Richard Rohr: taking the loneliness out of the spiritual journey

“The Rohr Institute” is not a title you’re likely hear Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr use himself.

But while he shies away from the name for fear that the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) will be misinterpreted as a “cult of personality,” the center’s staff is working diligently to transform its programming so the legacy of Rohr’s work and tradition that has inspired him will endure.

“We are challenging people to go deep with Richard’s work,” says Matt Sholler, associate director of the Living School, the center’s newest and largest endeavor. “Our hope is that they will find new applications for his ideas and create new acts of compassion in the world.”

The Living School is the flagship program of The Rohr Institute, which was created “so that we could have a place where we can have greater conversations about the perennial tradition,” says Alicia Johnson, executive director of the Center for Action and Contemplation.

Philosophers and theologians have spoken of a perennial philosophy for centuries. The idea, in a nutshell, is that all of the world’s religious knowledge is based on shared universal truths.

For Rohr, the perennial tradition “encompasses the recurring themes in all of the world’s religions and philosophies,” all of which say:

  • There is a Divine Reality underneath and inherent in the world of things;
  • there is in the human soul a natural capacity, similarity and longing for this Divine Reality; and
  • the final goal of existence is union with this Divine Reality.

Although the Living School will be a school of thought, practice and experience will be equally essential components of the course of study.

“We start with experiential, not the didactic,” Sholler says. “There will be a healthy amount of academic-minded curriculum, but what will make the school distinctive is how we incorporate lived experience. How we build our experiential practices into the curriculum is the most challenging and creative opportunity for us in developing the school.” Continue reading


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