Ignatius for the Perplexed

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything
A Spirituality for Real Life
James Martin, SJ
HarperOne, $26.99, 432 pp.

Every so often someone sends me one of those online multiple-choice quizzes that match your personality to a Catholic religious order. No matter what questions they ask, my results are always the same: “You’re a member of the Society of Jesus, a.k.a. the Jesuits!”

I can’t say I’m surprised by the match. Ten years in a Jesuit parish and almost as many years in graduate programs at two Jesuit-run institutions have left me with an unmistakably Ignatian outlook. I’d be fascinated by any organization that could produce brilliant theologians like Karl Rahner, gifted poets like Gerard Manley Hopkins, and courageous martyrs like Ignacio Ellacuría. And Jesuit spirituality—with its emphasis on “finding God in all things”—is attractive to busy Catholics like myself, who must find God in the warp and woof of everyday life if we are going to find him at all.

In his new book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, Fr. James Martin tries to introduce a new generation of spiritual seekers to the Jesuit tradition. Martin, the culture editor at America magazine, is the author of several books on Catholic spirituality, including the popular My Life with the Saints. He believes that Jesuit spirituality provides resources for wrestling with basic questions like “How do I know what I am supposed to do in life?” and “How can I make good decisions?” While such practical questions may seem more secular than religious, Martin argues that there is no...

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About the Author

J. Peter Nixon is a senior director at Kaiser Permanente, an integrated health-care delivery system based in Oakland, California. His views are his own.