The Spiritual Exercises
Over 400 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, went through a profound series of experiences that changed his life forever. In his own way, he let God move more freely in his life and explicitly shape his will, mind, heart, and actions. Ignatius felt moved to share those experiences with others, so he kept good notes on what helped and how. Those notes became The Spiritual Exercises, the heart of Ignatian spirituality, shared by Jesuits and lay persons the world over. It is the source of the spirit that resides and motivates the Society of Jesus and the Ignatian Spirituality Institute. The experience of the Spiritual Exercises is how we become men and women for others.
Toward Greater Freedom
The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius can be successfully made at most any stage of a person’s life. They are exercises for the heart, designed to help persons explore priorities, deepen relationship with God, and more readily follow God's invitations to one's life.
Toward Greater Freedom is an adaptation of the Spiritual Exercises developed and written by Fr. Anthony Borrow, S.J. The materials of Toward Greater Freedom provide structured and specific spiritual exercises which help you discover your own way to prayer and discernment.
Toward Greater Freedom through the Spiritual Exercises is in fact exercise. Similar to a physical exercise routine, the retreat is designed to be made in your every day life. As with all retreats, you are dealing with spiritual practice – your inner work – rather than with a study of theology or theory of spirituality. Hence, the pray-er, does the work of the exercises with the support of those who’ve done it before you.
Master Ignatius understood people do not make spiritual journeys alone. This retreat unfolds in a small group setting. Each small is guided by retreat companions who have personally made the journey before. Retreat companions and your small group members support you and rely on you. This support and reliance is most exhibited in the small group meetings where you listen to prayer experience and explore where those experiences intersect with your life, and what it means to you.
It is important to know this retreat IS NOT
- A bible study, though you are praying in the Scriptures.
- An instructional class concerning catechism, though you will learn more than you ever have ever known about your own beliefs. Members of all faiths and Christian denominations are most welcome.
- A seminar on theology, though you are sure to come to know more about the ways of God.
Toward Greater Freedom IS
- A progression of exercises to foster encounters with the Lord.
- An experience providing a frame of prayer in which you are transformed by doing.
- An action in which you come to a way of knowing Jesus, rather than merely knowing about him.
- Received grace which impacts the ‘heart’ – the total response you have to other persons and events.
The retreat typically begins in early fall and completes a few weeks after Easter. Small groups meet every three to four weeks on average. Retreatants are praying with the given materials during the intervening weeks. As previously noted, the groups are guided by ISI spiritual companions with long experience of listening and helping others in their prayer. In fall 2023, ISI will offer the retreat in person and online beginning late September.