Deeply rooted in Christian tradition, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are poignant meditations on spirituality, often used in retreats to facilitate spiritual growth. Since its inception in 1524, countless Christians have been invigorated and challenged by these exercises, as their heads, and minds, have been opened to God's will.
- Kudos in several areas
I'm at a point where I have a strong desire to see the paths other Christians outside my "small Christian circle of life" have followed in thought and deed. This book excites me in this regard and the reader handles the material in such a way that the spoken word, in this instance, adds an intense level of understanding.
- This recording of The Spiritual Exercises...
This recording of The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius translated by Fr. Elder Mullan, S.J. (1865-1925) narrated by Geoffrey Silver is first rate. The translation from Spanish into English is classic and the reading by Mr. Silver is superb.
St. Ignatius wrote the Exercises between 1522 and 1524. They are designed to be used by Spiritual Directors trained in Ignatian Spirituality to lead persons through the 30 day exercises, or over a period of 9 month when the 19th Annotation for Experiencing the Exercises in Ordinary Life is used. It was not intended to be read cover to cover in one sitting or heard read in short order.
Even recognizing the above limitation it is an excellent product. It presents one of the great classics of the Western Spiritual Tradition in a format that can be enjoyed by all. Christian Audio is to be commended for making the recording available to the public.
- Perhaps it's just the nature of...
Perhaps it's just the nature of the beast encountered when attempting to transpose classic literary works into user-friendly mediums such as digital and audiobook formats. However, I have come to the conclusion that 16th century Spanish Catholic/Jesuit mysticism should not be in audio format. How does one approach a 'text' that is meant to be contemplated in a dark room, a cave, or a nunnery...in one's car or on one's iPod? That said, narrator Geoffrey Silver should be awarded a big gold star for successfully subjecting himself to this undertaking. His (presumably) British accent gives a nice academic air to the reading, and makes you smile at the beauty of pronunciation and the joy of phonics, even while you're listening to a passage about 'the desolation of the soul.'
This work by St. Ignatius was meant to inspire counter-Reformation Christians (Ignatius' specific followers would later be known as Jesuits) toward Jesus, through contemplation, with the result being "consolations" from God manifest in the heart, necessarily evidenced by the "conquering" of sin in one's own life. Ignatius' work has no doubt greatly benefited the more contemplative streams of Christianity, and has given us meditative practices and exercises that, followed devoutly, would shape and mold us into being more like Christ.
However, the book is about 20 times too long, and could be condensed into an 18 minute "How to contemplate and purge yourself of sin" summary. That would work for an audio/digital book. But attempting to translate a contemplative 30-day mystic devotional written 500 years ago, into a more palatable 21st century means not only contradicts the very essence of 16th c Spanish mysticism and these spiritual exercises, but leads to a confused, bored, overwhelmed listener.
There were two redeeming qualities about this work, however:
1) You can now say you've "read" 16th century Spanish mystical texts.
And the second is like it:
2) You now have wonderful phrases you can memorize and quote at parties, bars, class reunions, and anywhere you want to sound smart or, conversely, to simply make others feel awkward. Below are two examples that you can try, for free. They're yours. Enjoy them:
i)"Likewise, we ought not to speak so much with insistence on grace that the poison of discarding liberty be engendered" (75)."
and my personal favorite:
ii) "The Third way (to chastise one's self for sins committed) is to chastise the flesh, that is, giving it sensible pain, which is given by wearing haircloth or cords or iron chains next to the flesh, by scourging or wounding oneself, and by other kinds of austerity. Note: what appears most suitable and most secure with regard to penance is that pain should be sensible in the flesh and not enter within the bones, so that it give pain and not illness. For this it appears to be more suitable to scourge oneself with thin cords, which give pain exteriorly, rather than in another way which would cause notable illness within" (27).
Please let me know how they work out. You can post your own review below.