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Book Review

Malcolm Rothwell

Journeying With God

An Exploration of Ignatian Spirituality

ISBN 0-7162-0549-1

Epworth Press, Peterborough, 2001, £9.95    

(price at publication of review)

Reviewed September 2002;
© Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2002

The author, a Methodist Minister, begins by setting the scene from the background of his own life and then from a historical context of theology and secular change.  Posing questions as to the presence or the action of God in this world,  he goes on to discuss the reality of vocation as the invitation of God, in regard to which we must make choices.  Our environment, the events of everyday life, influences from outside ourselves: all play their part and mediate alternatives.   ‘Ultimately,’  he says, choices we make define us as people and define our philosophy of life.   Where is our deepest self engaged?’

After a brief résumé of the life of Ignatius Loyola and description of The Spiritual  Exercises, Rothwell then speaks of his own experiences in making a thirty-day retreat.  He includes a chapter on prayer and silence, then goes on to discuss human fragility, the encounter with evil, acknowledgement of weakness, collusion, and our need for forgiveness.  He points up how emotions may affect our spiritual progress; how laughter and tears are very often two sides of the same coin; and how the integration of head and heart are needed as we move towards God and the discernment of the will of God.

Starting from his own preferred intellectual perspective, Rothwell is generously and simply honest in recounting the changes in his own life, with movement into the heart and a more emotional approach as he focuses on Jesus and enters into the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection.  He references The Exercises at every point.

This is a deeply personal book, a re-telling of profound experience, of the writer’s own deliberations within his retreat, and ‘conversations’ with the stories of Jesus in the gospels.  It scarcely needs saying that no two persons have the same experience or are endowed with the same temperament.  Some are gifted with ready imagination and picture-conjuring; some need time and practice to acquire such assets;  and these must affect our experience in a retreat.   This book will be of interest to many, and not only to those contemplating The Exercises.

Elizabeth CSF

 

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