Within the context of The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius

Leaf

 

My Prayer for You

Out of his infinite glory
May he give you Power and strength through his Spirit

for your hidden self to grow strong

so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith and then planted in love and built on love, you with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and length the height and the depth until knowing

The Love of Christ

which is beyond all knowledge,
you are filled with the utter fullness of God.

Glory to him, whose power, working is us
can do infinitely more than we can
ask or imagine.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Introduction

St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises were born in the experience of his own spiritual growth and development. From being a respected, wounded soldier to becoming the leader of a company dedicated to the priestly service of Jesus, Ignatius met each new challenge with passionate integrity.

It was during his long convalescence after the battle of Pamplona that he noticed his own inner response to different reflections and whether he was moving closer to or further away from God. This movement, of consolation or desolation, became the touchstone to guide him on his journey, as these movements of the spirit have guided countless others.

He identified different phases in his growth, which eventually he called different weeks as a convenient rule of thumb to mark the progress of the exercitant, the person doing the exercises. Each week has as its goal a new understanding of oneself and God and a new level of commitment. Both the mind and the heart are engaged as choices are presented.

When we have come to understand that we are beloved sinners, we are asked to choose Christ in the world. But having chosen, the reality of what it can mean to be a follower of Jesus is exposed in the gospels.

Then the accent shifts to Jesus’ experience in the Passion. Can we, would we, follow him to the cross? And having in our imaginations followed him, can we enter into the near mystical contemplation to attain the love of God?

Ignatius’ experience of his own maturing faith and of the way each of his companions met these challenges framed the Exercises as we have them today. His instructions to later givers of these Exercises are always to adapt them to the individual making the journey, to their available time, to their depth of understanding, and to their gifts, strengths and weaknesses.

One theme throughout Ignatius’ little book is to recognise our deepest desire, our need to develop relationship with God, our Creator. Annette’s passionate desire to worship the Beloved in creation, speaks from every page of this adaptation of the Exercises. She experienced the hardships of repeated efforts, trial and error, early rises, cold and heat to capture these images to inspire our meditation and contemplation. They repay careful attention especially in the abstracted pictures representing each week in a candle’s light.

The words chosen to accompany the pictures draw on a rich archive of Christian tradition, ancient and modern and on the writings of those who worked with Annette on the project. They too, are evocative and challenging.

If this is the first way individuals meet Ignatius, what a joy! For those who have been the Saint’s admirers, friends, companions before, this book will stir memories of past encounters with God and, hopefully, challenge them to new depths and experience.

There is no doubt this book is composed to the greater glory of God.

Ann Troup
Spiritual Director
Ulladulla NSW

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