Ignatian Spiritual Exercises

Campus Ministry

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises

Born in 1491, the young Ignatius loved his care-free life in the court of the king. As a soldier, he was wounded in a battle, and while convalescing, Ignatius had a "conversion experience" which resulted in a desire to devote his life to Christ.  He later spent nine months living in a cave, learning how to converse with God and how to determine what God's will was for him.  The happenings and fruits of that experience Ignatius wrote down and called the "Spiritual Exercises."  Ignatius went on to form the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, and all Jesuits to this day take part in the Spiritual Exercises, usually in the form of a 30 day retreat. However, because many people cannot take 30 days apart from their ordinary routine, Ignatius had the wisdom to adapt his Exercises to an experience within "daily life."

  • a method of speaking to and listening to God daily;
  • an honest self-evaluation weekly with a person experienced in leading persons through meditation and contemplation;

    Exercises 2

...meant to help you...
  • find God in all things;
  • have a deep personal love for Jesus Christ;
  • make decisions within a gospel-value context;
  • enrich relationships with others;
  • be a person who lives to be for others.

"By the term 'Spiritual Exercises' is meant every method of examination of conscience, of meditation, of contemplation, of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual activities...

For just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul."

------ St. Ignatius

Making the Exercises

After an initial interview, the retreatant will be assigned a spiritual director to guide the exercises.  The retreat takes part in a structured period, either of 5 weeks (Fall or Spring semester), or of 24 weeks (usually Fall and Spring semesters), which entails:

  • a commitment of a half-hour daily to formal prayer;
  • keeping a journal recording the encounters with God;
  • making the examen of consciousness daily;
  • meeting weekly individually with the director for about half an hour.



Fr. Dan Joyce, SJ
E-mail: djoyce@sju.edu