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"The Holy Longing" by Ronald Rolheiser

May 6, 2010

Perhaps you’ve heard it before:

“I’m not religious; I’m spiritual.”

“I participate often in social justice movements, so my private life doesn’t matter.”

“I have no time to pray because I’m too busy trying to be a good person and that’s what matters most!”

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, in his work The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality, proves that it all matters most. In order to have a healthy spirituality, he outlines four essential pillars: Attention to private prayer and morality, life attuned to social justice, mellowness of heart and spirit, and engagement in community worship. By examining these pillars, he attempts to re-integrate the many facets of our lives that are essential to create a healthy spirituality.

Although not geared towards young adults explicitly, it is an enlightening read for anyone along their vocational journey. In order to understand our call, we must first be in touch with all aspects of our spirituality. Within our spirituality is an energy acting as a compass to guide us towards God will. Have you discovered it? Are you in tune with it? Rolheiser guides the reader to develop an awareness and listening ear to his or her spirituality.

In a world of cultural and religious pluralism, Rolheiser uses the lens of our Christian faith to see the source of our spirit. We are naturally inclined to be in union with one another through church communities to see God in our lives, in our world, and in our deepest selves. We cannot neglect any part of our faith lives and remain in balance.

A particular insight from Rolheiser is to become aware of the current state of our spirituality. Most people fall into two mistakes: The first is to live in a spirituality of the ideal, constructing an enhanced image of our self so as to impress others and even ourselves. The second is to live in bitter resentment of the past, seeking recompense and freezing our ability to heal and accept our present circumstance. The two keys to developing a healthy spirituality are therefore ownership and consistency. We are not perfect beings, but unless we own our weaknesses and accept our current state—with all its inadequacies—we can never experience a restful spirit. Furthermore, unless we live consistently—in both the public and private spheres of life—we cannot begin to own our true self.

This book is not another checklist or linear step-by-step process that guarantees a deeper spirituality within us. Rather, it takes a step back to analyze the origins of our spirits as well as the obstacles that stifle our ability to remain connected to and aware of that spirit. It is meant for reflection rather than correction.

By strengthening our spirits and listening to them more deeply, we can orient ourselves towards our true call and the joy that accompanies the peace of living more fully in the Holy Spirit. With a lens of reality, we can begin to rest in our spirits and believe in Rolheiser ‘s final words: “All shall be well.”

Megan Sherrier

(Megan is a 2007 CoC alumna and a graduate from University of Richmond. She is currently a graduate student at CTU, Chicago)




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