Spiritual Exercises

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History of the Spiritual Exercises 

Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) grew up as a very worldly Spaniard, drawn to courtly life, daring exploits and romance. Injured as a soldier in battle, he spent a long time recovering, during which he slowly and painfully underwent a conversion experience. That experience continued and deepened after his wounds healed.

During this period of his life, Ignatius began to notice how God was touching his mind and heart. Curious, he began to observe the process closely.

The lessons Ignatius learned about how God was dealing with him were, he discovered later, very helpful to others with whom he came to deal. Ignatius put these lessons in a book for Retreat Directors, called Spiritual Exercises. These exercises have been extraordinarily successful in the lives of countless people in St. Ignatius' time, and since then.

Ignatius and his fellow Jesuits presented the Spiritual Exercises during a 30-day retreat, where participants lived away from home in an atmosphere of quiet and prayerfulness. However, Ignatius found that many people couldn't take 30 days away from home, business and family to be at the retreat.

In Annotation Nineteen of his book, Ignatius explained how people could complete the retreat under a spiritual director while remaining at home. This method, called the Retreat in Daily Life, is often referred to as a Nineteenth Annotation Retreat. Today, the use of this Retreat in Daily Life is widespread in many countries and is productive of great good.

What are the Spiritual Exercises?

In simple terms, the Spiritual Exercises are a user-friendly way to gain a sense of how God works in our lives, how to make wise choices, and how to find God in the people and experiences that fill our days. While they require a time commitment and presume some prayer experience, they are open to anyone who seriously seeks to enhance the quality of their relationship with God.

There are many reasons that draw people to these Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. For some, it's a desire to grow in personal freedom, and to make better choices and decisions. For others, it's simply to deepen their relationship with God in Jesus. Some seek a more conscious experience of spirituality to support their desires to bring greater justice into the world around them.

Whatever the motives one might have for the Spiritual Exercises, the benefits of obtaining a clearer focus in one's life are not just personal. Those who grow in a confident peace within themselves will be better persons at work, at home, and everywhere. Those who develop a more trusting relationship with God will necessarily deepen their concern for justice among all people.

Retreat in Daily Life

We are the Centre for the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Manitoba. Each October, we offer the Retreat in Daily Life.
In the Jesuit Tradition, a retreat is a time of prayer without sermons or preaching. The focus is on God as experienced in one's personal prayer. The participant is assisted in learning to listen to the voice of God speaking to them in their heart. With the help of their director, the participant learns to discern God's presence and will in their life.

During the course of the retreat, participants will learn the fundamental methods of praying extant in the Jesuit Tradition:
Meditation —Prayer is not just speaking to God. We can also listen to God and learn to hear God. In the Jesuit form of meditation, we use our mind and heart to listen to God and to dialogue with God.
Contemplation — In this method of prayer, we use our God-given imagination and psyche to come close to and unite ourselves with God.
The Consciousness Examen — This is a very short prayer method exquisitely designed for busy lay people. Practiced daily, it can assist us to find the presence, action, voice, and will of God in our daily lives — through all its ups and downs, and in the midst of all its busyness.
Each person in the retreat is given a personal Retreat Director. The director listens to what was experienced during the prayer of the person on retreat. Spiritual Direction is one form by which the person discerns God's will and voice.

A significant time commitment is required for this retreat. This includes prayer time each day for a 30-week period and weekly meetings with a Retreat Director once the retreat begins.

If you're interested in becoming more familiar with this unique way of drawing closer to God, call Valerie at (204) 453-9243.

Preparation for the Retreat

For those interested in the 30 week Retreat in Daily Life, or learning more about the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius offers the {: Introduction to the Spiritual Exercises :}. This program is a prayer experience, and everyone is welcome to attend. For those wanting to complete the Retreat in Daily Life in October, this introductory program is a prerequisite and will prepare you for the 30 week retreat.