One of my favorite saints is Ignatius of Loyola. There are a few reasons, but the one pertinent reason is that he put together the Spiritual Exercises. And guided many people, both religious and lay, through them and taught others to do the same. I have done the Exercises and studied them on my own. In January I will start a certificate program in spiritual direction and hope to study and learn more about them. All this to say why I was so excited to see this anthology from Ignatius Press.
Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, An Anthology, Edited with an introduction by Jacques Servais, S.J. is a collection of “brief excerpts” from von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian. The foreword tells us that this book is not a guide to the Exercises, but more like a commentary on the Exercises. It is meant to be a help to those who accompany others on their spiritual journeys.
Before picking up this book, I’d heard and read short bits from von Balthasar, after reading this I can see why his work is still being used today. The book gives explanations and suggestions on the different points, meditations, prayers, and movements of the Exercises. Reading this book apart from the Exercises is not helpful. They go hand in hand. It would be like having recipe instructions but not the ingredient list.
If you have done the Spiritual Exercises and want to go back through certain parts more deeply, this would be a great resource. If you are a spiritual director who uses the Spiritual Exercises with those you direct, again, a great resource, especially those parts that give tips on helping others. I am pleased that this book is available and now is on my shelf.