Five Things the Spiritual Exercises Taught Me About Jesus

"El Salvador" by El Greco, public domain via Wikimedia Commons - text: 5 Things the Spiritual Exercises Taught Me About Jesus

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!”

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.

What have the Spiritual Exercises taught you about Jesus?

Art: “El Salvador” by El Greco, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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Becky Eldredge
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls and The Inner Chapel, Becky 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 more than 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, Abby, and Mary.


  1. Thank you Becky for reminding me that Jesus can relate to all people. I hope to find out more about Ignition spirituality. Many thanks.

  2. Thank you Becky. A wonderful Source of encouragement. I think all the comments have said it all. God Bless you and all who help you. A.M.D.G.

  3. Tuve la Gracia de hacer los ejercicios ignacianos en la vida ordinaria, tenía un discernimiento presente y tardé dos años en terminar. Fue una experiencia transformadora, los finalicé en el 2014, seis años ya han pasado. No olvido aquella Gracia del Señor, los viví con mi acompañante, un jesuita paciente y bueno. Sí, los ejercicios me parecen centrados en Jesús, las cinco cosas que los ejercicios me enseñaron acerca de Jesús:
    Me asombró su humanidad. Su compasión por los alejados, los pobres, los pecadores. Me enseño de Jesús que Él “toma la iniciativa”, en la oración “al modo ignaciano”, me sentí llamada por Él y Jesús era como mi guía en afectos, voluntad… Me quedé fascinada de la luz que Jesús me dio sobre mi vida, sintiendo que siempre ha estado conmigo.
    Ha pasado el tiempo desde entonces, pero no olvido esa experiencia de amor de Dios en Jesús.

  4. Thanks for the reminder that Jesus too was human
    Not only human of course, but fully human like us
    By being with him in prayer our lives are redeemed from their ordinary shabbiness, often filled with frustration and disappointment
    May we truly lift up our hearts to the Lord during these weeks of reflection
    May the light of the Lord reveal to us the beauty that is around us and in us
    May his grace lift our spirits and empower us to truly love our neighbor as ourselves Amen

  5. Thanks Becky – one thing I do know for sure, there are no accidents in God’s world..He wants where and as I am. Ignatian way of prayer has done amazing things for me..each day in my prayer life the message is there these days electronically. Example the other day’s gospel was Jesus says who do they say I am…Peter shucks moment …your are the Messiah the Son of God. My thoughts are today as He asks me who do you say I am…there are so many responses. Then as well using the Ignatian way at the scene, God says this is my son in whom I am well pleased. There I am as well hearing this is my child in whom I am pleased as I bask in that glory of being His child – with all my pimples and warts..He is pleased…the ability to say in all of our suffering He was always there, in our joy in our fear in our humanity..and to quote Father Ron Rolhieser He also there in the love making, shocking to hear that – but then all of it makes sense in our humanity just like Jesus He’s always there….

  6. Thanks for your very clear message. I often heard “to teach as Jesus taught.” You brought out a more practical thought, to live as Jesus lived.

  7. Thank you Becky and to everyone who commented on what the Spiritual Excercices taught them!! It was simply AWESOME! Thank you !❤️❤️

  8. One of my most profound insights came while I was contemplating Jesus on the cross. I live in a senior building, and we are often tempted to ask, “What good am I to anyone? What can I do?” I realized that Jesus was paralyzed. He couldn’t move. He could barely breathe. And yet, it was from the Cross that he forgave his executors, the thief and us. It was there that he gave his mother to us and us to her. It was there he promised Paradise. It was from and by the Cross that he accomplished our salvation.

  9. The spiritual exercises brought me face to face with Christ repeatedly. His physical presence in the Eucharist allowed me to hear what he had to say to me. That we all die, and that he came to release us, through him, to life. That I am greatly loved, and so are the very people who have hurt me. That we are the body of Christ on earth, and we must love one another, and become one church again, as Christ himself ordained.

  10. Like others I learnt and experienced so many things during the exercises, and continue to do so. My notebook / journal is also well worn and my own relationship with Jesus is deeper as each day I imagine where is Jesus in this space, and how is he looking at me, what might Jesus want to say to me and what might I want to say to him?
    There is a also a deep joy and gladness in a ‘knowing-ness’ that Jesus is also there for those I meet day to day and a confidence that whether it be in suffering or in joy etc. Jesus is there also for / with them…

  11. I learned that Jesus wants an intimate relationship with me, that he has shared my experiences, that he failed, that in him I have everything I need.

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

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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.

    • Job 9:10
      “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”
      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.

  18. 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 Spirituality, 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.

  19. 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!!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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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