In this life, all symphonies remain unfinished…A Review of “The Holy Longing”
I chose this book because the author, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, has captured my attention with his newspaper columns which show up periodically in my local diocese paper and from his bi-weekly emails. He is extremely intelligent in his approach to Catholicism, yet somehow also really cuts to the heart of the matter in a plainspoken way in just a few short words. Provided for free by the Blogging for Books program, I grabbed this one the instant I saw it to hear this author expound in more detail.
After reading the blog, if you’ d like a copy, post a comment sharing why & I’ll give away 2 copies to random winners after 10 people have commented.
“The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality,” which was originally written 15 years ago and is now updated and re-released, attempts to explore the longing, the burning, the dissatisfaction many of us feel or have felt in our lives… that unquenched desire we eternally have burning inside. Basically, he reminds us that we were not meant for this world, so we will not be truly consummated and fully happy until we reach heaven. As he says beautifully, “…in this life, all symphonies remain unfinished.”
This affects all aspects of our lives and is important to keep in mind when we despair over some event or circumstance. It also helps to explain suffering. We WILL suffer here because we have not reached our full potential and we should accept that and offer that suffering as work to our Lord — or through the Blessed Virgin to our Lord — that His will be done.
Here are some circumstances where you might find yourself, and where if you can accept its incompletion, you can find the most peace here on earth:
- A marriage that is past the honeymoon stage
- A family member who has fallen away from the faith
- An unfulfilled dream or career
- The loss of a job
- Sexual desire unquenched by your significant other
Father Rolheiser says the realization that all will not be completed in this life must be mourned and allowed to ascent to heaven just as Jesus did:
“Each of us must, at some point, go into the desert and bewail his or her virginity. It is when we fail to do this, and because we fail to do it, that we go often through life demanding, angry, bitter, disappointed and too prone to blame others and life itself for our frustrations. When we fail to mourn properly our incomplete lives then this incompleteness becomes a gnawing restlessness, a bitter center, that robs our lives of all delight… We are built for the infinite, Grand Canyons without a bottom. Because of that we will, this side of eternity, always be lonely, restless, incomplete, still a virgin–living in the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable.”
While on first read, this sounds a bit depressing, I think that the realization that all will not be perfect in this life is far more beneficial than to go through life as, he says, bitter, disappointed and angry. I know far too many people like that. Instead, accepting that my dream to become a dancer one day or that my lifestyle is far from what I imagined it would be is OK and normal, gives me more peace than becoming a dancer or living in greater physical abundance would ultimately bring me.
For married couples, he addresses the loss of the honeymoon phase and how they need to accept each new phase of their relationship,letting the past incarnation go.
“To sustain anything in this life we must continually recognize that the first fervor, that special electricity we would die for, never lasts and that we must be open to receive a new spirit within the relationship,” he says. “The downside of this is that all honeymoons die, but the upside is that God is always giving us something richer, deeper life and fuller spirit.”
I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy philosophy and really digging into the depths of the theology of the Catholic church. As I just heard Teresa Tomeo say, “This is a thinking person’s religion.” I couldn’t agree more, and Fr. Rolheiser is one of its great thinkers of our age. Philosophy has always appealed to me, as does a good intellectual debate, and this book strikes that chord. It’s funny, I always thought religion was for the ignorant (I thought they were just blindly believing an ideology without questioning it), but how wrong I was. Catholicism is the ultimate for intellectuals. It is the true fulfillment of all knowledge by adding the element of faith.
To sum up this book, I love this quote: “The dream for perfect consummation, like the dream to become a superstar, must, at some point, be mourned and left to ascend. Otherwise…our daydreams will perennially rob us of the simple happiness of life.”
Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.