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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 Emmaus Spirituality Center, seeking to continue the ministry of the Cenacle Sisters to the people of the Houston area and beyond, is honored to offer some of the ways to pray the Exercises: