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Issue Date:  October 15, 2004

Gaining fulfillment through service and spirituality

By Andrea Jaeger
Health Communications,
323 pages, $21.95

If any athlete’s future seemed brighter with stardom and large paydays assured, it was Andrea Jaeger’s. A tennis prodigy from Lincolnshire, Ill., and the daughter of German immigrants, in 1979 she turned pro at 14. As she traveled the world tennis circuit, her rise in the rankings equaled her increasingly large earnings from victories and endorsements. At 16, she won the French Open.

Then it crashed. At 19, Jaeger’s right shoulder gave out, a career-ending injury that no number of surgeries -- seven in all -- could cure.

Twenty years after that last volley, Jaeger remains in top form -- in the life-and-death game of caring for children living with cancer.

Engagingly, and at times inspirationally, she tells the story of redirecting her energies and graces into a world few of us ever see or experience.

Raised in a nonreligious home, Jaeger embraced Christianity as a schoolgirl. Her spirituality is in the classic mold found in all God-centered vocations: obedience to Divine Providence.

First Service, written with clarity and warmth, details Jaeger’s successes in raising funds and securing land to cofound in 1980 the Silver Lining Foundation, an Aspen, Colo., nonprofit that runs medical and sports programs at a spacious Rocky Mountain ranch. More than 400 children a year are served there, with Jaeger the on-site director.

Commensurately modest, Jaeger gives herself no credit. She sees herself as God’s instrument: “He instilled in me the importance of helping children in the world.”

-- Colman McCarthy

By Ronald Rolheiser
Doubleday, 193 pages, $19.95

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, author of the popular The Holy Longing, devotes his newest book to one of the most pervasive problems of the human condition: loneliness. In The Restless Heart, Rolheiser, the Canada general councillor for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, looks at how we navigate the emptiness in our lives. We want to be filled, but with what? Some choose to fill themselves with drugs or television or love affairs. But Rolheiser says that we must come to terms with our loneliness, not quash it, because in this life it will never go away. We were made for union with God and all things, and this will never completely happen until we die and rise again. Rolheiser traces the treatment of loneliness by authors of the Hebrew Bible and by theologians Augustine, Aquinas, John of the Cross and Karl Rahner.

-- Antonia Ryan

National Catholic Reporter, October 15, 2004

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