The “Spiritual Exercises” are a beloved program of spiritual growth created by St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast we normally celebrate on July 31st (it falls on a Sunday this year). Being the gradual fruit of Ignatius’ own conversion and spiritual journey, the Exercises have for centuries proven a highly-effective spiritual boot camp for souls desiring to conform themselves to Christ.
The Exercises were originally designed as a 4-week retreat done under the guidance of a director. They are, however, adaptable to shorter time periods and to independent use.
Each week has a specific spiritual goal:
- To “reform the deformed”—we engage in intense self-reflection and evaluate what is holding us back from God
- To “conform the reformed”—we meditate on Christ’s life and ministry and discern how to be His disciples
- To “confirm the conformed”—as we consider Christ’s Passion and death, we become more united to Him in His suffering and deepen our love for Him
- To “transform the confirmed”—we meditate on Christ’s Resurrection and consider how to apply the lessons of the retreat to our lives and the world
Basically, the Exercises—through rigorous self-examination, regular meditation, resolutions, and other prayers and spiritual workouts—take us from a self-centered life characterized by our sins and ambitions to a Christ-centered life transformed by His love. It is truly a program for a spiritual soldier who’s ready to move beyond the ordinary into a life of spiritual excellence and dedicated service to Christ.
Are you up for the challenge? We did say that you could do the Exercises even if you can’t make it to a formal month-long retreat. This edition from TAN is an excellent guide for those who want to do the Exercises independently. Filled with step-by-step guidance for each stage of the Exercises, this book won’t make things totally easy—nothing worth doing is ever easy!—but it will make things simple. Pick up your copy today!