Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola
by St. Ignatius of Loyola
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Written by the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Spiritual Exercises of St.
Ignatius is a powerful book. Derived mostly from St. Ignatius' conversion
experiences in 1521-3, Spiritual Exercises has provided guidance and
encouragement to its readers for several hundred years. The aim of Spiritual
Exercises is to assist people in finding God's will for their life, and to give
them the motivation and courage to follow that will. It is not a continuous
piece of writing, but more like a program of sorts, containing a collection of
thoughts, rules, encouragements, readings, meditations, prayers, warnings, and
notes. Nevertheless the condensed writing is organized into four "weeks," or
periods of time, with each week focusing upon a different theme--the
first, human sin; the second, Christ's life on earth; the third, Christ's death
on the cross; the fourth, Christ's risen life. A key theme throughout the
Spiritual Exercises is discernment--the need to discern between good
desires and evil desires in one's life. It is by following the four weeks, and
by utilizing such discernment, that a person can better realize God's will for
his or her own life. Although more profitably worked through with another
person or spiritual director, Spiritual Exercises can be extremely beneficial
for private personal study.
CCEL Staff Writer