I promised Image Books I'd give a shout-out for Ron Rolheiser's new book--Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity.
Here's the lowdown:
“How do I live beyond my own heartaches, headaches, and obsessions so as to help make other peoples’ lives more meaningful?”
In Sacred Fire (Image, March 11, 2014), beloved author Ronald Rolheiser answers that question and more as he continues his search for an accessible and penetrating Christian spirituality in this highly anticipated sequel to the contemporary classic, The Holy Longing.
With his trademark faculty and thoughtfulness, Rolheiser moves beyond the foundational aspects of The Holy Longing, by offering readers a deeper vision for Christian maturity as he seeks to answer the question: “How can we live less self-centered, more mature lives?”
In Sacred Fire, Rolheiser draws from the writings of St. John of the Cross and other Christian mystics as he identifies three distinct levels of Christian discipleship— essential, mature, and radical. He then looks at these three categories of discipleship as they correspond to the three great struggles in our lives.
Three Stages of Discipleship:
· Essential Discipleship – The struggle to get our lives together
How do we struggle to become essential (if not yet fully mature) disciples of Christ?
· Mature Discipleship – The struggle to give our lives away
How do I give my life away more deeply, more generously, and more meaningfully?
· Radical Discipleship – The struggle to give our deaths away
How can I now live so that my death will be an optimal blessing for my family, my church, and the world?
In Sacred Fire, Rolheiser reframes the three categories of discipleship within a contemporary context and language that is practical for Christians in today’s world. Ultimately, he demonstrates how identifying and embracing the three stages of the spiritual life will lead to new heights of spiritual awareness.
About the Author
Ronald Rohlheiser O.M.I., is a specialist in the fields of spirituality and systematic theology. His regular column in the Catholic Herald is featured in newspapers in five different countries. He is the author of the prizewinning The Restless Heart as well as Forgotten Amongst the Lilies. His book The Holy Longing has more than a quarter of a million copies in print.
Praise for Sacred Fire:
"Ronald Rolheiser is one of the great Christian spiritual writers of our time, as well as one of my own personal favorites. I have read, and recommended, his beautiful book The Holy Longing more times than I can remember. His sequel, Sacred Fire, is a superb book--one to give to a seeker looking to find God, to a friend struggling with a relationship with God, to a devout believer looking to deepen his or her faith--or best of all, to yourself, as a way of coming to know the God who desires ever more to know you."
—James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage
"When Ron Rolheiser writes, it is clear, compelling, and challenging, plus it is about issues that matter to the soul. Well, here he does it again--and does it well!"
—Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Here's an excerpt:
"Forgive— those who hurt you, your own sins, the unfairness of your life, and God for not rescuing you.
As we age, we can begin to trim down our spiritual vocabulary, and eventually we can get it down to three words: Forgive, forgive, forgive! To die with a forgiving heart is the ultimate moral and religious imperative. We should not delude ourselves on this. All the dogmatic and moral purity in the world does little for us if our hearts are bitter and incapable of forgiveness.
We see this in the Gospels, for instance, in the sad figure of the older brother of the prodigal son. He stands before his father protesting that he has never wandered, never been unfaithful, and that he has stayed home and done the family’s work. But, and this is the issue, he stands outside the father’s house, unable to enter into joy, celebration, the banquet, the dance. He has done everything right, but a bitter heart prevents him from entering the father’s house just as much as the lustful wanderings of his younger brother took him out of that same house. Religious and moral fidelity, when not rooted inside of gratitude and forgiveness, are far from enough. They can leave us just as much outside the father’s house as sin and infidelity. As Jesus teaches forcefully in the Lord’s Prayer, a nonnegotiable condition for going to heaven is forgiveness.
But the struggle to forgive others is not easy and may never be trivialized or preached lightly. In the end, it is our greatest psychological, moral, and religious struggle. It is not easy to forgive. Most everything inside of us protests. When we have been wronged, when we have
suffered an injustice, when someone or something has treated us unfairly, a thousand physical and psychological mechanisms inside of us begin to clam up, shut down, freeze over, self- protect, and scream in protest, anger, and rage. Forgiveness is not something we can simply will and make happen. The heart, as Pascal once said, has its reasons. It also has its rhythms, its paranoia, its bitter spots, and its need to seal itself off from whatever has wounded it.
Moreover, all of us have been wounded. No one comes to adulthood with his or her heart fully intact. In ways small or traumatic, we have all been treated unjustly, violated, hurt, ignored, not properly honored, and unfairly cast aside. We all carry wounds, and, with those wounds, we all carry anger, bitterness, and some nonforgiveness.
But as we know, forgiveness is not easy, and, indeed, sometimes it seems impossible. The famous line from the poet Alexander Pope is now a standard axiom in the English language: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Given the truth of this, and given our own bitter experience, how can we move toward forgiveness? There are no easy answers here, and perhaps true forgiveness can only be divine in origin, the operation of a special grace inside us."
Excerpted from Sacred Fire by Ronald Rolheiser. Copyright © 2014 by Ronald Rolheiser. Excerpted by permission of Image, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt maybe reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About the Author
Ronald Rohlheiser O.M.I., is a specialist in the fields of spirituality and systematic theology. His regular column in the Catholic Herald is featured in newspapers in five different countries. He is the author of the prizewinning The Restless Heart as well as Forgotten Amongst the Lilies. His book The Holy Longing has more than a quarter of a million copies in print."
I first met Fr. Rolheiser on a road trip several years ago when I passed through San Antonio. It was a Sunday night, as I remember, and he'd just arrived home from one of his many, constant journeys. And he took the time to meet and buy dinner for an almost complete stranger.
Now THAT'S discipleship.