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A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0374166069 ISBN-10: 0374166064 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374166064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374166069
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The road to priesthood in the Society of Jesus is arduous. Jesuits, like most other Catholic religious orders, demand a lifetime of poverty, chastity and obedience. They also require years of postgraduate study and hard work before ordination. At age 27, Krivak joined the order, already equipped with two degrees as well as experience writing poetry and working in a boatyard. Over the next eight years he studied philosophy and theology, visited hospitalized AIDS patients, taught writing to college students, worked in the Dominican Republic, Russia and Slovakia—and fell in love. The search for love is an important theme running through this artfully written memoir: the love of God, the strong but imperfect love of Krivak's father and eventually the deep, reciprocated love of a woman. Life, he tells a friend, is a long retreat—an awareness that God is everywhere present and can be trusted. Now married and the father of a son, Krivak shows no bitterness as he explores his painful decision to leave the Society of Jesus. I walked a long but worthy road that led to a place where I didn't belong, he told his spiritual director. I don't feel any resentment. I feel gratitude. (Mar.)
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"A LONG RETREAT is not just a fascinating insider's look at Jesuit formation, but a beautifully written case study in prayerful discernment of one's proper vocation.  Few memoirs of religious life are as wise and revelatory as this." –Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy and Exiles

"This is the best spiritual memoir I've read since THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN--and that was a long time ago. Andrew Krivak conveys his own ardent search while also capturing the fragmented spirit of our times, making his "long retreat" the occasion for a wise, tough and sometimes refreshingly comic meditation on faith. I read it like a detective story, unable to put it down--and then unable (and unwilling) to stop thinking about its lingering questions."  --Patricia Hampl, author of Virgin Time

"Here is a personal remembrance and reflection become an instrument of summoning spiritual witness--and an account of a soul's progress amidst the possibilities offered by our contemporary secular world, all told incisively and with a haunting candor that will reach and touch the grateful reader."  --Robert Coles

More About the Author

Andrew Krivak is the author of The Sojourn, a novel set during WWI; A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life, a memoir about his eight years in the Jesuit Order; and the editor of The Letters of William Carlos Williams to Edgar Irving Williams, 1902-1912. The grandson of Slovak immigrants, he grew up in Pennsylvania, has lived in London, and now lives with his wife and three children in Massachusetts where he teaches in the Honors Program at Boston College. Visit his web site at www.andrewkrivak.com

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Krivak admits in one instance the childishness of giving way to that kind of talk.
Carol Menges
The story contained in A LONG RETREAT is compelling, Krivak tells it in a somewhat poetic manner with beautiful writing.
Timothy Kearney
If there is any book that can serve as representation of a true Christian faith, this is it.
Justin T Tan8815

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Hevern on March 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Krivak's eight-year journey into, through, and out of the life of a Jesuit seminarian is captured in a memoir of poignancy, generosity, and spectacularly wonderful writing. He details with great honesty and sustaining intelligence the external challenges of his formation in the Society of Jesus (graduate philosophical studies, hospital work with AIDS patients, Russian language study in Moscow, and college teaching among other experiences). But, even more importantly, Krivak testifies with conviction about the movements of his own heart and soul as he struggled with the nature of his calling, the meaning of love, and his efforts in prayer and meditation to discern the full dimensions and import of his doubts and fears. One of the most remarkable spiritual autobiographies since Merton's SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN. An utterly captivating volume. I expect to read it again simply to savor the extraordinary beauty of the writing once more. (Disclosure: As a Jesuit myself, I knew Krivak during two years covered in this book. But, I've had no contact with him in over a decade and didn't quite know what to expect before picking up A LONG RETREAT. I'm so happy I did.)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Adam B. Clayton on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful memoir! Very well written and poetically conveyed journey. Clear and aesthetically pleasing in its own distillation of the lifestyle and ritual, but also containing many subtle themes which seem to cut across many religious cultures and spiritual journeys. Krivak has written an unassuming and honest story. There is no arrogance of certainty which other authors sometimes seem to portray. Krivak's story is believable and passionate. Thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end and would recommend to anyone inclined to spiritual connection and understanding, whether religious or not.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on July 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A LONG RETREAT is a fascinating look at formation in the Society of Jesus. The title of the book alludes to the Thirty Day Retreat that is a part of the beginning and end of Jesuit formation, but it's also a metaphor for his eight years author Andrew Krivak spent in a Jesuit formation program. We meet him as he is about to begin his journey with the Jesuits and continue with him as he begins his theological studies as he draws closer to priesthood. He discusses the discernment process as he enters the order and also the same discernment process that eventually led him to a vocation outside of the order.

Krivak shares a number of experiences and anecdotes about formation with the reader that shows how the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola and Ignatian spirituality are lived in a day to day context. We also see his initial enthusiasm fro religious life and believe he will persevere as a Jesuit, yet as the book continues, we also begin to see he may be called elsewhere. He also discusses a number of conflicts he has, some rather serious, others trivial, so we always remember we are accompanying someone who is very human.

The story contained in A LONG RETREAT is compelling, Krivak tells it in a somewhat poetic manner with beautiful writing. He also writes it in a memoir style rather than a biographical one so the reader enters into his experiences and shares his joys, struggles, and pain. It is also unique in that we hear about the formation process from someone who does not finish with priesthood, and is able to see and share the lessons he learned during his time as a Jesuit. It is also refreshing to read an account of someone who left religious life has his appreciation of both the Jesuits and Catholic Church.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I must admit I like books about people who embark on vocations, religious and otherwise. So no surprise that I wanted to read this book. I've met a few Jesuits, including one enrolled in my doctoral program many years ago
(he dropped out the first year) and one who (I suspect) was asked to leave.

This book is less about a spiritual journey than a detailed, blow-by-blow account of life in the contemporary post-Berrigan Jesuit order. Frankly, the life seems mostly pleasant, or else the author had such a strong vocation he rolled with the punches. And it's likely the arduous selection process worked.

I must admit I skimmed some of the spiritual angst and introspection sections, but there really weren't very many. Krivak tells a story of very smart, sane superiors, some really satisfying friendships, and meaningful work experiences. Except for some bad food here and there (and escape to the local steak house often was possible), and an uncomfortable bed or two, I didn't get a sense of hardship. Sure, he didn't get his first choice of teaching jobs, but to be able to teach English and writing at all would be a rare privilege for many professors and doctoral candidates out there.

Since the jacket blurb refers to Krivak's new life as husband and father, it's probably not giving away the store to say that he ultimately fell in love and left the order. As his wife noted, he seemed to be more interested in writing and less in being a Jesuit.

I see parallels between his life and the life of Karen Armstrong. I believe both made wise decisions to enter religious orders (call it a true vocation if you like). Both went on to use their experiences to build new lives and careers. Armstrong of course calls herself a "freelance monotheist" while Krivak, at least by the end of the book, remains firmly Catholic.

With my own interest in career patterns and shifts, I enjoyed watching Krivak as he went on the journey.
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