[googlefont font=“Cormorant Infant” fontsize=”20″]preview by Robert Ellsberg[/googlefont]
The latest volume in the Orbis Modern Spiritual Masters Series focuses on the work of Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, founder of the Center for Contemplation and Action in New Mexico, a prolific author and speaker, and certainly one of the most popular spiritual writers in the world today. His many books have included Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, as well as dozens of other works on prayer, the Christian mystical tradition and the insights of the Enneagram. This volume draws on no less than 75 sources!
The central theme of these writings, as skillfully distilled by the editors, is love. Rohr’s mission, they write, “is simply to awaken us to what we already know is true: the foundation of everything is love because ‘God is love.’ God’s love in us is seeking to love and be loved and to bring healing and wholeness to a suffering world.” Many things keep us from realizing this, including “immature religion, bad teaching, culture, ego and our own woundedness.”
In Jesus, however, God revealed to humanity the “face of God” so that we could “fall in love with what most of history had presumed was a distant and judgmental God.” Through our own acts of compassion and justice we respond in love to God’s dwelling within us.
“Love is who you are. When you don’t live according to love, you are outside of being. You’re not being real. When you love, you are acting according to your deepest being, your deepest truth. You are operating according to your dignity.”—Richard Rohr
The editors, Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger, both longtime collaborators with Rohr at the Center for Contemplation and Action, have organized their material around a long interview in which Rohr traces his life story, from his childhood, seminary days, early ministry and evolving teaching. Each of these steps along the way is then illustrated with excerpts from his writing that demonstrate his spiritual and theological understanding.
This extends to his discovery of the Enneagram, a framework for discerning personality types and a valuable tool in spiritual direction and discernment. It includes his painful confrontations with his own weaknesses and “shadow side,” his struggles with community and leadership, and his experiences of illness, loss and intimations of mortality. Thus, this volume serves not only as an essential guide to Rohr’s work of 50 years but as a kind of spiritual memoir.
In reading this book one often identifies with the experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who heard Jesus explain the meaning of Scripture and afterward “felt their hearts burn within them.” He makes Gospel truths come alive in ways that seem brand new and at the same time obvious.
As he likes to recite, (echoing 1 John 2:21), “I write to you not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it already.” It is hard to imagine anyone reading this book without coming away with renewed joy and gratitude for the gift of life, and for the invitation to taste and experience the love of God.
To find more information on the book, or to purchase, please visit OrbisBooks.com