cover image A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life

A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life

Andrew Krivak, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25 (324pp) ISBN 978-0-374-16606-9

The road to priesthood in the Society of Jesus is arduous. Jesuits, like most other Catholic religious orders, demand a lifetime of poverty, chastity and obedience. They also require years of postgraduate study and hard work before ordination. At age 27, Krivak joined the order, already equipped with two degrees as well as experience writing poetry and working in a boatyard. Over the next eight years he studied philosophy and theology, visited hospitalized AIDS patients, taught writing to college students, worked in the Dominican Republic, Russia and Slovakia—and fell in love. The search for love is an important theme running through this artfully written memoir: the love of God, the strong but imperfect love of Krivak's father and eventually the deep, reciprocated love of a woman. Life, he tells a friend, is “a long retreat”—an awareness that God is everywhere present and can be trusted. Now married and the father of a son, Krivak shows no bitterness as he explores his painful decision to leave the Society of Jesus. “I walked a long but worthy road that led to a place where I didn't belong,” he told his spiritual director. “I don't feel any resentment. I feel gratitude.” (Mar.)