Looking for a general introduction (or maybe for something for younger readers – 15+) to St. Ignatius of Loyola…? Margaret Silf’s latest publication might be just what you’re looking for – Just Call Me Lopez: Getting to the Heart of Ignatius Loyola (pub 2012 / Thanks to Shelia for bringing it to my attention).
In simple terms, it’s a work of fiction; the weaving together of factual stories from St. Ignatius’ life; insights into Ignatian spirituality (particularly Discernment, The Exercises, and the Examen of Consciousness) and the narrative of a fictional character named Rachel. Not entirely successfully it brings the sixteenth century saint into conversation with a twenty-first century woman – their two very different paths cross as a consequence of a hit and run accident.
While I didn’t find the literary mechanism (time-travel of sorts) particularly helpful and while I had higher expectations, it was an easy read and insightful, to a point. If you knew nothing about Ignatius of Loyola it would provide a good starting point, or perhaps better, and “entry point” into your own exploration of some of the practices of Ignatian Spirituality.
For example, if the practice of discernment piqued your interest, then I’d move from Just Call Me Lopez to David Runcorn’s excellent Choice, Desire and the Will of God (pub 2003)
Overall, I think the concept of a shared conversation between Ignatius and the 21st Century had real potential. However, as much as I value Margaret Silf’s writing, I’m not sure this particular book brought out that potential. I liked how Silf wrapped contemporary language around notions of prayer, discernment (it’s practice from an Ignatian point of view), the Examen of Consciousness and imaginative prayer (reading ourselves into and out of the gospel stories).
“…Contemplation and action need to go hand in hand,” he told me firmly, as if I, not he, were the transgressor. “However much we feel drawn to prayer, we must still put our very best efforts into everyday responsibilities. It’s prayer that fuels our actions, but our actions are the fruit that prayer brings forth. I [Ignatius] realized that I was letting contemplation take over and neglecting he action” …”
I think too that there were some helpful insights into the practice of spiritual direction (a benefit of the “conversational” nature of the book).
Silf also provided a helpful list of titles for those interested in further exploration, but those titles primarily are aimed at learning more about Ignatius of Loyola, and the Jesuits more generally. I’d have added other titles and focused more on Ignatian Spirituality. This list would have included a number of Silf’s own books, e.g. Landmarks: An Ignatian Journey.