Ronald Rolheiser, a Catholic priest and columnist for the Catholic Herald, is familiar with the subject matter of embracing God’s love. As a published author and theologian, Rolheiser interlaces his philosophical views and life’s experiences into a collection of thought-provoking essays in Forgotten Among the Lilies . At the book’s core is a belief that an individual can learn to love beyond their fears and thereby relinquish fears, being an open conduit to receive God’s abundant love.
Given the human condition, each and every person will struggle with moments of insecurity, disappointments, fears or anger. The author’s candor about the hardships of people he has encountered, as well as his own, encourages the reader to embrace forgiveness. Rolheiser provides a sense of humility that goes beyond his childhood roots of growing up in a poor family and strives to offer an unprejudiced view of topics that the Catholic Church must tackle in the twenty-first century. Rolheiser embarks upon subject matter such as, death and dying, solitude, loneliness, sexuality and sinfulness in a manner that provides subtle encouragement for believing in God as a vehicle to surrender daily woes and handle life’s experiences.
Rolheiser writes, “We can pull ourselves out of a dark chaos; the simple answer of course is prayer.” An undertone is that salvation lies in a person’s capacity to reconcile, with themselves, others and God. While at times filled with abstract ideas that the reader will want to bypass, a renewed sense of awareness is available because concepts are attention-grabbing. Biblical references, inspirational stories and poems that cause one to ponder the meaning are included. A prevailing suggestion is made that the struggles of mankind, caught in a complex world of chaos, can be lifted if a person finds comfort in God. Aches and pains may not be washed away; nevertheless, through acknowledgement of the wounds in the soul, an individual can be cleansed by God’s love. Forgotten Among the Lilies is for those who desire mental stimulation and contemplation.
Like an immersion of a new kind of food to the sensory gland, one has to swirl around the words to truly get the flavor of this book. The reader may be pleasantly surprised to find a desire to keep tasting the words. The book concludes with “Guidelines for a Long Haul,” specific thoughts to help a person embark on a spiritual journey of self acceptance and renewal of God’s love. Forgotten Among the Lilies is built on the assertion that a person can learn to love beyond their fears. The book’s title is taken from the last line in St. John of the Cross’s poem “Dark Night of the Soul.”