Who is Saint Ignatius?
Ignatius, the youngest son of a noble Basque family, was seriously injured in battle at the age of 30. While recuperating at his family’s home, he read The Life of Christ and lives of various saints. This led him to change the way he lived his life.
In 1522, intending to live as a layman and pilgrim, he set out to Jerusalem. On the way, the Lord revealed himself in profound ways to Ignatius and taught him the path to union with himself.
In the years that followed, Ignatius was led by the Lord in ways of which he had never dreamed. Ignatius began reflecting on his own life experiences and gradually formulated The Spiritual Exercises and led others through them.
Ignatius and his followers have been guiding people from every walk of life through The Spiritual Exercises, which had been born out of his own experience of God.
What Are The Spiritual Exercises
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are a journey of prayer which can:
- lead a Christian to spiritual freedom, especially in making life choices;
- be a time of deep personal conversion;
- be a time of renewed commitment and more enthusiastic living of the Christian life.
The Spiritual Exercises provide the opportunity to come to deeper “interior knowledge of Our Lord who became human for me, that I may love him more intensely and follow him more closely.”
Through contemplation of Jesus in his human life, the retreatant comes to a deeper relationship with him and, at the same time, receives a better sense of the direction of his or her own life and what God desires.
The Exercises are a privileged moment in the long spiritual friendship and conversation between the retreatant and God.
Who Is Called To Make The Spiritual Exercises?
In the 500 years since Ignatius first shared them with the people of his time, many followers of Jesus Christ have made the Spiritual Exercises:
- young and old, ages 20 and above
- men and women
- both single and married
- laypeople. clergy, and religious
- working people and retired.
Ignatius knew that many people could not find time for an extended retreat away from their ordinary lives. So he encouraged them to make what have come to be called "The Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life."
Several characteristics are essential to entering fully into the retreat experience:
- an eagerness to know God and follow God’s will with generosity
- an interior life nurtured by regular prayer
- an ability to reflect on one’s experience in prayer and to share that experience with others
- a willingness and an ability to devote the time required
- an openness to the surprises of the Spirit in life.
What Time Will Be Involved?
Although there is some flexibility in the length of prayer time and the frequency of meetings, the Exercises do require a substantial commitment of time. During this retreat, the Exercises are the primary focus of one’s prayer life.
An hour of prayer each day is strongly encouraged.
This program also includes regular meetings with a group of other retreatants and directors. Meetings occur weekly for about the first six weeks, then twice a month.
These meetings are a significant support for the retreatant’s journey to God. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt 18:20).