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Spiritual Exercises

By | Jan. 2011
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The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
“The Excercises are the fountain of your spirituality and the matrix of your Constitutions, but they are also a gift that the Spirit of the Lord has made to the entire Church: it is for you to continue to make it a precious and efficacious instrument for spiritual growth of souls…..” The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are a month-long program of meditations, prayers, considerations, and contemplative practices that help Catholic faith become more fully alive in the everyday life of contemporary people. It is set out in a brief manual or handbook: sparse, taciturn, and practical. It presents a formulation of Ignatius' spirituality in a series of prayer exercises, thought experiments, and examinations of consciousness—designed to help a retreatant (usually with the aid of a spiritual director) to experience a deeper conversion into life with God in Christ, to allow our personal stories to be interpreted by being subsumed in a Story of God. These Exercises are usually made in one of three different ways: first, extended over approximately thirty days in a silent retreat away from home, which was its original form; or second, as condensed into a weekend or an eight-day retreat based on Ignatian themes; or third, in the midst of daily life, while living at home, over a period of several months. The Spiritual Exercises are divided into a series of four "weeks"—not literally seven 24-hour-day weeks, but "movements" or “stages”—with accompanying prayer, visualizations, reflections, and spiritual exercises for each week. These four movements include consideration of God's generosity and mercy and the complex reality of human sin; an imagining of the life and public ministry of Jesus, his proclamation of the gospel, his sayings and parables, his teachings and his miracles; and of Jesus' last days, his arrest and interrogation, whipping, public mockery, passion, crucifixion and death; and then, of Jesus’...

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