Can anything good come from Okarche Oklahoma?

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
It is not enough merely to have saints; we need saints for our times! An insightful comment from Simone Weil. The saints of old have much to offer; but we look at their goodness, faith, and selflessness and find it easier to admire them than to imitate them. Their lives and their circumstances seem so removed from our own that we easily distance ourselves from them.
So, I would like to propose a saint for our times, Stanley Rother (1935-1981), an Oklahoma farm boy who became a missionary with the poor in Atitlan, Guatemala, and eventually died a martyr. His life and his struggles (save perhaps for his extraordinary courage at the end) are something to which we can easily relate.

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Who is Stanley Rother? He was a priest from Oklahoma who was shot to death in Guatemala in 1981. He has been beatified as a martyr and is soon to become the first male born in the United States to be canonized. Here, in brief, is his story.
Stanley Rother was born to a farming family in Okarche, Oklahoma, the oldest of four children. He grew up helping work the family farm and for the rest of his life and ministry he remained forever the farmer more than the scholar. Growing up and working with his family, he was more at home tilling the soil, fixing engines and digging wells than he was reading Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. This would serve him well in his work with the poor as a missionary, though it served him less well when he first set out to study for the priesthood.
His initial years in the seminary were a struggle. Trying to study philosophy (in Latin) as a preparation for his theological studies proved a bit too much for him. After a couple of years, the seminary staff advised him to leave, telling him that he lacked the academic abilities to study for the priesthood. Returning to the farm, he sought the advice of his bishop and was eventually sent to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland. While he didn’t exactly thrive there academically, he thrived there in other ways, ways that impressed the seminary staff enough that they recommended him for ordination.
Back in his own diocese, he spent the first years of his priesthood mostly doing manual work, redoing an abandoned property that the diocese had inherited and turning it into a functioning renewal center. Then, in 1978, he was invited to join a diocesan mission team that had begun a mission in Guatemala. Everything in his background and personality now served to make him ideal for this type of work and, ironically, he, who once struggled to learn Latin, was now able to learn the difficult language of the people he worked with (Tz’utujil) and become one of the people who helped develop its written alphabet, vocabulary and grammar. He ministered to the people sacramentally, but he also reached out to them personally, helping them farm, finding resources to help them and occasionally giving them money out of his own pocket. Eventually he became their trusted friend and leader.
However, not everything was that idyllic. The political situation in the country was radically deteriorating, violence was everywhere and anyone perceived to be in opposition to the government faced the possibility of intimidation, disappearance, torture and death. Stanley tried to remain apolitical, but simply working with the poor was seen as being political. As well, at a point, a number of his own catechists were tortured and killed and, not surprisingly, he found himself on a death list and was hustled out of the country for his own safety. For three months, back with his family in Oklahoma, he agonized about whether to return to Guatemala, knowing that it meant almost certain death. The decision was especially difficult because, while clearly he felt called to return to Guatemala, he worried about what his death there would mean to his elderly parents.
He made the decision to return to Guatemala, fired by Jesus’ saying that the shepherd doesn’t run when the sheep are in danger. Four months later, he was shot to death in the missionary compound within which he lived, fighting to the end with his attackers not to be taken alive and made “to disappear.” Instantly, he was recognized as a martyr and when his body was flown back to Oklahoma for burial, the community in Atitlan kept his heart and turned the room in which he was martyred into a chapel.
A number of books have been written about him and I highly recommend two of them. For a substantial biographical account, read Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda, The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run. For a hagiographical tribute to him read Henri Nouwen, Love in a Fearful Land.
We have patron saints for every cause and occasion. For whom or for what might Stanley Rother be considered a patron saint? For all of us ordinary people of whom circumstance at times asks for an exceptional courage.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher and award-winning author. He can be contacted through his website

Celebrating fifty years of ordination

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Fifty years ago, on an overcast, cold, fall day in the gymnasium of the local public high school, I was ordained to the priesthood. Beyond the grey sky, another thing marked the event. This was a tender season for my family and me. Both our parents had died (and died young) within a year and a half just prior to this and we were still somewhat fragile of heart. In that setting, I was ordained a priest.

Within the few words allowed in a short column, what do I most want to say as I mark the fiftieth anniversary of that day? I will borrow from the novelist Morris West, who begins his autobiography this way: When you reach the age of seventy-five, there should only be three phrases left in your vocabulary, thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

I just turned seventy-five and reflecting on fifty years of priesthood, many thoughts and feelings come to mind; life, after all, has its seasons. However, the feeling that overrides all others is that of gratitude, thank you, thank you, and thank you! Thank you to God, to grace, to the church, to my family, to the Oblates, to the many friends who have loved and supported me, to the wonderful schools I have taught in, and to the thousands of people I have encountered in those fifty years of ministry.

My initial call to the priesthood and the Oblate congregation was not the stuff of romance. I didn’t enter religious life and the seminary because I was attracted to it. The opposite. This was not what I wanted. But I felt called, strongly and clearly, and at the tender age of seventeen made the decision to enter religious life. Today, people may well raise questions about the wisdom and freedom of such a decision at age seventeen, but looking back all these years later, I can honestly say that this is the clearest, purest, and most unselfish decision that I have yet made in my life. I have no regrets. I wouldn’t have chosen this life except for a strong call that I initially tried to resist; and, knowing myself as I do, it is by far the most life-giving choice that I possibly could have made. I say this because, knowing myself and knowing my wounds, I know too that I would not have been nearly as generative (nor as happy) in any other state in life. I nurse some deep wounds, not moral ones, but wounds of the heart, and those very wounds have been, thanks to the grace of God, a source of fruitfulness in my ministry.

Moreover, I have been blessed in the ministries that have been assigned to me. As a seminarian, I dreamed of being a parish priest, but that was never to be. Immediately after ordination, I was sent to do graduate studies in theology and then taught theology at various seminaries and theology schools for most of these fifty years, save for twelve years that I served as a provincial superior of my local Oblate community and on the Oblate General Council in Rome. I loved teaching! I was meant to be a religious teacher and religious writer and so my ministry, all of it, has been very satisfying. My hope is that it has been generative for others.

In addition, I have been blessed by the Oblate communities within which I lived. My ministry usually had me living in larger Oblate communities and through these fifty years, I estimate that I have lived in community with well over three hundred different men. That’s a rich experience. Moreover, I have always lived in healthy, robust, caring, supportive, and intellectually challenging communities that gave me the spiritual and human family I needed. There were tensions at times, but those tensions were never not life giving. Religious community is unique, sui generis. It isn’t family in the emotional or psychosexual sense, but family that is rooted in something deeper than biology and attraction – faith.

There have been struggles of course, not least with the emotional issues around celibacy and living inside a loneliness which (as Merton once said) God, himself, condemned. It is not good for someone to be alone! It is here too where my Oblate religious community has been an anchor. Vowed celibacy can be lived and can be fruitful, though not without community support.

Let me end with a comment that I once heard from a priest who was celebrating his eighty-fifth birthday and his sixtieth anniversary of ordination. Asked how he felt about it all, he said, “It wasn’t always easy! There were some bitter, lonely times. Everyone in my ordination class left the priesthood, every one of them, and I was tempted too. But I stayed and now, looking back after sixty years, I’m pretty happy with the way my life turned out!”

That sums up my feelings too after fifty years – I’m pretty happy with the way it has turned out – and deeply, deeply grateful.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher and award-winning author. He can be contacted through his website

Cincuenta Años de ordenado como Sacerdote

Por Padre Ron Rolheiser
Hace cincuenta años, en un día nublado y frío de otoño en el gimnasio de la escuela secundaria pública local, fui ordenado sacerdote. Más allá del cielo gris, otra cosa marcó el evento. Esta fue una temporada tierna para mi familia y para mí. Nuestros padres habían muerto, y murieron jóvenes un año y medio antes de esto, y todavía éramos un poco frágiles de corazón. En ese ambiente, fui ordenado sacerdote.
Dentro de las pocas palabras permitidas en una breve columna, ¿qué es lo que más quiero decir al conmemorar el quincuagésimo aniversario de ese día? Tomaré prestado del novelista Morris West, quien comienza su autobiografía de esta manera: Cuando llegas a la edad de setenta y cinco años, solo deben quedar tres frases en tu vocabulario, ¡gracias, gracias y gracias!

Padre Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Recién cumplí setenta y cinco años y reflexionando sobre cincuenta años de sacerdocio, me vienen a la mente muchos pensamientos y sentimientos; la vida, después de todo, tiene sus estaciones. Sin embargo, el sentimiento que prevalece sobre todos los demás es el de gratitud, ¡gracias, gracias y gracias! Gracias a Dios, a la gracia, a la iglesia, a mi familia, a los Oblatos, a los muchos amigos que me han amado y apoyado, a las maravillosas escuelas en las que he enseñado y a las miles de personas con las que me he encontrado en esos cincuenta años de ministerio.

Mi llamado inicial al sacerdocio ya la congregación de los Oblatos no fue materia de romance. No entré a la vida religiosa y al seminario porque me atrajera. Lo contrario. Esto no era lo que yo quería. Pero me sentí llamado, fuerte y claramente, ya la tierna edad de diecisiete años tomé la decisión de entrar en la vida religiosa. Hoy en día, es posible que la gente plantee preguntas sobre la sabiduría y la libertad de tal decisión a los diecisiete años, pero mirando hacia atrás todos estos años después, puedo decir honestamente que esta es la decisión más clara, pura y desinteresada que he tomado hasta ahora. mi vida. No tengo excusas. No habría elegido esta vida excepto por una fuerte llamada que inicialmente traté de resistir; y, conociéndome a mí mismo como me conozco, es, con mucho, la elección más vivificante que podría haber hecho. Digo esto porque, conociéndome a mí mismo y conociendo mis heridas, sé también que no habría sido tan generativo, ni tan feliz, en ningún otro estado de la vida. Tengo algunas heridas profundas, no morales, sino del corazón, y esas mismas heridas han sido, gracias a la gracia de Dios, fuente de fecundidad en mi ministerio.

De seminarista, soñaba con ser párroco, pero nunca fue así. Inmediatamente después de la ordenación, me enviaron a hacer estudios de posgrado en teología y luego enseñé teología en varios seminarios y escuelas de teología durante la mayor parte de estos cincuenta años, excepto durante doce años en los que serví como superior provincial de mi comunidad oblata local y en la comunidad oblata del Consejo General en Roma. ¡Me encantaba enseñar! Estaba destinado a ser un maestro religioso y un escritor religioso, por lo que mi ministerio, en su totalidad, ha sido muy satisfactorio. Mi esperanza es que haya sido generativo para otros.

Además, he sido bendecido por las comunidades oblatas en las que viví. Mi ministerio generalmente me hizo vivir en comunidades oblatas más grandes y a lo largo de estos cincuenta años, calculo que he vivido en comunidad con más de trescientos hombres diferentes. Esa es una rica experiencia. Además, siempre he vivido en comunidades sanas, robustas, afectuosas, solidarias e intelectualmente desafiantes que me dieron la familia espiritual y humana que necesitaba. A veces hubo tensiones, pero esas tensiones nunca dejaron de dar vida. La comunidad religiosa es única, sui generis. No es la familia en el sentido emocional o psicosexual, sino la familia que tiene sus raíces en algo más profundo que la biología y la atracción: la fe. Ha habido luchas, por supuesto, sobre todo con los problemas emocionales en torno al celibato y vivir dentro de una soledad que, como dijo una vez Merton, Dios mismo condenó. ¡No es bueno que alguien esté solo! Es aquí también donde mi comunidad religiosa oblata ha sido un ancla. El celibato por votos se puede vivir y ser fructífero, aunque no sin el apoyo de la comunidad.

Permítanme terminar con un comentario que escuché una vez de un sacerdote que estaba celebrando su ochenta y cinco cumpleaños y su sexagésimo aniversario de ordenación. Cuando se le preguntó cómo se sentía al respecto, dijo: “¡No siempre fue fácil! Hubo algunos momentos amargos y solitarios. Todos en mi clase de ordenación dejaron el sacerdocio, todos ellos, y yo también fui tentado. Pero me quedé y, ahora, mirando hacia atrás después de sesenta años, ¡estoy muy feliz con la forma en que resultó mi vida!

Eso resume mis sentimientos también después de cincuenta años: estoy bastante feliz con la forma en que ha resultado, y muy, muy agradecido.

(El padre oblato Ron Rolheiser es teólogo, maestro y autor galardonado. Se le puede contactar a través de su sitio web Ahora en Facebook

How to pray when we don’t feel like it

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

If we only prayed when we felt like it, we wouldn’t pray a lot.

Enthusiasm, good feelings and fervor will not sustain anyone’s prayer life for long, goodwill and firm intention notwithstanding. Our hearts and minds are complex and promiscuous, wild horses frolicking to their own tunes, with prayer frequently not on their agenda. The renowned mystic, John of the Cross teaches that, after an initial period of fervor in prayer, we will spend the bulk of our years struggling to pray discursively, dealing with boredom and distraction. So, the question becomes, how do we pray at those times when we are tired, distracted, bored, disinterested, and nursing a thousand other things in our heads and in our hearts? How do we pray when little inside us wants to pray? Especially, how do we pray at those moments when we have a positive distaste for prayer?

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Monks have secrets worth knowing. The first secret we need to learn from them is the central place of ritual is sustaining a prayer-life. Monks pray a lot and regularly, but they never try to sustain their prayer on the basis of feelings. They sustain it through ritual. Monks pray together seven or eight times a day ritually. They gather in chapel and pray the ritual offices of the church (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Vespers, Compline) or they celebrate the Eucharist together. They don’t always go there because they feel like it, they come because they are called to prayer, and then, with their hearts and minds perhaps less than enthusiastic about praying, they pray through the deepest part of themselves, their intention and their will.

In the rule that St. Benedict wrote for monastic life there’s an oft-quoted phrase. A monk’s life, he writes, is to be ruled by the monastic bell. When the monastic bell rings, the monk is immediately to drop whatever he is doing and go to whatever that summons is calling him to, not because he wants to, but because it is time, and time is not our time, it’s God’s time. That’s a valuable secret, particularly as it applies to prayer. We need to go pray regularly, not because we want to, but because it’s time, and when we can’t pray with our hearts and minds, we can still pray through our wills and through our bodies.

Yes, our bodies! We tend to forget that we are not disincarnate angels, pure heart and mind. We are also a body. Thus, when heart and mind struggle to engage in prayer, we can always still pray with our bodies. Classically, we have tried to do this through certain physical gestures and postures (making the sign of the cross, kneeling, raising our hands, joining hands, genuflection, prostration) and we should never underestimate or denigrate the importance of these bodily gestures. Simply put, when we can’t pray in any other way, we can still pray through our bodies. (And who is to say that a sincere bodily gesture is inferior as a prayer to a gesture of the heart or mind?) Personally, I much admire a particular bodily gesture, bowing down with one’s head to the floor which Muslims do in their prayer. To do that is to have your body say to God, “Irrespective of whatever’s on my mind and in my heart right now, I submit to your omnipotence, your holiness, your love.” Whenever I do meditative prayer alone, normally I end it with this gesture.

Sometimes spiritual writers, catechists, and liturgists have failed us by not making it clear that prayer has different stages – and that affectivity, enthusiasm, fervor are only one stage, and the neophyte stage at that. As the great doctors and mystics of spirituality have universally taught, prayer, like love, goes through three phases. First comes fervor and enthusiasm; next comes the waning of fervor along with dryness and boredom, and finally comes proficiency, an ease, a certain sense of being at home in prayer that does not depend on affectivity and fervor but on a commitment to be present, irrespective of affective feeling.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer used to say this to a couple when officiating at their marriage. Today you are very much in love and believe that your love will sustain your marriage. It won’t. Let your marriage [which is a ritual container] sustain your love. The same can be said about prayer. Fervor and enthusiasm will not sustain your prayer, but ritual can. When we struggle to pray with our minds and our hearts, we can still always pray through our wills and our bodies. Showing up can be prayer enough.

In a recent book, Dearest Sister Wendy, Robert Ellsberg quotes a comment by Michael Leach, who said this in relation to what he was experiencing in having to care long-term for his wife suffering from Alzheimer’s. Falling in love is the easy part; learning to love is the hard part; and living in love is the best part. True too for prayer.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher and award-winning author. He can be contacted through his website

Cómo orar cuando no tenemos ganas

Por Ron Rolheiser

Si solo oráramos cuando quisiéramos, no oraríamos mucho.

El entusiasmo, los buenos sentimientos y el fervor no sostendrán la vida de oración de nadie por mucho tiempo, a pesar de la buena voluntad y la firme intención.

Padre Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Nuestros corazones y mentes son complejos y promiscuos, caballos salvajes que retozan a su propio ritmo, con la oración frecuentemente fuera de su agenda. El renombrado místico Juan de la Cruz enseña que, después de un período inicial de fervor en la oración, pasaremos la mayor parte de nuestros años luchando por orar discursivamente, lidiando con el aburrimiento y la distracción.

Entonces, la pregunta es, ¿cómo oramos en esos momentos en que estamos cansados, distraídos, aburridos, desinteresados ​​y amamantando mil cosas más en nuestra cabeza y en nuestro corazón? ¿Cómo oramos cuando lo pequeño dentro de nosotros quiere orar? Especialmente, ¿cómo oramos en esos momentos cuando tenemos un disgusto positivo por la oración?

Los monjes tienen secretos que vale la pena conocer. El primer secreto que debemos aprender de ellos es que el lugar central del ritual es mantener una vida de oración. Los monjes rezan mucho y con regularidad, pero nunca intentan sostener su oración sobre la base de los sentimientos. Lo sostienen a través del ritual.

Los monjes rezan juntos siete u ocho veces al día ritualmente. Se reúnen en la capilla y rezan los oficios rituales de la iglesia (maitines, laudes, prima, tercia, sexta, vísperas, completas) o celebran juntos la eucaristía. No siempre van allí porque les da la gana, vienen porque son llamados a la oración, y luego, con el corazón y la mente tal vez menos entusiasmados con la oración, oran desde lo más profundo de sí mismos, su intención y su voluntad.

En la regla que San Benito escribió para la vida monástica, hay una frase muy citada. La vida de un monje escribe, debe regirse por la campana monástica. Cuando suena la campana monástica, el monje inmediatamente debe dejar lo que esté haciendo y dirigirse a lo que sea que lo llame, no porque quiera, sino porque es el tiempo, y el tiempo no es nuestro tiempo, es el tiempo de Dios. Ese es un secreto valioso, particularmente en lo que se refiere a la oración.

Necesitamos ir a orar con regularidad, no porque queramos, sino porque es el momento, y cuando no podemos orar con el corazón y la mente, aún podemos orar a través de nuestra voluntad y a través de nuestro cuerpo.

¡Sí, nuestros cuerpos!

Tendemos a olvidar que no somos ángeles desencarnados, con corazones y mentes puras. También somos un cuerpo. Por lo tanto, cuando los corazones y las mentes luchan por participar en la oración, siempre podemos orar con nuestros cuerpos.

Clásicamente, hemos tratado de hacerlo a través de ciertos gestos y posturas físicas (hacer la señal de la cruz, arrodillarse, levantar las manos, juntar las manos, genuflexión, postración) y nunca debemos subestimar o denigrar la importancia de estos gestos corporales.

En pocas palabras, cuando no podemos orar de otra manera, aún podemos orar a través de nuestros cuerpos. ¿Y quién puede decir que un gesto corporal sincero es inferior a la oración a un gesto del corazón o de la mente?

Personalmente, admiro mucho un gesto corporal en particular, inclinar la cabeza hacia el suelo que hacen los musulmanes en su oración. Hacer eso es hacer que tu cuerpo le diga a Dios: “Independientemente de lo que esté en mi mente y en mi corazón en este momento, me someto a tu omnipotencia, tu santidad, tu amor.”

Siempre que hago la oración meditativa solo, normalmente la termino con este gesto. A veces, los escritores espirituales, los catequistas y los liturgistas nos han fallado al no dejar claro que la oración tiene diferentes etapas, y que la afectividad, el entusiasmo y el fervor son solo una etapa y la etapa neófita.

Como han enseñado universalmente los grandes doctores y místicos de la espiritualidad, la oración, como el amor, pasa por tres fases.

Primero viene el fervor y el entusiasmo; luego viene el decaimiento del fervor junto con la sequedad y el hastío y finalmente viene la pericia, la soltura y un cierto sentido de estar en casa en la oración que no depende de la afectividad y el fervor sino del compromiso de estar presente, independientemente del sentimiento afectivo.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer solía decirle esto a una pareja cuando oficiaba su matrimonio. Hoy estás muy enamorado y crees que tu amor sostendrá tu matrimonio. no lo hará Deja que tu matrimonio [que es un contenedor ritual] sostenga tu amor.

Lo mismo puede decirse de la oración. El fervor y el entusiasmo no sostendrán su oración, pero el ritual sí. Cuando luchamos por orar con nuestra mente y nuestro corazón, siempre podemos orar a través de nuestra voluntad y nuestro cuerpo. Presentarse puede ser oración suficiente. En un libro reciente, Dearest Sister Wendy, Robert Ellsberg cita un comentario de Michael Leach, quien dijo esto en relación con lo que estaba experimentando al tener que cuidar a largo plazo de su esposa que padecía Alzheimer.

Enamorarse es la parte fácil; aprender a amar es la parte difícil y vivir enamorado es la mejor parte.

Esto es cierto también para la oración.

(El padre oblato Ron Rolheiser es teólogo, maestro y autor galardonado. Se le puede contactar a través de su sitio web Facebook

Escribiendo tu propio obituario

Por Ron Rolheiser

Llega un momento en la vida en el que es hora de dejar de escribir tu currículum y comenzar a escribir tu obituario. No estoy seguro de quién acuñó esa línea por primera vez, pero hay sabiduría en ella.

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre un currículum y un obituario?

Bueno, el primero detalla tus logros, el segundo expresa cómo quieres ser recordado y qué tipo de oxígeno y bendición quieres dejar atrás. Pero, ¿cómo escribe exactamente un obituario para que no sea, en efecto, solo otra versión de su currículum? Aquí hay una sugerencia.

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Hay una costumbre en el judaísmo en la que, como adulto, haces un testamento espiritual cada año. Originalmente, este testamento estaba más en línea con el tipo de testamento que normalmente hacemos, donde el enfoque está en las instrucciones de entierro, en quién recibe qué cuando morimos y en cómo legal y prácticamente atar los detalles inacabados de nuestras vidas.

Con el tiempo, sin embargo, esto evolucionó para que hoy esta voluntad se centre más en una revisión de su vida, el resaltar lo que ha sido más preciado en su vida, la expresión honesta de arrepentimientos y disculpas, y la bendición, por nombre, de aquellas personas a las que quieras despedir de manera especial.

El testamento se revisa y renueva cada año para que esté siempre actualizado y se lee en voz alta en su funeral como las últimas palabras que desea dejar para sus seres queridos.

Este puede ser un ejercicio muy útil para cada uno de nosotros, excepto que tal testamento no se hace en la oficina de un abogado, sino en oración, tal vez con la ayuda de un director espiritual, un consejero o un confesor. Muy prácticamente, ¿qué podría incluirse en un testamento espiritual de este tipo?

Si está buscando ayuda para hacer esto, le recomiendo el trabajo y los escritos de Richard Groves, el cofundador del Sacred Art of Living Center. Ha estado trabajando en el campo de la espiritualidad al final de la vida durante más de treinta años y ofrece una guía muy útil para crear un testamento espiritual y renovarlo regularmente. Se centra en tres preguntas.

Primero: ¿Qué quería Dios que yo hiciera en la vida? ¿Lo hice? Todos nosotros tenemos algún sentido de tener una vocación, de tener un propósito para estar en este mundo, de haber recibido alguna tarea para cumplir en la vida. Tal vez solo seamos vagamente conscientes de esto, pero, en algún nivel del alma, todos sentimos cierto deber y propósito. La primera tarea en una voluntad espiritual es tratar de enfrentarse a eso. ¿Qué quería Dios que hiciera en esta vida? ¿Qué tan bien o mal lo he estado haciendo?

Segundo: ¿A quién debo decir “lo siento”? ¿Cuáles son mis arrepentimientos? Así como otros nos han lastimado, nosotros hemos lastimado a otros. A menos que muramos muy jóvenes, todos hemos cometido errores, lastimado a otros y hecho cosas de las que nos arrepentimos. Una voluntad espiritual está destinada a abordar esto con una honestidad abrasadora y una contrición profunda. Nunca somos más generosos, nobles, devotos y merecedores de respeto que cuando nos arrodillamos reconociendo sinceramente nuestras debilidades, disculpándonos, preguntando dónde debemos hacer las paces.

Tercero: ¿A quién, muy específicamente, por nombre, quiero bendecir antes de morir y regalarle un poco de oxígeno especial? Somos más como Dios (infundiendo energía divina en la vida) cuando admiramos a los demás, los afirmamos y les ofrecemos todo lo que podemos de nuestras propias vidas como una ayuda para ellos. Nuestra tarea es hacer esto para todos, pero no podemos hacerlo para todos, individualmente, por su nombre. En un testamento espiritual, se nos da la oportunidad de nombrar a aquellas personas que más queremos bendecir.

Cuando el profeta Elías agonizaba, su siervo Eliseo le rogó que le dejara “doble porción” de su espíritu. Cuando morimos, estamos destinados a dejar nuestro espíritu atrás como sustento para todos; pero hay algunas personas, a las que queremos nombrar, a las que queremos dejar una doble porción. En este testamento nombramos a esas personas.

En un libro maravillosamente desafiante, “Las cuatro cosas que más importan,” de Ira Byock, un médico que trabaja con los moribundos, afirma que hay cuatro cosas que debemos decirles a nuestros seres queridos antes de morir: “Por favor, perdóname”, “ Te perdono”, “Gracias” y “Te amo”.

 Él tiene razón; pero, dadas las contingencias, tensiones, heridas, angustias y altibajos en nuestras relaciones, incluso con aquellos a quienes amamos mucho, no siempre es fácil (o, a veces, incluso existencialmente posible) decir esas palabras claramente, sin ningún equívoco.

Una voluntad espiritual nos da la oportunidad de decirlas desde un lugar que podemos crear más allá de las tensiones que generalmente nublan nuestras relaciones y nos impiden hablar con claridad, para que en nuestro funeral, después del elogio, no quede ningún asunto pendiente. con los que hemos dejado atrás.

(El padre oblato Ron Rolheiser es teólogo, maestro y autor galardonado. Se le puede contactar a través de su sitio web y

Writing your own obituary

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

There comes a time in life when it’s time to stop writing your resume and begin to write your obituary. I’m not sure who first coined that line, but there’s wisdom in it.

What’s the difference between a resume and an obituary? Well, the former details your achievements, the latter expresses how you want to be remembered and what kind of oxygen and blessing you want to leave behind. But, how exactly do you write an obituary so that it’s not, in effect, just another version of your resume? Here’s a suggestion.

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

There’s a custom in Judaism where as an adult you make out a spiritual will each year. Originally, this will was more in line with the type of will we typically make, where the focus is on burial instructions, on who gets what when we die, and on how to legally and practically tie up the unfinished details of our lives. Through time, however, this evolved so that today this will is focused more on a review of your life, the highlighting of what’s been most precious in your life, the honest expression of regrets and apologies, and the blessing, by name, of those persons to whom you want to say a special goodbye. The will is reviewed and renewed each year so that it is always current, and it’s read aloud at your funeral as the final words you want to leave behind for your loved ones.

This can be a very helpful exercise for each of us to do, except that such a will is not done in a lawyer’s office, but in prayer, perhaps with a spiritual director, a counsellor, or a confessor helping us. Very practically, what might go into a spiritual will of this sort?

If you are looking for help in doing this, I recommend the work and the writings of Richard Groves, the co-founder of the Sacred Art of Living Center. He has been working in the field of end-of-life spirituality for more than thirty years and offers some very helpful guidance vis-à-vis creating a spiritual will and renewing it regularly. It focus on three questions.

First: What, in life, did God want me to do? Did I do it? All of us have some sense of having a vocation, of having a purpose for being in this world, of having been given some task to fulfill in life. Perhaps we might only be dimly aware of this, but, at some level of soul, all of us sense a certain duty and purpose. The first task in a spiritual will is to try to come to grips with that. What did God want me to do in this life? How well or poorly have I been doing it?

Second: To whom do I need to say, “I’m sorry?” What are my regrets? Just as others have hurt us, we have hurt others. Unless we die very young, all of us have made mistakes, hurt others and done things we regret. A spiritual will is meant to address this with searing honesty and deep contrition. We are never more big-hearted, noble, prayerful, and deserving of respect than when we are down on our knees sincerely recognizing our weaknesses, apologizing, asking where we need to make amends.

Third: Who, very specifically, by name, do I want to bless before I die and gift with some special oxygen? We are most like God (infusing divine energy into life) when we are admiring others, affirming them, and offering them whatever we can from our own lives as a help to them in theirs. Our task is to do this for everyone, but we cannot do this for everyone, individually, by name. In a spiritual will, we are given the chance to name those people we most want to bless. When the prophet Elijah was dying, his servant, Elisha, begged him to leave him “a double portion” of his spirit. When we die, we’re meant to leave our spirit behind as sustenance for everyone; but there are some people, whom we want to name, to whom we want to leave a double portion. In this will, we name those people.

In a wonderfully challenging book, The Four Things That Matter Most, Ira Byock, a medical doctor who works with the dying, submits that there are four things we need to say to our loved ones before we die: “Please forgive me,” “I forgive you,” “Thank you,” and “I love you.” He’s right; but, given the contingencies, tensions, wounds, heartaches, and ups and downs within our relationships, even with those we love dearly, it isn’t always easy (or sometimes even existentially possible) to say those words clearly, without any equivocation. A spiritual will gives us the chance to say them from a place that we can create which is beyond the tensions that generally cloud our relationships and prevent us from speaking clearly, so that at our funeral, after the eulogy, we will have no unfinished business with those we have left behind.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher and award-winning author. He can be contacted through his website

On being jealous of God’s generosity

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

“The cock will crow at the breaking of your own ego – there are lots of ways to wake up!”
John Shea gave me those words and I understood them a little better recently as I stood in line at an airport: I had checked in for a flight, approached security, saw a huge lineup, and accepted the fact that it would take at least 40 minutes to get through it.

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

I was all right with the long wait and moved patiently in the line – until, just as my turn came, another security crew arrived, opened a second scanning machine, and a whole lineup of people, behind me, who had not waited the forty minutes, got their turns almost immediately. I still got my turn as I would have before, but something inside of me felt slighted and angry: “This wasn’t fair! I’d been waiting for forty minutes, and they got their turns at the same time as I did!” I had been content waiting, until those who arrived later didn’t have to wait at all. I hadn’t been treated unfairly, but some others had been luckier than I’d been.

That experience taught me something, beyond the fact that my heart isn’t always huge and generous. It helped me understand something about Jesus’ parable concerning the workers who came at the 11th hour and received the same wages as those who’d worked all day and what is meant by the challenge that is given to those who grumbled about the unfairness of this: “Are you envious because I’m generous?”

Are we jealous because God is generous? Does it bother us when others are given unmerited gifts and forgiveness?

You bet! Ultimately, that sense of injustice, of envy that someone else caught a break is a huge stumbling block to our happiness. Why? Because something in us reacts negatively when it seems that life is not making others pay the same dues as we are paying.

In the Gospels we see an incident where Jesus goes to the synagogue on a Sabbath, stands up to read, and quotes a text from Isaiah – except he doesn’t quote it fully but omits a part. The text (Isaiah 61:1-2) would have been well known to his listeners and it describes Isaiah’s vision of what will be the sign that God has finally broken into the world and irrevocably changed things. And what will that be?

For Isaiah, the sign that God is now ruling the earth will be good news for the poor, consolation or the broken-hearted, freedom for the enslaved, grace abundant for everyone, and vengeance on the wicked. Notice though, when Jesus quotes this, he leaves out the part about vengeance. Unlike Isaiah, he doesn’t say that part of our joy will be seeing the wicked punished.

In heaven we will be given what we are owed and more (unmerited gift, forgiveness we don’t deserve, joy beyond imagining) but, it seems, we will not be given that catharsis we so much want here on earth, the joy of seeing the wicked punished.

The joys of heaven will not include seeing Hitler suffer. Indeed, the natural itch we have for strict justice (“An eye for an eye”) is exactly that, a natural itch, something the Gospels invite us beyond. The desire for strict justice blocks our capacity for forgiveness and thereby prevents us from entering heaven where God, like the Father of the Prodigal Son, embraces and forgives without demanding a pound of flesh for a pound of sin.

We know we need God’s mercy, but if grace is true for us, it must be true for everyone; if forgiveness is given us, it must be given everybody; and if God does not avenge our misdeeds, God must not avenge the misdeeds of others either. Such is the logic of grace, and such is the love of the God to whom we must attune ourselves.

Happiness is not about vengeance, but about forgiveness; not about vindication, but about unmerited embrace; and not about capital punishment, but about living beyond even murder.

It is not surprising that, in some of the great saints, we see a theology bordering on universalism, namely, the belief that in the end God will save everyone, even the Hitlers. They believed this not because they didn’t believe in hell or the possibility of forever excluding ourselves from God, but because they believed that God’s love is so universal, so powerful, and so inviting that, ultimately, even those in hell will see the error of their ways, swallow their pride, and give themselves over to love. The final triumph of God, they felt, will be when the devil himself converts and hell is empty.

Maybe that will never happen. God leaves us free. Nevertheless, when I, or anyone else, is upset at an airport, at a parole board hearing, or anywhere else where someone gets something we don’t think he or she deserves, we have to accept that we’re still a long way from understanding and accepting the kingdom of God.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher and award-winning author. He can be contacted through his website

Ser Celoso de la Generosidad de Dios

Por Ron Rolheiser
“El gallo cantará cuando se rompa tu propio ego, ¡hay muchas maneras de despertar!”

John Shea me dijo esas palabras y las entendí un poco mejor recientemente mientras hacía cola en un aeropuerto: me había registrado para un vuelo, me acerqué a seguridad, vi una gran fila y acepté el hecho de que tomaría al menos 40 minutos para superarlo.

Padre Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Estuve bien con la larga espera y me moví pacientemente en la fila, hasta que, justo cuando llegó mi turno, llegó otro equipo de seguridad, abrió una segunda máquina de escaneo y toda una fila de personas, detrás de mí, que no habían esperado los cuarenta minutos, obtuvieron sus turnos casi de inmediato. Todavía tuve mi turno como lo hubiera hecho antes, pero algo dentro de mí se sintió menospreciado y enojado: “¡Esto no fue justo! ¡Había estado esperando durante cuarenta minutos y les llegó su turno al mismo tiempo que a mí! Me había conformado con esperar, hasta que los que llegaron más tarde no tuvieron que esperar nada. No me habían tratado injustamente, pero algunos otros habían tenido más suerte que yo.
Esa experiencia me enseñó algo, más allá del hecho de que mi corazón no siempre es enorme y generoso. Me ayudó a entender algo sobre la parábola de Jesús sobre los trabajadores que llegaron a la hora undécima y recibieron el mismo salario que los que habían trabajado todo el día y lo que significa el desafío que se le da a los que se quejan de la injusticia de esto: “¿Tienes envidia porque soy generoso?”

¿Somos celosos porque Dios es generoso? ¿Nos molesta cuando a otros se les dan regalos y perdón inmerecidos? ¡Apuesta!

En última instancia, esa sensación de injusticia, de envidia de que alguien más haya tenido un descanso es un gran obstáculo para nuestra felicidad. ¿Por qué? Porque algo en nosotros reacciona negativamente cuando parece que la vida no está haciendo que los demás paguen lo mismo que nosotros.

En los Evangelios vemos un incidente en el que Jesús va a la sinagoga un sábado, se levanta para leer y cita un texto de Isaías, excepto que no lo cita completo sino que omite una parte. El texto (Isaías 61:1-2) habría sido bien conocido por sus oyentes y describe la visión de Isaías de lo que será la señal de que Dios finalmente ha irrumpido en el mundo y cambiado irrevocablemente las cosas. ¿Y qué será eso?
Para Isaías, la señal de que Dios ahora gobierna la tierra será la buena noticia para los pobres, el consuelo para los quebrantados de corazón, la libertad para los esclavizados, la gracia abundante para todos y la venganza para los malvados. Nótese, sin embargo, que cuando Jesús cita esto, deja fuera la parte de la venganza. A diferencia de Isaías, no dice que parte de nuestro gozo será ver castigados a los malvados. En el cielo se nos dará lo que se nos debe y más (don inmerecido, perdón que no merecemos, alegría inimaginable) pero, al parecer, no se nos dará esa catarsis que tanto deseamos aquí en la tierra, la alegría de ver a los malvados castigados.

Las alegrías del cielo no incluirán ver sufrir a Hitler. De hecho, la comezón natural que tenemos por la justicia estricta (“Ojo por ojo”) es exactamente eso, una comezón natural, algo que los Evangelios nos invitan a superar. El deseo de estricta justicia bloquea nuestra capacidad de perdón y por lo tanto nos impide entrar en el cielo donde Dios, como el Padre del Hijo Pródigo, abraza y perdona sin exigir una libra de carne por una libra de pecado.

Sabemos que necesitamos la misericordia de Dios, pero si la gracia es verdadera para nosotros, debe ser verdadera para todos; si nos es dado el perdón, debe ser dado a todos; y si Dios no venga nuestras fechorías, Dios tampoco debe vengar las fechorías de los demás. Tal es la lógica de la gracia, y tal es el amor del Dios con el que debemos sintonizarnos.

La felicidad no se trata de venganza, sino de perdón; no de reivindicación, sino de abrazo inmerecido; y no sobre la pena capital, sino sobre vivir más allá incluso del asesinato.

No es de extrañar que, en algunos de los grandes santos, veamos una teología que bordea el universalismo, es decir, la creencia de que al final Dios salvará a todos, incluso a los Hitler. Creían esto no porque no creyeran en el infierno o en la posibilidad de excluirnos para siempre de Dios, sino porque creían que el amor de Dios es tan universal, tan poderoso y tan atractivo que, en última instancia, incluso los que están en el infierno verán el error de sus caminos, tragarse su orgullo, y entregarse al amor. El triunfo final de Dios, sintieron, será cuando el mismo diablo se convierta y el infierno esté vacío.
Tal vez eso nunca suceda. Dios nos deja libres. Sin embargo, cuando yo, o cualquier otra persona, estamos molestos en un aeropuerto, en una audiencia de la junta de libertad condicional o en cualquier otro lugar donde alguien recibe algo que creemos que no merece, tenemos que aceptar que todavía nos falta mucho, de comprender y aceptar el reino de Dios.

(El padre oblato Ron Rolheiser es teólogo, maestro y autor galardonado. Se le puede contactar a través de su sitio web Ahora en Facebook

Seeing what lies near our doorsteps

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Henri Nouwen once suggested that if you want to understand the tragedy of the Second World War, you can read a hundred history books about it and watch a thousand hours of video documentaries on it, or you can read the Diary of Anne Frank. In that single memoir of young girl imprisoned and later executed by the Nazis you will see, first-hand, the tragedy of war and what war does to the human soul.

The same might be said about the refugee crisis now taking place everywhere on borders around the world. According to statistics from the United Nations, there are now over eighty million refugees, displaced, homeless, nationless, frightened, and often hungry people on our borders around the world. Two-thirds of these are women and children, and the vast majority are not there by choice, seeking a better economic opportunity in another country. The vast majority of them have been driven from their homes and their countries by war, violence, famine, hunger, ethnic and religious cleansing, and by fear for their lives.

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

For many of us, this is a faceless, abstract problem. We have a generic sympathy for their plight but not one deep enough to keep us awake at night, unsettle our conscience, or make us willing to sacrifice some of our own comfort and security to do something for them or to pressure our governments into action. Indeed, too often we are over-protective of our borders and the settled, comfortable lives we live inside our nations. This is our country! Our home! We worked hard for the things we have. It is unfair to us to have to deal with these people! They should go back to their countries and leave us alone!

We need a wake-up call. A recent book, a novel, by Jeanine Cummins, American Dirt, gives us a fictionalized account of a young Mexican woman who because of violence and fear of death had to leave her life behind and flee with her young son in an attempt to reach the borders of the United States as an undocumented immigrant. Full disclosure, the book has been heavily criticized by many because it doesn’t always measure up to the exact facts. Conversely, it has also been highly praised by many others. Be that as it may, the bottom-line is that this is a powerful story and a wake-up call, one meant to wake us up to the real tragedy of those who for reasons of poverty, violence, famine, fear and hopelessness are forced to flee their countries in search of a better life (or any life at all!) elsewhere. Whatever the book’s imperfections, it helps shatter the abstractness we can lean on to protect ourselves against having to look at the issue of refugees today.

Admittedly, the issue isn’t simple. There are extremely complex issues involved in protecting our borders and in having millions of people freely enter our countries. However, as men and women who share a common humanity and a common planet with these refugees, can we remain callous to their plight?

Moreover, as Christians, do we accept the fundamental, non-negotiable principle within Christian social doctrine that tells us that the world belongs to everyone equally and we may not adhere to any nationalistic belief that says, explicitly or implicitly, that our country is ours and we have no obligation to share it with others. To espouse this is unchristian and goes against the clear teaching of Jesus.

We might all, I submit, contemplate a certain parable of Jesus (Luke 16:19-31) where he tells the story of a rich man who ignored a poor man sitting at his doorstep and refused to share his food with him. The poor man dies and finds himself in the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also dies and finds himself tormented by thirst in Hades. He begs Abraham to send the poor man, whom he had ignored during this lifetime, to bring him some water to quench his thirst, but it turns out this is not possible. Jesus tells us that there is an “unbridgeable gap” between the two of them. We have always simplistically assumed that this unbridgeable gap is the gap between heaven and hell, but that is not exactly the point the parable is making. The unbridgeable gap is the gap that already exists now between the rich and poor, and the lesson is that we had best try to bridge that gap now, in this life.

Notice that Jesus does not say that the rich man is a bad man, or that he didn’t earn his riches honestly, or that he wasn’t an upright citizen, or that he wasn’t going to church, or that he was unfaithful to his wife, or that he was a bad father to his children. It only says that he had one fault, a mortal one – inside his richness he did not respond to a hungry man sitting on the borders of house.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher and award-winning author. He can be contacted through his website