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To Love & To Serve: Exploring The Ignatian Tradition

Brian O’Leary, an Irish Jesuit, has been researching and writing on Ignatian spirituality since the 1970s. Over that period he has authored five books, the last of which (God Ever Greater, 2018) was a selection of his lectures and talks. His new offering, To Love and To Serve, is also a selection – this time of essays that have appeared in spirituality journals in a number of countries. Since these are not easily accessible, O’Leary made the decision to gather together the best of his work in this genre into one book, so making that work more widely available. The essays vary considerably in content, purpose, and style. Some are short and aimed at a popular readership, others tend to be more academic or written with practitioners of Ignatian spirituality in mind. All are eminently readable and display great clarity of style.Ignatian spirituality is most commonly associated with the Spiritual Exercises. Consequently these figure largely in O’Leary’s writings. However, the Exercises do not represent the totality of Ignatian spirituality and so there are a number of pieces on the Jesuit Constitutions – a spiritual classic that is surprisingly relevant outside its original context. The Constitutions are frequently quoted today in the context of spiritual formation and of leadership. And then there is spiritual direction – is there a specifically Ignatian model of this ministry? There are also intriguing questions around St. Ignatius Loyola himself, perhaps most of all around his mysticism. And what would such mysticism look like if lived out in the post-modern world? The range of topics is remarkable.

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Brian O’Leary, an Irish Jesuit, has been researching and writing on Ignatian spirituality since the 1970s. Over that period he has authored five books, the last of which (God Ever Greater, 2018) was a selection of his lectures and talks. His new offering, To Love and To Serve, is also a selection – this time of essays that have appeared in spirituality journals in a number of countries. Since these are not easily accessible, O’Leary made the decision to gather together the best of his work in this genre into one book, so making that work more widely available. The essays vary considerably in content, purpose, and style. Some are short and aimed at a popular readership, others tend to be more academic or written with practitioners of Ignatian spirituality in mind. All are eminently readable and display great clarity of style.Ignatian spirituality is most commonly associated with the Spiritual Exercises. Consequently these figure largely in O’Leary’s writings. However, the Exercises do not represent the totality of Ignatian spirituality and so there are a number of pieces on the Jesuit Constitutions – a spiritual classic that is surprisingly relevant outside its original context. The Constitutions are frequently quoted today in the context of spiritual formation and of leadership. And then there is spiritual direction – is there a specifically Ignatian model of this ministry? There are also intriguing questions around St. Ignatius Loyola himself, perhaps most of all around his mysticism. And what would such mysticism look like if lived out in the post-modern world? The range of topics is remarkable.

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