The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola
God is constantly calling us to a deeper relationship with him. The question is, how do we hear that call and how do we respond? St Ignatius of Loyola had a personal experience of discovering the call and responding in freedom which transformed his life forever and continues to impact the lives of countless others five hundred years later.
This response to the call, St Ignatius refers to as an “election.” The goal of the Spiritual Exercises is to make an election. Whether the election is choosing a life vocation for the first time, making an important decision, or simply renewing your commitment to follow to Christ, God is always inviting to a deeper and freer response in love.
The tool that St Ignatius gives to make this election is “discernment.” Discernment is the process of attaining spiritual awareness, learning to distinguish between the movements of the Good Shepherd verses the insidious deceits of the enemy, and finally making the election to reject the evil one and to accept the love of God more fully.
The process of discernment in the Spiritual Exercises unfolds in four movements. First, we attain spiritual awareness by striving to be set free from disordered attachment to sin or anything that could inhibit us from being fully open to the love of God. Second, we grow in understanding by contemplating the life of Christ who both calls us personally and models the fullest response to God; here we make our election to conform our lives to Christ. Third, we confirm our election through the contemplation of the passion and death of Christ. And fourth, our election is transformed through the power of the resurrection to live a new life in the Spirit.
Through the Spiritual Exercises you will acquire a discerning heart which will help you conform your life to Christ in the present and will open up a new way of living for the future.
St Ignatius designed the Spiritual Exercises to be a 30-day personally directed retreat. The Group Preached Spiritual Exercises of three-to-five days offers an abridged version of the same themes as described above, which unfold through a series of directed meditations. The group will meet in the conference room or chapel where the director will expose a theme for approximately 30 minutes, which will be followed by 30 minutes or more of personal prayer. Personal prayer can be done wherever most favors your encounter with God: bedroom, chapel, outside, or another space. There will also be some longer periods for personal reflection, rest, or walks if desired.
We will have the Celebration of the Eucharist each day and in the evenings the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for adoration. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered as well as an opportunity for personal dialogue with a spiritual director where you can discuss your experience.
Silence alone powerfully opens the soul to the movements of God. We ask that retreatants keep exterior silence for their own benefit and to respect others. We also encourage retreatants to keep interior silence by disconnecting from the noise of the world and unplugging from electronic devices for the duration of the retreat. Keeping silence may sound daunting, but you will be engaged in conversation with the Lord.
Healthy and balanced meals will be provided, and coffee, tea, fruit and snacks will be available throughout the retreat. With the exception of the initial dinner and the concluding lunch, meals will be in silence. Typically we listen to an audio book on themes correlated to the Spiritual Exercises or on the life of a saint.
Arrival is at 5:00 pm. We will begin with the Celebration of the Eucharist at 5:30 to invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit. Dinner follows where retreatants can get a chance to meet each other. After dinner silence begins and we will have an introductory talk followed by a time of adoration to begin our prayer. Departure will be by 2:00 pm after the concluding lunch.
What to bring:
You will have a private bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. Linens, towels, hair dryers, as well as basic toiletries such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizer are provided. You will want to bring other personal toiletries and medications, comfortable clothes, and footwear for walking if you desire. Notebooks and pens will be provided; bring your bible and rosary. Additional reading material is not necessary as there will be plenty of content given in the directed meditations.
For more information on facilities and meals, see our facilities page.
I've been blessed to participate in two Six Day Women's Retreats at Our Lady of Santa Clara. Fr. Thomas Vendetti, LC, preaches the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in a way that is relatable and motivating. The retreat center feels like home and is a peaceful getaway that provides the opportunity to be with Our Lord in the Sacraments, in nature, and in silence. It's such a grace to be able to experience God's love and mercy in such a beautiful place. - S.P.