SUMMER BOOK REVIEW “SACRED FIRE” by Ronald Rolheiser

Sacred Fire

Author Ronald Rolheiser, has once again, created a compelling, informative, guide to spiritual maturity and discipleship. I became a fan after reading “Our Deepest Longing.” This book continues from the deepest longing to spiritual maturity. He takes us from our young adult stage, into mid-life, to the fully mature adult that is approaching the end, capturing all of the stages in a psychological, theological and practical step by step progression. Once you get started, you won’t want to put this book down until you are done.

In the beginning of our spiritual journey we often question our call to discipleship, mostly, because our perception of the kind of person that should be called, looks very different than the ones that are. This is why, I appreciate what Rolheiser shared and had to share with all of you. He says, 

     Not even Jesus found “the ready.”

     Jesus called Nathaniel….Nathaniel lacked openness, Nathaniel wasn’t ready. 

     Jesus called Philip….Philip lacked simplicity. Philip wasn’t ready

     Jesus called Simon, the Zealot….Simon lacked non-violent. Simon wasn’t ready. 

     Jesus called Andrew..Andrew lacked a sense of risk. Andrew wasn’t ready.

     Jesus called Thomas…Thomas lacked vision. Thomas wasn’t ready.

     Jesus called Judas…Judas lacked spiritual maturity. Judas was definitely not ready. 

    Jesus called Matthew…Matthew lacked a sense of social sin Matthew wasn’t ready.

    Jesus called James the Lesser…James lacked awareness. James wasn’t ready.

    Jesus called James and John, the sons of thunder….James and John lacked a sense of servanthood. James and John were not ready.

    James called Peter, the Rock….Peter lacked courage Peter was not ready….

The point, you see, is that Jesus doesn’t call the ready. Jesus calls the willing.

I loved this, because I believe we are never ready, never prepared the way we think we need to be and that is okay. Most of us walk in chaos, imbalance in our spiritual lives, toxic relationships, sin and discord and God still calls us, for he knows the heart and God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. 

Rolheiser, has a way of  painting us a visual picture into his reflections by using scripture and then tying them to personal experiences. This technique gives us a deeper meaning into the psychological and moral aspects of living discipleship in our daily complex lives. He shares with us, innate propensities that can get in the way of our spiritual development called the 7 deadly sins. He refers to these as the religious faults of mature adults. He defines them so well, that you will be able to avoid falling into their power. I will expand on them in further detail in future blog posts, so keep watch. 

I especially enjoyed “looking for Christ on the Road to Emmaus.” Wow….how often have I felt distanced from God walking between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? When the resurrection has not yet fully sunken into our imaginations, so that we can recognize God who is walking  beside us. Just look at Mary Magdalene who also didn’t notice him right beside her and thought he was the gardener. We all have periods of walking in the fog unable to see. 

One of my favorite parts of this book, has to do with Jesus death on the cross surrounded by humiliation and hate. We all have questions about this and how it caused the degradation of Jesus’ ministry and followers. He gives us an understanding through the eyes of a civil rights worker that suffered injustice, violence and hatred and relating his experience to Jesus on the cross. At his interview he admitted that there was much hatred, viciousness and punishment by violence.  He was spit upon, beaten with fists, with pipes, with chains and left a bloody mess. He admits that he was a big man able to protect himself yet, he didn’t fight back. He said, he did at first, but realized that it didn’t get him anywhere. He finally realized that the hatred coming at him when he didn’t fight back, bounced off of him, into the air and this bouncing stopped it from spreading like electricity. He let his body absorb the hatred, so that some of it would die in his body and not bounce back into the world. He now sees that his job in the midst of evil is to make his body a grave for hate. I found his story so powerful and it opened up for me a better understanding into Jesus silence through his pain. 

Rolheiser ends his book, talking about the power of death and our last stages of spiritual life. He gives personal testimonies of how we can give our lives away to our families, our church and our world. He explains the dark night of the soul, that we all will experience, as St. John of the Cross described it to be. This book is a good guide on the path of spiritual maturity and discipleship. A good summer read that I highly recommend.

More info about this book can be found at:

http://ronrolheiser.com/en/#.U9LHWo1dV5k

http://www.imagecatholicbooks.com/book/234425/sacred-fire/?isbn=9780804139151

Dawn’s Faith Connection is now blogging for books and received this book free http://www.bloggingforbooks.org/  

 

 

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