What is the full Spiritual Exercises retreat?

St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises are based on his experience of God in prayer and serve as a guide for a retreat which can help others to pray. Ignatius noticed that his mind and heart were moved when bringing himself before God and Jesus Christ. He became more aware of a loving and merciful God, who is in all things and in every moment of his life.

Ignatius developed a deep personal relationship with God and Jesus, realising that he was a loved sinner who was called to be a companion of Christ. The Exercises are a time-honoured and powerful way for you to deepen your relationship with God.

The Exercises in stages

We also offer the Spiritual Exercises in Two Stages (two retreats of two weeks’ duration) and the Spiritual Exercises in Three Stages (three retreats of ten days’ duration). There is also the retreat online over a year, sometimes known as the ‘19th Annotation retreat’.  

Based on the life of Christ

The 30 day retreat based on the Exercises takes you through the life of Christ, focusing on the desire to respond to God as Jesus did. Through this, you notice both what attracts you and gives you life and what holds you back and drains life. Then, you pray to be free from what restrains you so that you can respond to God’s call.

Often, someone who goes through this retreat discovers a call to serve others as Christ did. This may be a life-changing decision, or a renewal of a present commitment.

Discovering ‘spiritual freedom’

The purpose of the exercises is expressed in their original title: ‘Spiritual Exercises having as their purpose the overcoming of self and the ordering of one’s life on the basis of a decision made in freedom from any ill-ordered attachment’.

The Exercises then are ultimately about being freed from  ‘disordered attachments’  - those parts of ourselves that we cling to, despite them getting in the way of our relationship with God. In letting go of such attachments that hold us back or limit our ‘spiritual freedom’, we can live a truly free and joyful life with Christ, respond to his call and serve His mission.

For some people, in the Exercises they discern and make a God-centred decision that may be life-changing. For others it is a ‘school of prayer’ where the person learns to pray and discern, and to ‘map’ their interior life.