‘On Retreat with Pope Francis’

June 10, 2024 in Featured News, News

Well-known papal author Austen Ivereigh’s latest book. First Belong to God: On Retreat with Pope Francis » (Messenger Publications) is a ‘new departure’ for him. He explains why in this interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications. She caught up with him just after he finished a talk in Gardiner St Church Dublin and was setting off for Belfast to deliver another lecture at the Belfast Jesuit Centre for Spirituality. Watch a video of that lecture here ».

The book is an 8-day Ignatian retreat, led by Pope Francis but written up by Ivereigh. It draws significantly on the talks and writings of the Pope who, as a Jesuit, is steeped in the spirituality of St Ignatius. He says that it is a book not just to be read but to be pondered. It seeks to present Francis’s teaching in a ‘digestible way’, exploring the ‘spiritual grammar’ of his pontificate, the key to this grammar being the Spiritual Exercises, a retreat handbook written by St Ignatius ». The author’s hope, like that of Pope Francis, is that the book leads the reader(s) to prayer and an opening up to the experience of God.

Ivereigh also tells how the book came to be, who it is for (individuals, parish groups, communities), and how it can be used. He draws attention to the invitation to reflection and future action at the end of each day. He also reveals ‘the boldest move’ he makes in the book. He discusses the themes close to Francis’ heart: ‘belonging’; the modern crisis of ‘insularity leading to anxiety’; the epochal change facing the world in ‘the afternoon of Christianity’ (Fr Tomás Halik), and inclusivity. Pope Francis sums them all up himself, says Ivereigh, when he repeats, “The church is for all – todos, todos, todos“.