IF you live in Kansas City, and IF you want to give deeper meaning to your Lent and your life, and IF you are available this Saturday and willing to miss a couple hours of March Madness Basketball, I highly recommend that you stop over at Miege High School for a Lenten Day of Retreat with Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI. It will be worth whatever you give up to go. You can register at https://contemporaryspirituality.evenbrite.com.
Father Rolheiser, a prolific author and seminary president, is among the great Catholic spiritual guides of our time. He writes a weekly column that appears in over 100 newspapers as well as on-line. Among his most popular books are two that I recommend for your spiritual pursuits: The Holy Longing and Sacred Fire. The former is an introduction to developing a healthy, holy, and happy Christian spirituality while the latter is a guide for those of us in the second half of life who seek direction in transitioning our attention from this world to the next, who want to make our existence count in meaningful and positive ways, and who are searching our way to heaven’s door. I encourage you to read one or both.
The Holy Longing reminds us that every human person is a spiritual being, much like everyone is a social being and sexual being, i.e., we cannot exist without being these things. The author contends that while spirituality is the passion and energy that drives us, Christian spirituality gets harnessed in a specific direction that inculcates Jesus, a community of faith, care for the marginalized and suffering souls, and a heart that embraces peace and gratitude. If you want to more intentionally shape your Christian spirituality, this book might be a tremendous help.
The Sacred Fire builds upon this Christian concept and focuses specifically on transitioning toward a more mature spirituality that allows us to let go of this world and identify in a greater way with the world to come. Here, Rolheiser reminds us that we spend much of the first half of life seeking success, accomplishing goals, accumulating possessions, achieving praise, etc., but at some point near mid-life we decide to stop chasing material dreams and, instead, we discern higher goals, deeper love, and greater dreams. We shift a significant portion of our focus from ourselves to those who follow us, those we care about; we contemplate what we leave behind for them, what kind of wisdom we pass along, what sort of grace we need to share for their benefit, etc., and we shift our introspective thoughts from the concerns of earth to those beyond. Christians in the second half of life have a unique spirituality to which Rolheiser helps give shape in this book.
Because among my priesthood duties is to help people come closer to God and because I have become a big fan of Father Rolheiser, I simply want to encourage you to get to know him as a means to getting to know The Lord a little better. If you can join him in person on Saturday, it would be wonderful; if not, reading his books will be a powerful step in your Lenten journey and in your journey of life on earth.