Ignatian spiritual exercises

File:St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) Founder of the Jesuits.jpgI have decided to undertake a course of Ignatian spiritual exercises.

I am not certain it is for me. When the warrior Iñigo was thirty, his leg was crushed by a cannon-ball. After setting, it was considerably shorter than the other. We are told he had it lengthened and straightened in a second operation out of vanity, to look good in hose, but a difference in leg length is a serious disability.

Recovering, he had two kinds of fantasy. In one, he had various knightly adventures, and won the love of a courtly lady. In the other, he followed the path of the Saints. He found that after the second kind he felt happy, and after the first kind he felt sad. He decided that the first came from his sinful nature, and the second from God.

Part of the first “week” of the Exercises involves confronting ones sins. A problem for me is that this does not fit my theory of my own nature. I am created good by God, and have imbibed from society inhibitions on my conduct, which I rail against, still mostly unconsciously. Integrated, I am Good; so my spiritual task is discovery of my God-given nature, not repentance. This is Original Blessing, rather than “original sin”: it involves self-discovery not self-abnegation.

Then again, my current stagnation may not indicate the good life well lived.

That first “week” is only a week on a full time retreat with five separate hours of meditation, reflection in between, and time with a spiritual director each day. The programme I have takes thirty weeks, with the first “week” taking eight weeks. This still involves an hour a day in silence, lectio divina and journalling, and ideally sharing my experiences with a listener for about half an hour a week. Such a listener might be doing the exercises at the same time.

Part of my reason for telling you this is to encourage myself to take these exercises seriously, but if anyone would care to be my listener, please use the Contact Me form.

20 thoughts on “Ignatian spiritual exercises

  1. I think this is a fabulous idea, without the nasty hangovers 😀

    Sorry pinkagendist, I had to do it. Not all of us take up drinking. I did once, it didn’t end well. I may blog about it, because the story seems to make everyone laugh but me.

    -.- Gotta love those kinds of drunken stories, but thanks for the inspiration!


    • Well, I don’t know. I blog about spiritual discipline, and the comment thread turns to drink.

      Welcome, and thank you for commenting. You seem to have a sense of mystic paradox, saying Il n’est pas facile, mais c’est plus facile. It is lovely to meet you.


  2. You are very gentle and thoughtful, so while I encourage any plan of action, I can’t help wondering, why you need to go on the lookout for sins. What if you get to day forty-two and realise you really don’t fit, there? Maybe that would be a good discovery. xx :-))


  3. I have to admit that I burst out laughing when I read the Pink Agendist’s advice there … I can recommend a nice Malbec of an evening. More seriously, you seem determined to put yourself through tortuous spiritual exercises … well, perhaps they’re not all that intense. I applaud your Ignatian immersion … but if I were to offer any advice, which I rarely do, it would be this: Get out there, girlfriend and kick up your heels, have some fun, run amuck, even on a budget a girl should be able to find a bit of spring and summer fun … and it sure beats the heck out of Ignatianism (or not, who am I to say?)


    • You have no excuse. He got here at 1am, you could get here at 7pm your time, not yet drunk, and come up with something almost as clever as he does.

      Oddly enough, a friend suggested a particular social group, and I am going to give them a go. I will let you know how I get on.


  4. I’ve done spiritual exercises a few times. Not sure how much good some of them did me, but one experience (a hard-core 30 day silent retreat) was key to me resolving some long-term dilemmas. Quite liberating.
    About week one: keep in mind that this is not an Evangelical altar call. The goal is not to scare you into a profession of faith, but purification for the later weeks. Inigo had a Catholic metaphysic, human nature is good but wounded by sin, rather than a Calvinist one. Even so, it can be hard on some people. The proper spirit is peace, hope, humility, and confidence in God’s love. Crying is OK, but avoid getting anxious, frustrated, or depressed.
    I don’t know how someone would approach the exercises without basic assent to the dogmas of the Trinity and Incarnation, but maybe it can be done. It probably depends on the preacher and what sort of audience he expects.
    The real goal of the exercise is learning how God speaks to you in practice.


    • Thank you. That is helpful.

      Some of my Anglican priests self-identified as “Catholic”, I was in with the Evangelicals at University, I have read a little of Calvin; and I read that “original sin” came from Augustine; but I am unsure of the doctrines. I am a Quaker. One Quaker distinguished between experience- I have been moved in Meeting for Worship- from “assumptions”- I am moved by the Holy Spirit, one person of the Trinity, which created the Heavens and the Earth: which no-one could know. I am prepared to sit lightly with it. For the purposes of these exercises, I believe in God. My first week (of eight weeks to make Inigo’s first week) has the theme “God’s goodness is extravagant”.


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