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The First Spiritual Exercises

Four Guided Retreats

ISBN13: 9781594713781

ISBN10: 1594713782

Publisher: Ave Maria Press (30 April 2013)

Extent: 352 pages

Binding: Paperback

Size: 24 x 2.5 x 15.2 cm

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  • A radically innovative way to make the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, the classic retreat of Catholic spirituality, this creative and easy-to-use guide presents four retreats on inner peace that are, for the first time, accessible to anyone without getting away from ordinary life or meeting daily with a spiritual director.


    For almost five hundred years, the Spiritual Exercises have been available only to priests and religious who could spend thirty days in silence under the guidance of a spiritual director.


    Now they are available as four retreats on inner peace to people in every stage of spiritual growth. Years of research and testing come together in Michael Hansen, S.J.’s, recreation of the way that St. Ignatius first gave the Exercises as he travelled with four companions, begging in bare feet and dressed in sackcloth.


    Table of Contents:



    The First Spiritual Exercises

    Spiritual Desire

    My Desire for Inner Peace

    Introducing the First Spiritual Exercises


    The Four Retreats

    Inner Peace in Divine Love

    Inner Peace in Darkness and Light

    Inner Peace in Friendship with Jesus

    Inner Peace in the Service of God

    Spiritual Progress

    Keeping the Graces Received

    Receiving Further Exercises

    Giving the First Exercises to Others

    Guides and Helps

    Spiritual Life

    The Ignatian Awareness Examen

    The Ignatian Particular Examen

    The Ignatian Reconciliation Examen

    The Ignatian Healing Examen

    Spiritual Guides

    The Ignatian Guide to Enhance Exercises

    The Ignatian Guide to Twelve Ways of Prayer

    The Ignatian Guide to Christian Belief

    Spiritual Conversation

    The Ignatian Guide to Spiritual Journaling

    The Ignatian Guide to Spiritual Conversation

    The Ignatian Guide to the Discernment of Spirits

    A Note on the Texts


  • Michael Hansen, S.J.

    Michael Hansen, S.J., is a retreat leader, speaker, spiritual formation teacher, and spiritual director on the retreat team at Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. He also works in the post-ordination formation program for the Australian Jesuits. Hansen has served in several schools and parishes, produced radio and television programs, and is the author of five books, including The First Spiritual Exercises, The Gospels for Prayer, and The Land of Walking Trees.


    Hansen’s academic background includes degrees in the arts and theology. He has developed creative uses of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and, with a large team of spiritual directors, has designed and given these exercises in many different retreat forms—both for groups and individuals. Hansen gives retreats around Australia and abroad, always seeking to make the tools and experience of the Spiritual Exercises accessible to as many as possible.

  • Be the first to review this product

    A beautiful book and an important one as well. Michael Hansen, S.J., an experienced Jesuit retreat director and a talented writer, recovers an often-overlooked way of praying with St. Ignatius Loyolas Spiritual Exercises. But this is much more than a guide for a fulfilling personal retreat; it is also a compendium of inspiring meditations, useful insights, and practical advice for anyone who seeks a closer relationship with God. In these pages is a wealth of knowledge that I will surely be using in the future—both in counseling others and in my own prayer life.

     - James Martin, S.J., Author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything


    The First Spiritual Exercises, written and piloted by Fr. Michael Hansen, S.J. is an important breakthrough in our understanding of the Spiritual Exercises and for potentially extending an experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to many, many more people of all ages than other more familiar forms of the Exercises. The author’s impeccable research briefly opens a window onto Ignatius’s earliest practices in giving this first version of the Exercises and invites the reader to experience one or more of these four-week experiences for oneself. His prose is both attractive and enlightening. Each one of the retreats highlights essential aspects of the Ignatian vision of a God who desires to grace each retreatant with a relationship of mutuality and friendship in the service of others and the Gospel. Great care is displayed in the inclusion of texts for and about women as well as grounding every retreat in key Gospel texts that introduce the person making these Exercises to a deeply Gospel spirituality as well as Ignatian approaches to prayer and transformation into discipleship.

     - Janet K. Ruffing, R.S.M., Professor in the Practice of Spirituality and Ministerial Leadership, Yale Divinity School


    Michael Hansen, S.J,. helps readers meet the living God who wants a personal relationship with them. From years of experience he knows the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola very well and leads the reader in a creative and easy-to-follow way through them without jargon and with a deft hand. I am very happy to recommend this book and I sense that St. Ignatius rejoices that his great work has been made so accessible to modern readers.

     - William A. Barry, S.J., Author of A Friendship Like No Other


    Prayer is better learned by doing it, although there are many good books about prayer. Michael Hansen, S.J., lures us to pray in his recent book, The First Spiritual Exercises. Though the book is professionally footnoted with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, this master artisan entices us into such a simple method of prayer that soon we feel as though we have been praying this all our life.

     - George Aschenbrenner, S.J., Author of Stretched for Greater Glory: The Spiritual Exercises


    If you are looking for a clear, simple, and practical approach to developing your prayer life in the Ignatian tradition, The First Spiritual Exercises is well worth procuring. One of Ignatius’s most radical and contentious insights was that the Creator engages directly with the heart of the creature. What I particularly like about the exercises in The First Spiritual Exercises is that they invite, stimulate, and give us freedom, if we dare, to dispose ourselves to experience such an encounter.

     - Brendan Kelly, S.J., Master of Jesuit Novices, Australia


    These are challenging times for Christians trying to sustain a lively faith. Growing disillusionment with institutional religion and turbulent controversies within mainline denominations pose serious hurdles in our walk of faith. These present conditions parallel the historical situation in which Ignatius of Loyola introduced his Spiritual Exercises as a practical way of grounding faith in concrete personal experience of God’s love, forgiveness, call, and faithfulness in one’s life. Jesuit Michael Hansen’s The First Spiritual Exercises captures in a helpful way Ignatius’s process of spiritual renewal and makes it an accessible and useful tool for deepening an intimate connection with God today. I highly recommend it.

     - Wilkie Au, Author and Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University


    Michael Hansen has graced us with a fresh look at Saint Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises. Rooted deep in both Ignatius’s understanding of the spiritual life and also the realities of Christian discipleship in the contemporary world, Hansen offers us a thorough immersion in the Ignatian school of divine love. I highly recommend Hansens text for use among religious and lay people, in retreat centers, in schools, in parishes, and in conversations among friends. He extends to us Ignatius’s conviction that God deals directly with his beloved creatures and invites us to deepen our response to God’s generous love.

     - Tim Muldoon, Author of The Ignatian Workout


    This work is astoundingly clear, faithful to the Spiritual Exercises, and beautiful as well.

     - Marlene Marburg, Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality, Melbourne, Australia


    This is one of the great books on Ignatian Spirituality. It takes people from where Ignatius first found them, in their prayers and devotions, and quickly moves them into formal prayer. I have been using it for four years, and those to whom I have given it marvel at its power to move them into an intimate relationship with God. Michael Hansen is a born teacher, who enables people through the use of imagination to experience and reflect on their experience of God’s love and discover its dynamic in their own selves.

     - Des Purcell, S.J., Director of Canisius Centre of Ignatian Spirituality, Sydney, Australia

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