A Long Retreat
In Search of a Religious Life
By Andrew Krivak
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374166069, 336pp.
Publication Date: March 4, 2008
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This gorgeously written memoir tells the story of one man's search for his religious calling--a search that led him to the Dominican Republic and Central Europe, to Moscow and the South Bronx, and finally into married life with a woman whose search for God coincided with his own.
In 1990 Andrew Krivak--poet, yacht rigger, ocean lifeguard, student of the classics--entered the Society of Jesus. The heart of Jesuit training is the Long Retreat, thirty days of silence and prayer in which the Jesuit novice reflects on the Gospels and tests his desire for the priesthood. For Krivak, eight years of Jesuit formation turned out to be a long retreat in its own right, as he tested all his desires--for poetry, for travel, for independence, for love--against the pledge to do all "for the greater glory of God." And in this deeply affecting book the long retreat becomes a pattern for our own spiritual lives, enabling us to embrace our desire for solitude and perspective in our own circumstances, the way Krivak has in his new life as a husband, father, and writer.
The search for God is finally the search for oneself, St. Augustine wrote. Krivak's story pushes past the awful stories of scandal in the Catholic Church to reveal why a modern, forward-looking man would yearn to be a priest. Unlike those stories, it has an happy ending--one in which we can recognize ourselves.
Andrew Krivak earned degrees from St. John's College (Annapolis) and the graduate writing division of Columbia University before entering the Society of Jesus. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, DoubleTake, and elsewhere. He lives in London.
"A LONG RETREAT is not just a fascinating insider's look at Jesuit formation, but a beautifully written case study in prayerful discernment of one's proper vocation. Few memoirs of religious life are as wise and revelatory as this." –Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy and Exiles
"This is the best spiritual memoir I've read since THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN--and that was a long time ago. Andrew Krivak conveys his own ardent search while also capturing the fragmented spirit of our times, making his "long retreat" the occasion for a wise, tough and sometimes refreshingly comic meditation on faith. I read it like a detective story, unable to put it down--and then unable (and unwilling) to stop thinking about its lingering questions." --Patricia Hampl, author of Virgin Time
"Here is a personal remembrance and reflection become an instrument of summoning spiritual witness--and an account of a soul's progress amidst the possibilities offered by our contemporary secular world, all told incisively and with a haunting candor that will reach and touch the grateful reader." --Robert Coles