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A spirituality of failure

Irish Jesuit Brendan McManus’ latest book The Way to Manresa, has just been published by Loyola Press, Chicago.

The book is the story of Brendan’s experiences along the Ignatian Camino in Spain, which runs for 600km from Loyola to Manresa, following the journey that St Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, made after his spiritual awakening in his home at Loyola.

Brendan’s first book, Redemption Road: Grieving on the Camino, is based on his pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago, which he undertook to try and come to terms with the death of his brother by suicide.

In this Zoom video interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications, Brendan talks about why he undertook another long pilgrimage and what he learnt from it along the way.

Walking in the footsteps of St Ignatius was a special experience for him as a Jesuit. It helped him understand more deeply the wisdom of Ignatian spirituality. He says he wants to share his insights into Ignatius and his writings with those who read his book.

Brendan is an experienced Camino walker, but early on in his walk he suffered a fall. The resulting injury hampered him throughout his journey. Like St Ignatius, who suffered from a limp, Brendan limped along the road to Manresa.

In this interview, he explains why he wrote a book that is essentially about “a failed and troubled walk” and he explains how he came to experience first-hand “a spirituality of failure.”

The book is also about the power of reflection and how to make good decisions – a spiritual process that Ignatius mastered, according to Brendan.

In the final chapter of the book, Brendan uses the 12-Step spirituality of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon to structure the reflective wisdom he has gleaned from this Ignatian pilgrimage. In this interview he explains why.

He also notes that the book, which is the fruit of a compromised and unexpectedly challenging journey, is particularly relevant for people navigating their way through the current Covid-19 crisis, with all its attendant pain and possibility.