The First Spiritual Exercises
The Manual for Givers
If you walk in the way of God, you will live in peace forever. Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding, so that you may at the same time discern where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace. Baruch 3:3–14
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
Contents of the Book
A. Spiritual Desire
1. My Desire for Inner Peace
2. Introducing the First Spiritual Exercises
B. The Four Retreats
1. Inner Peace in Divine Love
2. Inner Peace in Darkness and Light
3. Inner Peace in Friendship with Jesus
4. Inner Peace in the Service of God
C. Spiritual Progress
1. Keeping the Graces Received
2. Receiving Further Exercises
3. Giving the First Exercises to Others
D. Guides and Helps
1. Spiritual Life
a. The Ignatian Awareness Examen
b. The Ignatian Particular Examen
c. The Ignatian Reconciliation Examen
d. The Ignatian Healing Examen
2. Spiritual Guides
a. The Ignatian Guide to Enhance Exercises
b. The Ignatian Guide to Twelve Ways of Prayer
c. The Ignatian Guide to Christian Belief
3. Spiritual Conversation
a. The Ignatian Guide to Spiritual Journaling
b. The Ignatian Guide to Spiritual Conversation
c. The Ignatian Guide to the Discernment of Spirits
Contents of the Manual
A. Friend of God
1. The Story of the First Spiritual Exercises
2. Moving with Inner Peace
3. Sent with the First Spiritual Exercises
4. Developing a Support Network
B. Spiritual Conversation Guide
1. Speaking About the Things of God
2. How to Use the Listening Book
3. How to Guide Spiritual Conversation
C. Giver of the First Spiritual Exercises
1. Structure and Dynamic of the First Spiritual Exercises
2. Giving Inner Peace in Divine Love
3. Giving Inner Peace in Darkness and Light
4. Giving Inner Peace in Friendship with Jesus
5. Giving Inner Peace in Service of God
6. Exercises Common to All Retreats
7. The Guide to Enhance Exercises
“A beautiful book and an important one as well.”
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 Loyola’s 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.
“Michael has graced us.”
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 Hansen’s 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.
“A clear, simple, and practical approach to developing your prayer life.”
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.
“Lures us to pray.”
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.
“Both attractive and enlightening.”
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.
“One of the great books on Ignatian Spirituality.”
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.
“Michael has uncovered a major missing link.”
Every word and detail Ignatius wrote was in order to draw people into relationship with Christ. Through Michael’s intimate understanding of Ignatius, I believe he has uncovered a major missing link between the rich heritage of the Church and the disconnected but searching members of our rapidly changing and contemporary world. This work is a necessity in todays Church and beyond.
My hope and expectation is that through the First Spiritual Exercises, the Spirit will rekindle the fire in all who encounter it, just as it did in the rapidly changing world at the time of Ignatius and his Companions.
“St. Ignatius rejoices that his great work has been made so accessible.”
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.
“I highly recommend it.”
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.
This work is astoundingly clear, faithful to the Spiritual Exercises, and beautiful as well.