Spirituality and Longing

Last night was the first session of a three-session book discussion group I am facilitating at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis. Our subject for this fall group is Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality.

I first came across Rolheiser’s writing when I was struggling with my conversion from Buddhism back to Christianity. I approached a Vincentian priest I knew at St. John’s University in New York and asked if he could suggest something that might be helpful for me to read. Without hesitation he said, Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser. It was a good suggestion; I found the book very helpful and meaningful. And I’m not the only one; Rembert Weakland called this book “one of the best books about Christian spirituality that has been published in many a year.”

For Rolheiser, spirituality is about what we do with the desire that is deep within each of our hearts. And that means that “[s]pirituality is not something on the fringes, an option for those with a particular bent. None of us has a choice. Everyone has to have a spirituality and everyone does have one, either a life-giving one or a destructive one.” Thus, he describes each of Mother Teresa, Janis Joplin and Princess Diana as spiritual – albeit in very different ways.

The question then, is not whether we will be spiritual, but whether our spirituality is a healthy one, that is, one that leads us to “do things which keep us energized and integrated, on fire and yet glued together.” Conversely, he suggests, “if our yearning drives us into actions which harden our insides or cause us to fall apart and die then we have an unhealthy spirituality.”

We had a great discussion of the first three chapters last night. If you are in the Twin Cities, you are welcome to join us for the remaining two sessions even if you missed the first.

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