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The Quest for the Grail
The Quest for the Grail

Whom Does the Grail Serve?

Friday, September 9, 2022

What the spiritual journey teaches us is that in the end there is only love. And the foundation of everything . . . is finally love. That’s the Grail experience: We’re standing on love. —Richard Rohr, Quest for the Grail

In a homily offered on the final day of the Men’s Rites of Passage (MROP) retreat that served as the material for his book Quest for the Grail, Richard shares these thoughts on the importance of this myth:

Whom does the Grail serve? The Grail serves the Grail King. Our lives are to be given for the world. We are called to be people who live for others. Once we hear the gospel, once we have been into the Grail chamber, we are destined to live in two worlds: the world as it is, which we might call power, and the world as it should be, which we might call love.

We have to take both worlds absolutely seriously. Love without power is only sentimentality, cheap and innocuous religion. However, power without love becomes brutality and that’s what every culture instinctively moves toward: self-protection and self-aggrandizement. Once we have learned the truth of the Grail, of love, we cannot believe the world of power is adequate or a correct response to reality. The heroic journey unites power and love.

We have chosen Jesus as our primary hero, and no one addresses issues of power and domination more directly. We could read the whole gospel as Jesus undercutting false power and standing insistently and constantly on the side of the powerless. He always takes the side of the victim, the poor, the oppressed, the little ones.

No matter who we are, we, too, have been invited on the heroic path. We enter the Grail chamber and know it is a radically trustworthy world, despite all the tragedies with which we may have to live. In this basic trust we can lay down our spear and our shield. Now we can live the truly nonviolent life.

Love is not given to us to help us solve our problems. Love, rather, leads us into our problems. It’s love that leads us on the quest and ultimately to a final, universal, and grounding love. It’s a love we can trust because we know it is not all up to us. We do not have to secure ourselves because we are radically secured—we are beloved children in a benevolent universe. 

When we truly and fully belong, it is natural to believe and to become. The tragedy of our time is that so very many do not belong—people who have no parents, no family, no community, no tradition. It’s no wonder that survival has taken the place of becoming. One true love is all that is necessary. It tells us we do belong, we are connected, and we are at home. We are in, precisely because we have been led through.


Adapted from Richard Rohr, Quest for the Grail (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1994), 177, 178, 179, 180, 187.

Explore Further:

Image credit: Katrina Lillian Sorrentino, Entelechy 1, 2 & 3 (details), 2022, photographs, Spain, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

This week’s images by Katrina Lillian Sorrentino appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: Entelechy: the seeded, coded essence that contains both patterns and possibilities for your life. Ever since I left my Christian marriage, I wanted to do the Camino, a pilgrimage that people from all over the world make to St. James’ tomb in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. In May, I walked it as a ritual in order to shed a previous version of Self and embody a truer one. I walked a total of 333 miles in order to capture entelechy through the photograph. This series is a relic of a ritual that carried me further into being. —Katrina Lillian Sorrentino

Story from Our Community:

The CAC’s teaching on transformation through tragedy struck home for me because of my experience living with my son’s mental illness. He, my wife and I have been through many difficult times but we have come through them with deeper understanding. I’m reminded of that journey often because my granddaughter and I share a love of astronomy, which is a joy for me. In one of the Daily Meditations, I remember reading that the sun lights the way during the day, but the night reveals the stars and galaxies. —Ernest C.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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