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.
The spiritual exercises have been described as a “journey of transformation and conversion.” More than a book of rote prayers or lockstep exercises, Ignatius’s little book of exercises was designed to help people get in touch with their experiences of God, become more and more sensitive to them, and to continue to work within them.
“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 to the historical situation in which Ignatius of Loyola introduced his Spiritual Exercises as a 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’ 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.