top of page
  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

First Belong to God: On Retreat with Pope Francis

by Austen Ivereigh with an Introduction by Pope Francis

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism



I never underline books but this one is an exception. There are so many important sentences and phrases that draw you back each day.  As the Pope says in the introduction: “Because of the relentless pressures and tensions of an obsessively competitive society, retreats to ‘recharge our batteries’ have become very popular. But a Christian retreat is very different from a “wellness” holiday. The center of attention is not us but God, the Good Shepherd, who instead of treating us like machines, responds to our deepest needs as his beloved children.”

 

Because of the relentless pressures and tensions of an obsessively competitive society retreats to “recharge our batteries” have become very popular.  But a Christian retreat is very different from a ‘wellness’ holiday. The center of attention is not us but God, the Good Shepherd, when instead of treating us like machines, responds to our deepest needs as his beloved children, the Pope continues:  The retreat is a time for the creator to speak directly to his creatures, inflaming our souls with his “love and praise” so that we might “better serve God in the future.”

 

The framework of the retreat is the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius as Jesus comes out to meet us, breaking our chains that we might walk with him as his disciples and companions. The Pope encourages our belonging “first” to God, and then to creation and to our fellow human beings, especially to those who cry out to us. The Pope keeps in view two great crises of our age: the deterioration of our common home and the mass migration and displacement of people. Both are symptoms of the “crisis of non-belonging” described in the text.  The Pope wants to encourage the Church to rediscover the gift of its own tradition of synodality, for when it opens to the Spirit that speaks in the People of God, the whole Church gets up and walks ahead, praising God and helping to bring about his Kingdom. The book is filled with the themes so present in First Belong to God, tied to the contemplations of St. Ignatius that have shaped him over the years His co-author, Austen Ivereigh has done a great service in bringing together the retreat talks the Pope gave many decades ago with his teachings as Pope. In this way, he allows both to illuminate and be illuminated by St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises.

 

The eight days that this book presents are times of enjoying God’s love and helping you to hear the Lord’s call to become a source of life, hope, and grace for others, and so discover the true joy of your life. First Belong to God offers the next best thing to a personal retreat with {Pope Francis): a full-soul immersion into his wisdom via the classic Jesuit retreat that shaped him so profoundly. This book helped me to realize even more fully the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the sense that God is with us always on this journey. Pope Francis lets us know that God consistently and constantly invites us but never imposes on us.  Give this book to someone you know who wants to deeply know/love Him now and forever.


Recent Posts

See All

Supreme Court Ethics Challenges

Articles and Commentaries Biden to push for Supreme Court ethics reform, term limits and amendment to overturn immunity ruling, sources say by MJ Lee and Devan Cole CNN

Catholic Medial

Articles and Commentaries Jesuit Conference Communications Staff Wins 15 Catholic Media Awards by The Jesuits

Kommentare


bottom of page