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Posted December 11, 2006

Book: Walking in the Spirit: A Reflection on Jeronimo Nadal’s phrase “Contemplative likewise in Action”
Author: Joseph F. Conwell, S.J.
The Institute of Jesuit Sources, St. Louis. MO. 2003. Pp. 297

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Walking in the Spirit is written for everyone interested in prayer. It recognizes the universal call to holiness expressed in Vatican II. It does so from the perspective of the deservedly famous phrase of Jeronimo Nadal, one of the closest colleagues of Ignatius of Loyola among the first Jesuits, “simul in actione contemplativus (contemplative likewise in action). Nadal was convinced that contemplation leads to action an that the action to which it leads should be contemplative action.

While such prayer may be proper to the Society of Jesus, it is not exclusive to the Society. Men and women interested in prayer and contemplation and in serving God in daily life can see in these pages a kind of prayer that they not only find attractive but thatthey have indeed been practicing for a long time, the prayer that is appropriate to the vocation to which the Holy Spirit has been calling them.

A chronology of Nadal’s life and travels precedes each chapter of this book in order to set in context the writings of Nadal on which it comments. A quotation from Vatican II begins each chapter, highlighting its connection with the teachings of the Council. The book then treats this contemplative action and prayer in chapters that draw on Jesuit history, on the Society’s Constitutions, and on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. A “pause for prayer” occurs at appropriate places in the text, a moment to contemplate the Ignatian tradition and its relevance for one’s own life and work today.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Monks always speak of seeking God; to seek God is their perennial task as Christians, to seek a Presence, someone who is already there. We do not put ourselves in God’s presence, as some say; we are in God’s presence at God’s initiative, confronting Father, Son, and Holy Spirit everywhere. If we must seek that Presence and practice ourselves in seeking that Presence, to that extent we are not alive to reality, we are not awake. The Buddha told his followers to wake up; Jesus told his to stay awake, to watch. To wake up, to stay awake, to watch, and to attend to Presence, to respond to Presence, involve being filled with awe and reverence: and that is prayer. But to be aware of Presence takes practice, effort, repetition, correction, determination; but it results in skill, freedom, and spontaneity.

Table of Contents:

1. Growing pains and healing presence

2. Grace proper to the Society of Jesus

3. Walking in the Spirit

4. In imitation of Jesus and the primitive church

5. Prayer inspired by the kingdom and two standards

6. Prayer based on the end of the society

7. Ignatius: model of the society’s grace

8. Prayer proper to the Society of Jesus

9. Sinners called to be companions

10. Trinitarian prayer of Ignatius

11. On the way in: praying for the Church and society