Ancient Roots of Spiritual Exercises

The French philosopher Pierre Hadot has studied the origins of spiritual exercises among Greek philosophers. There seems to be a straight line from Hellenistic philosophy and its influence on Church fathers like Ambrose and Augustine, to the early monastic tradition, to the medieval monks who influenced Ignatius Loyola. (At one point Ignatius wanted to be a Carthusian and even permitted members of his order to transfer into that order and return later.) Ignatius borrowed from […]

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 […]

Kevin O’Brien, SJ, on Adapting the Spiritual Exercises

America magazine interviewed Kevin O’Brien, SJ, about his mission and ministry work at Georgetown University. The author of The Ignatian Adventure, O’Brien began a new role as the dean of the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA, this month. When asked about adapting the Spiritual Exercises for university audiences, O’Brien replied: Ignatius built adaptation into both the Spiritual Exercises and the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. This flexibility of approach stems from Ignatius’ […]

Not a Spectator Sport

Erik Oland, SJ, reminds us that The Spiritual Exercises are more than a book to be read and stresses that the Spiritual Exercises need to be experienced. This is not a spectator sport …. the Ignatian contemplations help us to write, with the help of God’s action, the gospel of our very lives. One needs to want to make them. I have been saying to people lately that if you want a one word descriptor […]

The Spiritual Exercises and the Importance of Looking Back

On a scorching day last summer, my sister-in-law took me on an architectural tour of her neighborhood in the hills of west Los Angeles, guiding us through a hundred years of local history and a few hundred feet elevation change. The stairway that took us down into the arroyo was stolidly utilitarian—bleached white concrete with steel banisters, gritty dirt underfoot, and a few tenacious weeds trying to establish a beachhead on the landings, 125 steps […]

At the End of the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life

Margery Eagan has spent the last nine months doing the Spiritual Exercises in daily life, writing about some of the experience for Crux. As she nears the end of the Exercises, she writes: I look around the room. I hear the childcare worker, the nurse, the academic dean, the lawyer, the retired financier, the young man doing prison ministry, the young Jesuits from all around the world. These are serious Catholics talking not about Church […]

Does God Have a Plan for Your Life?

I grew up in a religious subculture that was very certain about who God was and how God operated. Very often I heard, “God loves you and has a plan for your life!” At times this was a comforting thought—after all, wouldn’t it be nice if someone else mapped out my life for me and made sure everything worked according to plan? But over the years I’ve come to appreciate God’s lack of pushiness. Yes, […]

A Meditation for Labor Day

The Call of the King is a meditation in the Spiritual Exercises that invites us to join Christ in his work of healing the world. Christ is a king leading an army, but he’s a leader who works alongside his troops. He says, “I want to overcome all diseases, all poverty, all ignorance, all oppression and slavery–in short, all the evils that beset humankind. Whoever wishes to join me in this undertaking must be content […]

A Lesson from a Homeless Man

Something to think about | The purpose of the Exercises is both freedom from inordinate attachment and union with God and God’s way. . .  Facing “disordered affections” and “ordering one’s life with God at the center” are two sides of the reality, much like a coin. The energy absorbed in compulsive, obsessive, disordered, fixated behavior is energy unavailable for authentic relationship with God, with one’s true self, with others. I had studied and preached […]

Links for the Weekend

Two Jesuit astronomers talk about “Asteroids, Stars, and the Love of God” on NPR. Richard Blake, SJ, on his vocation.  (“I knew I wanted to be a priest maybe four or five years after I was ordained.”) Brian O’Leary, SJ, on the search for meaning from an Ignatian perspective. Resource: articles on the Spiritual Exercises from The Way, the journal of the British Jesuits.

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