The First Spiritual Exercises

A Manual for Those Who Give the Exercises

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: August 26, 2013


Designed for those who direct The First Spiritual Exercises or train others to direct them, this manual provides a wealth of practical information on the origins and dynamics of these retreats, providing leaders with the tools they need to become effective guides and trainers.

Hansen distinguishes The First Spiritual Exercises from the two other, better-known ways that the Exercises are made: during a thirty-day solitary retreat or at home over a similar time period. The Manual offers a brief history and description of The First Spiritual Exercises, as well as notes and instructions on the day-by-day structure and content of each of the four retreats. Leaders also receive guidance on the place of the sacraments and of Sunday in the retreats, along with a five-step learning process: pray, learn, guide, converse, and practice.

Features & Benefits

  • Both an introduction to The First Spiritual Exercises for spiritual directors and a guide for those who train new directors.
  • A comprehensive introduction to this innovative way of making the Spiritual Exercises, working from the context of St. Ignatius’s life and practices.
  • A complete tool kit for implementing The First Spiritual Exercises in a retreat center, parish, or any pastoral setting.
  • Practical guidance on every dimension of making or guiding a retreat: spiritual conversation, the use of the Examen, discernment, the role of the sacraments, and journaling.

Product Details

Pages: 192

Trim size: 6 x 9 inches

ISBN: 9781594713804

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

  • “A beautiful book and an important one as well. Michael Hansen, S.J., an experienced Jesuit retreat director and a talented writer, recovers an often-overlooked way of praying with St. Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. But this is much more than a guide for a fulfilling personal retreat; it is also a compendium of inspiring meditations, useful insights, and practical advice for anyone who seeks a closer relationship with God. In these pages is a wealth of knowledge that I will surely be using in the future—both in counseling others and in my own prayer life.”

    “A beautiful book and an important one as well.”

  • “The First Spiritual Exercises, written and piloted by Fr. Michael Hansen, S.J. is an important breakthrough in our understanding of the Spiritual Exercises and for potentially extending an experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to many, many more people of all ages than other more familiar forms of the Exercises. The author’s impeccable research briefly opens a window onto Ignatius’s earliest practices in giving this first version of the Exercises and invites the reader to experience one or more of these four-week experiences for oneself. His prose is both attractive and enlightening. Each one of the retreats highlights essential aspects of the Ignatian vision of a God who desires to grace each retreatant with a relationship of mutuality and friendship in the service of others and the Gospel. Great care is displayed in the inclusion of texts for and about women as well as grounding every retreat in key Gospel texts that introduce the person making these Exercises to a deeply Gospel spirituality as well as Ignatian approaches to prayer and transformation into discipleship.”

    “Both attractive and enlightening.”

  • “Michael Hansen, S.J,. helps readers meet the living God who wants a personal relationship with them. From years of experience he knows the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola very well and leads the reader in a creative and easy-to-follow way through them without jargon and with a deft hand. I am very happy to recommend this book and I sense that St. Ignatius rejoices that his great work has been made so accessible to modern readers.”

    “St. Ignatius rejoices that his great work has been made so accessible.”

  • “Prayer is better learned by doing it, although there are many good books about prayer. Michael Hansen, S.J., lures us to pray in his recent book, The First Spiritual Exercises. Though the book is professionally footnoted with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, this master artisan entices us into such a simple method of prayer that soon we feel as though we have been praying this all our life.”

    “Lures us to pray.”

  • “If you are looking for a clear, simple, and practical approach to developing your prayer life in the Ignatian tradition, The First Spiritual Exercises is well worth procuring. One of Ignatius’s most radical and contentious insights was that the Creator engages directly with the heart of the creature. What I particularly like about the exercises in The First Spiritual Exercises is that they invite, stimulate, and give us freedom, if we dare, to dispose ourselves to experience such an encounter.”

    “A clear, simple, and practical approach to developing your prayer life.”

  • “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 the historical situation in which Ignatius of Loyola introduced his Spiritual Exercises as a practical 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’s process of spiritual renewal and makes it an accessible and useful tool for deepening an intimate connection with God today. I highly recommend it.”

    “I highly recommend it.”

  • “Michael Hansen has graced us with a fresh look at Saint Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises. Rooted deep in both Ignatius’s understanding of the spiritual life and also the realities of Christian discipleship in the contemporary world, Hansen offers us a thorough immersion in the Ignatian school of divine love. I highly recommend Hansen's text for use among religious and lay people, in retreat centers, in schools, in parishes, and in conversations among friends. He extends to us Ignatius’s conviction that God deals directly with his beloved creatures and invites us to deepen our response to God’s generous love.”

    “Michael Hansen has graced us.”

  • “This work is astoundingly clear, faithful to the Spiritual Exercises, and beautiful as well.”

    “Astoundingly clear.”

  • “This is one of the great books on Ignatian Spirituality. It takes people from where Ignatius first found them, in their prayers and devotions, and quickly moves them into formal prayer. I have been using it for four years, and those to whom I have given it marvel at its power to move them into an intimate relationship with God. Michael Hansen is a born teacher, who enables people through the use of imagination to experience and reflect on their experience of God’s love and discover its dynamic in their own selves.”

    “One of the great books on Ignatian Spirituality.”

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