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Father Rolheiser

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God’s Command To Kill The Canaanites

 In his autobiography, Eric Clapton, the famed rock and blues artist, shares very candidly about his long struggle with an addiction to alcohol. At one point in his life, he admitted his addiction and entered a rehab clinic, but he didn’t take his problem as seriously as was warranted. Returning...

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Achievement Versus Fruitfulness

There’s a real difference between our achievements and our fruitfulness, between our successes and the actual good that we bring into the world. What we achieve brings us success, gives us a sense of pride, makes our families and friends proud of us, and gives us a feeling of being worthwhile,...

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Stuck In Traffic

There’s a famous billboard that hangs along a congested highway that reads: You aren’t stuck in traffic. You are traffic! Good wit, good insight! How glibly we distance ourselves from a problem, whether it is our politics, our churches, the ecological problems on our planet, or most anything...

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The Power Of Ritual

I don’t always find it easy to pray. Often I’m overtired, distracted, caught up in tasks, pressured by work, short on time, lacking the appetite for prayer or more strongly drawn to do something else. But I do pray daily, despite the fact that I often don’t want to and despite the fact that many...

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Our Utmost In Dealing With Our Faith

The complexity of adulthood inevitably puts to death the naïveté of childhood. And this is true, too, of our faith. Not that faith is a naïveté. It isn’t. But our faith needs to be constantly reintegrated into our persons and matched up anew against our life’s experience, otherwise we will find...

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Angels And The City

Several years ago, Hollywood made a movie called “City of Angels” about an angel named Seth whose job it was to accompany the spirits of the recently deceased to the afterlife. On one such mission, while waiting in a hospital, he fell in love with a brilliant young woman surgeon. As an angel,...

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Understanding Grace More Deeply

The mark of genuine contrition is not a sense of guilt, but a sense of sorrow, of regret for having taken a wrong turn — just as the mark of living in grace is not a sense of our own worth, but a sense of being accepted and loved despite our unworthiness. We are spiritually healthy when our lives...

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To Whom Can We Go?

“To whom else shall we go? You have the message of eternal life.” Peter said these words to Jesus. But they are spoken in a very conflicted context: Jesus had just said something that upset and offended his audience, and the Gospels tell us that everyone walked away grumbling that what Jesus was...

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Being Good-Hearted Is Not Enough

Charity is about being good-hearted, but justice is about something more. Individual sympathy is good and virtuous, but it doesn’t necessarily change the social, economic or political structures that unfairly victimize some people and unduly privilege others. We need to be fair and good of heart,...

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Christianity And Noonday Fatigue

There’s a popular notion that suggests that it can be helpful to compare every century of Christianity’s existence to one year of life. That would make Christianity 21 years old — a young 21, grown-up enough to exhibit a basic maturity, but still far from a finished product. How insightful is...

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The Seamless Garment

John of the Cross teaches that within spirituality and morality there are no exempt areas. Simply put, you cannot be a saint or a highly moral person if you allow yourself a moral exemption or two. Thus, I may not allow myself to split off one moral flaw or sinful habit and see it as unimportant...

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Going On Ahead

“I go on ahead to prepare a place for you!” Jesus speaks those words to his disciples on the eve of his death as he sits at a table with them and senses their sadness as they grapple with his dying, his going away. His words are meant to console them and give them the assurance that they aren’t...

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When Does Faith Disappear?

When Friedrich Nietzsche declared that “God is dead” he added a question: What kind of sponge does it take to wipe away a whole horizon? I often ask that question because just in my own lifetime there has been an unprecedented decline in the number of people who go to church regularly and,...

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Coming Full Circle: From Storybooks To Spirituality

My first love was literature: novels and poetry. As a child, I loved storybooks, mysteries and adventures. In grade school, I was made to memorize poetry and loved the exercise. High school introduced me to more serious literature — Shakespeare, Kipling, Keats, Wordsworth, Browning. On the side,...

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Despair As Weakness Rather Than Sin

Classically, both in the world and in our churches, we have seen despair as the ultimate, unforgivable sin. The simple notion was that neither God, nor anyone else, can save you if you simply give up, despair or make yourself impossible to reach. Most often in the popular mind this was applied to...