4 Books Written By Jesuits For Students Of Catholic Theology Interested In Ignatian Spirituality

29 July 2016
 Categories: Religion & Spirituality, Blog


The Jesuits are one of the most controversial orders within the Catholic Church. Much of this has to do with their propensity to challenge current thinking and the status quo, be it their support of Liberation Theology in South America, or their more liberal views towards modern life. If you are curious about Jesuit thought, then you should get the following books.

The Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius Loyola

Ignatius Loyola was a 16th Spaniard who founded the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits.) He wrote this book as a guide for those who wanted to grow closer to God. While the exercises were originally meant for anyone wanting to grow closer to God, they eventually became the standard training method for novitiates entering into the Jesuit order. The exercises are based around a 4-week plan. Each week has a particular theme (such as a meditation on Christ's suffering).

The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin S.J.

This book caused quit the stir when it was eventually published. The author was a priest, philosopher and paleontologist. His book attempts to discuss human evolution and discus a coming collective conscious (which he terms "noosphere") and anticipates the arrival of the Omega point, which is essentially a worldwide consciousness.

The Catholic Church prohibited the book from publication when de Chardin originally finished it (1930s) and it wasn't until some twenty years later that it was finally published. The results have been mixed. Some atheists, such as English biologist Richard Dawkings ridiculed the book, while others point out that de Chardin anticipated the internet and its global linking of minds decades before it was brought into existence.

The Fifth Week by Willia O'Malley S.J.

William O'Malley is a Jesuit priest (who also was the technical advisor on The Exorcist and plays a priest in the film) who wrote one of the classic books about Jesuit priesthood. His book is called The Fifth Week. The titles comes from the original Ignatian Spiritual Exercise where there are 4 weeks. The Fifth Week in O'Malleys book refers to the rest of the priests life and their role serving God and the community.

Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin S.J.

James Martin is the current editor of the Jesuit magazine America. He has also been a guest on popular television shows such as The Colbert Report. His style is very accessible to the common reader. His book Jesus: A Pilgrimage takes the reader on a tour of the Holy Land via a travelogue wherein Martin discusses modern Biblical interpretation, as well as his own reflections on the life of Jesus.

For more information on religious literature, check out places like BURNELL FOUNDATION.