Working from his own experience in prayer, Saint Ignatius Loyola developed the Spiritual Exercises. Ordinarily, one would make these exercises over the course of 30 consecutive days, generally at a retreat house.
Saint Ignatius recognized that not everyone who wanted to make the Spiritual Exercises had the leisure or the resources to be away for 30 days. In his own journey he also recognized that there were men and women who had the necessary qualities of mind and heart and were drawn by God to make the Exercises. He formulated a process and a way of proceeding so that everyday individuals could make what is now more commonly known as The Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life.
From November 1985 until April 1986 Jesuits of the Maryland, New York and New England Provinces of the Society of Jesus created the groundbreaking book Place Me with Your Son. The Jesuits themselves prayed their retreat over an extended period of time using the exercises contained within the book. They noticed genuine advantages in their experience of making The Exercises in Daily Life. It proved to strengthen daily prayer, to increase the ability of discernment, and to increase one’s sense of the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. It also provided helps to integrate prayer and work, ultimately leading one to “see God” in every aspect of one’s life.
As these observations clarified, they also inspired two pioneer Jesuit priests of our Buffalo Diocese — Fr. Dick Hoar SJ and Fr. Jim Ruddick SJ. Through their own experience with small group programs, they recognized that a group of six to eight persons could be guided in the making of the retreat in daily life using Place Me With Your Son. The group would be facilitated and directed by a Jesuit priest and another experienced team member.
It was a unique model for persons to grow not only individually but communally through the regular sharing of one's spiritual journey. Within the one-sided sharing, one begins at times to experience “aha!” moments — a deep sense of the Holy Spirit's activity in one's life. It becomes a new way of life — about one's deepening relationship with God and others — to open one's heart, mind and spirit to the workings and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
As a result of the efforts of these two priests, hundreds of persons aged 20 on up to those in their 80's have made this Retreat. Be assured, should you sense a tug in your heart, you are probably being invited by the Spirit to check us out. ✜