Five Things the Spiritual Exercises Taught Me about Jesus

by Becky Eldredge

On more occasions than I care to count, people will comment to me, “Ignatian spirituality does not have enough to do with Jesus. All you hear about is finding God in all things.” While in my head I am thinking of all the things I really would like to say in response to that comment, I typically take a deep breath and ask them, “Have you ever gone through the Spiritual Exercises? They are all about Jesus and a relationship with him!”

Jesus - 5 Things the Spiritual Exercises Taught Me about Jesus

Here are the top five things the Spiritual Exercises taught me about Jesus.

  1. Jesus was human. This understanding deepened within me during the Second Week of the Exercises as I prayed with the nativity Scriptures, holding a six-month-old in my arms. It was really Mary who showed me Jesus’ humanity, as a mother nurturing her infant son. Mary carried, birthed, and loved a child. I carried, birthed, and loved a child. The infant Jesus went through all the phases of growing up that my own children go through.
  2. Jesus discerned his Father’s will. Praying through the Exercises helped me understand that Jesus grew in wisdom and understanding. Jesus asked his Father, “What is my next right step?” I, too, am called to ask God, Jesus’ Father, what is my “next right step?”
  3. Jesus gets suffering. At times Jesus’ discernment of his Father’s will led him to some challenging situations: mockery by family and friends, unwelcome in his home town, betrayal by friends, and physical pain. Walking alongside Jesus and praying with Jesus’ experiences of suffering, especially during the Third Week of the Exercises, showed me how Jesus, a human (see #1), felt pain. Jesus gets our suffering because he experienced his own share in his life.
  4. Jesus remained rooted in his Father. Through all of the challenging times Jesus faced, he trusted in his Father and turned to him in time of need for strength on his journey. With his Father’s help, Jesus entered Jerusalem and faced his death. What does Jesus’ dependence on his Father teach me? That when my own discernment leads me to face challenging situations, I, too, can lean on God, and God will walk with me through the journey.
  5. Jesus was hopeful. Jesus’ hope came from his trust in God. Jesus understood that his passion was necessary for God to complete the rest of the plan—the Resurrection. Because Jesus was hopeful, I have a reason for hope in my own life. Because of Jesus’ trust in God, I have a reason to believe that in tough times, light will eventually come.

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Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Dallas, Texas. She holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady and Abby.

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September 10, 2012

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Norberg September 10, 2012 at 9:26 am

A wonderful post. The exercises also taught me that Jesus experienced great joy in his life–that the love he showed us he received not only from the Father but also from his family and friends and even strangers–the compassion he taught us was something that flowed from his human experience as well as the divine. The gratitude he expresses in some moments in the gospels is overwhelming and helped me see that the gifts we receive far exceed our imagination.

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Lynda September 10, 2012 at 9:35 am

The Spiritual Exercises were transformational for me. I have known for many years that I need Jesus but during the Exercises, I learned that Jesus truly wants me to be there with Him in all things. It was incredibly humbling for me to know that our Lord wants me and during the Third Week, as I entered into Jesus’ suffering I truly felt that He needed me to be there with Him.

I learned that Jesus is happy to have me sit at His feet and just be present with Him but He also wants me to go out into His world to look after the lost sheep. It isn’t either/or but my devotion must result in service – contemplation in action. This results in seeing Christ in each person.

Ignatian Spirituality has given expression to what has been in my heart for most of my life. I am incredibly grateful to St. Ignatius.

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Mike September 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Jesus’ humanity, I learned, was not just joy or suffering but also frustration (Mark 8: 14-21). I can also imagine how He felt when His parents went looking for Him for 3 days finding Him finally in the Temple. He submitted to the will of the Father by being obedient to Joseph and Mary.

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Deborah September 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm

The Exercises taught me, among so many things, that Jesus appreciates the physical, “incarnational” things I have to do as a wife and mom. Cooking dinner has taken on a nobler status since Week 2.

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Barbara September 11, 2012 at 9:38 am

Among other things, the Exercises taught me that Jesus often went to a separate place to pray and talk to the Father. I felt like I finally had permission to spend quiet time in prayer and in experiencing the natural world around me, something that I was taught from an early age was ‘daydreaming’ and not encouraged!!

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pureza July 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Jesus taught and still teaches me through the SPEX how to live the gift of life the Father gave me.

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Ophelia Moreno Lacre July 2, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Through this exercises I learned many things about Jesus and the Father in general as they are one with the Holy Spirit. In following the lesson taught in this Ignatian S

pirituality, i don’t even just know what this is all about, but now follow Jesus footstep to Glorify the Father. I understand what freedom of bondage is all about, and i am healed from that by following thus.

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Ophelia Moreno Lacre July 3, 2013 at 8:37 am

Ignatian Spiritually can also be a guide to help others in need. There were times when Jesus and Mama Mary no longer through imagination but truly present in our activity. As a member of healing ministry in our parish (Immaculate Conception), we were taught of how Mary is so powerful that even the devil will flea at seeing her. True. It was after the good Friday procession when somebody called me to pray over a sick woman who was known to be crazy for years due to her typoid fever, as the doctor diagnosed it. When we were at her house, she was like a Demon possessed tied with a rope around her wrest. So I told the crowd who was there to witnessed her to pray the Rosary while we will pray-over the sick. I went home with joy and peace knowing that not only that I have prayed a sick but that the crowd was able to pray the Rosary in our common language. The next day, together with our team, we attended an assembly in our parish and to my surprised, during the testimony period, the woman testified that she was already healed, and it was Mary and Jesus who touched her, and that she was already freed from the bondage of sickness she suffered.

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Linda G July 3, 2013 at 11:08 am

She likely has a form of dementia which requires a doctor’s care if she is able to get that. Dementia is simply a degeneration of the mind and some individuals do act wild as the illness progresses while others do not, it depends how the mind is affected. Keep praying but please get medical help too, God sent us doctors and nurses for that!

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Ophelia Moreno Lacre July 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Thank you Linda. Yes, the sick woman has a doctor’s care and declares she won’t get able to be healed again. Prayers do give miracles…

“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: / So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.”

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Ophelia Moreno Lacre July 5, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Job 9:10

“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

Message

We have heard, seen and have also tasted countless miracles in our life. I am not sure, how many of you would have wondered about the greatness of God. We take hours and days to complete a simple task. But we all know that God created the entire world and the living within 6 days. How Great and Wonderful He is right?

Nobody can count His blessings; Nobody can acquire His knowledge; Nobody can perform wonders like Him. He is our God of Miracles. He always does great things in our life, that no one can ever imagine. Everything is just simple for God.

If we truly have faith in Him and if we ask Him to help us out, He is ready to do countless wonders in our life. No matter how huge our problem may be, He will turn them down in minutes. Praise Him for all the miracles which have we received and also for the ones you will be receiving. God bless.

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Lisa July 3, 2013 at 8:53 am

Thank you, Becky! The Exercises have brought me to a closer understanding of Christ’s humanity as well… his real understanding of us.

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Ginny Kubitz Moyer July 3, 2013 at 10:04 am

Thanks for this, Becky. I’ve never done the Exercises but your post makes me want to all the more.

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Robin July 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Thanks, Becky – such a great post. You inspired me to think about the same thing today.

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claire July 4, 2013 at 3:33 am

Great post, Becky!

Through the Spiritual Exercises, I have discovered and am discovering again and again that Jesus asks me to follow him through the ups and downs of life, and this is a wonderful feeling.

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Claire Felong July 4, 2013 at 10:43 am

Jesus taught me to try to slow down. He was not type A trying to visit as many countries as he could in 3 years. He stayed near home, directed but did not micromanage the apostles. Was mindful of the moment and not trying to control it. He did not force himself on those who did not want him around and spent time with those who invited him. The Spiritual Exercises are transformative; I was blessed that I was able to do them over the course of a year. I pray that, if it be God’s will, each person who desires them will be presented an opportunity to do so.

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Carol July 4, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Every time I revisit the Spiritual Exercises, I start learning more and more about Jesus. By “revisiting” I mean going back through my well-worn notebook and rediscovering on a deeper level His great love for me, personally, and each individual, personally, throughout the course of history.

And now that I’ve gotten more sophisticated in using construction of place, I sometimes find myself laughing out loud at some of the Biblical scenes (especially the ones where His parables leave the Pharisees with egg on their faces.) Getting “into” the time and places of His life really brings the Gospel to life, as opposed to musty old words from the Bronze Age. There is a lot more to the Gospels than the contemporary reader would find just reading them without Ignatian practices. I found my hair standing up on the back of my neck when He pronounced, at the start of His passion in the Gospel of St John, “I lay down my life willingly, no one takes it from Me.” What an incredible statement of freedom and power!

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Ophelia Moreno Lacre July 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Thank you Becky, .. Your post made me recollect again God’s love to mankind that I cannot imagine. God bless.

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Rebecca October 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm

The Exercises taught me how beautiful Jesus is, and how the only thing in life I want to do is follow him.

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