Channeling the Fire Within: Ignatian Spirituality in 15 Points by Brendan McManus SJ (Messenger Publications, €4.95/£4.50)
The Ignatian Guide to Forgiveness: Ten Steps to Healing by Marina Berzins McCoy (Messenger Publications, €12.99)
These are two more publications relating to the celebration around the world this year of the 500th anniversary of his wounding in the battle of Pamplona which ultimately led to his creation of the Society of Jesus and insights into Ignatian spirituality.
They explore very different aspects of belief, but will be of great interest to a wide audience. Both are worth reading for their different approaches.
Brendan McManus may already be familiar to readers of his previous books. Formerly a farmer and computer scientist (an amazing combination) before becoming a Jesuit.
These past lives may have taught him the need to plant good seeds to obtain a harvest and to make information clear in a communication system, even in a religious community.
This booklet is a kind of packet of 15 seeds which, although small, can produce a brilliant harvest in the end. To introduce his readers to the role that faith and religious belief can play in people’s lives, he lays out these essential elements of the vision of Ignation in 15 short pages, little more than a long paragraph per page. But this compression helps to clarify everything, from the first proposition: God is more easily found inside than outside.
I have always been a firm believer in the efficacy of the short pamphlet: my shelves are still littered with copies of the now-old Catholic Truth Society publications from the last century. This booklet, in its brilliant compression of a creed, recreates their simple but effective manner, albeit in a slightly smarter dust jacket than before.
Religious writers often forget that most people could not devote years and years to study. Life places demands on them. To open up aspects of spirituality to them, we must first take a few small steps. Here are about fifteen, which will help many of these people on a path that could well end (as for Father McManus) in the experience of the Camino.
In contrast, Marina McCoy is a history professor at Boston College. A theme of the book is forgiveness and healing. She quotes another writer that “there is a barrier between forgiving an injury and fully healing an injury.” At this point, my mind shifted, I’m afraid, to President Vladimir Putin and forgiving his offenses to others. Many will surely have a difficult moral question. My thought was that hating him would get us nowhere. He’s a damaged person, but we’re all damaged in one way or another.
Mr. Putin’s life has always been a quest for power, not a quest for knowledge through experience. He is a professional spy who failed to discover the real secret heart of things – the hidden truth of things.
But as she tells us, despite all that is happening, we can always come to a place of forgiveness. Hopefully we can in the not too distant future.