HomedotMagisSpiritual Exercises“You Have to Love the Daily Working"

“You Have to Love the Daily Working"

Michelle Francl-Donnay has wise words about the importance of doing the basic things well.

“You have to love the daily working,” suggested choreographer Merce Cunningham. He was talking about what it took to be a dancer — not a teacher, researcher, writer, mother or contemplative, or in my case, all those things tangled into a single day. He meant you have to enjoy being crammed into a studio taking class with forty other students, that you have to delight in the doing of the hundred-thousandth plie. You have to be willing to lovingly and gratefully return to the basics each and every day, even — and perhaps most particularly — in the midst of chaos, or you cannot dance.

Ignatius takes pains to remind those making the Exercises to keep returning to the basics, to pay as careful attention in the second week to the methods set out for prayer as in the first. He urges his brother Jesuits to hold onto the daily examen as fundamental to their spiritual practice, no matter what other disciplines they must pitch overboard to accommodate their work. He leads us to know in the end all we can offer — our liberty, our memory, our will — and all we might receive — love and grace, sufficient and more for the work at hand.

Read the whole thing.

Jim Manney
Jim Manneyhttps://www.jimmanneybooks.com/
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. Michelle,
    Yes, Ignatius leads us to keep returning to the basics like the Examen which are so powerful and life-changing. And the basics are what comprise what you say in the last line of the “whole thing”: “This is my “daily working,” which I love and which enables me to dance — even amidst the chaos.”
    Thank you very much for this post.

    • Lynda,
      You are welcome! There is a slightly raw, utterly prayerful essay by Karl Rahner SJ called “The God of My Routine” in Encounters in Silence which ends with this prayer:
      Touch my heart with this grace, O Lord. When I reach out in joy or in sorrow for the things of this world, grant that through them I may know and love You, their Maker and final home. You who are Love itself, give me the grace of love, give me Yourself, so that all my days may finally empty into the one day of Your eternal Life.
      grace and peace,


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