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The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,224 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
Ronald Rolheiser makes sense of what is frequently a misunderstood word: spirituality. In posing the question "What is spirituality?" Father Rolheiser gets quickly to the heart of common difficulties with the subject, and shows through compelling anecdotes and personal examples how to channel that restlessness, that deep desire, into a healthy spirituality.

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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 20th 1999 by Image
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David Clark
This was a book recommended by a wise and thoughtful friend and it did not disappoint. I have used it for my morning devotionals and both the author's craft and content have been a rich source of delight and stimulation. I awarded this book five stars but a better measure might be the copious margin notes, underlining, and large number of colored reminder tags now peeking out from the text.

Rolheiser writes from a Roman Catholic point of view but is remarkably open handed. This is not to suggest
Jan 05, 2016 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: catholic
This is a great book to offer people who have lost their Christian way or are interested to Christianity. The author is a Roman Catholic priest and brings in the joy and fullness of faith of the Catholic faith in certain parts. His perspective of certain issues has really opened my eyes. I do find a stretch to some of his conclusions to Biblical readings but his stories paint a great picture and helped me relate to his points to Christianity.
Dec 26, 2011 Rosemarie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book had some great insights. Rolheiser begins by defining Spirituality in very broad terms and showing how everyone - religious or not - HAS a Spiritual side. There is a very interesting part where he compares three women: Mother Teresa, Princess Diana and Janis Joplin, showing how they may seem very different, but it really all comes down to how they dealt with their Spirituality. This part comes at the beginning and really got me into the book.

He then focuses specifically on the componen
Dec 04, 2008 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in a nonbias book about Christianity
Recommended to Nicole by: Sister Stoner who taught Catholic Vision in college
An intelligently written book about Jesus and Christianity. I like this book because it offers up Christianity in a positive light, not commercialized, no hint of any social conservatism/right of center politics, and most importantly no littering of fundamentalist views. The Holy Longing speaks about spirituality in regards to Christianity instead of 'religion,' which is why I gave this book a change and I'm glad that I did. There is no phony Christian agenda evident, just a book about discoveri ...more
Whitney Holley
Sep 18, 2015 Whitney Holley rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and thought out. I took my time reading this and found myself thinking about certain passages throughout my day. Rolheiser makes the case for combining religion and spirituality and how you can't have one without the other. He is able to challenge his reader in a loving way that makes you trust him and try to understand his point of view. I look forward to reading more from him and plan to come back to this book when I need to be reminded to look for peace within myself and m ...more
Christy Baker
Mar 05, 2016 Christy Baker rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion
I'd give this about a 2.5. Frequently, I found this a frustrating read as I hold a far more liberal understanding of Christianity and Spirituality than Rolheiser's views, which led me to want to toss down the book and walk away or have someone to argue out points with, but I kept at the reading and finished the book as it was one of the books I was reading for a spiritual direction program (which, after several of these rounds of frustrating reads and one fairly good book, I'm taking as a sign t ...more
Linda Robins
Sep 13, 2013 Linda Robins rated it it was amazing
As is frequently the case, this book came to me just at a time when I needed it the most. Father Rolheiser's loving, intelligent writings are the perfect antidote for the "crazy Christians" who seem to be the public face of faith in the US right now. His God is loving, intelligent, and expansive--I will return to this book many times when I need a "tune-up" from cynicism and reassurance that ignorance and intolerance are never a part of following Christ.
Jul 29, 2010 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Perhaps one of the best spiritual books ever written. This book really provides a persuasive argument for the human need for spirituality and a sound foundation for anyone who wants to practice an authentic Christian faith, especially the Catholic faith. It gave me a vocabulary and appreciation for the faith I have been practicing and challenged me to go deeper on several levels. Great and easy read that can transform you very quickly!
Apr 15, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Valuable book. I will need to read again to digest. An easy read but concepts deserve contemplation. One of the few books that actually provides a unique and authentic perspective. Not cliche or tired.
Gary Cleveland
Finished reading it today.
One gem to share. "Spirituality is about what we do with the fire inside us....."
Maria Elisabeth
Aug 19, 2014 Maria Elisabeth rated it really liked it
When it's good, it's very very good, and when it's bad, it's horrid.

It's mostly good. :)
Brent Soderstrum
I won this book through GoodReads first read program.

Father Rolheiser examines what is Christian spirituality and the internal desire of our soul to have a relationship with God. This is a book that will make you think. Lots of topics become offshoots of the opening discussion of spirituality. Rolheiser tries to cover each of these topics in common man language which makes his ideas easier to comprehend. He uses lots of examples too which helps.

I enjoyed his explanation about what the unforgivea
Oct 30, 2014 Faith rated it it was amazing
From the first paragraph of the preface to the final quote by Julian of Norwich, The Holy Longing was both tender hearted and intellectually stimulating. There was something to underline on 99% of it's 257 pages, and I crammed the margins with notes.

(That great line from the preface was a quote from Tielhard de Chardin, who said that most sincere people who lack belief in God lack Him because they have never heard about Him in a correct way.)

The Holy Longing compels engaged reading. This book
Sep 25, 2009 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
Though I found a some important things with which to disagree in this book, overall I found it a very compelling and enriching approach to Christian spirituality. Rolheiser's writing is very lucid and wise. He defines spirituality along the lines of things all people experience within themselves. It's "more about whether or not we can sleep at night, than about whether or not we go to church." It's what shapes our actions, what we do with our desire (eros), whether or not we can shape it in a cr ...more
Joy Matteson
Wow. This book. This. BOOK.

I'm struggling with words that can describe the beauty and longing that's held in these pages. Ronald Rohlheiser may have just peered into my soul and put his finger on the pulse and whispered some love-words into it. And then I cried several times while reading it. From one perspective, this is just another book about the search for Christian spirituality from a Roman Catholic spiritual writer. And yet--Rolheiser gets it--he gets that we're all born with this holy lo
Apr 08, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
I liked a lot of ideas in this book. The author is very realistic about religion and spirituality today, and he equally looks at the blessings and faults of organized religion and the individuals who belong/don't belong to a religion. I really liked when he talked about the need to worship in a community as an essential part of spirituality, and the fact that we need to worship in heterogeneous communities where everyone doesn't feel comfortable and agree, because that's what being the body of C ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Tim rated it really liked it
Very interesting and thought-provoking. Rolheiser begins very theoretically by trying to define spirituality as "how we channel our desire."
Then, the rubber hits the road and he discusses the essentials for Christian spirituality: private prayer/morality, social justice, mellow spirit, and community. Through real stories, he illustrates how imbalance we become if we lack one of these.
Rolheiser also lays a foundation for approaching Christian spirituality: incarnation. Because Jesus came to eart
Jennifer Plummer
Jun 25, 2014 Jennifer Plummer rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was one I had to read for a religious education class and I was hesitant on picking it up. Once I started it, though, I was pleasantly surprised. With religion, no matter what rules are written, things are so open to interpretation, especially in Catholicism. I found this book insightful. Very few of the author's ideas are ones I'd be willing to argue and the personal stories made the topics relatable.
Mar 26, 2014 maggie rated it it was amazing
'...our hearts are restless until they rest in You'. Spirituality is about what we do with our unrest. Rolheiser shows us how to nurture our spiritual growth in practical ways that are at once simple yet profound. His case for being part of a church persuaded and changed me. I rarely keep books once read (very tiny house) but I'll be squeezing this onto my shelves. Will be reading this again for sure.
I loved this book. It reminded me why I am a Christian, it challenged me to live a truly Christian Spirituality and it made a darn good case for things like the centrality of the local church as a lived faith community, in an age that wants to belong and connect without any true commitment or sacrifice. A must read I think for anyone who identifies as a Christian or is seriously thinking about it. I'll definitely be reading more of Ronald.
Jamie Howison
Aug 06, 2016 Jamie Howison rated it really liked it
This is a good book, though I did feel that Rolheiser would have benefited from an editor who was a little more forceful in pressing him to write more compactly and economically. Having said that, his chapter on "A Spirituality of Sexuality" alone is worth the price of the book... and it builds on all that he writes in the preceding eight chapters!
Susan Sink
Jan 02, 2016 Susan Sink rated it it was amazing
I'd like to read this every Lent. The reflection on "incarnation" alone are worth the price of the book.

I read this with a spirituality group and it worked fantastically for encouraging faith sharing and could be read a chapter a month for the fall and then consolidating the later ones.
Sandy Bradley
Jul 29, 2008 Sandy Bradley rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Christian readers
Recommended to Sandy by: Seminar attended
The beginnings of the book give good promise as he outlines the core aspects of developing a spiritual life or discipline. If you had one chapter to read, read his chapter on the Nonnegotiable Essentials. He outlines the four pillars of a spiritual life—private prayer and private morality, social justice, mellowness of heart and spirit (I call this a changed heart.), and community. He gives excellent examples of people with 2 or 3 of these elements without the 4th and the reasons for all 4. The ...more
Nov 07, 2007 cat rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-crazy-job
This is one of those books that I kept putting down for no good reason, but once I picked it up again, I couldn't even fathom putting it down again. It's a really great examination of Christian faith, with compassion for all those under the really wide umbrella of faith. His take on Christian Sexuality and critique of both the secular focus on genitality and the Christian fear of sexual expression was great - his idea is that mature sexuality always encompasses more than the act itself and ought ...more
Christine Lee
Jan 02, 2016 Christine Lee rated it it was amazing
The best book on Christian spirituality I've read in the past 10 years. His chapter on sexuality alone takes our current conversations about sex and elevates it to an entirely new level.
Trish Collins
Aug 06, 2011 Trish Collins rated it it was ok
Fr. Rolheiser's writing style leaves a lot to be desired. The over use of the comma is maddening. Perhaps much of the text is taken from lectures and was never adapted to the page.

The style is often reminiscent of a self-help book; one idea is repeated until you no longer care about his point.

As far as content goes, it is a bit distracting to have a Catholic priest referring to sexuality, eros and genitalia when trying to focus our search for Christianity.

Maybe I missed something here, but it w
Kelli Lavelle
May 29, 2015 Kelli Lavelle rated it it was amazing
I loved the entire book, but his section on social justice was fabulous. I'll be re-reading this!
Misha Estrada
May 11, 2014 Misha Estrada rated it really liked it
Shelves: firstreads
This book was a little slow and technical for me. It was interesting and informative, though.
Kim Smith
Jan 14, 2015 Kim Smith rated it it was amazing
Used as my meditation each morning for last month or so. Loved it and will read again.
Jun 05, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, spiritual
As some one who was once very Catholic and fell away for a number of good reasons, but who also missed her church as similar churchs' we're not the same, this book helped me make peace with the Catholic Church after nearly a 30 year absence. If you are struggling with some of what you have seen in the Roman Catholic Church, this book is highly recommended, and I hope it brings you back to the Church as well as to a place of peace.
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“Becoming like Jesus is as much as about having a relaxed and joyful heart as it is about believing and doing the right thing, as much about proper energy as about proper truth.” 5 likes
“Defined simply, narcissism means excessive self-preoccupation; pragmatism means excessive focus on work, achievement, and the practical concerns of life; and restlessness means an excessive greed for experience, an overeating, not in terms of food but in terms of trying to drink in too much of life...And constancy of all three together account for the fact that we are so habitually self-absorbed by heartaches, headaches, and greed for experience that we rarely find the time and space to be in touch with the deeper movements inside of and around us.” 3 likes
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