Have you ever taken pictures at a special event and then found that the photos were out of focus? Or written something, and later realized what were you trying to say was too convoluted to understand?
ANAHEIM, CALIF. -- If one were to ask a central casting office in Hollywood to find someone to play a bigtime spiritual guru with his own media empire, the choice probably wouldn’t look much like Oblate Fr. Ron Rolheiser. Short, bespectacled, and decidedly non-flamboyant, Rolheiser comes off more like a high school teacher with a wry sense of humor than a Catholic version of Joel Osteen, Tony Robbins or Deepak Chopra.
Yet without theatrics or any real self-promotion, the 62-year-old Rolheiser has become one of the most popular writers and speakers on Catholic spirituality in the English-speaking world. His signature book, The Holy Longing, has sold more than 200,000 copies in hardback, his weekly column is syndicated in more than 60 newspapers in various countries, and Rolheiser is in perpetual demand to give workshops, retreats, and days of recollection all over the world.
We Catholics have new sins for the 21st century. The old sins -- sloth, envy, gluttony, lust, pride -- have a “rather individualistic dimension,” said Vatican official Msgr. Gianfranco Girotti in 2008. “The sins of today have a social resonance as well as an individual one,” he said, naming new transgressions for a new age.
I was not raised in a linguistically sensitive family. My parents called us “stupid” when they thought we were. They employed the full range of locally well-known, inaccurate and often hateful words and phrases for people of different skin colors and abilities.
Companies like Google and Facebook offer their employees a variety of compelling services that enhance the work experience. Employees at Google get “first-class dining facilities, gyms, laundry rooms, massage rooms, haircuts, car washes, dry cleaning, commuting buses -- just about anything a hardworking employee might want,” says Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO. “Let’s face it: Programmers want to program. They don’t want to do their laundry. So we make it easy for them to do both.”
Earth and Spirit
In the Midwest, the shockingly red cardinals begin singing in drab mid-February, no matter what the weather. That’s when my spring hunger begins. Their hopeful songs bring it on. Migrant robins return. My yearning cranks up. By March, garden seeds are on display in the hardware store while hoes, rakes and spades are up front. That gets me salivating.
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican commission studying the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina held its first meeting in late March.
While the Vatican press office provided no details about the meeting, it published the names of the commission members April 13.
Earth and Spirit
Beautiful, grotesque, disturbing, darkly terrible, inspiring, tragic, funny, deeply spiritual, shockingly antireligious -- all of these equally describe the late Ingmar Bergman’s 1956 film about a 14th-century knight (Max von Sydow) returning from the Crusades to his plague-ridden homeland. “The Seventh Seal” has become one of the cinema’s living legends. I watched it recently for the second time. I saw it first in 1964, when I was 19, just out of high school seminary. It shook me to the roots then.
Who ministers to the ministers? Where can priests and religious safely turn when they are depressed or addicted?
Guest House, a 54-year-old organization headquartered in Lake Orion, Mich., specializes in treating priests, religious, deacons and seminarians with addictions. Upper Room, a new crisis hotline based in Joliet, Ill., provides paraprofessional counseling, information, referral, suicide prevention and reassurance for elderly priests, brothers and deacons.
Earth and Spirit
Our culture directs us to engineer our total security, to surround ourselves with things and wealth, so that we are in no way ever dependent upon another. However, our Catholic spiritual traditions tell us that if we protect ourselves from insecurity, from vulnerability, we in turn cut ourselves off both from the Source, but also from the community we need in order to be fully human and compassionate.
Franciscan preacher Fr. Richard Rohr has said: “One religion, Catholic Christianity, even dares to call God a lamb!” What is the nature of a lamb, if not simple, vulnerable and dependent on others? Spirituality often turns things upside down and inside out. To be human is to be insecure, dependent. Even God chooses community — to be a weak and gentle lamb in our midst.