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.
A common soldier dies without fear, yet Jesus died afraid. Iris Murdoch wrote this and that truth can be somewhat disconcerting. Why? If someone dies with deep faith, shouldn’t he or she die within a certain calm and trust drawn from that faith? Wouldn’t the opposite seem more logical, that is, if someone dies without faith shouldn’t he or she die with more fear? And perhaps the most confusing of all: Why did Jesus, the paragon of faith, die afraid, crying out in a pain that can seem like a loss of faith?
Date posted: 2016-05-24
seminarian I know recently went to a party on a Friday evening at a local university campus. The group was a crowd of young, college students and when he was introduced as a seminarian, as someone who was trying to become a priest and who had taken a vow of celibacy, the mention of celibacy evoked some giggles in the room, some banter, and a number of jokes about how much he must be missing out on in life. Poor, naïve fellow! Initially, within this group of millenniums, his religious beliefs and what this had led to in his life was regarded as something between amusing and pitiful. But, before the evening was out, several young women had come, cried on his shoulder, and shared about their frustration with their boyfriends’ inability to commit fully to their relationship.
Date posted: 2016-05-16
In a recent article in America magazine, Grant Kaplan, commenting on the challenge of the resurrection, makes this comment: “Unlike previous communities in which the bond among members forges itself through those it excludes and scapegoats, the gratuity of the resurrection allows for a community shaped by forgiven-forgivers.”
Date posted: 2016-04-18
In the movie based upon Jane Austen’s classic novel, Sense and Sensibility, there’s a very poignant scene where one of her young heroines, suffering from acute pneumonia, is lying in bed hovering between life and death. A young man, very much in love with her, is pacing back and forth, highly agitated, frustrated by his helplessness to do anything of use, and literally jumping out of his skin. Unable to contain his agitation any longer, he goes to the girl’s mother and asks what he might do to be helpful. She replies that there’s nothing he can do, the situation is beyond them. Unable to live with that response her says to her: “Give me some task to do, or I shall go mad!”
Date posted: 2016-04-06
In a deeply insightful book, The Grace of Dying, Kathleen Dowling Singh shares insights she has gleaned as a health professional from being present to hundreds of people while they are dying. Among other things, she suggests that the dying process itself, in her words, “is exquisitely calibrated to automatically produce union with Spirit.” In essence, what she is saying is that what is experienced by someone in the final stages and moments of dying, particularly if the death is not a sudden one, is a purgation that naturally lessens the person’s grip on the things of this world as well as on his or her own ego so as to be ready to enter into a new realm of life and meaning beyond our present realm of consciousness. The dying process itself, she submits, midwifes us into a wider, deeper life.
Date posted: 2016-03-11
Many of us, I am sure, have been inspired by the movie, Of Gods and Men, which tells the story of a group of Trappist monks who, after making a painful decision not to flee from the violence in Algeria in the 1990s, are eventually martyred by Islamic extremists in 1996. Recently, I was much inspired by reading the diaries of one of those monks, Christophe Lebreton. Published under the title, Born from the Gaze of God, The Tibhirine Journal of a Martyr Monk, his diaries chronicle the last three years of his life and give us an insight into his, and his community’s, decision to remain in Algeria in the face almost certain death.
Date posted: 2016-02-15
A colleague of mine shares this story: Recently, after presiding a Eucharist, a woman from the congregation came up to him with this comment: “What a horrible scripture reading today! If that’s the kind of God we’re worshipping, then I don’t want to go to heaven!”
Date posted: 2016-02-09
A bowed head is a sign of humility and is understood, almost universally, as our proper spiritual posture. Spiritual writers have rarely questioned or felt the need to nuance the notion that spiritual health means a head bowed in humility. But is it really that simple?
Date posted: 2016-01-19
We all need, regularly, to lay down our burdens for a minute so our souls can catch up with us.
Date posted: 2016-01-15
The Belgian spiritual writer, Bieke Vandekerckhove, comes by her wisdom honestly. She didn’t learn what she shares from a book or even primarily from the good example of others. She learned what she shares through the crucible of a unique suffering, being hit at the tender age of nineteen with a terminal disease that promised not just an early death but also a complete breakdown and humiliation of her body enroute to that death.
Date posted: 2016-01-04