…it will always lead to actions of mercy; when actions of mercy are attempted at any depth, they will always drive you to prayer. – Richard Rohr
Forgiveness has the power to lead you to your True Self in God. Because the hurts of life are so great, you cannot let go of the pain on your own. At that point, you need to draw from a Larger Source. What you are doing with forgiveness is changing your egoic investment in your own painful story—which too often has become your ticket to sympathy and sometimes your very identity. Forgiveness is one of the most radically free things a human being can do. When you forgive, you have to let go of your own feelings, your own ego, your own offended identity, and find your identity at a completely different level—the divine level. I even wonder if it is possible to know God at all—outside of the mystery of forgiveness (Luke 1:77).
Richard Rohr +Adapted from The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Recording).
Fear is an addiction for a lot of people. They don’t know how to motivate themselves without being afraid of something. They don’t know how not to worry. When you’re living an inauthentic life, you’re going to worry because your subconscious, your spirit, knows your life has no truth. That is why we are creating so many fearful people.
The more illusory stuff we have to protect, the more fearful we will be. There’s almost a correlation between fears that people have and the false lives they live. Beneath all the layers of behavior, it is fear that brings more people into counseling than any other emotion. The counselor’s role is to help people identify what is behind their fear. Real lives start then. – Richard Rohr
I posted the above on Facebook a number of years ago. I knew the truth of this then – that it described my inner life, my false self – but was unable to admit to myself that fear and shame were mixed in with my other addictions – and pride, misguided pride, kept me from admitting it to myself, to another human being, or to God.
As Rumi wrote:
Sometimes the cold and dark of a cave
give the opening we most want
photo: Grindstone, ME – September 2019
When world religions become mature, we will have a new history, no longer based on competition, rivalry, cultures or warfare, but on people who are actually transformed. These people will change the world, as Mary did, almost precisely because they know it is not they who are doing the changing. They will know they do not need to change other people, just themselves, God takes it from there.
– Richard Rohr
(photo: Fiesole, Italy – July 2002)
Another of Jesus’ nonnegotiables is the work of justice and generosity toward the poor and the outsider. That’s quite clear, quite absolute—page after page of the Gospels. Yet Christian history, even at the highest levels of church, has thought nothing of amassing fortunes and living grandly (while others starved), and rather totally identifying with power, war, and money (they tend to go together).
At this point in history, when most people can read Jesus’ (and the Bible’s) clear and consistent bias toward the poor, the foreigner, and the marginalized, it can only be ignored with a culpable blindness and ignorance. Most Christians have indeed been “cafeteria Christians” when it comes to this. Usually they will markedly emphasize something else (often a sexual issue) to divert attention from what Jesus did not divert attention from. As Jesus himself put it, “you strain out gnats and you swallow camels!” (Matthew 23:24). The issues never change in any age, as long as the same old ego is in charge.
– Richard Rohr, ofm
(photo: Portland, ME – February 2019)
All of us are much larger than the good or bad stories we tell about ourselves. Don’t get caught in “my” story, my hurts, my agenda. It’s too small. It’s not the whole you, not the Great You. It’s not the great river. It’s not where life is really going to happen. No wonder the Spirit is described as “flowing water” and as “a spring inside you” (John 4:10-14) or, as it states at the end of the Bible, as a “river of life” (Revelation 22:1-2). Your life is not really about “you.” It is part of a much larger stream called God. The separate self is finally an illusion for those who stay on the journey of prayer.
– Richard Rohr
Jesus was concerned with the healing of human shame and human guilt. He was always taking away people’s shame, always taking away their low self-esteem, and reintroducing them to the village, the temple, the priesthood, and their families. He was healing relationships even more than just healing bodies. And now many would say that we (the Church/Christians) have ended up being the chief purveyors of guilt and shame, instead of healing it and transforming it into life and light. We have decided, for some reason, that it is better to remind people of their unworthiness and brokenness, instead of their potential to be temples of the Holy Spirit. It became taught and learned helplessness in far too many cases. – Richard Rohr, OFM
(Photo: Berkeley, CA – April 2006)
Until we walk with despair, and still have hope, we will not know that our hope was not just hope in ourselves, in our own successes, in our power to make a difference, in our image of what perfection should be. We need hope from a much deeper Source. We need a hope larger than ourselves.
Until we walk with personal issues of despair, we will never uncover the Real Hope on the other side of that despair. Until we allow the crash and crush of our images, we will never discover the Real Life beyond what only seems like death. Remember, death is an imaginary loss of an imaginary self, that is going to pass anyway.
This very journey is probably the heart of what Jesus came to reveal.
– Richard Rohr
It’s a gift to joyfully recognize and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your “I” is great and one with God, you can, ironically, be quite content with a small and ordinary “I.”
No grandstanding is henceforth necessary. Any question of your own importance or dignity has already been resolved from the inside out—once and for all. Such salvation is experienced now in small tastes, whetting our appetite for eternity.
– Richard Rohr