Friday, July 20, 2012

Just Call Me Lopez ~ Book Giveaway!

How is it that we discover and pursue an experience that transforms our lives?  For most of us, an introduction is made by someone we respect or admire, someone who transmits to us a deep passion for something of significance in their own lives.  Certainly in the context of faith, it is often a beloved teacher or pastor or writer who conveys to us a depth of commitment that inspires in us a deep longing for a similar engagement ~ be it with Scripture, or liturgy, or theology, or a form of spirituality.  Ignatian spirituality, for instance.

Perhaps Margaret Silf is about to become such a person for you. In her new book, Just Call Me Lopez, this well-known expert on Ignatian spirituality offers an easily accessible introduction to the 16th-century life of Catholic saint Ignatius of Loyola and to the major themes that dominate his work.  The book is a combination of time-travel fiction and introduction to Ignatian principles.  Ignatius himself, dressed in garb reflective of the various ages and stages of his life, appears sporadically to the narrator, a contemporary woman who, providentially, makes her professional living by helping others narrate and interpret their spiritual stories. Her experience enables her to help Ignatius articulate his.  She is at the same time personally contending with real life dilemmas familiar to many of us, so that she in turn gives Ignatius the opportunity to suggest ways in which she might address her own challenges.

When Ignatius drops in to visit, their conversations range across the many adventures, false starts, and challenges that formed one of the great spiritual masters of Christian history. At the same time, they delve into the multitude of insights which we now think of as distinctly Ignatian.  Imaginative prayer?  We learned it from Ignatius.  Principles of discernment?  Almost everything addressing the topic of discernment today has an Ignatian origin, whether recognized or not.  An understanding of spiritual consolation and desolation?  Ignatius is the man.

For the past several days, Margaret Silf and Paul Campbell, S.J. have been engaged in a blogalogue conversation over at People for Others.  On Friday, Paul asked Margaret, "If you had to identify one crucial insight of Ignatian spirituality, what would it be?"  Margaret suggests a number of possibilities; allow me to share one of my favorites:

I was introduced to Ignatius by someone who conveys the Ignatian narrative and spirituality with deep reverence and great good humor, and I began to make the Spiritual Exercises with that then-professor of mine while I was also taking a graduate course from him on Ignatian spirituality.  

What blew me away, lured me in, and completely altered my direction in life was the discovery that my own life experience was of value, that it was ~ and is ~ the raw material with which God works, and that it is the venue through which Jesus reaches out to me.  

I chuckled when we began to read Ignatius' autobiography in class, observing his many mishaps and missteps, and then, thanks to the care of a spiritual director who listened to mine as though they were of some import, began to understand what Ignatius was saying: experience matters.  We can learn to interpret and understand our experience and our feelings about it as among the ways in which God speaks to us.  We can learn to understand how our desires reflect God's desires for us.  "What do you want?" asks Jesus.  "Important question!" insists Ignatius.

There's a lovely passage fairly early in Just Call Me Lopez in which the narrator reflects upon the bond that she has discovered with Ignatius:

"Its strength and invincibility came from the Spirit of God flowing through it.  Its fragility and its tenderness came from our own humanity.  Together, these can draw the human spirit back from the brink of destruction to the threshold of new understanding" (79).  Indeed: the value of the human experience of friendship in the Lord when understood in light of the activity of the Holy Spirit.

*****

If you'd like to read more about the book, it's being celebrated on various Loyola Press blogs this coming week.  If you'd like to read a personal reflection by another reader, you'll find it at Quantum Theology.  If you'd like to purchase the book, Loyola Press is offering a 30% discount through August 31; use code word LOPEZ.  

And if you'd like a free copy, I've got one to give away!  (Actually, Loyola Press will send it to you, which means that you're a good deal more likely to receive it than you might if you had to depend upon me.) Just leave a comment and, while you're at it, tell us what you like or what makes you curious about Ignatian spirituality. I'll pull a name out of a magic hat on Sunday.  And there's a giveaway at Quantum Theology as well.

*****

Full disclosure: I received a copy of the book and an invitation to give another one away from Loyola Press, with no further obligation on my part.  I also gained an enjoyable read and the re-activiation of some wonderful memories.  The second image above is a photograph (July 2006) of the restored Church of St. Denis in Monmartre (Paris), where Ignatius and his first companions made their first vows to God and to one another, thus initiating the formation of the Society of Jesus.  You can read about it on page 170 of Just Call Me Lopez.



15 comments:

  1. Well, I'd love a free book, especially one about St. Ignatius. I'm reading The Ignatian Guide to Spirituality. I like the depth of Ignatian spirituality.

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    1. That's a great book. And this one gives you an overall sense of the man and his prayer.

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  2. Me too, Robin. Perhaps the person who taught it in my spiritual direction course is very good...but it just did not connect for me. Perhaps, Margaret's book will add clarity and understanding.

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    1. Thinking about this book has also given me a lot to think about it terms of what kind of a difference a teacher or guide can make - with respect to anything at all.

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  3. Because it is another one of those Ignatian graces I'm learning about?

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  4. I'd love a copy!I wish it came with a live Jesuit for Spiritual Direction!

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    1. Is that the ONLY thing you didn't find on your road trip ?!

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  5. Hi Ma'am Robin! I just downloaded the e-pub version and I am already very much happy with that! :) But being given a book is a joyful experience! :) So even though I am half-way around the globe, I'm writing here how really really good God is for making St. Ignatius his steward for the longest time now. He is continually working in our lives everyday. And I am just very grateful for this blessing! :)

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  6. Hi Robin, I'm just home today from my 8-day Ignatian silent retreat and, of course, it would be great to have Margaret Silf's new book. What a gift St. Ignatius has left us with Ignatian Spirituality and our good friends and mentors in the Jesuit community.

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    1. Welcome back, Lynda! Hope the re-entry is a smooth one.

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    2. Oh Robin, you know how difficult re-entry can be and this time is no exception. Retreats, if entered with one's whole heart, are not times of serenity but times of wrestling and ultimate blessing when we face our demons. It was not easy; therefore, re-entry is challenging. Thank you for your welcome back and please know that you are in my prayers.

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  7. I also appreciate, as you wrote, his emphasis on finding God in all things, especially our day to day lives. I also find very helpful the practice of imagination as a form of communion with God; reflectively putting oneself in the Gospel stories. AND discernment--the idea that listening to our deepest desires can give us a hint as to what direction is the most fruitful to take.

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  8. I would LOVE a copy, Robin....or at least to borrow yours!

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