The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola
Please Note: registration for 2017 applications to the Spiritual Exercises is now closed. We will resume applications for 2018 beginning Spring next year.
The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life takes place over a nine-month period, beginning in September and concludes in May. Activities include a commitment to daily prayer of approximately one hour, keeping a journal and a weekly meeting with a Guide to review prayer experiences, learn about different prayer exercises and receive direction for the following week.
The Spiritual Exercises themselves are a series of meditations on scripture, reflections, prayers and experiences that move through four stages. Each stage has a particular focus: the First is on how humans reject a loving God (sin) and God’s continuous response of mercy; the Second is on developing a relationship with Jesus Christ, through contemplating his public life in the Gospels; the Third on being with Jesus in his passion and death; and the Fourth on relating to the risen Jesus and becoming a “contemplative in action.”
There is no one method or source of Ignatian prayer: Ignatius drew on a number of Christian sources, and the Spiritual Exercises contain over 10 different kinds of prayer. Though a readiness to pray with scripture is important, there is opportunity for stillness too - Ignatius did not wish to force people into a spiritual straitjacket. The Spiritual Exercises therefore, involve a process that aims to help people reach inner freedom in responding freely to the personal call of Christ, to help build the Kingdom of God.
HOW THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES WORK
Through the Exercises, retreatants develop characteristics which become part of their everyday lives. First, retreatants become better able to discern their inner desires and to see how God is working in their lives and in the world. Second, they learn how to bring together contemplation and action. And third, they become increasingly aware of the presence and activity of God in all things.
The Spiritual Exercises originate in St. Ignatius’ own experience of God, particularly during his ten-month retreat at a place called Manresa. Over the course of some 25 years, Ignatius developed his spiritual notes taken at Manresa into a practical handbook for directors to guide persons into closer relationships with God and into living out those relationships in the world. Originally, Ignatius gave the Spiritual Exercises in a 30 day silent retreat.
Ignatius recognized early on in the development of the Spiritual Exercises that many people were too occupied with day-to-day responsibilities to get away for a 30 day period. He therefore developed the Spiritual Exercises for “Everyday Life!” which allows the retreat to be made over a nine month period.
WHO SHOULD MAKE THE EXERCISES?
People of diverse backgrounds within various Christian traditions make the Spiritual Exercises. The Exercises especially benefit:
- Women and men who desire spiritual development
- All who desire inner peace and deeper spiritual freedom
- Those who desire a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Christ
- Lay persons, religious, Christians from all denominations
- Anyone who has important decisions to make about their lives
- All who desire deeper meaning and purpose in their Christian lives and want to make a difference in the world
- Everyone who desires integration of their relationship with God to recognize His presence in all things
- Those who seek to understand the path their lives have taken
- Men and women who are in transition and are seeking to discern next steps
- Women and men in leadership positions who desire a more contemplative approach to their work
WHAT IS THE COST?
Cost for the nine-month Spiritual Exercises taken with the Ignatian Spirituality Center in Kansas City is $400 per person.