By Jerry Duggan
Father Barton Geger, SJ, a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern (UCS) Province, recently produced a new edition of A Pilgrim’s Testament: The Memoirs of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
He hopes this new edition will help to clarify that, while Ignatius had insights into fundamental concepts such as discernment, he was not the first to promote the practice. He was heavily influenced by the work of many who came before him. He borrowed and appropriated those ideas to shape what is today known as “Ignatian discernment.”
“I believe that we will appreciate the real significance of Ignatius’ contributions only when we first recognize what he had learned from everyone else,” said Fr. Geger, an assistant professor of the Practice at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and research scholar at the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies.
Ignatius was originally moved to recount his life story after many of his contemporaries expressed interest in hearing it for their own inspiration and that of future Jesuits.
In his memoirs, St. Ignatius Loyola recounted the experiences leading to his conversion and described in detail the journey that led him to found the Society of Jesus, which is today the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church.
The text moves in chronological order from 1521 to 1538, starting with Ignatius’ conversion to Christ at the age of 30, and ending with his arrival in Rome and becoming the first Superior General of the Society that he formed.
Father Geger started work on the new edition of the autobiography by revising the translation of a now-deceased priest, Fr. Parmananda Divarkar, SJ. Father Geger added a new introduction and endnotes, which together comprise about half the text.
The new edition has garnered praise in its first few months on the market. Father James Martin, SJ, calls it “the very best English translation of the Autobiography.”
“It was a privilege to work on a beloved text that has inspired so many Jesuits and others since it was first translated into English in the early 20th century,” Fr. Geger said. “I am grateful to my Jesuit companions and to my colleagues at the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies for their encouragement and assistance.”
Father Geger is in his fourth year on the faculty at Boston College, and is currently working with a translation of the Jesuit Constitutions. Prior to his time at BC, he taught theology and served as director of Ignatian Programming at Regis University in Denver, Colo. He is the general editor of Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits.
A St. Louis native, Fr. Geger entered the Society in 1990, was ordained a priest in 2001 and in 2010 received a doctorate in sacred theology from Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid, focusing his dissertation on the Jesuit Constitutions.