A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life

In a fruitful coincidence, Andrew Krivak’s spiritual memoir arrived for reading as my personal discernment on the future continues.

The author is a poet, but he has obvious abilities that transcend that genre. I’d enjoy reading his fiction, were he to write a novel. This book is personal, engaging, and rich without getting bogged down.

Usually I find someone else’s spiritual journey an encouragement. Krivak’s is no exception. I was a lot farther from choosing religious life, but there are congruencies with the universal human search for God. More accurately, I feel an affinity for how God fits in with one person’s life direction and I find I’m not so alone on my own path.

Krivak writes of his years with the Society of Jesus. A little more than half the book treats his time in the novitiate (1990-92) and the rest of it touches upon more of his studies, travels, and companions until he left the Jesuits in 1998. Throughout, one gets a view into the soul searching for God in prayer and in action. As I read, I felt as if I were alternately reading someone’s journal and having a catching-up-on-life conversation with an old friend.

This is a significant book for reasons clear and subtle.

First, I’m pleased to see that people were making significant spiritual journeys in the 90′s in traditional Catholic religious life. It’s easy enough to read that everything since 1965 has been doom and desert where Catholicism is concerned. A personal and authentic story like this is only one witness, but it’s easier to believe there are more people like Andrew Krivak out there. I know I’m not alone in a certain rejoicing at the rich opportunities for the spiritual life our day and age affords us.

I think Krivak does a good job handling his own failings (where he sees them) and not getting bogged down in his mistakes, one of which was catastrophic for him.

I think it paints religious life in a realistic way. Some Catholics would find some of the tales from the Jesuits a bit scandalous or unnerving, but I found them authentic both in the reading experience, and as the author recounts his influences.

As a lay person seeking a religious life myself, I found the perspective very refreshing reading about the SJ from the inside out, and also the various ministry experiences Krivak knew.

I will comment that the author’s novitiate years get a weighty treatment compared to other experiences. That might well be a fact of the spiritual life: Krivak’s adjustment to the Jesuits may well have generated a lion’s share of reflection. I observed that his later years don’t get the same scrutiny. I don’t know if that’s a shortcoming in this book or not. It may well be that his first two years were more solidly rooted than the subsequent years when his superiors sent him all over doing all sorts of things.

I recommend this book for its strong and eloquent writing as well as the spiritual journey it communicates. I strongly recommend it.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in On My Bookshelf, spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life

  1. Lee says:

    Sorry to hear you are moving on. Any job leads yet?

  2. Todd says:

    Lots. One offer being considered right now, too.

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