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The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola
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Pages (PDF): 99
Publication Date: 1914
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This is a plan of contemplation to be carried out over about a month. St. Ignatius of Loyola (1419-1556) was the founder of the Jesuits, and was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. He published the Spiritual Exercises in 1548. The Exercises were intended for use during a retreat; and are a central part of the first year training of Jesuit novices.
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TO GIVE SOME UNDERSTANDING OF THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES WHICH FOLLOW, AND TO ENABLE HIM WHO IS TO GIVE AND HIM WHO IS TO RECEIVE THEM TO HELP THEMSELVES
First Annotation. The first Annotation is that by this name of Spiritual Exercises is meant every way of examining one's conscience, of meditating, of contemplating, of praying vocally and mentally, and of performing other spiritual actions, as will be said later. For as strolling, walking and running are bodily exercises, so every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all the disordered tendencies, and, after it is rid, to seek and find the Divine Will as to the management of one's life for the salvation of the soul, is called a Spiritual Exercise.
Second Annotation. The second is that the person who gives to another the way and order in which to meditate or contemplate, ought to relate faithfully the events of such Contemplation or Meditation, going over the Points with only a short or summary development. For, if the person who is making the Contemplation, takes the true groundwork of the narrative, and, discussing and considering for himself, finds something which makes the events a little clearer or brings them a little more home to him -- whether this comes through his own reasoning, or because his intellect is enlightened by the Divine power -- he will get more spiritual relish and fruit, than if he who is giving the Exercises had much explained and amplified the meaning of the events. For it is not knowing much, but realising and relishing things interiorly, that contents and satisfies the soul.
Third Annotation. The third: As in all the following Spiritual Exercises, we use acts of the intellect in reasoning, and acts of the will in movements of the feelings: let us remark that, in the acts of the will, when we are speaking vocally or mentally with God our Lord, or with His Saints, greater reverence is required on our part than when we are using the intellect in understanding.
Fourth Annotation. The fourth: The following Exercises are divided into four parts:
First, the consideration and contemplation on the sins;
Second, the life of Christ our Lord up to Palm Sunday inclusively;
Third, the Passion of Christ our Lord;
Fourth, the Resurrection and Ascension, with the three Methods of Prayer.
Though four weeks, to correspond to this division, are spent in the Exercises, it is not to be understood that each Week has, of necessity, seven or eight days. For, as it happens that in the First Week some are slower to find what they seek -- namely, contrition, sorrow and tears for their sins -- and in the same way some are more diligent than others, and more acted on or tried by different spirits; it is necessary sometimes to shorten the Week, and at other times to lengthen it. The same is true of all the other subsequent Weeks, seeking out the things according to the subject matter. However, the Exercises will be finished in thirty days, a little more or less.
Fifth Annotation. The fifth: It is very helpful to him who is receiving the Exercises to enter into them with great courage and generosity towards his Creator and Lord, offering Him all his will and liberty, that His Divine Majesty may make use of his person and of all he has according to His most Holy Will.
Sixth Annotation. The sixth: When he who is giving the Exercises sees that no spiritual movements, such as consolations or desolations, come to the soul of him who is exercising himself, and that he is not moved by different spirits, he ought to inquire carefully of him about the Exercises, whether he does them at their appointed times, and how. So too of the Additions, whether he observes them with diligence. Let him ask in detail about each of these things.
Consolation and desolation are spoken of on p. 170; the Additions on p. 22.
Seventh Annotation. The seventh: If he who is giving the Exercises sees that he who is receiving them is in desolation and tempted, let him not be hard or dissatisfied with him, but gentle and indulgent, giving him courage and strength for the future, and laying bare to him the wiles of the enemy of human nature, and getting him to prepare and dispose himself for the consolation coming.
Eighth Annotation. The eighth: If he who is giving the Exercises sees that he who is receiving them is in need of instruction about the desolations and wiles of the enemy -- and the same of consolations -- he may explain to him, as far as he needs them, the Rules of the First and Second Weeks for recognising different spirits. (P. 177).
Ninth Annotation. The ninth is to notice, when he who is exercising himself is in the Exercises of the First Week, if he is a person who has not been versed in spiritual things, and is tempted grossly and openly -- having, for example, suggested to him obstacles to going on in the service of God our Lord, such as labors, shame and fear for the honor of the world -- let him who is giving the Exercises not explain to him the Rules of the Second Week for the discernment of spirits. Because, as much as those of the First Week will be helpful, those of the Second will be harmful to him, as being matter too subtle and too high for him to understand.
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