Many books have already been written on spiritual counselling, especially in the Ignatian tradition. But very few consider how Ignatius gave spiritual advice in his letters, directed to various and specific situations. If God really leads us in our spiritual journey, as Ignatius believed, what is the role of the spiritual adviser? What part is played by the numerous rules given in the Spiritual Exercises? The letters show that Ignatius really wanted to give scope to his correspondents and to their awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit within them. Ignatius deployed a “Pedagogy of Consolation” in which his correspondents were trained to exercise their own spiritual agency by discovering God’s abundant gifts. It was clear to Ignatius that a counselling relationship was first grounded in God’s freedom but also in the freedom of the person who asks for assistance. In six chapters, Patrick C. Goujon focuses on eight letters. He offers a careful reading which emphasizes what makes giving spiritual help possible in a conversation. We are shown how Ignatius deals with decision-making and with obstacles in the spiritual life. He is also revealed giving encouragement and correction and advising about how to offer these to others. His aim is to help people grow in freedom which, in turn, permits them to live according to God’s will. Through his letters, we are allowed to enter not only Ignatius’s study, the famous camerata in Rome, but also into his heart.
“This volume is an excellent introduction to the letters of Ignatius of Loyola (…) making it an important scholarly contribution not only for those interested in Ignatian spirituality, but also for those interested in the history of spirituality more broadly”, Mark Rotsaert, ARSI