Rolheiser and Rohr On Carrying Tensions

When it comes to articulating and explaining some of the tensions and paradoxes that we cannot always hope to be able to resolve fully in our life, Fr. Ron Rolheiser and Fr. Richard Rohr are among the most cogent and incisive writers. 

I feature them both regularly in this blog and their writings have been spiritual companions for a good part of my life and I'm grateful to them.

Both authors urge us to try to hold the paradoxes of truth in our faith and spiritual life and even posit that ultimately it's the only way forward, the "healthy way."

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This post focuses on two articles from Fr. Rolheiser, received as newsletters but also available from his website.

Click here for the first one which asks the question "How do we take seriously both the universal salvific will of God and the belief that everyone needs to be saved through Christ?"

and below is an extract taken from another of Fr. Rolheiser's posts ( Click here for complete article which is well worth reading in full.)

A wry note from Rolheiser too is added when he says, "Jesus held so many great truths together in one synthesis that he was misunderstood by just about everyone and he scandalized persons on both sides of the ideological spectrum."

So here are the ten outlines of some of the great truths that Jesus managed to carry in tension and Fr. Ron says "a healthy spirituality must always carry both ends of these.............

1) A strong sense of individuality, a focus on private integrity and private prayer - coupled with an equally strong commitment to community, family, civic and ecclesial involvement, and social justice.

2) A healthy capacity to drink in life and enjoy it without guilt - but one that befriends an equally healthy capacity for asceticism, selflessness, and discipline.

3) A healthy development of the individual gifts that God has given us, a healthy self-assertion, complete with a certain healthy exhibitionism - held always in tension with a healthy sense of duty, a capacity for obedience, and an habitual self-effacement.

4) An itch for the prophetic, an eye and a sympathy for what lies outside the centre, for what is marginalized, a challenging voice for the excluded - even as one recognizes the importance of the institutional, defends against anarchy, and helps nurture what's sacred within family, church, and tradition.

5) A perpetual openness to what's new, what's strange, what causes discomfort, to what's liberal - even as one works to ground oneself and others in the familiar, in routine, in what conserves, gives rhythm, and makes for family and stability.

6) A eye and a love for the sacred, for God, for the other-world, for the eternal horizon - coupled with an unabashed love for this world, for its joys, for its achievements, its present moment.

7) A passion for sexuality and a defense of its goodness - coupled with an equally strong defense of purity and chastity.

8) An eye for world-community, for stretching all the boundaries we were born into, for an ever-widening hospitality - even as one is deeply loyal to family, personal roots, and the fact that hospitality begins at home.

9) An idealism and a hope that defies the facts, that relies on God's promises and does not let the deep, inchoate desires of the human heart be deflected by the accidents of history - held together with a realism that is pragmatic, programmatic, and doing its share of the work.

10) A focus on the next-life, on life after death, on the fact that our lives here are but a short time in expectation of something else - even as we focus on the reality and goodness of life after birth, this life, its importance.

Jesus held all of these as one, playing every kind of tune and breathing every kind of air, both human and divine."

More challenging thought from Fr. Richard Rohr here and click here for a wonderful extract on The Mystery Of The Cross taken from his book Things Hidden, Scripture as Spirituality.

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