Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

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If you’re interested in strengthening your relationship with God, working with a spiritual director may be a good next step on your faith journey.


The Spiritual Exercises

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, underwent a profound experience of God during his stay in the little town of Manresa in Spain in 1522. To share his experience with others, he eventually wrote a small guidebook called The Spiritual Exercises. It was intended to help the person who directed another in a structured 30-day or even ten-month-long program of prayer and contemplation.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, underwent a profound experience of God during his stay in the little town of Manresa in Spain in 1522.

Over the centuries the Jesuits have adapted the Exercises into shorter individually-directed retreats of six to eight days and into conference or group retreats of a few days’ duration in which the director presents various themes of the Spiritual Exercises to a group of people, who pray on their own over the material presented.

The Spiritual Exercises offer a way to grow in prayer; to develop a real and personal relationship with God; to see more clearly God’s presence in creation, your personal life story and current life circumstances; and to know Jesus more intimately, love Him more deeply and follow Him more closely.

Praying with The Spiritual Exercises

We don’t facilitate 30-day retreats at Manresa, but we do offer several ways of praying and reflecting on the meditations and themes of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in the midst of your daily life. Each experience requires a significant commitment of time for daily prayer on specific Scripture selections and weekly meetings with a director via Zoom, FaceTime, phone or in person. An offering of $25 per session is appropriate. Retreatants are also responsible for the cost of materials as required.

A home retreat that starts whenever you’re ready
Choose the format that works best for you:

Eight Weeks
  • Pray daily for 30 minutes for eight weeks using retreat content offered online.
12 Weeks
  • Pray daily for 30 to 45 minutes for 12 weeks using a prayer workbook/journal with daily scripture and reflections.
30 Days
  • Pray daily for 30 to 45 minutes aided by 30 sequential reflections for prayer and meditation available in a book or online.
10 Months
  • (19th Annotation Retreat) A daily commitment of 60 to 90 minutes of prayer and reflection centered on the themes of the Exercises for approximately nine or 10 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I make the Spiritual Exercises?

Ignatius offered this analogy: just as physical exercise has definite purposes, so do the Spiritual Exercises. Physical exercises are good for tuning up muscles, improving circulation and overall good health. Spiritual exercises are good for increasing openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit, for helping to bring to light the darkness of sinful tendencies within ourselves, and for strengthening and supporting us in the effort to respond ever more faithfully to the love of God.

What do I need to make the Spiritual Exercises?
  • Openness, generosity and courage.
  • A willingness to share with and listen to a director.
  • A director who will help to guide the process.
  • A Bible and a notebook or journal.
Why is a director necessary to the retreat?

The director’s role is to be a helper and guide during the retreat. He or she will explain the different ways of praying. The director helps by suggesting the matter to be considered in a prayer period and does not hinder God’s movements in you by imposing interpretations of Scripture or theology. The Exercises are, above all, a time for intimate contact between God and a retreatant.

Are there any special considerations in my life that might affect my retreat, that is, something could become an obstacle to the retreat process?

Yes, each experience requires time and energy. For example: if you are employed, are you free enough to devote the necessary time to the retreat prayer and reflection? Is there a major crisis in your family life that requires your energy and attention? Are you laboring under a chronic health problem? Are you in therapy and need to keep strong focus in that area?

Is there a cost for the Spiritual Exercises at Manresa?

You will compensate your director for the extensive time and energy this nine- to ten-month experience requires of him/her. We suggest an offering of $25 per session, but you will need to discuss this with your director.

Where will I meet my director for the weekly meetings?

You and your director may meet via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or in-person at a mutually agreeable location.

If I now feel drawn to make the Spiritual Exercises, what would be my next step?

Take a few days or even weeks to sit with the feeling. Pray about it. If the draw persists, click the button below.

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