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The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life Paperback – March 6, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 484 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ignatius of Loyola's "way of proceeding" as lived by the Jesuits, the community of men he started in 1540, forms the basis of this spiritual handbook. Author Martin, a Jesuit for 20 years, claims anyone can benefit from the methods Jesuits employ in conducting their lives. This includes not only believers in God, but those who eschew religion, reject God, explore the spiritual terrain, or are just plain confused. After all, Martin writes, the Ignatian way is about "finding freedom," and the Jesuit founder wanted it to be available to everyone, not only members of his community. Martin provides a brief history of Ignatius and the Jesuits, followed by a how-to that covers prayer in its various forms; the Jesuit vows of chastity, poverty and obedience; friendship and love; discernment; and finding a life path. Readers familiar with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius-an ordered set of spiritual themes and practices-and other facets of Jesuit life will find this rather elementary, but Martin has done a creditable job of making the Ignatian way relevant to a contemporary audience.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

For over 500 years, the Jesuit Order of Catholic priests, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, have enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as a society of scholars, educators, free-thinkers, and activists. In this digestible account of all things Jesuit, James Martin, S.J., encapsulates the uniquely Ignatian concept of spirituality. Translating the essence of the Jesuit philosophy into layman’s terms, he uses both traditional stories and personal anecdotes to vividly illustrate the Jesuit approach to God, friendship, social justice, decision-making, prayer, simplicity, obedience, and self-actualization. Martin’s engaging, intimate tone will appeal to anyone interested in understanding the history, the efficacy, and the universality of the Jesuit mission and way of life. Martin, the author of My Life with the Saints (2006), has a way of popularizing serious religious issues without trivializing their impact and significance. --Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061432695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061432699
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (484 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a companion to take along on your spiritual journey, you couldn't pick a better one than Fr. James Martin, S.J. His new book is a marvel. It is clear and concise about all those troubling questions you always wanted to ask about God and finding God. It offers a map (thoughtfully provided by St. Ignatius of Loyola and built on by Fr. James) for seeing God in your life and putting into practice this wisdom. This includes simplifying your life, confronting the nature of suffering, how Ignatian spirituality helps with making decisions, how to become the person you were created to be, and more. I especially liked the part on role of desire--our hearts' deepest longings--and how they bring us closer to God. Add in Fr. James's flashes of incisive humor as well as various accounts from his personal journey, and you have a fine book.
If I had one word to apply to this book (I considered "inspiring," "educating," "enlightening," and "transforming") it would be clarity. We are in great need of a clear thinker as we ponder together the nature of our humanity and who we are called to be while alive on this earth.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Religious, and specifically Christian, books can be a challenging lot. On the one hand there are plenty of great theological texts to read (Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Rahner, Barth, etc), but suffice it to say they are not the type of book you curl up with at the end of the day. On the other hand, there are too many "Christian-lite" books (I'll be nice and not name names) which touch on Christian themes, but lack the depth to really challenge the faithful.

With his rather bold title, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, James Martin, SJ looks like he would fall in the latter category. But happily, what we find here is a treatment of the Christian faith (through a Jesuit lens) which is not difficult to digest, but will challenge the reader to reexamine their stance toward faith. This is not just wordplay when I say "stance toward faith." Martin honestly and respectfully engages readers who may be atheists or agnostics, as well as any Christian still examining their faith. He does note that much of what he offers from his Jesuit life could be adopted by non-Christians. But give Martin credit for not being embarrassed of his faith and making a strong case for Christianity.

Martin acknowledges his own wordplay when he addresses his title. "It's not a guide to understanding everything about everything (thus the Almost). Rather, it's a guide to discovering how God can be found in every dimension of your life." The essence of the book is that every aspect of your life is spiritual -- faith is not just concerned with your thoughts on God, but what you say in those emails to a coworker. This is the first of four definitions that comes from Jesuit spirituality, namely, that everything in your life is important.
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The "Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything" is the third book I've read by Fr. Martin. His writing is very down to earth and interjected with his own personal experiences throughout. Fr. Martin takes the reader on a journey through Jesuit history that entertains and enlightens. The main subject matter of the book encourages readers to discover their own spirituality via the guidelines established by St Ignatius Loyola nearly 500 years ago. However I would describe Fr Martin's read with one word, "personal". The topics covered in the book seem as though they are directed specifically at me. Feelings of unfulfillment, my unrelenting drive for success, and a search for direction in my life are all things that seem to plaque me as I approach the midlife mark. Fr Martin seems to address all of these feelings and gives some really good advise on how to work through some of these difficult feelings. Fr. Martin is a Catholic priest and I would never dream of saying that the book isn't about building a personal relationship with God, but the book really helps the reader discover themselves. It's as much a self-help book as it is a religious subject book. I can honestly say that some of the guidelines established by the founding Jesuits some 500 years ago as described and explained by Fr. Martin have helped me more to discover the person that I am supposed to be than anything else I have ever tried. Whether you're religious or not, this book has so much to offer a reader struggling to overcome the anxiety of living in today's chaotic world and leading you down the path to self-discovery.
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This book outlines the basic tenets of Ignatian spirituality and applies it to the different paths that a person can take spiritually. Fr. Martin does an excellent job of making spirituality more practical and available to everyone, not just those who are fortunate enough to know a Jesuit. If you're confused about spirituality and religion and everything in between, this book is an easy-to-read primer for how to incorporate your spirituality in daily life and how to find God in all things. I especially like the part about SBNR (Spiritual but not religious).
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Fr. Martin has provided a wonderful guide for ordinary people who desire a deeper relationship with God. He provides a practical framework for people searching for more and delivers it in an immensely readable, never preachy, often funny way. I thank Fr. Martin for first teaching me that Saints were ordinary people (My Life With The Saints) and now for showing me how ordinary people can become Saints. (The Jesuit Guide).
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