. Clearly he meant that to mean infinity. Genesis speaks of the seven days of creation, scripture speaks of seven archangels, and the Book of Revelation speaks of the Seven Seals of Revelation. The bible is saturated with the number seven. It would take several pages just to list the references.
Date posted: 2013-04-05
Before you get serious about Jesus, first consider how good you are going to look on wood!
Date posted: 2013-03-26
How do we lift our darkest, most depressed, most lonely moments up to God? How can we pray when we are most deeply alone, helpless, and our whole world seems to be collapsing?
Date posted: 2013-03-19
In his autobiography, Morris West suggests that at a certain age our lives simplify and we need have only three phrases left in our spiritual vocabulary: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! He is right, if we understand fully what is implied in living out gratitude. Gratitude is the ultimate virtue, undergirding everything else, even love. It is synonymous with holiness.
Date posted: 2013-03-12
There’s a disturbing trend within our churches today. Simply put, we are seeing the embrace of our churches become less-and-less inclusive. More-and-more, our churches are demanding a purity and exclusivity not demanded by Jesus in Gospels.
Date posted: 2013-03-05
Anxiety, like all tensions, eats at us at various levels. More superficially, we worry about many things. Deep down though we are anxious in a way that colors most everything we do. So much of what motivates and drives us is an unconscious attempt to free ourselves from anxiety. We are forever nursing the hope that we can free ourselves from anxiety through achievement, success, financial security, fame, leaving a mark, and through power and sex. We nurse the secret belief that if we have the right combination of these our lives we will have the substance we need to feel secure and non-anxious.
Date posted: 2013-02-26
A friend of mine likes to jokingly pretend he’s the ultimate egoist and will occasionally crack this quip: “Life is hard because I have to deal with the magnitude me!” Ironically our ultimate struggle in life is exactly the opposite: We are forever dealing with the insubstantiality of me! We are forever fearful that we have no substance, nothing of lasting value, no immortality. We fear that we might ultimately disappear.
Date posted: 2013-02-18
Some years ago, I was at a religious conference where one of the speakers, widely known and respected for her work among the poor, made this comment: “I’m not a theologian, so I don’t know how this plays out theologically; but here’s the base from which I’m operating: I work with the poor. Partly I do this out of my humanity, out of natural compassion; but ultimately my motivation is Christ. I work with the poor because I’m a Christian. However I can go for two or three years on the streets and never mention Christ’s name because I believe that God is mature enough that He doesn’t demand to always be the center of our conscious attention.”
Date posted: 2013-02-12
Our generative years are a marathon, not a sprint, and so it’s difficult to sustain graciousness, generosity, and patience through the tiredness, trials, and temptations that beset us through the years of our adult lives. All on our own, relying on willpower alone, we too often fatigue, get worn down, and compromise both our maturity and our discipleship. We need help from beyond, from somewhere even beyond the human supports that help bolster us. We need God’s help, strength from something beyond what’s human. We need prayer.
Date posted: 2013-02-04
While saying farewell the night before he died, Jesus told those with him that he “had other sheep that are not of this fold” and that those with him at that particular moment were not his only followers. Very importantly, he also said that he longed for unity with those others just as urgently and deeply as he longed for unity with those in the room with him.
Date posted: 2013-01-28
What can God and nature have had in mind when they designed the aging process? Why is it that just when our mental prowess, our human maturity, and our emotional freedom are at their peak, the body begins to fall apart?
Date posted: 2013-01-21
All of us, naturally, try to form some picture of God and try to imagine God’s existence. The problem when we try to do this is that we end up in one of two places, both not good.
Date posted: 2013-01-16
In our more reflective moments we know how hard it is not to get caught up in ideology, hype, fad, group-think, and crowd-hysteria in a way that leaves us mindless. It’s hard to know what we really think and believe, as opposed to what the cultural circles we move within prescribe for us. It’s hard not to be caught up in the fashion of the moment.
Date posted: 2013-01-07