One of the best discoveries I made in the last year was the writer Margaret Silf (you can read some of my thoughts on her books here and here). Â She writes about prayer in a way that no one else does: beautifully, accessibly, and powerfully.
So I was beyond excited when Loyola Press sent me a review copy of her new book Just Call Me LÃ³pez: Getting to the Heart of Ignatius of Loyola. Â Even better, I have a copy to give away, too — so some lucky winner (maybe you!) will get to enjoy it as much as I did. Â (Details on how to enter below!).
The book, in a nutshell, is an imagined conversation between a modern woman named Rachel and the sixteenth-century saint Ignatius of Loyola (LÃ³pez is what he calls himself in the book). Â Ignatius was a spiritual giant who wrote the Spiritual Exercises, a famous manual for prayer and discernment, and who also founded the order of priests known as the Jesuits (famous in this country for their universities, including Georgetown, Fordham, and Santa Clara University). Â Rachel meets LÃ³pez when she is hit by a driver while biking, and he comes to her aid, thus beginning a friendship in which the saint shows up periodically in her life and shares his own journey with her. Â The book is built around their conversations, which center on the insights and struggles and joys of LÃ³pez as he makes his famous progression from a worldly ladies’ man and solider to an invalid who undergoes a deep conversion to a man who constantly seeks to align himself with God.
I’ll admit to being someone who struggles with time-travel novels, mostly because there is always that part of me that goes, “So how could that really happen? …” Â But in this book, the premise of two people intersecting across the centuries really works, because it underscores a key point: that the spiritual journey of LÃ³pez is one that is universal. Â It’s as if LÃ³pez and Rachel are a Venn diagram (sorry to get all English teacher on you!), and the overlapping part of their circles is that deep core of the human heart that longs to find the sacred and the true. Â Â We all have that, that desire for a life that has meaning and purpose Â — and that’s why the premise of the book works so well.
I also love how LÃ³pez shows up in Rachel’s life at different points on his journey, and shares Â his spiritual insights as they are unfolding. Â There are moments in the story when Rachel is a little further along in her understanding than LÃ³pez is, when she challenges his thinking. Â She’s not just sitting at the feet of a spiritual genius, imbibing all his wisdom; it’s much more dynamic than that. Â And the overall effect of this is to show that the saints were not born knowing everything there is to know about holiness. Â They had to figure it out as they lived their lives.
And throughout the book, we get a first-hand look at Ignatian spirtuality, at his way of seeing the world and finding God in every bit of it. Â “That’s the gift: to see God in all things and all things in God,” LÃ³pez says at one point. Â As someone who has just started to seriously explore Ignatian spirituality, I can attest to the fact that this way of thinking can do amazing things for your prayer life — and for your life, period.
So if this sounds like a book you’d like to read (trust me: it is!), you can enter the giveaway simply by leaving a comment below. Â The giveaway will be open throughÂ next Sunday the 22nd, after which I’ll randomly choose a winner. Â (Thanks again to Loyola Press for the giveaway copy!).