Featured Classic - May 2007
The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola
by Tom DeVries
There are classic texts of Christian piety that are hard to read. Piety has never been characterized by ease. Yet too often, the sparring between Christian factions causes us to set aside texts that contain God's own wisdom for our lives. The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola is one such book.
Ignatius is known as the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and a leader in the Counter-Reformation. For this he is often vilified by Protestants as nothing more than a Papal lackey. However, his Exercises, written before he founded the Jesuit Order, contain the foundations of a spiritual vibrancy reminiscent of his spiritual fathers Francis of Assisi and Thomas a'Kempis.
While Ignatius' Exercises were historically meant to be practiced under the supervision of a spiritual director, the exercises themselves can be adapted into a patterned approach to spiritual growth for all Christians. I first read The Exercises as a classroom assignment. Yet even then, I felt called to utilize the principles extolled by Ignatius in my journey to reflect more and more the fullness of God. In this age of convenience and instant gratification, it is spiritually refreshing to relearn the daily practice of piety. Thank God we have the opportunity to remember people of faithful witness like Ignatius and continue to practice the dedicated obedience he taught in The Spiritual Exercises.
Read this classic at the CCEL
Tom DeVries is a recent graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary's MA program in Missions. Tom spent 11 years as part of a missionary family in the Philippines and Guam before returning to Michigan. His areas of expertise include inter-faith dialogue and Christian-Muslim relations.