This book is all about Ignatian spirituality — the way of Christian meditation, mindfulness, and paying attention started by Saint Ignatius of Loyola nearly 500 years ago.

Members of the Roman Catholic religious order co-founded by Ignatius are called Jesuits or members of the Society of Jesus. One of their most well-known members today is New York Times bestselling author James Martin, who writes the foreword to this book. The author himself is Patrick Saint-Jean, not a new name to Spirituality & Practice; we awarded his first book, The Spiritual Work of Racial Justice, one of our “Best Book of the Year” awards in 2021.

This is an excellent introduction to the purpose, methods, and practices of Ignatian spirituality. What’s unique are the ways that Saint-Jean opens up these practices for all spiritual explorers. He writes: “We do not need to be Jesuit, Catholic, or even Christian to make use of Ignatius’s methods…. The inner growth that results from engaging with the Exercises is spiritual and psychological.”

“We do not need to conform to any doctrine, theology, or standard of sanctity in order to begin.”

He follows through on these promises, revealing a way of being in the world that teaches one to become more receptive to the Divine Spirit, as well as a better steward, with reverence, to one’s experience and environment.

Imagining being present with Jesus, in situations related to his life as told in the New Testament, is central to Ignatian spirituality and Saint-Jean’s approach, but these examples are offered in the spirit of “try this” rather than “this is true.”

Chapters on self-awareness (ch. 3), emotions (ch. 4), and the power of the imagination (ch. 7), are among the choicest nuggets, as is Praying the Examen with Our Hands (Appendix) in which Saint-Jean shares his process for integrating our five fingers and breathwork with praying the Ignatian Examen.

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