The Holy Longing

Rolheiser, R (1999) The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality. Doubleday Publishers, New York, 1999 ISBN 0385494181

Read the Holy Longing, pp. 46-107.

Read the other student papers on the week two discussion board and select a person to whom you wish to respond. Write a two page response to that person. Please post on discussion board for us all to see.

just write a 2 page response to the paper below.

I am reflectively writing on chapters 3, 4 and 5 from the text: The Holy Longing, The Search for A Christian Spirituality, written by Ronald Rolheiser.
The information presented in these chapters was very deep both in context and meaning. Essentially, I feel the author is taking human spirituality and applying Jesus into it as it’s root cause. Providing along the way, examples of the text and how it’s to be implied according to Jesus, the disciples, and other scholars’ who have long researched and studied scripture and god’s word.

Let’s start with "the three essential pillars of spirituality."(1999) Rolheiser suggests, in society today there are three groups which define what “spirituality” is today. The population can be broken down into one of these three groups. They are the Roman Catholics, Protestantism and Secular Society. The Roman Catholics have emphasis on church going, devotions and sacraments. The Protestants agree with church going and privet prayer but put a strong emphasis on reading and living by the written word of God, the Bible. Typically, they distrust Catholic devotion and sacraments. An example of, but not limited to, a good Protestant is described as working against injustice’s like slavery, banning alcohol and tobacco and promote universal healthcare. The third group is Secular Society, who look upon Christian spirituality with eyes of suspicion and superstition. Today, Secular Society’s philosophy publicly dominates and shapes all our political and judicial decisions. Although Secular Society does believe in God, they feel it belongs in church and inside people’s homes. “Spirituality has no place in politics, economics or university curriculum; and in general, is tolerated at the fringes of society.” (Rolheiser)

The author points out that everyone is spiritual but there is a lot of confusion on how to be spiritual. This has generated many discipleship type groups to help us focus our spiritual energy. Examples of these are twelve step programs, charismatic and scientology groups and prayer or meditation groups.
God, Jesus or Christ dictates essential truths that are prescribed for everyone, described as the ten commandments. Rolheiser points out, “they are to be followed and are non-negotiable, cannot be ignored and not a question of personal choice or convenience of time.” Roman Catholics believe the ten commandments were dictated to disciples by Jesus, and are held at the center focus of their spirituality. For all religions, “church involvement is a covenant commitment, like a marriage, binds us together and grounds us to a spiritual group with “Christ” at the center.” (Rolheiser) In our recent history, the brass embossed ten commandments which was mounted to the entrance of a court house was removed. Secular Society stated that it was religious material that did not belong mounted to a public building. They were being politically correct but I don’t agree with their actions. If the whole world marks time by the birth and death of Jesus, then what he says, including the ten commandments, dictating how he wants humans to live is important.
I am one of eight siblings and have been brought up in a very strict Roman Catholic home. We were expected to worship in church every Sunday, without fail, even while sick. We also attended public school committing us to attend catechism classes an additional one day each week, until the end of twelfth grade. Although we weren’t alone in attendance, it was very difficult as an adolescent to focus our energy and humble our spirit. In our home, we all prepared for, received and lived our sacraments. During Good Friday in Lent, before Easter, we all meditated and read the bible during the three hours it took Jesus to die on the cross, noon to three o’clock. In our home, these set of rules and that way of life was expected and non-negotiable, until we left the family home either on our wedding day or inducted into military service.

The definition of “Christian” to the author is having God within us. So, when we belong to a church or worship in a group it “incarnates” Jesus’ spirit. His graces work through us as the Christian community and gives Jesus our skin, his face to see in our face. The example of incarnation provided in the book is the word (Jesus) made flesh (in-carnus). Rolheiser writes, “Putting the spirit of Jesus in skin again so we humans can see his many-faced face.” Through us and our Christian community, Jesus’ spirit transcends. This is how our sins are forgiven, we can anoint the sick and provide guidance. The author provides an example of “Understanding Christian Guidance” (Rolheiser). Here, I quote him verbatim, “First, the one seeking guidance must be Christian, believing in not just gods physical being but god through the Christian community” (Rolheiser).

I want to provide a personal example of what is being implied here, when seeking guidance from god through the community. At the time of these events, I was eighteen years old, in college and pregnant. The father of the child had asked for my hand in marriage; I didn’t know what to do. My strict Roman Catholic mother, whom loves me regardless the situation, suggested saying a novena. A novena is a special prayer, in this case to Saint Theresa, in which I was asking for guidance. So, having nothing to lose, I secretly said the novena. I didn’t disclose to anyone that I had said it or what my intentions were. Saint Theresa is supposed to take your intention straight to god’s ear and when a response is given, a rose or the scent of one appears unexpectedly for you. A few weeks go by, mother and I were running errands and she asked to stop at the church, just for a minute. I asked to wait in the car for her return but, she begged that I come in. Implying that I could have a few moments of quiet personal prayer while I wait for her. So, reluctantly I went into church. Our priest was doing some cleaning up and met mother in front of the church alter. They shared a small conversation regarding a focus group mom was involved in through the church. As I sat and waited for her to finish, the priest hesitates and begged my forgiveness, asking me to wait just one minute longer. He went behind the alter in the sacristy and came out with a single white rose. I was so surprised that I started to cry. The priest apologized for upsetting me, but he felt a strong urge to give me the flower. As mother and I returned to the car, I shared with her what I asked of Saint Theresa. I asked that she look at the tapestry of my life from heaven, and if this man was to walk through life with me then to please let me know. I told mother we have a wedding to plan. We were married three months later and remain married to this day.
I feel that I am spiritual and sensitivity to the energy of others. I have faith in a higher power and that upon death we will enter heaven. I agree with the idea of passion, the energy of souls and religious guidelines set forth by Jesus in which are intended for us to follow, which Rolheiser is writing about.


Rolheiser, R. (1999). The Holy Longing. Broadway, New York: DOUBLEDAY
Edited by Rachelle O’Neill on Apr 30 at 12:45pm
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