Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
The interview of the author, Patrick Saint-Jean SJ is already published in Profiles in Catholicism, he is an amazing man/priest who is devoted to Christ and the Church. In this text he establishes his continuous involvement to diversity and inclusivity! The author offers a guide for all who desire to be more deeply impacted by the Spiritual Exercises. Even though the Exercises occurs in four movements or weeks, they may take longer than a calendar month or year to truly absorb and pray over. The point of the Spiritual Exercises is not to wallow in our own sins or focus on the ways we have failed Jesus. The point is to encounter Jesus, grow closer to Jesus, and follow Jesus. So when we sit at the feet of our crucified Jesus, and follow Jesus. So when we sit at the feet of our crucified Jesus we ask “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ: If Christ’s face is that of someone who is experiencing the pain of racism, will it change us? Saint-Jean offers a voice that is often missing. He invites us to be companion on the spiritual journey of reconciliation that racial justice requires.
In this book, the reader will use the Spiritual Exercises as the framework for exploring the ways Christ calls us to the work of anti-racism. This book’s premise is that antiracism is not an optional aspect of the spiritual life, but rather that it is essential to becoming all that God calls us to be. The goal, however, is not that we will reach a state of antiracist perfection, for this is an ongoing process for our entire life. Engaging in antiracist work is not about perfection but rather a constant quest for grace to see each other as Christ sees us. It asks that we hold antiracism as an intentional aspiration each and every day.
This book is designed to be used over the space of a month, with a reading for each day, followed by a journaling exercise and a prayer—but feel free to adapt it in whatever way works best for you. The weeks an days of the Spiritual Exercises are not to be measured by external, sequential divisions. Instead, each day’s meditation is offered as a doorway into eternal time. The journal section at the end of each chapter can also be used as a form of “Examen”. The examen is a prayer tool that Ignatius devised. It can be adapted to life’s various demands, but it generally follows this basic outline:
Place yourself in god’s presence, thanking God for the love that surrounds you.
Pray for insight into the ways God is acting in your life,
Review the past day, recalling specific moments and your emotional reactions
Reflect on what you did, said, or thought on each of those occasions. Did you feel closer to God or further away?
Look toward the future, thinking about how you might collaborate more deeply with God’s plan for your life and the world around you.
Each “Week” in this book concludes with a prayer for a particular grace, a gift from God that will endure beyond your reading, so that it finds an ongoing place in your life. These small prayers acknowledge that as much as we might want to, we often struggle to achieve a new outlook or emotion. We need God’s help. And so, with Ignatius of Loyola s our guide, let us open our hearts to Divine love, examining our hearts for anything that stands in the way of justice.
At the end of the day there is a section for further reflection such as;” When will we learn that human beings are of infinite value because they have been created I the image of God, and that it is a blasphemy to treat them a if they were less than this. Desmond Tutu This is then followed by a prayer such as: “Help me see, Divine one, Remove the scales from my eyes, show me your light shining forth from each human being I encounter, May I look for your presence in those the world ignores and mistreats, teach me to affirm you where you are present, in each human life, I have been blind too long
At the end of the book there is a reading list that helped Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ in the writing of the book. He has very updated books that speak to inclusivity and diversity. Some authors include: Robert P. Jones; Francis Kendall; Ibram X. Kendi; Louis M. Davary; Howard Thurman; and Jeannine Hill Fletcher to name just a few. One of the pillars of the Society of Jesus is companionship. Once a person becomes a Jesuit, you will always have faithful, trustful companions. The author is especially thankful for his colleagues at Creighton University where he resides. This is a book that is easy and comfortable to read and challenging to follow!