When one reaches the highest degree of human maturity, one has only one question left: How can I be helpful?—TERESA OF ÁVILA
Beloved author Ronald Rolheiser continues his search for an accessible and penetrating Christian spirituality in this highly anticipated follow-up to the contemporary classic, The Holy Longing. With his trademark acuity, wit, and thoughtfulness, Rolheiser shows how identifying and embracing discipleship will lead to new heights of spiritual awareness and maturity. In this new book, Rolheiser takes us on a journey through the dark night of the senses and of the spirit. Here, we experience the full gamut of human life, pleasure and fervor, disillusionment and boredom. But, as Rolheiser explains, when we embrace the struggle and yearning to know God we can experience too a profound re-understanding to our daily lives.
“What lies beyond the essentials, the basics?” Rolheiser writes. “Where do we go once some of the basic questions in our lives have been answered, or at least brought to enough peace that our focus can shift away from ourselves to others? Where do we go once the basic questions in our lives are no longer the restless questions of youthful insecurity and loneliness? Who am I? Who loves me? How will my life turn out? Where do we go once the basic question in life becomes: How can I give my life away more purely, and more meaningfully? How do I live beyond my own heartaches, headaches, and obsessions so as to help make other peoples’ lives more meaningful? The intent of this book is to try to address exactly those questions: How can we live less self- centered, more mature lives? What constitutes deep maturity and how do we reach that place? And, not unimportantly, what constitutes a more adult, Christian discipleship? What constitutes a truly mature following of Jesus?”
As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke suggests, “Live the questions now.” In Sacred Fire, Rolheiser’s deeply affecting prose urges us on in pursuit of the most holy of all passions—a deep and lasting intimacy with God.
Rolheiser (The Holy Longing), a Catholic priest, brings psychological and spiritual depth to his newest, an examination of the stages of spiritual development and maturation. He presents development as stages in discipleship: the essential stage of getting life together, the generative stage of giving life away, and the radical end point: moving off life's stage in death. It's a grand scheme, and the author is persuasive because insightful. A lot of life is boring and routine, and dark nights of the soul can seem long and quite dark. But spiritual patience and courage will come through prayer, and Rolheiser demonstrates a nuanced understanding of prayer as faithful focus upon God: "We show our fidelity to God not in our feelings but in our commitments," he writes. This is a long-haul spirituality for older readers, an audience of considerable size. Rolheiser concludes briefly on a subject he promises to expand on in his next book: the radical discipleship of death letting go and dying well. That is an inevitable next act.