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A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0374166069
ISBN-10: 0374166064
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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


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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: 6.7 x 1.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,383,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
After reading Krivak's novel "The Sojourn," I borrowed his spiritual memoir, "A Long Retreat, In Search of a Religious Life," from my public library. We're both ethnic Galicians—he, a Slovac and me, a Rusyn—and I was curious to know more about him. I was also deeply curious about the life of a Jesuit. I knew very little before reading this, and what I thought I knew mostly wasn't true. There were many surprises for me, one of the most significant is how deeply universal the story actually is, at least for those who desire to understand “where is God in all of this.” It's a beautifully written book: honest, spirit stretching, and scary in a way too. The need for complete obedience to imperfect people made it worrisome as I continued to read and fascinating at the same time. Andrew is fortunate to feel his superiors were, for the most part, worthy of the trust he needed to have in them. The later ones who were not did him no irreparable harm, yet I wonder if one in particular would have had he gone ahead with his ordination. I'd recommend this book to any serious student of good writing and respectful of the subject matter; it also takes someone who will not come unglued by occasional and especially vulgar exclamations I didn't expect. That still surprises me, even coming from Andrew's spiritual leaders when they wanted to make a very strong point. I'd always believed part of becoming a priest or any other spiritual leader and relating to God in exemplary ways was learning how to control urges towards gutter language at the very least. To me refinement of words—especially for a poet as Krivak is—ought to accompany eventual refinement of spirit. Krivak admits in one instance the childishness of giving way to that kind of talk.Read more ›
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