Free at Last?

There’s a meditation in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius called “Three Classes of People,” which is designed to help us understand our attachments. Three people are given a great fortune, and each decides, in a different way, what to do about the fortune. Let’s be clear. The problem isn’t the fortune; it’s the attraction to the fortune. This exercise doesn’t assume that God wants you to give the thing up. It may well be […]

The Ignatian Adventure in Oklahoma City

On February 17, 2017, hundreds of faithful in Oklahoma participated in a spiritual enrichment day titled “The Graces of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.” The day was hosted by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral. Fr. Kevin O’Brien, SJ, led participants in a reflection on the “Grace of the Incarnation,” based on his popular, award-winning book The Ignatian Adventure, published by Loyola Press. The Roots of […]

Feeling the Joy with Jesus

A few years ago, a friend gave me some prints of the Laughing Jesus painting. When I saw it, I immediately started laughing. I wondered what it was about this image that made me laugh. Part of it was that Jesus seemed to have such a joyful countenance that one could really imagine him laughing, and it looked like “contagious laughter”—the kind where it’s impossible to resist joining in. It also made me a tiny […]

What Is an Unhealthy Attachment?

People who are familiar with St. Ignatius, the Spiritual Exercises, or Jesuit spirituality in general will sometimes use the term unhealthy attachment. What is that exactly? Let’s explore this by asking a few questions. Is there any physical habit I have that gets in the way of my being available to God? Do I turn to food, drink, sex, exercise, or sleep to avoid facing myself or my conversation with the Divine? What are my […]

The Purpose of Ignatian Repetition

Howard Gray, SJ, explains why much of the prayer in the Spiritual Exercises is repetition—multiple meditations on the same subjects or Scripture passages. The repetitions are efforts to engage mystery, to center on the depth of riches within revelation, and to discover how God specifically invites this particular man or woman to find the meaning of a gospel event for him or her. In other words, the aim of Ignatian repetition is to personalize prayer. […]

Practice, Love

I’d like to propose a juxtaposition of two ideas that emerge from the Spiritual Exercises: practice and love. Without getting into too much insider baseball on how Ignatius’s text emphasizes these themes, let me suggest a brief thought exercise that you might take into prayer. We learn anything by practicing: the piano, soccer, algebra. Jesus calls us to love one another as the Father has loved Jesus. How do you practice love? Notice that embedded […]

Andrew Garfield on the Spiritual Exercises

Martin Scorsese’s film Silence has its widespread release today. America magazine has an excellent interview with star Andrew Garfield on his experience doing the Spiritual Exercises as preparation for his role as a Jesuit priest. Interviewer Brendan Busse, SJ, says: When I asked what stood out in the Exercises, he fixed his eyes vaguely on a point in the near distance, wandering off into a place of memory. Then, as if the question had brought […]

What Will Be Your Focus in the New Year?

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Two common ones involve getting in shape or making a commitment to deepen one’s prayer life. Former catechetical leader Paul Gallagher explains how one led to the other for him in the article “How the Spiritual Exercises Rebooted My Health.” He writes: St. Ignatius reminds us in the Spiritual Exercises that we need to detach ourselves from those things that may have taken on addictive qualities in our lives. […]

The 19th Annotation: What Is It, and What Can You Expect?

You may have heard of the 19th annotation in regard to prayer retreats or the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Simply put, the 19th annotation—sometimes called an Ignatian Retreat in Daily Life—is a version of the Spiritual Exercises designed for people who cannot be away for 30 days to do the Exercises as they were practiced originally. Most of the time, the “19th” is done by people who work full-time but who want to do […]

The Ignatian Take on the Christian Journey

The Exercises represent a kind of spiritual journey, as they invite the one who makes them to consider the foundational truths of Christian life: creation as an act of love, human stewardship of creation, sin and forgiveness, the life and work of Jesus as a paradigm of discipleship, Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection and, finally, the surrender of all human life into the hands of a loving God. The Ignatian take on the Christian journey […]

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