"The Exercises are the fountain of your spirituality and the entire matrix of your Constitutions, but they are also a gift that the Spirit of the Lord has made to the entire Church for you to continue to make it a precious and efficacious instrument for spiritual growth of souls."
- Pope Benedict XVI
to Jesuits at their GC 35, 21 February 2008.
Encounter with a Liberating God
The Exercises are not primarily a course in gymnastics, even expert spiritual gymnastics. They are an encounter with God, with God's liberating and sanctifying truth.
God's plan for salvation and spiritual growth throws infinitely more light on human psychology than our knowledge of human psychology casts upon the divine message.
Although psychology finds in the ways of God, on some points, a remarkable agreement with its own conclusions, nevertheless, it could never of itself reach views of the human as lofty as God's revelation does.
It is in the light of this divine revelation that man and woman must learn to know themselves and to live. God is man and woman's end and this creates a dynamic attraction or tension toward an infinite destiny.
- Gilles Cusson sj.
Origin of the Spiritual Exercises
The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius are based on his unique mystical experience at Manresa (near Barcelona in Spain) in which he saw the whole of creation in a totally new and comprehensive vision, as it originates from God, as it moves towards its fulfilment in God; Jesus Christ is the centre of this vision. This vision gave orientation to his whole life and work.
- Josef Neuner sj.
The Spiritual Exercises Today
A powerful current of fresh enthusiasm for the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is one of the characteristics of this age of renewal in which we live. As compared with a generation ago, there is a notable increase in the number and variety of people making them, in their fidelity to the original Ignatian design and, it would seem, in the profit that is derived.
This is due in large measure to the present understanding of the Exercises, in the light of Ignatius’ own spiritual experience rather than simply according to the letter of the text. After all, it is he himself who tells us in his autobiography, ‘that he had not composed the Exercises all at once, but that when he noticed some things in his soul and found them useful, he thought they might also be useful to others, and so he put them in writing.’
Looked at in this way – as a painstaking effort to communicate an experience, and not just a piece of religious literature – the Exercises reveal a vision of reality and a dynamic of personal growth that are very much in tune with the mind and heart of the Church in this post-conciliar period of her history.
Hence it is that committed Christians today find them admirably suited to meet their actual spiritual needs. But this supposes that there is someone at hand to translate the authentic intuitions of Ignatius into the current idiom and to place them in the context of contemporary life.
- Parmananda Divarkar sj
Aim of the Spiritual ExercisesThe Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius are not a random sequence of spiritual reflections. They have the definite goal of helping us to find and realise the meaning of our life and so to lead to practical decisions, decisions which affect the personal life and work of the one doing them.
- Joseph Neuner sj
Process of the Spiritual ExercisesThe full Ignatian Spiritual Exercises are a threefold process of Prayer – Reflection – Conversation, which may be done in one of two ways.
(1) During 30 Days in solitude and silence.
(2) During 30 Weeks in one’s ongoing daily life.
View upcoming Spiritual Exercises