CROMWELL –With a mother who was an editor, a father who wrote books, a husband who wrote plays and books, and children and grandchildren who publish poems and novels and compose music, Ronda Chervin has had writing as a thread running throughout her life.
Among the most recent additions to the written repertoire of Dr. Chervin, a professor of philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, are Spirituality for All Times (En Route Books, Aug. 2015) with Kathleen Brouillette; and Avoiding Bitterness in Suffering (Sophia Institute Press, Sept. 2015), previously published under the title The Kiss from the Cross: Saints for Every Kind of Suffering (Charis/Servant, 1994).
The books are among more than 60 titles that the prolific author, blogger, teacher, speaker and presenter on Catholic television, including on Eternal Word Television Network, has written over the course of her eight decades, during which she also has been a wife, mother, Jewish atheist, Catholic convert, grandmother and now “dedicated widow” to Christ.
Her writings on Catholic thought, practice and spirituality also incorporate her own diverse life experience, gained in part from people she’s met along her journey. One of those people is Charlie Rich, a deeply spiritual homeless mystic who spent the last years of his life living in a Jesuit community, and another is her beloved son Charles, who committed suicide at age 19.
“My main focus is popularizing a beautiful Catholic philosophy or spiritual concept and relating it to daily life,” said Dr. Chervin, whose doctorate is in philosophy.
The book Spirituality for All Times includes short excerpts from the great classical writers – Saint Francis de Sales, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila – “with application to our daily lives,” she said.
“You have all these young people today who all think that in order to learn about spirituality, you have to go to 12-step or New Age writers … because they’ve never read the great writers,” she said.
“They’ll say, ‘I’m spiritual; I’m not religious.’ So with the help of Kathleen Brouillette, we took excerpts from these writers with applications to our daily lives so they can tap into these classics instead of running away from the church to be spiritual.”
Much information about her writing can be found on her web site, www.rondachervin.com, which contains free e-books, audio clips, music, DVDs, unpublished manuscripts and other writings. Her blog is found at RondaView at goodbooksmedia.com.
With characteristic self-deprecating humor, she attributes her prodigious skill to “an abundance of … ambition and constant prayer to the Holy Spirit” and a love of creating books.
Among her books on grieving and loss are Weeping with Jesus: From Grief to Hope (available on her website) on finding hope when grieving for the loss of a loved one; Avoiding Bitterness in Suffering about overcoming negative behaviors in the grieving process, which she wrote after the deaths of her son, mother, father and husband; A Widow’s Walk: Encouragement, Comfort and Wisdom from the Widow-Saints (Our Sunday Visitor, 1998), and Taming the Lion Within: 5 Steps from Anger to Peace (Simon Peter Press, 2003).
Other books she highlighted while discussing her work are A Treasury of Women Saints (Servant Publications, 1991) and Prayers of the Women Mystics (Servant Publications, 1992) that covers some of the hundreds of women saints who are unfamiliar to many readers.
Another “very important book,” she said, is Feminine, Free and Faithful (CMJ Marian Publishers, 2003), emphasizing that women do not need to choose between traditional and contemporary feminism but can have both “if you’re faithful to the Holy Spirit.”
“What my books are basically designed to do is take problems we have and bring wisdom to bear on them by finding insights through the teachings of the church and lives of the saints,” she explained.
For the elderly and those in ministry, she wrote Seeking Christ in the Crosses and Joys of Aging (CMJ Marian Publishers, June 2013) that looks at how psychologists, Scripture and saints approach suffering.
On another topic close to her heart, that of vocations to the priesthood, she wrote Last Call: Fourteen Men Who Dared Answer (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012). “We’re desperate for priests,” she said. “Some men think they’re too old, or think they have to be perfect to be a priest. But this book shows that isn’t the case.”
She is originally from New York. She and her late husband Martin raised three children, including twin daughters who gave her eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
She earned her doctorate from Fordham University, where she was taught by the German Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, and earned a Master of Arts in religious studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute (later absorbed into Christendom College in Arlington, Va.).
As a professor of philosophy, she has taught at Loyola Marymount University; St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, Calif.; the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; and Our Lady of Corpus Christi in Texas.
“I teach philosophy, but I take it in terms of relating it to everyday life,” said Dr. Chervin, “and my students like that.”
An example is the title The Way of Love (available on her website), which “is a 100-day spiritual marathon” to help the reader become a more loving person in daily life. One exercise, she offers, is to “ask people, ‘What is the most unloving thing about me?’ If they all agree, you’ll be surprised to have your answer,” she said with a laugh.
Much of her life’s journey is covered in her autobiography En Route to Eternity (Miriam Press 1994).