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Spiritual Exercises

of St. Ignatius

The Spiritual Exercises is a term used to describe a centuries-old spiritual process that grew out of Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual experience and out of the pastoral experience he gleaned while working with women and men of his time. Over some years, Ignatius established a pattern of spiritual exercises that invited people into a profound experience of God and frequently evoked a deep conversion and a renewed sense of mission. Eventually, Ignatius distilled this process into the text of the Spiritual Exercises so others might enter into their own dynamic spiritual transformation.  


As Ignatius intended, the Exercises have been adapted to a wide range of persons, time frames, theologies and cultures. Ignatius foresaw that not everyone who desired to make the Exercises could go to a monastery for the thirty days necessary to make this retreat. He provided a path for these people to make the Exercises in their daily life under the guidance of the Spirit through a specially trained retreat director. He called this adaptation the 19th Annotation. The common process extends over a period of nine months, following the liturgical year.


Some seekers consider the Spiritual Exercises as a school of prayer or a process of decision-making or a help in putting order into one’s life, free of unhealthy attachments. It is all of these but truly it is a process of praying the Gospels to become identified with Jesus Christ in loving and serving God in all things. Personal renewal, becoming deepened in prayer and Spirit-filled decision making are the gifts, the fruits of this experience. The immediate experience is always the direct encounter with God in Jesus Christ.

The Cenacle Sisters and lay spiritual directors have offered the Sppiritual Exercises in the Houston area for many years.  The Emmaus Spirituality Center endeavors to provide a home for continuing this ministry through a variety of options.

Wild Path

The 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises

This experience of the Spiritual Exercises, originally developed as a 30-day retreat by St. Ignatius, allows one to experience the retreat in everyday life over a period of months, even years.  Even in the sixteenth century it was a challenge to get away from daily life for 30 days.  The 19th Annotation format allows the retreatant the opportunity to meet with a spiritual director weekly or bi-weekly to explore the "movements" they experience in their daily prayers with the scripture readings, meditations and contemplations of the Exercises.  All of this is incorporated into their daily lives as they grow in interior freedom and love for God, self and others.  Specially trained directors are available to give this retreat one-on-one.

Image by Rachel Strong

The Cenacle 8-Week Home Retreat

The Cenacle Home Retreat is a genuine retreat experience based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola extending over an 8-week or longer period.  It is made by 10-12 people who are praying everyday from scripture suggested by the program.  Retreatants meet weekly with facilitators to reflect, share experiences, and receive input and guidance about the prayer and process.  A Home Retreat is not a bible study.  It is an opportunity to establish a more personal relationship with God by prayerful reading of scripture.  it is a journey of the heart, not the head.

Questions regarding the retreat?

Would you like to bring the Cenacle Home Retreat to your church or organization?

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The Internship
(for current Spiritual Directors)

The Internship was developed at the Cenacle Retreat House in the early 2000s by Sr. Mary Dennison, rc in order to respond to renewed interest in the Spiritual Exercises Retreat.  It is an experiential training for spiritual directors who sense the call to guide others in making the Spiritual Exercises.  Sr. Mary gathered a team of trained spiritual directors to help her implement the Internship.  Today, this team carries on the training of spiritual directors, providing the necessary input, resources and guidance for each segment of the Exercises to equip them to guide others.  The focus of the monthly meetings is on the dynamics of the Exercises and the movements within the retreatants (and the directors) as they listen to the Spirit move them through the course of the Exercises.  The setting is prayerful, informal and interactive.