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Spiritual Exercises

St. Igantius of Loyola

Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) grew up as a very worldly Spaniard, much drawn to courtly life, daring exploits and romance. Injured as a soldier in battle, he spent a long time recovering, during which he slowly and painfully underwent a conversion experience. That experience continued and deepened after his wounds healed.

During this period of his life, Ignatius began to notice how God was touching his mind and heart. Curious, he began to observe the process closely.

The lessons Ignatius learned about how God was dealing with him were, he discovered later, very helpful to others with whom he came to deal. These lessons he put in an orderly way in a book for retreat directors, called the Spiritual Exercises.  The success of the Spiritual Exercises in the lives of countless persons in St. Ignatius' time, and since then, has been extraordinary.

Ignatius and his fellow Jesuits gave the Spiritual Exercise over a period of thirty days to retreatants who live apart away from home in an atmosphere of quiet and prayerfulness. But Ignatius found that many people could not, because of family or business reasons, take thirty days off, leave home and go away for the retreat.

So in his Note #19 (called Annotation Nineteen) of his book, Ignatius explained how people could make the retreat under a spiritual director while remaining at home. Thus this method, called the Retreat in Daily Life, is often referred to as a Nineteenth Annotation Retreat. Today, the use of this Retreat in Daily Life is widespread in many countries and is productive of great good.

In simple terms, the "Exercises" are a 'user-friendly' way to get a new sense of how God works in our lives, how to make wise choices, how to find God in the people and experiences that fill our days. While they require a time commitment and presume some prayer experience, they are open to anyone who seriously seeks to enhance the quality of their relationship to God.

There are many reasons that draw people to making these Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. For some it is a desire to grow in personal freedom so as to be able to make better choices and decisions. For others, it is simply to deepen their relationship with God in Jesus. Still others seek a more conscious experience of spirituality to support their desires to bring greater justice into the world about them.

Whatever the motives one might have for making the Exercises, the benefits of obtaining a clearer focus in one's life are not just personal. Those who grow in a confident peace with themselves will be better persons at work, at home - every-where. Those who develop a more trusting relationship with God will necessarily deepen their concern for justice among all person.

Here at St. Ignatius, a five week preparation for the Exercises is usually held on Wednesday evenings (7-8:30p) beginning in May and continues until early June. There is no fee involved. The preparation is a "stand alone" prayer experience and everyone is most welcome to participate in the preparation even if they are unable to make the retreat in October.

For those continuing on in the fall, a significant time commitment is required on the part of the retreatment which includes prayer time each day over a 30 week period and weekly meeting with a director once the actual retreat begins.

We are a centre for the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Manitoba. If you are interested in becoming more familiar with this unique way of drawing closer to God, call Valerie at 453-9243.

Retreat In Daily Life:

In the Jesuit Tradition, a Retreat is a time of prayer, without sermons or preaching.  Instead the focus is on God as experienced in one's personal prayer.  The participant is assisted to learn to listen to the "voice" of God speaking to them in their "heart"/  The retreatant (with the help of their director) learns to discern God's presence and will in their life.

During the course of the retreat, participants will learn the fundamentals of the various methods of praying extant in the Jesuit Tradition.  Prayer is not just speaking to God.  We can also listen to God and learn to hear God.  In the Jesuit form of Meditation, we use our mind and heart to listen to God and to dialogue with God.  In Contemplation we use our God-given imagination and psyche to come close to and unite ourlselves with God.  The Consciousness Examen is a very short prayer method exquisitely designed for busy lay people.  Practiced daily it can assist us to find the presence, action, voice, and will of God in our daily lives through all its ups and downs and even in the midst of all its busyness.

Each person making the retreat is given a personal Director.  The director listens to what was experienced during the prayer of the person on retreat.  Spiritual Direction is one form by which the person discerns God's Will and Voice.

The Introduction to Spiritual Exercises is a stand alone retreat programme.  But for those who might be interested in making the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life retreat, the "Lord Teach us to Pray" retreat programme also fulfills the necessary pre-requisite for the Spiritual Exercises.

An introduction to the Jesuit Prayer Tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola - five weeks during May and June - exact dates to be announced.  There is no fee involved.  Contact Valerie at 453-9243 or at

Weekly Commitments

- each week, one evening lecture Session: including opportunity for questions, discussion, sharing, and fellowship.

- weekly meeting with your director.

Daily Prayer Commitments

- each day 2 prayer periods (a main prayer period & a very short one) altogether adding up to about 1 hour.