THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
I have been guiding individuals and groups through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola since 2015, when I completed training in this process through Loyola House in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
The Spiritual Exercises are a regular prayer practice based on a process designed by Ignatius of Loyola (16th c.) emerging out of his own faith conversion.
When done in what is known as the “19th Annotation” or “A Retreat in Daily Life,” the Spiritual Exercises unfold over 32-36 weeks, requiring an hour of personal prayer per day with journaling and regular (usually weekly) meetings with a spiritual director to share and reflect on what is stirring through the daily prayer times.
The Exercises are “Spiritual” because they come from the desire and intention to be responsive to God or the Holy One in daily prayer and life. They are considered “Exercises” because they provide an opportunity to strengthen and grow in one’s relationship with the God by the commitment to “show up” each day in prayer and reflect on that experience.
The times of prayer are organized around four consecutive movements that focus on Scripture readings reflecting on God’s love; our need for that love; the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and our call to live from that source or knowledge of our belovedness in our daily activities. The way these movements unfold, the Spiritual Exercises can be experienced most richly in connection with the liturgical year of the church, by beginning in late September, aligning with Christmas and Easter, and concluding in May.
The different ways of praying in this practice involve the mind, heart, body (journaling) and imagination—the whole person—, as well as listening to God or the Spirit.
Discernment is a key aspect of the Spiritual Exercises, and Ignatius of Loyola is considered a master in understanding how good discernment can occur. Consequently, many people choose to do the Exercises when they are at a significant crossroads in their life, making a major decision. However, the tools of discernment that are offered can be equally helpful in learning to make less significant choices in a prayerful context. The Spiritual Exercises remind us that we need both our intellect and our feelings, as well as our embodied awareness, to make good decisions.
The purpose or intention in doing the Spiritual Exercises is
- to better learn how to find God in all things
- to find prayer in life and life in prayer
- to feel more strongly called to live a life of praise, reverence, and service through contemplation and action
- to draw closer to God and to enter into deeper relationship with Jesus
If you have any desire or urge to consider undertaking this prayer practice with an experienced guide, or you simply want more information, please contact me. People who have undertaken this spiritual practice can find it reinvigorates their faith or significantly transforms their experience of prayer and/or reading Scripture.
I offer the Spiritual Exercises in different formats. These are some options:
- One-on-one in person or online as an individual experience, in which I serve as the spiritual director and meet the participant weekly
- A hybrid format in which I guide a small group through the process offering biweekly one-on-one spiritual direction (1 hour/session) and monthly group meetings (2 ½ hour/meeting) for learning and sharing together as part of the journey
- The same hybrid format as above in which I guide and facilitate this process as a program through Providence Renewal Centre (both online and in-person formats). See https://providencerenewal.ca/prayer-opportunities/.
Because online is an option (Zoom, Skype, for example), location need not be a barrier whether I facilitate the program myself or do so through Providence Renewal Centre. Tuition for the individual option includes weekly one-on-one spiritual direction (32 sessions). Tuition for a hybrid format covers biweekly one-on-one spiritual direction sessions (16 sessions) and monthly small group meetings (9 meetings).
Faith has been an excellent guide in leading the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola program; taking us through the learning process, and applying the principles to our daily lives as we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit working in our lives.