Fr. Ron Rolheiser

Fr. Ron Rolheiser

Ronald Rolheiser, a Roman Catholic priest and member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.

He is a community-builder, lecturer and writer. His books are popular throughout the English-speaking world and his weekly column is carried by more than seventy newspapers worldwide.

Fr. Rolheiser can be reached at his website, www.ronrolheiser.com.

We too are covenanted to say Mass for the world

All of us live with some wounds, bad habits, addictions and temperamental flaws that are so deeply engrained and long-standing that it seems like they are part of our genetic make-up. And so we tend to give into a certain quiet despair in terms of ever being healed of them.

Several years ago, the movie Argo won the Academy Award as best movie of the year. I enjoyed the movie in that it was a good drama, one that held its audience in proper suspense even as it provided some good humour and banter on the side. But I struggled with several aspects of the film.

Christian de Cherge, the Trappist Abbott who was martyred in Algeria in 1996, tells this story of his first communion. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family in France and on the day of his first communion he said to his mother: “I don’t understand what I’m doing.” She answered simply: “It’s okay, you don’t have to understand it now, later you will understand.”

Recently I led a week-long retreat for some 60 people at a renewal centre. Overall, it went very well, though ideally it could have gone better. It could have gone better if, previous to the retreat, I had more time to prepare and more time to rest so that I would have arrived at the retreat well rested, fully energetic and able to give this group my total undivided attention for seven days.

Everyone longs to know something that’s secret, to know something that others don’t know, but that you know, and the knowledge of which gives you some insight and advantage over others who are outside the inner circle of that secret. It has always been so. Historically this is called “Gnosticism,” which forever makes an appearance in one form or another.

The renowned spiritual writer Henri Nouwen made no secret about the fact that he was emotionally over-sensitive and that he suffered, sometimes to the point of clinical depression, from emotional obsessions. At times, he, a vowed celibate, was so overpowered by the feeling of being in love with someone who was hopelessly unavailable that he became psychologically paralyzed and needed professional help.

What’s the use of an old-fashioned, hand-held lantern? Well, its light can be quite useful when it’s pitch-dark, but it becomes superfluous and unnoticeable in the noonday sun. Still, this doesn’t mean its light is bad, only that it’s weak.

Evolution, Charles Darwin famously stated, works through the survival of the fittest. Christianity, on the other hand, is committed to the survival of the weakest.

It is easy to mistake piety for the genuine response that God wants of us, that is, to enter into a relationship of intimacy with Him and then try to help others have that same experience.