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on July 21, 2002
Fr. Rolheiser explains at the beginning of this book that he is anot about to answer profound questions, but in a simple manner describe spirituality from a Christian point of view. This is he does. Along the way he does raise profound issues, causing both argument and agreement. But at all times opportunities for reflection.
His chapter on eccclesiology expresses the traditional Roman Catholic perspective that one ought to attend Mass on Sundays. He does not let off on anything personal: prayer, morality, or even relationship to God. But his reasoning and allegories cause one to reflect if staying away from Sunday Mass is really in one's best interest. Catholics used to be told that they had to do certain things because the hierarchy in the Church knew better. Rolheiser does not write in this manner. His arguments are simple and based in human experience.
The chapter on sexuality reaches grandiose debate at times. One can sense his overreaching, especially when he tries to describe what sexuality is by numerous examples, such as a young man just having a drowning person. He is trying to demonstrate how sexuality is an integrated part of ourselves, apart from genital sexuality, which is sexual intercourse. He may actually reach vulnerable places for some readers, not this one.
He writes of the meaning of incarnation in one's life. Prayer, in this regard, he writes, is made through Christ. In other words, one cannot pray for something if one is not already involved in bringing it about. He speaks of prayer as shared existence with others, thus he argues prayer cannot remain only private.
The Paschal Mystery involves death, resurrection, a Forty Day grieving period, an ascension of letting go and a pentecost to be filled with the Spirit or the renewal of life. Rolheiser demonstrates how this works in our natural lives. This is the strongest chapter of the book as it is the most applicable.
At times this book is infuriating, as Rolheiszer likes to write: if this is true, and it is. . . . At other times this book challenges one to reflect on how one is living and if perhaps changes might make one happier and closer to God.
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on January 21, 2004
This is a really great book for thinking people who want to improve the deep roots from which they live their lives. It is also a great book for wounded people who may be ready to leave behind more of the baggage from their lives and move on. Fr. Rolheiser writes two chapters later in the book which will be my reasons for keeping it for many years to reread. This is not a Catholic book. It is a book for human beings no matter what their belief system. He writes about how each of us has a responsibility to work for peace and justice in whatever ways we can in a world that seems obsessed with greed and power but doesn't much care who gets stepped on in the process as long as "I get what I want when I want it." The second chapter I found powerful was the chapter on sexuality approached from a reverent perspective that gets to the heart of who each of us is as a person and how we should act if we truly respect the sexuality of another, not from the genital perspective of which we are bombarded daily. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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on July 23, 2014
I do not come from a Catholic background, in fact, was a pastor serving an Evangelical Protestant denomination for 17 years. The Holy Longing was given to me by a friend and then sat on my self for 2 years. At the right time, I picked up the book and began to read. Ron Rolheiser has speaks to the spiritual realities behind their external expressions. So many times throughout the book I found myself saying, "yes, this is what I've been trying to say," or when reading the chapter "The Spirituality of Sexuality with my wife, "oh if only someone had explained it like this when I was younger." Rolheiser is well versed in literature, philosophy, psychology as well as theology and brings a wealth of knowledge to the spiritual journey in a warm and accessible way. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to make the inward journey that moves beyond knowing and accumulating information ABOUT God, to actually EXPERIENCING his love as life.
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on September 21, 2001
After reading _The Broken Lantern_, I was eager to read this book as well. It offers some valuable insights, and I think Rolheiser's discussion of the need to accept what might be called "the tension of the unresolved" in human experience is especially beneficial. However, when Rolheiser tries to apply this idea to human sexuality, it doesn't quite ring true--and borders on the prudish. Rolheiser spends a great deal of time in this book talking about sex, so I feel the need to respond to this issue more directly. While I would never question an individual call to celebicy, I cannot see (unless such a special call has been placed upon your life) that a valiant fight to resist the sexual urge and live with the (I would think, extreme) tension this produces to be especially enobling to the average person. It almost seems a kind of spiritual arrogance and a denial of one's humanity. We are creatures of the earth. Why has this aspect of our earthiness been singled out by the church as an obstacle to spiritual growth? While casual sex, promiscuity, and sexual addiction are problematic, and sex is to be approached with a high degree of respect and accountability, it seems to me that sex should be regarded--not only as some unearthly yet physical attempt to achieve spiritual unity with another--but also as a very earthy physical outlet--a brief moment of release, if you will--for the inevitable tension that the spiritually mature person must accept in other areas of his or her life. Restricting our sexual choices to marriage or celibacy seems downright Puritanical to me. These rules might have made sense in an earlier time (perhaps they still make sense to the Catholic church, which for some odd reason bans birth control), but I think it is possible for a spiritually mature person to have a healthy sex life outside of marriage. And I see no especial spiritual benefit to setting out for the sun with our wax-sealed wings, for we shall only find ourselves firmly planted on the earth again (as the story of the priest's struggle with masturbation illustrates). To be human is to be sexual. If you wish to get in touch with your spirit, you must first embrace your humanity. On another note, Rolheiser's repeated use of the phrase "if this is true, and it is..." seems cute at first but becomes downright annoying by the end of the book. Criticisms aside, this book does have a lot to offer; and I benefitted greatly from reading it.
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on December 2, 1999
This is the most inspirational--and challenging--book I've read in this or any year. This book is full of practical advice for increasing the spirituality of both the individual and the church. While Rolheiser is a Catholic priest, the issues he discusses are relevant to all Christians. His ideas on the concept of community I found especially thought-provoking with regard both to church and family. They provide useful ways of maintaining the focus on God even in the loud, messy chaos of everyday life and for worshipping with a community of believers, all of which you might not choose to associate with in other circumstances. Rolheiser's chapter on Christian sexuality as energy can be inspirational for both single individuals and those who are married or in other relationships. I would highly recommend this book for individual study or group discussion among thoughtful Christians of all denominations.
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on September 7, 1999
This is easily one of the best pieces of writing about Christianity that I've seen come down the pike in a long time. A sharp and engaging reflection on Christian spirituality which steers clear of both the vague, New Agey blather and humorless Evangelicalism filling Christianity sections of bookstores these days. Rolheiser is a Catholic priest, but the book is written with a wide audience in mind, and should be quite appealing to people who, like myself, come from another Christian tradition. The fact that I took issue with some of Rolheiser's arguments only increased my admiration for the book since it simply encouraged more reflection and never caused me to stop reading on. I heartily recommend this book to anyone looking for thoughtful guidance on what living an authentic Christian spirituality actually involves.
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on June 7, 2000
Rolheiser does an amazing job of taking the reader on a journey of spirituality. He carefully crafted the book to help the reader understand the fundamentals of a solid Christian spirituality. Though clearly written from a Roman Catholic perspective, the writing and insight is so helpful that any Christian would benefit from it. This book will truly help one's reach expand his grasp spiritually.
The man who recommended this to me is brilliant for recognizing it as the best book on Catholic spirituality he had read in the last ten years.
This is the kind of book that starts great discussion groups and leads them to the formation of a community.
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on December 26, 1999
I am a former Christian and have been on a spiritual journey for some time. I have been looking for a way to redefine my faith, to recommit to at least some of the Christian tenets I rejected years ago. Nothing I read helped me; authors (including C.S. Lewis, among others) all seem to assume that their readers share their faith. But in Rolheiser's book his first line says it all: "This is a book for you if you are struggling spiritually." I was struggling before I read the book, and I still am, but Rolheiser has helped me understand what the struggle is about. This is a book that can be read with benefit by believers and nonbelievers alike.
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on August 9, 2001
Hey, we all struggle with spirituality. That's the point, what makes it dynamic. I savor this book in the same way I enjoyed both the distilled eclectic teachings of Joe Campbell in Power of Myth, and the philosophical treatise on Quality in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. What separates Holy Longing is the individual challenge and intensely personal struggle of at-one-ment in embracing the God within. It's plain-spoken, matter-of-fact and in your face. If the soul is an unquenchable fire, this book throws gasoline on it and fans the flames. Loved it.
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on October 25, 2000
Ronald Rolheiser's book starts where books on spirituality should start, outside any specific religious tradition. He very carefully describes what it means to be spiritual (everyone is spiritual) and what a healthy and unhealthy spirit look like. From this universal starting point he describes how the Christian path can foster a healthy spirituality of life in balance. Although he writes as a Roman Catholic, this is not a book on Roman Catholic spirituality; he is careful to make it a book on Christian spirituality, defined broadly.
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