Richard Rohr – If you want others to be more loving, choose to love first. If you want a reconciled outer world, reconcile your own inner world. If you are working for peace out there, create it inside as well. If you wish to find some outer stillness, find it within yourself. If you want to find God, then honor God within you, and you will always see God far beyond you, also. For it is only God in you who knows where and how to look for God. By ourselves, we are fairly blind.
There is a blindness into which we are all led by our own stupidity, selfishness, or by just living out of our false self. I guess that is what most of us call “sin,” which is often an opening to grace and mercy. There is also a blindness through which God leads us for our own enlightenment and deepening. In either case, we have to walk through these obscure periods by simple honesty, apology of some sort, surrender, letting go, forgiveness, and often by some neces sary restitution or healing ritual. (I still hear of Vietnam-, Afghan-, or Iraq-War vets who feel they must go back and help some children in those countries for themselves to be healed.) Eastern religions might call it “karmic restitution.”
Others might call these deeds acts of repentance, making amends, doing penance, or stripping of the ego. By any account, it is often major surgery and surely feels like dying (although it feels like immense liberation too). We need help, companioning, and comfort during these times. We must let ourselves be led by God and also by others. How can we know and value the light if we’ve never walked through some blindness first? To hope, we first have to feel hopeless.
– Richard Rohr
The less aware we are of our shadow self, the more damage it will do. Church teachings on repentance, confession, and forgiveness make good sense. At some point we must say to at least one person: “My name is Joe, and I’m an alcoholic” (or a sex addict, or a workaholic, or an unloving man). Bring it out of darkness, and “everything that becomes visible is light” (Ephesians 5:14).
That’s what we mean by making friends with the shadow. The hero in the Holy Grail stories was advised not to kill the Dark Knight but to make friends with him. It took me years to comprehend this, but now I wonder if there is any other way to overcome evil except to make it work for you and get it on your side. That’s what Jesus did on the cross by making his own murder the salvation of the world. He didn’t destroy his killers, but forgave them because “they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The shadow never knows what it is doing.
– Richard Rohr
Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing—that we must go down before we even know what up is. It is first an ordinary wound before it can become a sacred wound. Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance. I would define suffering very simply as “whenever you are not in control.”
All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion. It is no surprise that a crucified man became the central symbol of Christianity.
If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter—because we will be wounded. That is a given. All suffering is potentially redemptive, all wounds are potentially sacred wounds. It depends on what you do with them. Can you find God in them or not?
If there isn’t some way to find some deeper meaning to our suffering, to find that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, we will normally close up and close down, and the second half of our lives will, quite frankly, be small and silly.
– Richard Rohr
People who have never loved or never suffered will normally try to control everything with an either-or attitude or all-or-nothing thinking. This closed system is all they are prepared for. The mentality that divides the world into “deserving and undeserving” has not yet experienced the absolute gratuity of grace or the undeserved character of mercy. This lack of in-depth God-experience leaves all of us judgmental, demanding, unforgiving, and weak in empathy and sympathy. Such people will remain inside the prison of “meritocracy,” where all has to be deserved. They are still counting when in reality God and grace exist outside of all accounting. Remember, however, to be patient with such people, even if you are the target of their judgment, because on some level, that is how they treat themselves as well.
– Richard Rohr
The devil’s secret is camouflage. The devil’s job is to look very moral! It has to look like you are defending some great purpose or cause, like making the world safe for democ racy or keeping the bad people off the streets. Then you can do many evils without any guilt, without any shame or self-doubt, but actually with a sense of high-minded virtue. Thomas Aquinas writes that evil must disguise itself as good and, until Christians start understanding that, their capac ity for “discernment of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10) remains very minimal. They are easily duped and always misled by such devils.
– Richard Rohr
I posted the following on Facebook four years ago today. I don’t know why. Did I know in my gut that I was so near the end of my rope and that I would hit rock bottom – hard – some five months later?
Richard Rohr ~
When we come to the end of our rope and hit rock bottom, we are not dashed but fall into God’s hands. It is here at our lowest that we discover our true source of power, the indwelling Holy Spirit. Many years ago, during a hermitage in Arizona, I had a particularly strong sense of the Holy Spirit, the One who is fully available to all of us “if we but knew the gift of God” (John 4:10). I slowly composed this prayer–imagining many names and movements of the Spirit–to awaken and strengthen this Presence within you. Recite it whenever you are losing faith in God or in yourself.
Pure Gift of God
Promise of the Father
Life of Jesus
Pledge and Guarantee
Always Already Awareness
Hidden Love of God
Fire of Life and Love
Wind of Change
Cloud of Unknowing
Deepest Level of Our Longing
Will of God
You who pray in us, through us, with us, for us, and in spite of us.
Still emerging, having learned how to breathe under water…
Addiction happens when we no longer want to feel our feelings. Addiction happens when we don’t want to know our own thoughts or feel our own pain. But you know what? Addiction doesn’t work. in the long run addiction brings ten times more pain than you would experience by accepting the legitimate pain of being a human being. Religion needs to be teaching this upfront and without apology. – Richard Rohr
The language of descent is either learned by mid-life (normally through suffering and the experience of powerlessness), or we inevitably move into a long day’s journey of accusing, resentment and negativity, circling our wagons as the hurts and disappointments of life gather round us: “I am right and others are wrong. I have a right to my judgments and I will continue to use valuable energy to justify them.” I have visited too many old men and retired priests in nursing homes to doubt this common pattern. When mid-life no longer allowed them to ascend or to deny their dark side, far too many men shut down or kept running. The price is a world of men who do not age well, who are emotionally, spiritually, intellectually unavailable – or just eccentric. These are the dads, priests and leaders we all laugh about but seldom take seriously.
– Richard Rohr, from The Wild Man’s Journey