Getting Started

The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola are best suited for prayer during a silent retreat. However,  Ignatius knew that they could also be effective when employed in a less isolated environment. It is the hope of the authors of this blog that you, the reader, find the meditations that we offer here useful in your own search to encounter Christ in prayer in your daily life. The meditations are intended to be prayed in order, from as close to the beginning as possible, perhaps over the course of a dedicated time such as the season of Lent. (more…)

March 6th, 2014

April 22, 2014 |

Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.

Text for Prayer: Spiritual Exercises no. 230-237

Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor.  This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it.  At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love.  From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.”  At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise.  Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires.  No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love.  From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God.  But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.

(more…)

April 22nd, 2014 | |

April 2, 2013 |

Grace: To experience a deeply-felt gratitude for all of the blessings God has given me, that I may thereby become completely devoted to His Divine Majesty in effective love.

Text for Prayer: Spiritual Exercises no. 230-237

Reflection:

“Love ought to show itself more in deeds than in words.”
-St. Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises #230

Sin and grace are rooted in the contrary attitudes of selfishness and love, reflecting the fundamental models of Satan and God that the Spiritual Exercises invites us to choose between. This is particularly clear in the Contemplation to Attain the Love of God (or “contemplatio” for short) that concludes the retreat.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1849) defines sin as the “failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods.” Sin “turns our hearts away” (#1850) from God’s love. Ignoring the two Great Commandments of Jesus, we hurt others on purpose (damaging our relationships with God, ourselves, and others) because of our inordinate desires for money, sex, and power.

(more…)

April 2nd, 2013 | |

April 10, 2012 |

Grace: Gratitude for the many graces and blessings received, and the desire to reciprocate God’s generosity in loving service to Christ the Risen King.

Text for Prayer: Spiritual Exercises no. 230-237

Reflection: At the conclusion of Lent and the Spiritual Exercises, we have so much to be grateful for.  Let us recall with gratitude the ways we have experienced the Trinity’s Love for us throughout the Four Weeks:

  • How did the Spirit reveal to you your God-given uniqueness, especially how you have been wonderfully made by God?
  • What bondage did you find yourself trapped in during the First Week, and how did Jesus set you free?
  • Where and when did you find Jesus speaking to you most powerfully during the Second Week?  What instance particularly drew you to desire to know, love and follow Christ?
  • At what point during the Third Week did you feel most free to enter into Jesus’ Passion and receive intimate knowledge that Christ suffered this all for you?
  • Where did you encounter the Risen Jesus during the Fourth Week?  In what ways did you experience Christ as the Consoler (and more specifically, your Consoler)?  What point during this week did you feel your heart most moved to follow Jesus? (more…)
April 10th, 2012 | |

April 26, 2011 |

Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Lord.

Text for Prayer: Spiritual Exercises no. 230-237

Reflection: 

The retreat, as Ignatius envisioned it, is a time of receiving many graces. Ignatius, though, was not content simply with receiving graces; he wanted us, after receiving generously from the Lord, to make an offering in return.  Ignatius’ ideal was to be a ‘contemplative even in action,’ to allow the knowledge given in prayer to find expression in service.  And so the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises is the Contemplation to Attain the Love of God. One of the graces of the retreat is to allow things we all know about God to sink into our hearts, to become ‘felt’ knowledge.

Before entering into this contemplation, Ignatius calls to our attention two points. First, love ought to manifest itself in deeds more than in words. Second, love consists in a mutual sharing of goods, where the lover shares everything with the beloved, just as every good is shared between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.

(more…)

April 26th, 2011 | |