Understanding the Spiritual Exercises

Understanding the Spiritual Exercises


Ever since the Spiritual Exercises were first published in 1548, the need had been felt for explanations to help guide those giving them; hence the so-called Directories. But directors today continue to feel the same need, perhaps more acutely than ever with the spread in popularity of both spiritual direction and retreat work.

Michael Ivens draws both on the wealth of published material and on the wisdom of his own long experience to produce a new commentary that attempts to unravel the inner workings of the Spiritual Exercises. He presents a new translation, as faithful as possible to the original, while commenting in detail on words or phrases that call for elucidation. At the same time his longer introductions to each section enable the director to distinguish the wood from the trees, and arrive at a firm and nuanced understanding of a great classic of western spirituality.

The Commentary is a master class, as it were. It looks to the art of giving the Exercises. It distils great erudition with reflection on long years of experience. Experience illuminates the text and the early sources and invites the sources to illuminate experience. It is spare, lucid, complete, learned and wise. Joseph Veale, SJ

A unique, informative, lucid and much needed commentary on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. The book draws on the wisdom and experience of sixteenth-century Jesuit givers of the Exercises, and is written by a twentieth-century Jesuit, whose wisdom and lived experience of the Exercises is manifest. Gerard Hughes, SJ

Michael Ivens, SJ was born in England and completed early studies in France and England before taking up writing and teaching in the area of spirituality. He worked for many years with The Way publications, under the guidance of James Walsh, and was then appointed as spiritual director to young Jesuit priests and brothers in their final year of training. This work took him to Australia and the USA. Later he helped establish the new retreat centre, St Beuno's in North Wales, with its specialized work in guided retreats. His wisdom and insight made him one of the best-known English directors of the Spiritual Exercises. Michael Ivens died in 2005.

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