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Spiritual Exercises

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Following the Spiritual Exercises

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Already in the lifetime of St. Ignatius, the Spiritual Exercises were made by people in the privacy of their homes.

In order to make the Exercises in their entirety, thirty full days should be given for the retreat. This means beginning the night before the first day, and ending on the morning after the thirtieth day.

The Spiritual Exercises were written by St. Ignatius Loyola over a period of some ten years, from 1521 to 1533. They are based on three principal sources: Sacred Scripture, personal experience, and certain masters of the spiritual life, notably Thomas a Kempis, the author of Imitation of Christ.

The Exercises were first officially approved by Pope Paul III on July 31, 1548, exactly eight years to the day before the death of St. Ignatius.

Since then some forty Sovereign Pontiffs have formally approved and praised the Exercises, and strongly recommended them for use by the faithful. In 1922, Pope Pius XI declared St. Ignatius the heavenly patron of all spiritual exercises and retreats.

St. Ignatius' Exercises have thus become the Church's standard way for people in every state of life to grow in holiness and reach Christian perfection.

Basic Purpose and Structure

The fundamental purpose of the Exerciese, in Ignatius' words, is two-fold:

  1. To prepare and dispose the soul to free itself from all inordinate affections, and

  2. After it had freed itself from them, to seek and find the will of God concerning the ordering of life for the salvation of one's soul.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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