Appendix III

Websites and Resources for the Spiritual Exercises (complied by Morgan Zo-Callahan, Ken Ireland)

What inspires us. Morgan Zo-Callahan

Ignatius underwent an interior transformation, which changed his life and would inspire and establish the Jesuit Order. We still experience the impact of his mystical awakenings nearly 500 years after his personal journey at Manresa.  The exploration of this experience—what we can know and learn from Ignatius’s experience as well as what we can experience for ourselves when we “do” his Exercises—motivates the work that both Ken and I have put into this compilation of Ignatian resources.

Ignatius surrendered his sword and dagger as a way of life at the altar of the Black Madonna at the Benedictine monastery on Monteserrat, and was on his way to Jerusalem to surrender his life into the service of Jesus as a pilgrim. Yet, before he would walk the earth as Jesus had before him, he would have to undertake a long, unplanned spiritual retreat. He spent eleven months in a cave in Manresa on the banks of the river Cardoner, about 40 miles west of Barcelona. Norman O'Neal, S.J. says of this period: “Ignatius seemed to be on an encounter with God, as He really is, so that all creation was seen in a new light and acquired a new meaning and relevance, an experience that enabled Ignatius to find God in all things." 

He prayed and meditated seven hours a day. He experienced doubts, illuminations, visions, spiritual joys, scruples, temptations, inner battles, even struggling against a mad impulse to kill himself. He recorded his experiences in journals. Later he wrote in his autobiography of a vision, an enlightenment experience, in which "I learned more on that one occasion than during the rest of my life." He said of this mystical sojourn that he was "awakened from a drugged sleep."

During those 11-months of prayer and meditation, which included begging for himself and for the poor as well as working as a volunteer in a hospital, he learned that he needed to balance his ascetic practices with a wise consideration of his well-being. He would later say that Jesuits needed no fixed hours for prayer, no sung Office that had been a practice in consecrated communities for many centuries, because any time was appropriate for prayer.

We hope that these resource pages contribute to wider appreciation and understanding of the gift that Ignatius so graciously gave us in his Exercises.


A few notes about our resources. Ken Ireland

The nice thing about a bibliography is that we can list any book that we like, for whatever reason we choose. Most bibliographies tend to be conservative and limit recommends only to books entirely on point. Our point of view is far more liberal. We are seeking new and fresh ideas as well as what focused study can provide. There are books here that only reference The Spiritual Exercises obliquely or are further explorations of ideas that and areas of concern that we or other readers and practitioners of the Exercises have pointed to.

For book lovers this is great—most people who are captivated by prayer or meditation usually spend as much time as they can reading about it. The proviso is of course that reading is no substitute for religious practice, and that the reader will have to rely on his or her own resources when choosing what to read. This can also be considered great groundwork for doing the Exercises.

Our list is a compilation from many sources, our own reading as well as that of friends and colleagues. Most of the recent titles should be available through your local bookseller or online. When luck and grace align, you might be able to find copies of books that out of print and others which had a limited audience when they were published through several online second hand services such as

Lists can be deceiving. What looks like a simple presentation hides points of view, even prejudices that the complier wants to propagandize. I make no bones about having a point of view, even some prejudices, but I want to let the reader know what they are, at least in so far as I can understand them myself.

The Spiritual Exercises belong to the world. They are not the exclusive property of the Jesuits or even Catholic Christianity. I have not restricted the list to writers and practitioners who are Roman Catholic. Non-Catholic use of the exercises, particularly among the separate Anglican/Episcopal communities is increasing.

Ignatius’s Exercises, though a unique contribution, belong to a long line of mystical tradition, which in the West extends back before the destruction of the first Temple in 586 B. C. E.  Though it is very difficult to trace those influences in a precise historical manner, I have included several books that might open that exploration.

Psychology and prayer are separate and distinct, but there are also areas of overlap. I have included some work that deals with the confusion, which dilutes both endeavors. There are places of intersection where both psychological practice and the specific kind of contemplation that Ignatius developed work well together. I have tired to include work, which might help to see synchronicity as well avoid potentially serious harm.

Every human has the ability to make the Exercises if the spirit is leading them in that direction. Several groups of people within the Church face hostility and prejudice. I have included some books devoted to opening inner, spiritual work for gays and lesbians.

Ignatius was a religious genius and he was also very much a man of a particular time and culture. Today there are many women who are directing the Exercises. I have included many women’s voices, and specifically those that address the difficulties that women face when they have to deal with the patriarchal mindset of Ignatius and those who followed him.

Any person who meditates is already doing a great service to him or herself and to the communities in which they participate. Many people who are not Christian practice meditation, and in many cases, have longer history and experience with meditative states. I have included some work on meditation instruction from Asian and Buddhist traditions. Because there are space limitations, I have only sought work that makes the explicit connection between Christian prayer and meditation.

The sharing of books on the spiritual life has always been an activity among friends. This is a different universe than the marketed literature of mass culture. During Ignatius’ life, there is some evidence that a group know as the “Friends of God” might have even circulated the writing of Julian of Norwich from her native England deep into continental Europe. We are deeply grateful to all the contributors though we cannot mention them all. As a tribute to that kind of prayerful, thoughtful sharing, we have included a conversation among friends about the compilation of Bernard Lonergan’s thoughts on the Exercises, The Dynamism of Desire. All the books recommended have contributed to our understanding and use of the Exercises as a method of prayer and discernment. 

We have included only a few articles about the Exercises, which were published in journals or periodicals. If you have a good Catholic University or a Christian theological school nearby and can gain access to their library, you will discover a wealth of shorter articles about specific issues or areas of interest for a person who is a spiritual director or anyone interested in the Exercises. A good resource is the website of the Studies on Ignatian Spirituality, Loyola University, Chicago,

As a continuing project, one that is being born at, we intend to update this online bibliography, as well as our bibliography, “The Last Things,”, resources concerning the end of life, as we know it now.  This is a major undertaking for people without church or academic support. Trying to be both useful and frugal, we will certainly include ways that you can add books that you have found useful, even inspirational, perhaps we may even design the site’s architecture to allow you to add titles yourself and include a few sentences about your recommendation.


A bibliography for the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.

The titles we have not read ourselves were found in the bibliographies in work by an author whom we have read and admired. The books and articles are arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name with two exceptions: 1) translations of Ignatius’s own work, the Spiritual Exercises or his autobiography, are listed under “St. Ignatius” and the translator or editor’s name has been placed after the title; 2) strictly biographical work contains his name as the first words of the title. We placed these titles first so that all these books would be grouped together.


Ambruzzi, Aloysius & Lepicier, Cardinal Alexis-Henri-Marie, Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2003

Amis, Robin, A Different Christianity: Early Christian Esotericism and Modern Thought (S U N Y Series in Western Esoteric Traditions). State University of New York Press, 1995 

Aschenbrenner, George A., Stretched for Greater Glory: What to Expect from the Spiritual Exercises. Loyola Press, 2004

Barry, William A., A Friendship Like No Other: Experiencing God's Amazing Embrace. Loyola Press, 2008

Barry, William A., Finding God In All Things A Companion To The Spiritual Exercises Of St. Ignatius. Notre Dame, IL, Ave Maria Press. 1991

Barry, William A., God and You: Prayer As a Personal Relationship. Paulist Press, 1987

Barry, William A., Letting God Come Close: An Approach to the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. Loyola Press, 2001

Barry, William A., The Practice of Spiritual Direction. Harper & Row, 1986

Becker, Kenneth L., Unlikely Companions: C. G. Jung on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. Gracewing, 2002

Boisvert, Donald L., Sanctity And Male Desire: A Gay Reading Of Saints. Pilgrim Press, 2004 

Borg, Marcus J., and N.T.Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions. San Francisco, Harpers, 1999

Brackley, Dean, The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times: New Perspectives on the Transformative Wisdom of Ignatius. The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2004 

Buechner, Frederich, Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditation with Frederich Buechner. Compiled by George Connor, San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1992

Chilton, Bruce & Neusner, Jacob, The Brother of Jesus: James the Just and His Mission. Westminster John Knox Press, 1 edition, 2001

Chilton, Bruce, Mary Magdalene: A Biography, Doubleday, 2005 

Classics), 2003

Coelho, Paulo, The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom. HarperOne, 1995

Coles, Robert; Herbert, C. M., nar., Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion, Library Edition. Blackstone Audiobooks; Unabridged edition, 2000

Cowan, Marian and Futrell, John, The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola: a handbook for direction. Denver, Ministry Training Services, 1981

Cusson, Gilles, Biblical Theology and the Spiritual Exercises, Mary Angela Roduit and George E. Ganss, trans. St Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1988

Cusson, Gilles, Pédagogie de l'expérience spirituelle personnelle: Bible et Exercices spirituels (Broché). Bellarmin, Édition: 3e triage, 1986 (this, the original Cusson book that Roduit and Ganss translated, is out of print).

Cusson, Gilles, The Spiritual Exercises Made in Everyday Life: A Method and a Biblical Interpretation. Mary Angela Roduit and George E. Ganns, trans.

de Guibert, Joseph, The Jesuits: their spiritual doctrine and practice. ET. St. Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1972

de Montoya, Antonio Ruis, The Spiritual Conquest. Trans., McNaspy, C.J., St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1993

Donohue, John W., S.J., Jesuit Education. New York: Fordham, 1963

Dozier, Verna J., The Dream of God: A Call to Return. Seabury Classics, 2006

Dyckman, Katherine, et al. The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women. Paulist Press, 2001

Eckhart, Wandering Joy: Meister Eckhart's Mystical Philosophy. Schurmann, Reiner, trans., Lindisfarne Books, 2001 

Empereur, James L., Spiritual Direction and the Gay Person. Continuum International Publishing Group; 1 edition, 1998

Endean, Philip, "Who do you say Ignatius is? Jesuit fundamentalism and beyond", Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 19, 5. Nov. 1987

English, John, Spiritual Freedom. Guelph, Loyola House, 1982

Fleming, David L., (ed.), “Notes on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola”. St Louis, Review for Religious, 1981

Fleming, David L., Modern Spiritual Exercises. New York: Doubleday, 1982

Fülöp-Miller, René, The Power and the Secret of the Jesuits. New York: Viking, 1930

Gallagher, Timothy M., Discernment of Spirits: The Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living. The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2005

Green, Joel B. The Theology of the Gospel of Luke (New Testament Theology). Cambridge University Press, 1995

Green, Thomas H., S.J., Weeds Among the Wheat Discernment: Where Prayer and Action Meet. Ave Maria Press, Inc., 1984

Green, Thomas H., S.J., When the Well Runs Dry - Prayer Beyond Beginnings. Ave Maria Press, Inc.; Revised edition, 1979

Haight, Roger, "Foundational issues in Jesuit spirituality", Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 19, 4.September 1987

Hebblethwaite, Margaret, Finding God in All Things. London, Collins, 1987

Himes, Michael J., Finding God In All Things: Essays in Honor of Michael J. Buckley. S.J. Herder & Herder, 1996 

Holloway, J. B., “Godfriends: The Continental Medieval Mystics”. 1997

Holloway, J. B., The Westminster Cathedral/Abbey Manuscript of Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love. 1996

Ignatius of Loyola and the Founding of the Society of Jesus, Andre Ravier. ET. San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 1987

Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, his life and work, Candido de Dalmases. ET. St Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1985

Ignatius of Loyola, Karl Rahner and Paul Imhof. ET. London, Collins, 1979

Ignatius of Loyola, Philip Caraman. London, Collins, 1990

Ivens, Michael, Understanding the Spiritual Exercises. Gracewing, 2000

Johnston, William, Christian Zen. San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1979

Jordan, Merle, Reclaiming your story. Westminster John Knox Press, 1999 

Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love. Grand Rapids, Christian Classics Ethereal Library. 2002

Keating, Thomas, Active Meditations for Contemplative Prayer. Continuum, 1997

Kung, Hans, My Struggle for Freedom: Memoirs. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003

Lonergan, Bernard, The Dynamism of Desire, Bernard J F. Lonergan, SJ on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Institute of Jesuit Sources in St. Louis, 2006.

Lonsdale, David, Dance to the Music of the Spirit. Darton, Longman & Todd Lt, 1992

Lonsdale, David, Eyes to See, Ears to Hear: An Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Traditions of Christian Spirituality). Orbis Books; Revised edition, 2000

Lonsdale, David, Listening to the Music of the Spirit: The Art of Discernment. Ave Maria Press, 1993

Louth, Andrew, The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys. Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition, 2007

Lowney, Chris, Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed the World. Loyola Press, 2005

Lucas, Thomas, S.J. Ignatius, Rome and Jesuit Urbanism. Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, 1990

Meissner, William W., S.J., Ignatius of Loyola, The Psychology of a Saint. Yale, 1992

Merton, Thomas, Contemplation in a World of Action. Garden City, N.Y., Image Books, 1973

Michael, Chester P. and Norrisey, Marie C., Prayer and Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types. Charlottesville, Virginia. The Open Door, 1991

Modras, Ronald, “The Spiritual Humanism of the Jesuits.” America, 1995, 172, (3) Modras, Ronald, Ignatian Humanism: A Dynamic Spirituality for the 21st Century. Jesuit Way Loyola Press, 2004

Muldoon, Tim, The Ignatian Workout: Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith. Loyola University Press, 2004 

Needleman, Jacob, Lost Christianity. Tarcher, 2003

Neusner, Jacob, First century Judaism in crisis: Yohanan ben Zakkai and the renaissance of Torah. Abingdon Press, 1975 

O'Malley, John W. S.J. The First Jesuits. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993

Peters, William A.M., The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius: exposition and interpretation. Rome, Centrum Ignatianum Spiritualitatis, 1978

Rahner, Hugo, Ignatius' Letters to Women. New York: Herder & Herder, 1960

Scroggs, Robin et al., Putting Body & Soul Together: Essays in Honor of Robin Scroggs. Trinity Press International, 1997 

Segundo, Juan Luis, The Christ of the Ignatian Exercises. ET. London, Sheed & Ward, 1988

Sheldrake, Philip (ed.), The Way of Ignatius Loyola: Contemporary Approaches to The Spiritual Exercises. St. Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1991

Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality. Loyola Press; Rev Sub edition, 1999 

Skehan, James W., Place Me With Your Son: Ignatian Spirituality in Everyday Life: The Spiritual Exercises Arranged As a 24-Week Retreat in 4 Phases. Georgetown University Press; 3 Sub edition, 1991

Smith, Carol Ann; Merz, Eugene F., Moment by Moment: A Retreat in Everyday Life. Ave Maria Press, 2000 

Spence, Jonathan D., The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. Penguin (Non-Classics), 1985 

St Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1989. This is an authorized translation of Cusson's Conduis-mois sur le chemin d'éternité.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, George E. Ganss, Ignatius of Loyola: The Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works (Classics of Western Spirituality). Paulist Press, 1991

St. Ignatius of Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works. George E. Ganss, ed. New York, Paulist Press, 1991

St. Ignatius, Inigo: original testament. William Yeomans, trans. London, Inigo Enterprises, 1985

St. Ignatius, Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works. Malatesta, Edward J., S.J.; Divarkar, Parmananda, S.J., ed., N.Y., Paulist Press, 1991.

·         [Note about this work by Morgan: This book was difficult to locate. Catholic Library was able to supply information about the publisher. I met Edward Malatesta in 1965, and remember him fondly as a wonderful scholar with enthusiastic energy. He worked with my mentor, Fr. Francis Rouleau. Edward would later take Francis' work to the Matteo Ricci Institute at USF, one of the largest collections of books in Chinese in North America. Edward died in 1998 in his beloved China.]

St. Ignatius, St Ignatius' Own Story. William J. Young, trans. Chicago, Loyola University Press, 1980

St. Ignatius, The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius: a literal translation a contemporary reading. David L. Fleming, trans. St Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1979

St. Ignatius, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. John F. Thornton, ed., Avery Dulles, preface, Louis J. Puhl, trans., Vintage; 1 edition, 2000 

St. Ignatius, The Spiritual Exercises. Louis J. Puhl, trans., Chicago, Loyola University Press, 1950

Stanley, David M., S.J., A Modern Scriptural Approach to the Spiritual Exercises. St. Loius, The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1971

Taylor, Charles, The Ethics of Authenticity. Harvard University Press; 1 edition, 1992

Tetlow, Joseph A., Choosing Christ in the World: Directing the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola According to Annotations Eighteen and Nineteen: A Handbook. The Institute of Jesuit Sources; 2nd edition, 2000

Tetlow, Joseph, S.J., “The Lay Ministry of the Spiritual Exercises.” National Jesuit News, 1994, 24, (3)

Tetlow, Joseph A., Ignatius Loyola: Spiritual Exercises (Crossroad Spiritual Legacy Series). The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992 

Tetlow, Joseph, Choosing Christ in the World. St Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1989

Tetlow, Joseph, S.J., Christ Choosing the World. St. Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1989

Tickle, Phyllis, The Night Offices: Prayers for the Hours from Sunset to Sunrise. Oxford University Press, USA, 2006 

Toner, Jules J., A commentary on St Ignatius' Rules for the Discernment of Spirits. St. Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1981

Toner, Jules J., Discerning God's Will: Ignatius of Loyola's Teaching on Christian Decision Making. St. Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1991

Van Beeck, Frans Jozef, Christ Proclaimed: Christology As Rhetoric (Theological Inquiries). Paulist Press, 1979 

Veltri, John, Orientations, volumes 1 & 2. Guelph, Loyola House, 1979 & 1981

Walsh, R., Friends of God. The Catholic Encyclopedia, online Edition. K. Knight. 6. 1909

Ward, Keith, Pascal's Fire: Scientific Faith and Religious Understanding. Oneworld Publications, 2006 

Wills, Gary, Chesterton. Image; Revised edition, 2001

Wolff, Pierre, Discernment: The Art of Choosing Well: Based on Ignatian Spirituality. Liguori Publications, revised ed., 2003


Online resources for the Spiritual Exercises

There are several sites in English dedicated to Ignatius’s Exercises set-up and maintained by American Jesuits or Jesuit Universities. While the usual bibliography is not aimed at critique, and certainly when aimed at spirituality, it might even be frowned on, we want to encourage full use of the interactive capabilities of the net. Retreats are full of participation and exchange. We would like to encourage the people who create sites be able to fully use the potential of the net.

Although there will inevitably be duplication and overlap, a site devoted to retreat work has to create some background without having to click all over the internet to get oriented. But we wonder why in the nearly instantaneous online world, every site feels compelled to cover every inch of the same ground, slowly, ponderously. It is waste of resources. There are, however, a few very good sites with wonderful innovations and initiatives. We will highlight those.

This information is current at the end of the calendar 2008. We expect that there will be more online resources and hope to keep our information up to date. We have also only considered sites that are US based. As sites become more interactive and less advertisements for local retreat services, we intend to include them.


The sites:

The full text of Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, the translation of the Autograph of the Exercises prepared by Fr. Elder Mullan, S.J. is available in pdf format at the website of the Jesuit Conference of the United States. Knowing what Ignatius thought and how he informed the Jesuits who directed the Exercises is pretty basic. This site is just the translation, not interpretation or commentary, with no search capability.

The website of the Conference also includes a page listing the contact information for all their retreat houses and “retreat opportunities” in the US:

The website of the Creighton University Online Ministries,, has been highly recommended by many people. We also like the format and the functionality. The heart of this work is an innovative 34-week retreat, an adaptation of the format that Ignatius counseled. The creators call it a “retreat for everyday life.” There is an interactive function on the site. You can make your retreat with or without a director. You also have the option of joining a group that is doing a retreat at the same time, and can share your experiences as a kind of peer direction. Of all the online presentations, Creighton University had by far the most real-time human support.


Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles The California Jesuits offer the Exercises to individuals/small groups to make the Exercises, “with an emphasis adapting to the individual retreatant.” Morgan did a 19th Annotation Retreat here which he writes about here in “Inclined Toward Love: Notes while doing the Spiritual Exercises.” The website promotes that retreat work.

We would like to point to an innovation of the Institute for Ignatian Spirituality that is outlined with some very clear instructions: An Awareness Examination of Conscience.

Ignatius’s examen seems to emphasize the gap that exists between humankind and God and our failures to respond to God’s love. Thus you look back over the recent part of your day to check on the number of times a fault that you are guarding against occurred in thought or deed. The Awareness Examination asks that you pay attention to “feelings, moods, thoughts, desires to get a sense of what is going on in one's life; praying for healing and forgiveness,” and that as you end you period of reflection, you consider “the immediate future and paying attention to the feelings that spontaneously arise."

The Jesuit Collaborative, The Jesuit provinces of the Northeast have initiated “a professional association of Jesuits, laypersons, clergy, and religious who share in common the spiritual tradition of St. Ignatius” to carry on and promote the work of the Exercises. Though not a site with much information about the Exercises themselves, it appears to be a portal for information about a broad range of opportunities.

The World of Ignatius of Loyola,, does wonderful job of recreating Ignatius' time photos, paintings, sketches, woodcuts, and drawings. This is in a way a tribute to Ignatius’s “application of the senses” technique online. It covers his entire life and includes his ongoing legacy, the Society of Jesus, as well as his stature and position within the Church as one of its most recognizable saints. As of 12/2008, it seems this site is down for some work.

A book conversation


The following conversation about The Dynamism of Desire, Bernard J. F. Lonergan, S.J. on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola* was recreated from several emails. The participants are Morgan Zo-Callahan (MZC), Robert Rahl (RRR), Joe Mitchell (JM), John Lounibos (JL), Don Maloney (DM), Gene Bianchi (GB).

All but Mitchell and Maloney are contributors to Meanderings and some personal information is in the first pages of the book. By way of introduction Joe Mitchell is an enthusiastic student and facilitator for Non Violent Communication (Marshall Rosenberg). He was a Jesuit from '62-'71.  Don Maloney lives in Okinawa, Japan, where he teaches for the University of Maryland Asian Division. He was a Jesuit from '52-'83.

MZC: I’m encouraged by Lonergan's thesis that we humans “can learn and know well,” and that this learning and knowing leads to loving well, which then governs how we act as responsible human beings, aware of our being inter-connected. We’re, so to speak, “maturing” our ability to make decisions from our deepest hearts and well-informed intelligence.

RRR: Yes, for Lonergan Dynamism is the process of realizing potential, moving from experience through understanding to judgment and, in the practical order, taking action based on judgment. Desire is what motivates the process, what kick-starts the dynamism. By nature we all desire to know and we all desire to be fulfilled.

JM: I have a juicy quote from the book: “Bernard Lonergan's analysis is to help one understand the inbuilt dynamic of the human subject and so to reach authenticity and self-transcendence. …Authentic human living, then, consists in self-transcendence.  Achieving human authenticity is a matter of following the built-in and self-transcending laws of the human spirit.”

MZC: Robert, you have outlined the steps that are included in the process: experiencing, understanding, judging, choosing, and intending to live those joyful values with the zest of free flowing life. Say more.

RRR: Insight summarizes Lonergan's three-step program for human cognition (knowing): experiencing, understanding, and judging. There is a fourth step when the subject moves from cognition to volition (choosing): being attentive to experience (experiencing), posing questions in pursuit of understanding those experiences (reflecting), evaluating those understandings (judging), and making decisions or taking action (deciding).

MZC: How does Lonergan get from “Insight” to the Spiritual Exercises? I think that I can see that it will not be hard to locate discernment because of the 4th step, volition or choosing.

JM: Another quote: “The primary role of the Exercises is to foster the dynamism of desire, what Lonergan calls "the eros of the human spirit.” Desire is the most powerful dynamic in any aspect of life—human life or divine.  The dynamism of desire is at work in God, not just in us.  And the most wonderful moment in our connection with God is when we finally realize that the passion and desiring of God is in fact our own deepest most precious desiring for ourselves.  That is the ultimate dynamism of desire! 

GB: I like your focus on one of the points in the book: that religious goals, when they are not corrupted, bring out the best in the human; that there’s an innate human spirituality to be cultivated. And you lifted up the ecumenical aspect of all this, that non-Christian spiritualities move in the same direction.

JM: To quote: “Lonergan's ideas can be helpful to other religions besides Christianity. Today whether one is a Christian or not isn't essential as to the possible efficacy of doing the Exercises.” 

DM: Another way of saying that might be that "seeking of God in all things" is the true impetus of Jesuit spirituality, which is none other than Christian spirituality, and which includes Hindu and Buddhist spiritualities, even if they do not "name" what they seek as we do. 

GB: I would like to return to the idea of desire. I wasn't going to comment on the Dynamism of Desire since I haven’t read the book, and maybe the word "desire" is handled nicely in the book. But there is a further and maybe ultimate stage of getting beyond our personal desires, our "me-drama" of fears and wants to be at peace in the moment, in the now (without getting passive about world suffering). Desire, frequently driven by fear, pitches us toward the future and often becomes excessive (this word is important.... I’m not saying that all desire is bad). Let me illustrate this from the Good Samaritan narrative and some eastern stuff. The Samaritan is plunged into the now of the bleeding guy on the road. He was riding along with sweet thoughts about his girlfriend in Jericho, the candle-lit supper of roast lamb and her soft bed. He doesn't even have a cell phone to call and explain. The now moment pulls him out of his "me drama." In Christian language, it's beyond his desires to what is called unselfishness, unconditional care.

DM: Many moons ago, I heard Bernard Lonergan speak at Georgetown, or was it at LMU? He seemed stiff and uncomfortable and delivered his wisdom in a monotone.  I never did worship at his altar, although I knew many who underwent the epistemological "conversion" experience that Lonergan's thought seemed to trigger. However, when I read that "achieving human authenticity is ...following the in-built and self-transcending laws of the human spirit,” and the "eros of desire," I am reminded of Karl Rahner's view of man, outlined in "Hoerer des Wortes." Of course, Karl had his followers, too, (I am admittedly one of them)--and he, too, delivered his convoluted German in a monotone.  But neither Bernard nor Karl could or would claim to be a prophet. 

GB: I agree with you, Don, about the "sanctifying" well, almost, of old texts like the Exercises, and even the Gospels, as if they had to be beyond critique (any nay-saying) and were always adaptable to any century. I don't hear a word of harder criticism about trying to adapt a 16th century mind to today. I had the same feeling during the 500-year honoring of Ignatius, Xavier and Faber. All fine men, to be sure, but we don't entertain any nay-saying about them on virtually anything. It's like an older habit of holding that Aquinas said it all and better than subsequent philosophers.

DM: Of course, and I assume that you can still do the Exercises without having read or been converted to Lonerganism.  This new book, according to some, finally gives us the "key" to what Ignatius really meant.  I am skeptical, first, about the "deification" of Ignatius and his writings.  I doubt he would claim for himself what we are making of him.  He was as limited in perspective and theology as any good man in his century and asking "what Ignatius would do today" is as futile as asking what any of us would do if inserted into 16th century life as a 16th century person?             

JL: I suggest Jesuits or former Jesuits may be the worst judges of Ignatius and his exercises due to the duress of circumstances when we made them or the particular retreat director(s) one had.  My unforgettable one was an Alaskan missionary of the Oregon province, (I met many remarkable Alaskan missionaries) who compared the call of Christ the King to the lead sled dogs you depended on to survive in the Arctic.

As for Ignatius and the Exercises, I cannot speak to them without mentioning Bill Meissner, S. J.’s work, Ignatius of Loyola, The Psychology of a Saint, on the psychology of Ignatius and the psychology of the Exercises. Consider the times Ignatius lived through.  Consider his spiritual exercises as the work of layperson.  Consider how many unique personal leaders followed him. 

DM: Ignatius's exercises are, to me, sometimes lifted to the level of the New Testament, that is, as a special "latter day revelation of God" good for all times and all peoples, if only their true meaning can be plumbed. 

JL: The Christian test of the Exercises should be whether they lead a person to closer and more joyful service of Christ.  I still think the four-week structure of the exercises and the contemplation on love to be works of genius for Inigo. For Inigo, after all, the director of the person making the retreat was the Holy Spirit, as little as that may be apparent to the literalist reading of his text or the rationalists who taught us how to mediate.  That is clearly the point of the discernment of spirits.

MZC: Thank you all. So I think we can conclude that Lonergan’s work is useful to help us examine the Exercises, and I have to say that most of us still look back into the experience itself rather than a theory. And on that note, I am going to give the last word about spiritual experience, at least for the conversation, to Gene who has a quote from an American Zen master.

GB: This is from Toni Packer's The Silent Question: "What unfolds in awareness is a new, subtle listening that may not ever have been experienced before, because most of the time it has been drowned out by all the other noises (desires/fears) taking place in the bodymind.... Can all the rush of wanting, the silent ambition underneath it, the neediness hiding behind it-- can all of that reveal itself in quiet listening and looking...That is why it's so very important to come to a place of silence, stillness and wondering.... where one can enter into an almost motionless not-knowing." Finally, here's how she describes the now experience: "Awareness replaces thinking and fantasizing about myself with simply being here-- computer humming, keyboard clicking, wind rattling, snowmelt dripping, heart beating, back paining, breathing in and out, in and out -- one moment at a time."

*Lonergan, Bernard, The Dynamism of Desire, Bernard J F. Lonergan, SJ on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  (The Institute of Jesuit Sources in St. Louis, 2006)

Robert Doran, SJ, has been at the forefront of publishing Lonergan's Collected Works. You can view his web site, or register and dive into the seas charted by Lonergan at

Boston College’s Lonergan Institute: