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 1521-1523, 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