There’s long been a discussion among spiritual directors about the purpose of the Spiritual Exercises. Is the goal to help people make important decisions, or help them grow in the spiritual life more broadly. Both of, course. It’s a false choice. But there’s a third way to view the Exercises–as a spiritual program that helps us grow into different a kind of person.
This is the view taken by Gerald Fagin, SJ, in his new book Putting on the Heart of Christ. Fagin, who teaches at Loyola University in New Orleans, sees the Exercises as a means to grow in virtue. In the book Fagin shows how the Exercises discusses 15 virtues (gratitude, reverence, and forgiveness among them). He shows how they enhance and develop them. The question is “What Kind of Person Should I Be?” The answer is to be a person who is putting on the heart of Christ.
In Putting on the Heart of Christ, Fr. Fagin supplies some fresh thinking about some familiar Ignatian ideas.