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Center for Action and Contemplation
Moving Toward Greater Love
Moving Toward Greater Love

Love Now and Later

Monday, December 11, 2023

CAC staff member Mike Petrow connects God’s plan for the universal healing of the world with the prophetic work we do:

Father Richard often reminds us that the CAC’s Living School was conceived of as “a school for prophets.” For him, this idea is the beating heart of our curriculum….

While prophecy is often defined as “speaking truth to power,” this is an incomplete notion, being merely social criticism. Prophecy is speaking truth to power on behalf of a divine vision of wholeness. This vision comes from contemplation and the love it reveals. 

Tracing our alternative orthodoxy back to its roots in the prophetic tradition, we see that action and contemplation are, in fact, inseparable. They are the inhalation and exhalation of divine love. Contemplation calls us to active love. Our Jewish family identifies this as the tikkun olam, the fixing of the world. The early church termed it the apokatastasis, or the restoring of all things.

The Living School [and the CAC as a whole] teaches that this begins with us individually. If it is true that hurting people hurt people, then it must also be true that healing people heal people. Origen (185–254 CE) claimed the skandala—the scars and scandals in our lives—dig out the deep meaning. Our hurts become “health-bestowing wounds,” the source of our individual spiritual genius, which shapes the unique work we are called to do in the world. It’s our wounds that lead to wisdom and teach us, ultimately, how to love and heal the world.

Like Kintsugi—the Japanese method of repairing pottery using gold, silver, or platinum to fill in the cracks—this doesn’t hide our brokenness but makes it beautiful. Thus, we all work to repair the world in a similar way. [1]

Richard emphasizes the importance of beginning with a healing and hopeful image of God:

No one can be more loving than God; it’s not possible. If we understand God as Trinity—the fountain fullness of outflowing love—there’s no theological possibility of any hatred or vengeance in God. Divinity, which is revealed as Love Itself, will always eventually win (John 6:37–39). We are all saved totally by mercy. God fills in all the gaps. A “geographic” hell or purgatory are unnecessary, though this doesn’t mean there is no time or place for change, growth, and reconciliation.

Knowing this absolute truth ahead of time gives us courage: we don’t need to live out of fear, but from this endlessly available love. Love, grace, and mercy are given undeservedly here, so why would they not be given later as well? Do we have two different gods? One who forgives and teaches a 70 x 7 policy before death, but then counts and punishes every jot and tittle afterward? It just does not work! As Jesus puts it, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living—for to him everyone is alive” (Luke 20:38). In other words, growth, change, and opportunity never cease. [2]


[1] Mike Petrow, “Prophecy: The Beating Heart of Our Curriculum,” The Mendicant 12, no. 3 (Summer 2022): 2.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Hell, No! (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2015), audio. Available as MP3 audio download.

Image Credit: A path from one week to the next—Madison Frambes, Untitled 1, 7, and 5 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

Though she weeps, the woman is moving forward. Pain is a natural part of healing.

Story from Our Community:  

The meditations on being on the “edge of the inside” gave me hope, joy, and encouragement. I don’t have to leave, criticize, or condemn the “inside.” It is the place where I was born into, a container for “more.” I am forever grateful for the “more” that I receive in praying with you each day. Living on the “edge” gives me freedom and consolation to follow Jesus as He continues to live on the edge of the inside through the prophetic calls that surround us. —Renee T.

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