The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, S.J.

by Cam N. Coulter

Posted on June 7, 2016 reading

New York: HarperOne, 2012. Originally published in 2010.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Jesuit environments the past several years: I went to a Jesuit university, and now I’m serving in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps at a Jesuit high school.

So on one hand, A Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin wasn’t anything new to me, which made slogging through its 400 pages not particularly exciting or revelatory. However, on the other hand, this book did do a good job of uniting, solidifying, and gently expanding what I knew of the Jesuits and Ignatian spirituality. Since I’ll soon be leaving Jesuit environments for the foreseeable future, I’m grateful for that service. (And, of course, Martin is very clear about this book being an introduction; as such, it’s not really fair to critique it for being elementary. If I wanted upper-division Ignatian spirituality, I should have read something else.)

The first half of the book looks at Ignatian spirituality, God, and prayer, and the second half takes that out into the world, examining simple living, relationships, discernment, and vocation. The first half was a struggle, as the book definitely passed my tolerance threshold for reading about prayer. Although I must say, while I found it painful to read about Ignatian contemplation and lectio divina, I do appreciating having a better understanding of what they are and how they fit in with Jesuit life. I enjoyed the second half much more. I didn’t have any revelations or notable insights, but I did find it pleasant to read and reflect on simple living, relationships, discernment, and vocation.

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nonfiction: religion James Martin