Book Notes: On the Ignatian Way

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The Ignatian Way, or el Camino Ignaciano, is a pilgrimage in Spain that traces the approximate route, as detailed in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s autobiography, of a personal pilgrimage he undertook. He started from his hometown of Loyola in the Basque Country to Manresa near Barcelona. His pilgrimage was a way to seek out what God wanted him to do with his life after recovering from an injury he received in a battle during his time as a soldier. Along the way he received many graces and insights about self-reflection. What he learned during this pilgrimage helped him formulate his now-famous Spiritual Exercises.

I had planned to do the well-known Way of Saint James pilgrimage that, depending on where one begins, ends up in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The most famous route begins in France and traverses across northern Spain. As circumstance would have it, those plans fell through. However, during my research I learned about the Ignatian Way.

It just so happens that I am a huge fan of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He was my patron saint for my Confirmation. So when I learned about his Camino, I felt more of a connection to it than to the Way of Saint James. I decided to undertake it.

In the early spring of 2018 I started training for my pilgrimage, set for the fall. At some point I began to wonder how to spiritually conduct the pilgrimage, based on the assumption that I was going do it alone and not with a pilgrimage group. I have a few books that are based upon Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises I thought about using as aids.

Being a contributor to Catholicmom.com I learned of an opportunity to review a newly released book titled On the Ignatian Way, a Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Ignatius Press) by José Luis Iriberri, S.J. and Chris Lowney. The intent of the book is to help potential, as well as armchair pilgrims, of the Camino prepare “to advance on their interior way.” This book, and the opportunity to review it, could not have come at a better time for me personally. I hoped it would help me in preparing how to spiritually conduct the pilgrimage. It did not disappoint.

The Sections

The book is broken into three sections. The first section provides a background about Ignatius and lessons we can learn from him about the Camino. The second section is composed of several essays from past pilgrims who have been on the Ignatian Way and what they got out of it. The third section is a daily prayer guide for walking the Camino. I will be focusing on the second and third sections.

On reading the various accounts in the second section, several themes kept emerging: freedom; healing; surrender; God being at the pilgrims’ sides; appreciation; becoming aware of God’s love; having no control of one’s circumstances; discoveries; and coming to the Camino with wounds to heal. The contributors came from all walks of life, laity and religious alike. Most came with expectations of what they wanted from the Camino but left with something entirely different and positive about what they learned about themselves and God. They stressed that God may show you another way to look at life.

The third section was exactly what I was looking for: a day-to-day exercise on what to reflect upon throughout the pilgrimage. Each day contains a theme, a grace and reflection, and a scriptural reading to ponder throughout the day. You can tailor the exercise to the number of days you will be on the road. (The entire pilgrimage lasts approximately 28 days.) As hoped for by the authors, I could see this book being used as a personal pilgrimage at any time, whether on the Camino in Spain or not.

Impressions

This book is not a guidebook on the Camino’s route and how to prepare for it. It is a spiritual guide. If you are looking for a guidebook, please refer to Iriberri and Lowney’s Guide to the Camino Ignaciano.

On the Ignatian Way answered my question on how to do the pilgrimage. In addition, it also taught me to leave preconceived expectations aside, as best as possible, and let God show me the way. I believe this book may help you on your own personal lifetime pilgrimage whether you travel to Spain and walk in Ignatius’ footsteps or remain at home.

It will definitely be stuffed in my backpack.


Copyright 2018 Michael T Carrillo

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About Author

Michael Carrillo is a retired police officer from a large California metropolitan police department. He is married to Vicki and they have five adult children between them. He is an unabashed fan of Jesuit education, though he regrets not obtaining one himself. Day hikes and walks give him opportunities and inspirations to look for and find God.

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