Rolheiser Outlines Commandments Vital to Healthy Self Love

Rev. Ronald Rolheiser, S.J. has a set of commandments he thinks all good Christians should live by in order to maintain healthy self-love.

On Wednesday evening, the Church in the 21st Century Center hosted a talk given by Rolheiser titled “How to Truly Love Yourself: Carrying Solitude at a High Level.” Throughout the talk, he presented his 10 commandments of healthy self-love.

The first commandment is to be grounded in something beyond this world. Rolheiser said that mindlessly following crowd mentality and Western culture can lead to conflicts with personal identity.

“Crowds in Scripture are mindless and do stupid things—crowds crucified Christ,” Rolheiser said. “In many ways Western secular culture is the most powerful narcotic the world has ever had … if we aren’t reflective it swallows us whole.”

Rolheiser believes that in order to be truly happy, people have to seek God, which requires adhering to something deeper than cultural norms. He suggests prayer, service, and a true examination of personal motivations to safeguard against the dangers of a mindless mob.

Rolheiser’s second commandment is to be free of ideology. He acknowledged that the current political climate in the United States makes this particular charge both extremely difficult to execute and deeply important.

In current Western culture, according to Rolheiser, ideologies have become “the air we breathe,” making it difficult to know when we are sincere in our beliefs and actions, even if we know how to think independently.

Rolheiser cited the importance of reflection in overcoming this challenge. He said it is impossible to know if Jesus was a liberal or a conservative.

He then explained his third commandment: making hope your horizon. Pivotal to this discussion was the idea of a meta narrative versus an egotistical worldview, as well as a discussion of what hope actually entails.

“We tend to confuse hope with two things that it is not,” he said. “We confuse hope with wishful thinking … or we oftentimes confuse hope with optimism.”

By falling into these two categories of false hope, it is easy to be caught up in self-centric forms of happiness that shift on a day-to-day basis. The solution to this, according to Rolheiser, is to focus instead on the salvation offered to Christians by Jesus.

“The end of your story is written, and it’s a happy ending,” he said.

The fourth subsection of Rolheiser’s talk was to have a “wide Catholic heart.” He was careful to describe the word “Catholic” as universal rather than in a religious tense. For this commandment, the key is to expand compassion and find a way to love others because, according to Rolheiser, the more you love, the more Catholic you are.

He then shifted to the idea that effective compassion is a collective action. He said people should always be on the side of the poor. Much of Jesus’ teaching centered around the integration of the marginalized members of society. Rolheiser advocated for a return to those ideals of wide reaching compassion, especially as it pertains to helping the poor, in order to realign society with the message of Jesus.

Rolheiser also covered a more controversial topic within Catholic theology—the use of chastity as the ultimate form of non-violence.

“Chastity is not a sexual concept,” Rolheiser said. “It is three words: respect, reverence, and patience in every area, not just sex.”

Rolheiser insisted that, in spite of its less-than-favorable connotation in today’s society, chastity is still a vital virtue to possess. With an exercise of respect, reverence, and patience, people can come to see each other in a more human and a less objectifiable light.

Rolheiser ended his talk with three more individualized commandments: be idealistic, do not get too caught up in success, and keep a good sense of humor. The latter two were described as simply self-explanatory.

Rolheiser stressed the importance of being idealistic because, especially as young people, he believes it is vastly important to have great aspirations and never settle for second best.

“Don’t sell yourself short … To all the young people in this room, invest in idealism,” Rolheiser said. “We need idealism.”

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor