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
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
Keeping the Graces Received
Receiving Further Exercises
Giving the First Exercises to Others
Guides and Helps
The Ignatian Awareness Examen
The Ignatian Particular Examen
The Ignatian Reconciliation Examen
The Ignatian Healing Examen
The Ignatian Guide to Enhance Exercises
The Ignatian Guide to Twelve Ways of Prayer
The Ignatian Guide to Christian Belief
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.
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