‘Brothers in Arms’ – Ignatian Camino book

July 3, 2023 in Featured News, News

Five hundred years after Saint Ignatius Loyola walked from Loyola to Manresa in Spain, Jesuit priest Brendan McManus and his new-found friend, Dubliner James Fullam, set out to retrace Ignatius’s steps on the newly established Ignatian Camino. Brothers in Arms (Messenger Publications) » is the story of two pilgrims, one saint, totally unexpected adventures, and finding the freedom to follow the path God has revealed.

The book by best-selling author Brendan McManus SJ with James Fullam is part travelogue, part Camino-prep for seasoned and unseasoned pilgrims alike, and part hands-on guide to the basics of Ignatian spirituality.

Referring to the pilgrimage he undertook with James, Brendan writes in the introduction:

“Though we didn’t explicitly plan it, we ended up doing a version of the Spiritual Exercises together along the way. This was very appropriate on the Ignatian Camino and especially during the Ignatian 500th anniversary year.

There is a long tradition of adapting the Exercises for times, places and persons, known as Annotation 19, and nowhere was this more apt than on this walking pilgrimage, which necessarily involved sharing life and faith.”

Brendan continues:

“What was providential was the way life threw up situations that the Exercises spoke to and about which they provided some wisdom. The result was an ongoing conversation about life and faith, shaped by the experience of Ignatius, which became this book.”

On their journey Brendan and James face exhaustion, dehydration, intense heat, capricious bus drivers and unexpected losses, as well as the challenge of getting to know and trust one another.

Using tools developed by Ignatius – discernment, consolation and desolation, the Examen, agere contra – Brendan and James overcome their challenges together. Guided by the Spirit, they follow in the steps of Ignatius, deepening their trust in one another and in God.

The book includes eleven chapters dealing with topics such as ‘the sound of silence’, ‘dealing with desolation’, ‘rescued by nuns’, and ‘a meeting of minds and hearts’.

Referring to their encounter with nuns in chapter nine, Brendan writes:

“After we had been there for a couple of long hours, James was growing disconsolate, although I was still hopeful and praying hard for some assistance. Then I saw some nuns in full habits alighting from a minibus.

Inside, I approached them for a lift, explaining that I was a Jesuit and my friend, unable to walk, needed a lift. I was taken aback by the immediate positive response I got from the mother superior, whose name was Montserrat.

Not only did they offer us a lift to Igualada, where they had to pick up another sister, but they were actually going on to Montserrat, our next day’s destination.”

The book includes many more adventures and provides pilgrimage reflection questions and a music playlist after the epilogue.

Brendan McManus SJ works as a Spiritual Director and retreat giver in Belfast. He has published a number of books with Messenger Publications including Channelling the Inner Fire: Ignatian Spirituality in 15 Points; The Way to Manresa: Discoveries along the Ignatian Camino; and co-authored with Jim Deeds, the best-selling Finding God in the Mess; Deeper into the Mess and Discover God Daily.

Brothers in Arms by Brendan McManus SJ with James Fullam is published in Ireland and the UK by Messenger Publications. It is priced at €12.95/£11.95.