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Thirty Days: On Retreat with the Exercises of St. Ignatius (Compass) Paperback – January 28, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Go be quiet and pray for 30 days and you might come to know yourself--and your God, too. That's what Paul Mariani found out when he went on retreat with the Exercises of St. Ignatius, as he explains in Thirty Days. Mariani, a poet and literary critic, spent the month of January one year at a retreat center on the rocky Atlantic coast near Gloucester, Massachusetts. During that time he confronted his past experiences as a father, husband, teacher, and Christian and arrived at some surprising conclusions about his place in God's world. Thirty Days--a work of probing self-examination, including much reflection on the lives of St. Ignatius and Jesus--is the journal that he kept during that period. Readers of this fine, honest, intelligent book will be quietly assured by something Mariani himself learned from Ignatius's Exercises. "How consoling to know that, no matter how small we may think we are against the backdrop of eternity, we do count in the cosmic scheme of things." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In laying open his journal from a 30-day retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, Mariani, a writer and English professor at Boston College, allows the world to look in on a highly personal time in his life. His gracious and courageous invitation is not for everyone, however. Those considering the "Long Retreat" with Ignatius's Exercises may benefit from an intensive look at one man's encounter with this time-honored method for contemplation and reflection, but reading his book will require something of the endurance needed to undertake the retreat itself. Mariani has tried to provide a sense of what daily life is like at a retreat center by including observations about the food, the weather and his personal habits along with the progress he is making in his reflections on the Scriptures. But by the second week of his accounts, this pattern becomes tiresome and repetitious, even though the menus change. The cycle of eating, sleeping, walking, meditating and meeting with Mariani's spiritual director communicate the routine of the retreat but sometimes get in the way of his more substantive message about its spiritual content. Readers who persevere, however, will be rewarded with some wonderfully tender moments from Mariani's 30 days, particularly those concerning his once-fractured relationship with his wife, Eileen.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Compass
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142196150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142196151
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,603,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The oldest of seven children from a working-class background, Paul Mariani was born in New York City in 1940 and grew up there and on Long Island. He earned his bachelor's degree from Manhattan College, a Master's from Colgate University, and a PhD. from the City University of New York. He is the author of seven poetry collections: Epitaphs for the Journey: New, Selected & Revised Poems (Cascade Books, 2012), Deaths & Transfigurations (Paraclete Press, 2005), The Great Wheel (W. W. Norton, 1996), Salvage Operations: New & Selected Poems (W.W. Norton,1990), Prime Mover (Grove Press, 1985), Crossing Cocytus (Grove Press,1982), and Timing Devices (Godine, 1979).

He has published numerous books of prose, including Thirty Days: On Retreat with the Exercises of St. Ignatius (Viking, 2002), and God and the Imagination: On Poets, Poetry, and the Ineffable (University of Georgia Press, 2002). Other books include A Usable Past: Essays, 1973-1983 (1984), William Carlos Williams: The Poet and His Critics (1975), and A Commentary on the Complete Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1970), as well as five biographies: Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life (Viking, 2008) The Broken Tower: A Life of Hart Crane (W. W. Norton, 1999); Lost Puritan: A Life of Robert Lowell (1994), all named New York Times Notable Books of the year; Dream Song: The Life of John Berryman (1990); and William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked (1981), which won the New Jersey Writers Award, was short-listed for an American Book Award, and was also named a New York Times Notable Book of the year. Simon & Schuster will publish his The Whole Harmonium: The Life of Wallace Stevens in August, 2015.

His honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has also been shortlisted for the Tait Award for biography. He was Distinguished University Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught from 1968 until 2000, when he was named University Professor of English at Boston College. In 2009 he received the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry. Mariani and his wife, Eileen, have three grown sons and live in western Massachusetts. He is currently working on a memoir of growing up on the mean streets of Manhattan in the 1940s. The Broken Tower, his biography of Hart Crane, was turned into a film, directed by and starring James Franco, and is available on DVD, including a lengthy interview with Franco. He has also contributed to two films--one on John Berryman, and another on Wallace Stevens. He has lectured widely and read his poems here and abroad.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read this book twice, starting again as soon as I finished the first time, and still am amazed at its intensity. Dr. Mariani does a superb job detailing the days he spent practicing the Spiritual Exercises, conveying the process as well as anyone could to those of us who haven't lived through the retreat. Contrary to the editorial reviews above, it is not in any way boring, but to me, actually increases in interest as it progresses as I wanted to see what would next happen in his development. A thirty-day retreat is not possible for most of us, which may make it even more interesting to those who cannot take that much time from their regular jobs. The book has inspired me to delve more deeply into my Christian life and perhaps someday I will be able to do the 30 days too. Thank you for writing this book and for introducing me to Raymond Brown, one of the many benefits I received from reading it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paul Mariani, a writer and English professor at Boston College, completed a thirty day retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. His journal reflections from this retreat are the basis of the book's content. For those who are familiar with the spirituality of St. Ignatius, as well as those who have completed the thirty day retreat or variations of this retreat, the book will be of great value.
The book has many strong points. The first has to be Mariani's openness to what the retreat may have to offer and his willingness to share what he has experienced while completing the retreat. His observations are a combination of poetry, theology, and a keen insight into himself. He freely draws upon times when the Lord has worked in his life as well as moments where he has blocked God's work. He is painfully honest in the book, freely sharing his love and admiration of his wife Eileen, who has not joined him for the retreat. He also shares intimate moments in his life, including the time when he left his wife and three sons which nearly destroyed his marriage. His book is honest, but not confessional which gives it a bit of an advantage over a standard memoir. The reader does not see just a person who has made mistakes, (or as Mariani openly admits, a sinner), but a person who allows himself to be an instrument through which God's grace flows and transforms.
People who have been on retreat at Eastern Point in Gloucester will instantly find themselves back at this powerful retreat house simply by reading the pages. Mariani writes descriptively about the retreat house and its beautiful natural surroundings.
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Format: Paperback
Paul Mariani's personal journey is powerful and compelling. While he shares with us his discoveries and reflections on evils committed in his life, he also is unabashed in his joyous sharing of God's revelations to him.
Some of this reads like an unabridged prayer journal, and some has clearly been reworked after the fact. Regardless, Mr. Mariani has a gift for words, and he tells a great story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
My only caveat is that this is Mr. Mariani's journey, not yours. Remember that what was revealed to him during the 30 days may not be pertinent to his readers.
Overall, it's an inspiration. I heartily recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
I add this to my "favorites" bookshelf - until I read this, I believed Henri Nouwen's GENESEE DIARY would always remain my favorite, a book I reread every few years, as I think it captures the humaness of our spiritual search and growth, with all the inherent pitfalls and break-throughs. This book has inspired me even to the point that I too am now considering making the 30 day retreat - that is if I ever can resolve to do the necessary work such an adventure requires. I recommend it highly - and plan on rereading it soon, only this time, I will read the prescribed scriptures as Mariani did as he progressed through the retreat.
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Format: Hardcover
I was very much impressed with this book on two levels. The writing is superb. Mr. Mariani has a wonderful, colorful, textured style of writing that adds beauty to what was already a wonderful topic. Boston College should be honored to have him on board. The spiritual content of the book based on the exercises of St. Ignatius is deeply powerful and only for the serious seeker of faith and service to God. The combination of the writing and the spiritual search make this book hard to put down once the first page is read.
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