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The Spiritual Exercises

During the 1520’s, St. Ignatius Loyola began writing about the emotions that took hold of him — feelings of gratitude and anguish, consolation and sadness — while encountering the Scriptures. Those meditations eventually became The Spiritual Exercises, which were first published in 1548.


“The Spiritual Exercises” refers to both a book and a retreat experience.

Retreat in Daily Life

The Spiritual Exercises are meant to be experienced, not read. It is a compilation of meditations, prayers, and other contemplative practices, mostly written in the form of notes for the spiritual director as they guide the retreatant. .


The experience of the Exercises is called a “retreat,” and it can take several forms. The full Exercises can be experienced as a 30-day silent retreat — an entire month spent in prayer at a retreat house. Since most people cannot get away for this length of time, Ignatius added the Retreat in Daily Life, sometimes referred to as the “19th Annotation,” during which retreatants typically spend about an hour each day with specific reading material, in contemplative reflection, and meet with a spiritual director weekly. The Retreat in Daily Life is offered over a nine month period from September -- May and consisted of four movements, which are referred to as "weeks."


Matt Wooters, a Jesuit priest with the Society of Jesus (founded by St. Ignatius Loyola), briefly explains what the Spiritual Exercises are in this short video. (3 minutes, 24 seconds)



Interested in the Retreat in Daily Life? 


Applications for now open for the Spiritual Exercises: Retreat in Daily Life (online), 2024-2025

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