"I would like one day," Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote in 1952, "to write a book on St. Ignatius of Loyola, the saint of whom I will always consider myself the least of sons." The Jesuit-formed theologian from Switzerlandwidely considered one of the greatest thinkers and spiritual writers of modern timesnever got the chance to fulfill this dream.
Instead, his whole theology, from The Glory of the Lord to Dare We Hope "That All Men Be Saved", is imbued with the influence of St. Ignatius, who founded the Society of Jesus in the sixteenth century and authored the Spiritual Exercises, a multi-week retreat guide that has continued to rejuvenate Catholic spirituality over the centuries. Balthasar himself led countless retreatants in the Ignatian Exercises throughout his priestly life, accompanying people of different ages in their discernment of God's call.
This anthology, equipped with a large thematic index, is intended as an aid for those either giving or making the Spiritual Exercises retreat. Moving day by day through the Ignatian libretto, it uses Balthasar's writings to offer a deeper insight into each step of the retreat, often exploring features of St. Ignatius' text that have been scarcely treated by others.
This book will also be useful for the many students of Balthasar's theology, as it maps out hidden strains of Ignatian spirituality that run unnoticed through his oeuvre. Finally, the book could also be of interest to anyone seeking to deepen his prayer life or come to grips with Catholic doctrine, for as the Swiss theologian himself says, the Exercises are not only a "great school of christocentric contemplation" but "an authentic, genuine interpretation of [the Church's] deposit of the faith."
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About the Author
Jacques Servais, S.J., has served as Rector of the Casa Balthasar, a house of formation and discernment, since its foundation in Rome in 1990. He worked under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and taught spirituality for over a decade at the Gregorian University. He has been a regular contributor to Communio, l'Osservatore Romano, and Gregorianum. He was a personal friend of Balthasar before the theologian's death in 1988.