On spirituality

I’m re-reading Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing, and some gems don’t come in 140-character spurts. Like a jeweler turning a stone, he describes spirituality from many different angles, but his main thrust is that spirituality is what we do with desire.

Along that vein, here’s a quote that I resonated with:

There is an interesting reflection to be made on Kierkegaard’s definition of being a saint — someone who can will the one thing. Most of us are quite like Mother Teresa in that we want to will God and the poor. We do will them. The problem is we will everything else as well. Thus, we want to be a saint, but we also want to feel every sensation experienced by sinners; we want to be innocent and pure, but we also want to be experienced and taste all of life; we want to serve the poor and have a simple lifestyle, but we also want all the comforts of the rich; we want to have the depth afforded by solitude, but we also do not want to miss anything; we want to pray, but we also want to watch television, read, talk to friends, and go out. Small wonder life is often a trying enterprise and we are often tired and pathologically overextended.

Then, a couple of pages later:

We can see from all of this that spirituality is about what we do with our spirits, our souls. And can we see too from all of this that a healthy spirit or a healthy soul must do dual jobs: It has to give us energy and fire, so that we do not lose our vitality, and all sense of the beauty and joy of living. Thus, the opposite of a spiritual person is not a person who rejects the idea of God and lives as a pagan. The opposite of being spiritual is to have no energy, is to have lost all zest for living — lying on a couch, watching football or sit-coms, taking beer intravenously! Its other task, and a very vital one it is, is to keep us glued together, integrated, so that we do not fall apart and die. Under this aspect, the opposite of a spiritual person would be someone who has lost his or her identity, namely, the person who at a certain point does not know who he or she is anymore. A healthy soul keeps us both energized and glued together.

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  1. One of my fav parts is his writings on the Paschal mystery in the context of christian spirituality. The five movements he describes have been very helpful in pastoral counseling.

    It’s definitely a book I pick up from the shelf once or twice a year.


    1. Roy! Just re-read the Paschal mystery chapter. Still good stuff, and I like his distinction between two kinda of deaths: terminal and paschal.


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