Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 28, 2005
Author calls for a theology of brokenness
'Every time we close a door (God) opens another one for us,' writes Rolheiser
Forgotten Among The Lilies: Learning to Love Beyond Our Fears, by Author, Doubleday Canada: Toronto, 2005. 315 pages. Hardcover.
Review by WAYNE HOLST
Special to the WCR
"Seek and you will find"
Many people are on a spiritual quest today. They seek ways to live beyond the boredom, obsession, restlessness, guilt and fear that robs their lives of meaning and vitality.
From earliest times, similar concerns have drawn many to spiritual investigation.
Unfortunately some of us get so engulfed in the process of seeking that we never get around to finding.
Eventually we can discover that while spiritual sojourning is important, so also is spiritual homecoming.
Seeking and finding are engaging threads running through this book. Long committed to spiritual exploration, the author demonstrates a groundedness and a mature confidence in a spirituality that has given him a home.
Forgotten Among the Lilies: Learning to Love Beyond Our Fears, presents the crafted reflections of Father Ronald Rolheiser.
The book is actually a collation of more than 20 years of the author's spiritual columns. Much of this work has appeared in the Western Catholic Reporter under the heading: In Exile.
Here, his thought is presented in a more systematic and developed fashion. For those who may have read his articles, or even some of his other books, this one offers a good exposure to all his major ideas.
The author first began writing his columns for the WCR in 1982. Western Canadian Christians are now able to celebrate the fact that he has garnered a significant national and international readership.
Recently, Rolheiser was appointed president of Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.
In spite of his responsibilities, he continues to write his weekly reflection which appears in about 40 Catholic periodicals.
No doubt the challenges of meeting deadlines requires that the author work with intentionality and focus.
St. John of the Cross, writing in The Dark Night of the Soul, speaks of "leaving my cares . . . forgotten among the lilies" - the line that Rolheiser takes as a hope for those reading his book.
Together there are a total of 81 integrated reflections clustered around 13 themes. Each theme is supported by six or seven short pieces.
I found that reading one meditation daily was an ideal way to use the book as a devotional guide over a three-month period. It gave me a chance to engage this helpful guide more effectively.
"For more and more people," says Rolheiser (who writes in one sequence about the redemptive mercy of God), "there is a major something to live beyond; some skeleton in the closet; a broken marriage, an abortion, a religious commitment that did not work out, a pregnancy outside marriage, a betrayed trust. . . .
"What we need today in the Church, perhaps more than anything else, is a theology of brokenness which relates failure and sin seriously enough to redemption."
We have too much fear of God, he continues. We think we are given only one chance in life, and when we blow it, we're finished.
What we need to know is that "God does not just give us one chance, but that every time we close a door (God) opens another one for us."
To live again . . .
We need to know, he advises, "that mistakes are not forever, . . . that God loves us as sinners and that the task of Christianity is not to teach us how to live, but to teach us how to live again, and again, and again."
That is but one nugget from a treasury of gems.
Rolheiser believes that good can come from our seeking and finding, and that God is there to assist each one of us to arrive, finally, at our spiritual home.
(Wayne Holst is an adult educator at St. David's United Church, Calgary. He has taught religion and culture at the University of Calgary.)