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Journey with Jesus
Author: Larry Warner
Publisher: IVP
304pp (Paperback)

This book is sub-titled Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and it was a welcome one to review, as I have been interested in these for some years. 

Warner is a spiritual director, who has regularly led these exercises and here he guides the reader as he would someone whom he is leading face-to-face. 

One key factor in using these exercises is time. The book represents an intense retreat of thirty days or, ideally, a sustained “retreat in everyday life” of nine months.  While I could not follow the whole program, I went far enough to get an idea of how it might feel to continue. Warner does not shirk from the cost in time, warning that the required 50-75 minutes per day take commitment. However, at the end he does offer seven and seventeen week versions as a (reluctant?) compromise.

But those who follow the course could find that the constant periodic reflection and openness to God’s Spirit repays that commitment and makes a real difference to both hearing God regularly and assessing their lives in the light of his kingship.

Ignatius wanted to help everyone, no matter what age or stage of life, to experience Jesus. This book sets out prayers and bible readings that focus mainly on Christ, so helping people reconnect with both Jesus and themselves in life-giving ways. Sometimes this is through ordinary prayer, sometimes by imagining oneself as a disciple during some of the gospel events.

The book is logically laid out, with tips at the start, and an explanation of the regular parts of the program, including slowing down, particular prayers, journaling and exploring biblical text. Then ‘preparatory exercises’ begin, before the ‘spiritual exercises’ in four main sections: Sin, Me and God’s Love, Walking with Jesus, Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus.

I found the exercises simple and helpful, although the introduction could have been more concise. (When helpfully trying to recreate the personal touch of a face-to-face guide, Warner seems to have his most baffled student in mind. By giving as much advice as he can, in effect he delays the start and makes it harder to find the summary notes for the first exercises.)

If anyone is thinking of going on a retreat, this may be a wise preparation or substitute as the material is simple, flexible and Christ-focused. Surely, anyone prepared to invest the time should find it useful.

Derek Walker



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