Sunday 25 July 2021

Saint Ignatius of Loyola A Convert's Story - Patrick Corkery SJ

Saint Ignatius of Loyola: A Convert's Story
Patrick Corkery SJ
ISBN 9781788123273
eISBN 9781788123310

I believe this is the first book published by Patrick Corkery SJ. He made is first vows in 2017 and this volume was published in the Spring of 2021. My son picked Saint Ignatius as his confirmation saint 2 years ago. And since that time we have read a few books together about the saint. With covid related delays to confirmation we have now had the opportunity to give this one a read as well. As soon as I saw it I put it on my wish list, and I was thankful to see an eBook edition released. This was the first book from Messenger Publications that I have read, but it will not be the last. The longer description of this book is:

“Change is an essential part of life. How we meet that change is where it can get interesting. When a person goes through a conversion experience, there is an automatic assumption that they have it all figured out immediately, and they know exactly what God wants them to do. This is not the case. We only have to look at St. Paul. While his conversion was dramatic, Paul tells us in his letters that he had to spend considerable time in the wilderness pondering what had happened to him, and figuring out what exactly God wanted him to do. The same is true of St. Ignatius of Loyola. 

St. Ignatius had a dramatic conversion which shattered not only his leg but all his previous dreams and aspirations. Such a change was not easy to get his head around, and he was forced to enter into his own period in the wilderness. This time of reflection not only brought him closer to God, but it also gave him a greater insight into himself. In this booklet, you will be able to witness the transformation which took place in the life of Ignatius from a vainglorious young man obsessed with his own success, to one who put the service of God and other people before anything else.

This transformation, while dramatic, was not immediate. It took time and reflection and took him across various locations. In all of his travels, Ignatius was focused on one thing, what was God calling him to do? Ignatius conversion will allow the reader to get a perspective on how Ignatius faced the challenges which transformed his life, and hopefully, the reader may be able to make time in their own life to explore things which brought about changes in their life and see how God was operating within this change.”    

The shorter description sometimes appears as just the first of the three paragraphs above. The chapters in this volume are:

1: Ignatius’s World (1491–1521)
2: The Battle of Pamplona (May 1521)
3: Ignatius Returns to Loyola (June 1521)
4: A Time of Change (June 1521–February 1522)
5: The Monastery of Montserrat (March 1522)
6: Ignatius at Manresa (25 March 1522–February 1523)
7: Interlude in Italy (March 1523–July 1523)
8: Ignatius in the Holy Land (September 1523–October 1523)
9: Return to Spain and then to Paris (March 1524–28)
10: Three Lessons from Ignatius

Most chapter’s ends with a section called ‘Time to Reflect’. These sections contain either 2 or three questions to reflect upon. Only the chapter 9 does not have a set. A sample from the chapter ‘A Time of Change’ is:

Time to Reflect

A great deal has now happened in the life of Ignatius, so pause and take some time to reflect on what you have read:

1. What have you learned about discernment from what you’ve read so far? Can you think of discernments in your own life and what tactics you used to make a decision?

2. Our Lady plays an essential part in the story of Ignatius. Take some time to read John 2:1–11. Mary points the way to Jesus, how do you see Mary doing the same in the life of Ignatius? Perhaps Mary has helped you draw closer to Jesus too?

3. At this point in the story, what are your thoughts regarding Ignatius? Take some time to think about how you feel about him. Do you find that you like him or does thinking about him create feelings of frustration?”

This book begins with these words:

“When the canonisation of Ignatius was being considered, a Roman beggar was consulted. It’s unlikely that he was popular with the great and good of Roman society, but the beggar was someone Ignatius has made an impression on. He described Ignatius as ‘the small Spaniard with a limp who smiled a lot’. I think St Ignatius is often obscured by the image of the ‘soldier saint’. While this image has merit, it misses the warmth that was very much part of Ignatius’s life and character.

On the 500th anniversary of his ‘accident’ at Pamplona, perhaps now is an appropriate time to revisit Ignatius’s life and to reimagine him through the eyes of the Roman beggar. In this booklet, I hope to show you that other ‘smiling’ side to Ignatius. It is a side that many readers may not know.”

And that is what we get in this volume, is a new look at Ignatius. Or an attempt to open our eyes to see Ignatius afresh. Even having read a few other volumes about Ignatius recently. And having read about him and the exercises off and on over the last 35-40 years, I found this a great little volume. It is well worth the time and effort to pick up and give a read. The book ends with these words:

By making space for something new, Ignatius began to contemplate things beyond his standard frame of reference. He began to consider the possibility that God loved him and wanted to be in a relationship with him. By opening his mind to this, Ignatius was able to make sense of things and see that he was called to a greater form of service than anything he had previously envisioned. The more Ignatius moved into contemplation, the less relevant his previous enjoyments came to be. In their place he discovered real fulfilment and contentment.

And learning about him might help you do the same. The back of this book highlighted 4 other Messenger Booklets. A few of them grabbed my interest. On the website are currently 21 books in the Messenger Booklet series and several are now on my wish list. This was a great read and introduction to the Messenger Booklets. 

(Note: There are two covers for this book, one in Europe and a different one in North America.)

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For all review of Messenger Publications books and booklets click here

Books about Saint Ignatius:
Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius - Michael E. Gaitley
Probing the Depths: Ignatian Lessons and Meditations Arranged According to the Liturgical Year - John Paul Thomas

(Note: There are two covers for this book, one in Europe and a different one in North America.)

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