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The Spiritual Exercises

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A reissue of a classic of the Christian text from the founder of the Jesuit Order.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola is the core work of religious formation for members of the Society of Jesus, the single largest religious order within the Roman Catholic Church. For four and a half centuries  in many thousands of editions in all languages, The Exercises have embodied fundamental spiritual principles essential to authentic Christian living.

The mystical insight informing Ignatius's own relationship with God--which he distilled in The Exercises--is that the divine love of God is providentially present in all the details of our existence. Here Ignatius shows how the faithful can be joined to God in all things, according to the Jesuit motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam, "For the greater glory of God."

224 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1548

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About the author

Ignatius of Loyola

170 books112 followers
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was the principal founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Ignatius paid particular attention to the spiritual formation of his recruits and recorded his method in the Spiritual Exercises (published in Latin in 1548). In time, the method has become known as Ignatian spirituality. Ignatius was described by Pope Benedict XVI as being above all a man of God, who gave the first place of his life to God, and a man of profound prayer. Together with Peter Faber and Francis Xavier, he founded the religious order of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits), and became its first Superior General, in Paris in 1541. He envisioned the purpose of the Society of Jesus to be missionary work and teaching. In addition to the vows of chastity, obedience and poverty of other religious orders in the church, Loyola instituted a fourth vow for Jesuits of obedience to the Pope, to engage in projects ordained by the pontiff. Jesuits were instrumental in leading the Counter-Reformation. He was beatified and then on March 12, 1622, was canonized. His feast day is July 31. He is the patron saint of the Basque historical territories of Guipúzcoa and Biscay and the Society of Jesus, among other things. He was declared patron saint of all spiritual retreats by Pope Pius XI in 1922.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 122 reviews
Profile Image for Tim Byron.
38 reviews5 followers
February 10, 2018
This is not a book to be read – but a book to be experienced. What is meant by this is that the manual was never intended to be read, curled up by the fire, you would be inevitably disappointed (as famously Thomas Merton was). It has no literary or aesthetic pretensions. Ignatius intended it to be a manual to help the person 'directing' the Exercises, not the person making the Exercises. It attempts, often successfully, to create a space where the creature and the creator can encounter each other - and so God ultimately is the one who is 'directing', but as human beings, we need help from someone else to keep that space of encounter open.

As a Jesuit, I have made a 30day silent retreat following the Exercises three times (normally it is twice) but I am not very holy so needed the extra help! Anyway certainly it is one of the most influential books in my life - I would even go so far as to say it changed my life the first time I made them.

If you are interested then you can read more about it - here
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,278 followers
December 5, 2016
Just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556), the founder of the Society of Jesus, has a claim to being among the most influential Spaniards in history.

His beginning was quixotic. The son of a Basque nobleman, his imagination was fed, like the Don’s, on tales of knight errantry and romance. This led to a career in the army, cut short by a canon ball that struck and permanently crippled his leg. His shattered bone had to be set, and then re-set twice, in order to heal properly; and by then his injured leg was too short, and he had to endure months of painful stretching. He walked with a limp the rest of his life.

During his convalescence, deprived of his usual adventure stories, he read about the lives of the saints. This, combined with the pain and immobility, worked a religious conversion in him. When he healed, he resolved to devote his life, no longer to earthly glory and the favors of young Doñas, but to God and the Catholic Church. Thus, eventually, the Society of Jesus was formed, which bears the military stamp of its founder in its dedication, organization, and devotion.

The Jesuits soon acquired a reputation for being excellent educators. Voltaire himself, no friend of anyone in a robe or a hood, received his early education from Jesuits, and always had a good word to say about his instructors and his tutelage. The success of the Jesuits in education is somewhat ironic, considering its founder’s lack of interest in formal schooling. In the words of this edition’s translator, St. Ignatius wrote in “limping Spanish,” since he had “only the elements of an education” and used the Spanish language “with little knowledge of its literary form.”

I should pause to note that this translation, by Louis J. Puhl, a Jesuit himself, is excellent. The language is clear, simple, and idiomatic. To achieve this, he had to depart somewhat radically from the original sentence structure, as well as abandon the sixteenth-century Spanish idioms used by St. Ignatius. He justifies this by noting that the book is meant to be a practical manual, not a work of literature, and I think he is right.

The Spiritual Exercises is meant for a month-long retreat. To that end, the exercises are divided into four weeks. We begin with an examination of our conscience. What sins are we committing? We are invited to compare our many sins with the fallen angels, now demons in hell, who committed only one sin. Then we are instructed to contemplate the sin of the rebellious angels and the first sin of Adam and Even in the Garden. What is the nature of those sins? What makes them tempting? What makes them abhorrent in the eyes of God? After that, we shall vividly imagine the tortures of the damned: the smell of burnt bodies, the screams and cries of the hopelessly sinful, the burning flames and the sea of writhing flesh. (The epic of Dante or the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch are helpful.) This is the first week.

The schedule is demanding: “The First Exercise will be made at midnight; the Second, immediately on rising in the morning; the Third, before or after Mass, at all events before dinner; the Fourth, about the time of Vespers; the Fifth, an hour before supper.” I don’t know how many hours that would be in total. Elsewhere, he says: “One who is educated or talented, but engaged in public affairs or necessary business, should take an hour and a half daily for the Spiritual Exercises.” I imagine this total number of hours would increase for somebody on a spiritual retreat.

Before I mention what I liked, I will state my reservations. For me, the fixation of sinfulness and the terrors of hell have always been the most disagreeable aspects of Christianity. I don’t think it is healthy to despise one’s own body, to focus relentlessly on one’s faults, or to act in accordance with a moral code for fear of eternal torment. For somebody, such as myself, who has grown up in the post sexual liberation era, quotes like the following are hard to swallow: “I will consider all the corruption and loathsomeness of my body. I will consider myself as a source of corruption and contagion from which has issued countless sins and evils and the most offensive poison.”

In one section, St. Ignatius even recommends hurting oneself for penance: “The third kind of penance is to chastise the body, that is, to inflict sensible pain on it. This is done by wearing hairshirts, cords, or iron chains on the body, or by scourging or wounding oneself, and by other kinds of austerities.” And in another section, he states that all believers must submit unhesitatingly and completely to the church: “If we wish to proceed securely in all things, we must hold fast to the following principle: What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines.” Neither of these strike me as a good idea.

All these reservations aside—and if a pagan such as myself can judge—I think that this book can be profitably used by contemporary Christians seeking to have a deeper spiritual experience.

I myself tried to do some of the exercises in this book. This was a challenge. I am not a Christian and my knowledge of the Bible is not as intimate as could be desired. What is more, I did not have an hour and a half every day; the most I was willing to spend was half an hour. In any case, even if I was a practicing Catholic, these exercises are not meant to be used without a knowledgeable guide. My attempt to do the exercise was an experiment to see if I could interpret the mythology of Catholicism in a way that had meaning for my own life. And I am happy to report that, despite some struggles, I made considerable progress in experiencing this grand faith, which I have long admired as an outsider. And if a lost soul such as myself can do it, I'm sure that believing Catholics have much to gain.
Profile Image for booklady.
2,325 reviews65 followers
March 15, 2013
Beautiful and simple translation of the original. Based on my highlights and notes from 8 years ago when I did the Spiritual Exercises this was my favorite book of the three translations I worked with.
Profile Image for James Millikan SJ.
190 reviews23 followers
September 2, 2013
Be advised, The Spiritual Exercises is a sort of religious exercise routine for developing the spirit; it is not a treatise on theology or an account of the life of this great saint. At the hands of a prudent spiritual director, this manual is sure to bear much fruit in the life of an individual on retreat. I did not encounter The Spiritual Exercises in this way--either as a director or as a participant in a formal retreat--and so if you are considering using this text to administer the spiritual exercises, this review may not be helpful.

I finished The Spiritual Exercises on the feast of St. Ignatius on the night before completing the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I read a small section each night over the course of one month on the pilgrimage, and would contemplate what I had read the following day. I found this to be fairly helpful in developing a framework to pray about my own spiritual development and it gave me some insight into the fervor of the Catholic faithful in the Iberian Peninsula during the 16th century. Some of the exercises explained, such as contemplating the Our Father word by word over the course of an hour, proved to be very powerful in stirring the heart and mind, whereas other practices proved to be too taxing to complete without a spiritual director.

What I enjoyed most about the Spiritual Exercises--besides the bits of wisdom about concrete steps of how to conform a life to that of Christ--was the image it paints of the early Society of Jesus. The intensity of St. Ignatius's religious zeal, his deep concern for religious orthodoxy, and his practice of imagining oneself in key events in the life of Christ as presented in scripture, made this text not only spiritual nourishing, but also intellectually engaging as a snapshot of the state of Christianity at this point in Western history.

Recommended for those interested in the early years of the Jesuits, scholars of programs of religious formation, and historians seeking insight into the spirit of the Counter-Reformation.
Profile Image for Galicius.
894 reviews
July 17, 2017
As many of the readers below have indicated this is not a book to be read. It’s a rough guide for a retreat, or spiritual exercise that my take three or four weeks at the least to lead you to some sort of awareness that the founder of the Jesuits intended for you. The Catholic Thought reading group has selected this reading and we are in the fourth week of doing the exercises. You are welcome to join the group if you wish to get more than the limited space in this review area allows.
Profile Image for Red.
464 reviews
February 9, 2015
back in 1986 halfway my gt some cool people brought me to the black virgin of montserrat. that is nearby barcelona. i decided to stay there for a while. next day i went down the mountain in search for some cash. in returning the road was blocked by a huge bushfire. waiting for the things to come i met a couple from chicago, christopher and nina (yes in a red dress). silently we watched the moon rise and the fire grow. at midnight we had to run for our lives because also fire came from behind.

the spiritual exercises are mentioning the neighbour before going into self-examination. is that lipservice to humanism?

walking through the valley of blackberries came to an end before dawn. we took a nap closely together and parted soon after we stood up. my return was to my belongings that were still there i hoped. entering the village of manresa i soon found out that the whole region was burned down that is the monastery was still there. a little delirious i walked around before i was picked up by some local people that offered me their hospitality.

kiss the places where such persons put their feet and sit.

in the afternoon signs were positive to go and see what was left of my belongings. a friendly woman took me in her car and we went off. newspapers told that thousand people had been evacuated and twenty square kilometer of wood in ashes. all provocational. when driving up the mountain we had to pass several blockades of security people but somehow we seem to have a passepartout and could move on. when later that day we were back a garden party was organised for there were no casualties. but i felt little appetite.

if he is tempted to eat more, let him eat less.

next morning i left the house of my benefactors with a little note of gratitude. all in all it had been a sobering experience. words lingered in my mind like what nina had said the day before, i have no friends. after that i had a hard time in madrid and a hard talk in granada. then took a ferry over the river that's between spain and portugal in the south. a train that runs over the beach brought me in the heart of the algarve. here ended my gt and i feasted on crème brûlée.

how friends are accustomed to console friends.

not only loyola was inspired by visiting montserrat. richard wagner also to mention someone. after he did so he composed his last work that was about compassion. from medieval time the monastery holds a copy of the libre vermeille (red book) that has no peer in it's sort of music. c.j. jung also wrote a red book and though from different paths it can hardly be denied they both are from one source. this source only can be identified as mystery.

contemplation to gain love.

what ever happened to christopher and nina? frankly speaking i have no idea. but when a few weeks after i had arrived in huelva a small a-ha erlebnis came over me. huelva is the town where columbus met some powerfull friends that introduced him to the royals of spain at that time. this made the big dream of columbus closer to reality. when he finaly set sail to begin his discoveries, one of the three vessels he used for this purpose was named nina.

with each breath in or out, one has to pray mentally.

more than ten years after i met a spanish woman. we shared bread and wine in the dutch dunes among other things. somehow she gave me the courage to return to montserrat. so again i drove up that frightfull mountain range. the slopes were still mostly barren to my surprise. what once was a pineforrest were now just some juvinile trees. life went on round the monastery as if nothing ever had happened there. i didn't stay for long.

be it done to me according to thy word!

after two years i visited the spanish woman in her hometown salamanca. it was only few weeks after 9/11. she showed me the ancient cathedral with the astronaut and told me that the virgen was for the 'dolor y soledad'. that done she showed me the universty building and it's famous frog. that done i asked her to show her own favourite spot (in town). then we went to the 'parco calysto y melibea' only open once a year and nobody knows when. but it was closed. i bought a volume of 'la celestina', the story behind the park.

from good to better

again two years later i returned to salamanca. fortunately i had found a dutch translation of 'la celestina'. the book has a lot of proverbs in it. one of them is, first we take zamora and then the rest (of spain). so i went from zamora to salamanca. it was wintertime but full of sunshine. i made my way to the park. yes reader, the park was open this time. can't tell the date because it's a secret.

through the open door.
Profile Image for Clare.
116 reviews8 followers
January 2, 2023
For not being able to experience these Exercises as they were intended--on retreat--this book is well worth a prayerful read! My guy Iggy does not disappoint. The book is mainly directions for meditations, called contemplations, on subjects such as humility, the Mysteries, and other events in the life of Christ. Sprinkled throughout and heavier toward the end are Rules and advice for aspects of daily life (i.e., eating, examination of conscience, discernment, etc.). I found it very fruitful and I had no idea what I was getting into!

"Nothing should be said to defame or slander another. If I reveal a hidden mortal sin committed by anther, I sin mortally. If I reveal another's hidden venial sin, I sin venially. In revealing the defects of another I thereby make known my own defect."

"When we deny ourselves what is superfluous, it is not penance but temperance."
Profile Image for Daphne.
4 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2012
A very good friend introduced me to Ignatian Spirituality after years of studying it himself. While I can't afford to make one of those retreats that are popular around my neck of the woods, I figure the book is the next best thing! First off, this book isn't meant to be read like any other book. And this book is really meant for spiritual directors - like my friend, as its a bit difficult to really know what St Ignatius is trying to point out if you have no backgound in this type of thing. The first time I read it cover to cover, just to get my bearing about it. For me it was difficult to understand, but Im sure with more research and study on my part I can better utlitize his teachings. Very interesting read none the less!
Profile Image for Analia.
548 reviews
January 9, 2021
5/5 ⭐

Lo empecé el día lunes 3 de enero y no estaba en mis planes anotarlo en mi Challenger porque fue una lectura muy personal. Simplemente quise hacer de él "simple lectura" y me terminé enamorando de San Ignacio de Loyola. Ojo: se hacen ejercicios que no son otra cosa que ingresar en nuestro interior. Para eso se necesita de un guía. Yo simplemente lo leí pero sí, movió algunos demonios conocidos y otros que no pertenecen a mi corral😳 es que una parte de mi hay mociones que conozco y otras que desconozco por completo.

Lo leí en digital así que ahora anhelo tener el libro en papel porque quiero ahondar en el tema (que no es fácil vivirla) y comprender algunos términos que no logré entender.

Recomendado para aquellos que les interesa San Ignacio de Loyola.
69 reviews4 followers
June 2, 2007
Excellent reference for the Spiritual Exercises ~ as close a literal translation of Ignatius' writing from 15th/16th century Spanish to English as I am aware. A note of caution ~ without taking the in the context and traditions of his time, expressions found in this book, like "The enemy conducts himself as a woman" can take on a completely distorted meaning ~ I have been told by various Ignatian spiritual directors that what he most likely meant was "The enemy conducts himself as a *disordered* woman."

Not recommended for the average layperson except under the guidance of a spiritual director.
Profile Image for Jesús  Erro.
49 reviews31 followers
July 14, 2021
Años ha, la chica con la que salía me rechazó siguiendo un principio ignaciano: "elige lo que te lleva a la salvación y descarta o hazte indiferente al resto". Dura ironía para un antiguo alumno jesuita. Duele cuando te cierran un capítulo de tu vida sin tu consentimiento. Posteriormente escuché en la radio que Stalin tenía este libro en su biblioteca personal. ¿Cómo es que gente tan importante había considerado estos principios? ¿En qué se fundamentan? Así llegué a esta obra.

Los retiros espirituales son un maravilloso tiempo de introspección. Los hay de muchos tipos - según duración y temática - siendo quizás los ignacianos los más conocidos por su antigüedad y eficacia. El libro que nos ocupa, es el manual del "acompañante", es decir, la persona que dirige un "retiro ignaciano". Se recogen una serie de meditaciones para los alumnos, cuyo objetivo es el análisis de "movimientos internos". Como movimiento interno nos referimos a nuestros: pensamientos, decisiones, palabras y acciones. Lo que hacemos a cada instante. Estamos ante una lectura eminentemente práctica que nos sumerge en nuestra realidad, llevándonos a la arena de nuestras luchas diarias. Pero el libro es sólo la puerta, no basta su lectura. Lo verdaderamente importante es lo que experimentas cuando lo pones en práctica. Por eso no puedo dejar de recomendar que se haga el retiro, a poder ser lejos de tu entorno habitual para un mejor aprovechamiento. Sería como si aprobases el carné de conducir y nunca experimentases la conducción de un vehículo.

El libro está escrito en clave cristiana pero es igualmente recomendable para no creyentes. Y si soy ateo ¿a mí qué, por qué debería interesarme este libro? Pues porque te abrirá una nueva perspectiva que iluminará lo verdaderamente nuclear de tu ser. Comprenderás que el conocimiento, la educación o el cumplimiento de las leyes no son suficientes (1 Cor 13) Puedes conducir un coche respetando los límites de velocidad y terminar atropellando a alguien. Aún teniendo todo el conocimiento, seguimos siendo hombres planos respecto a nuestras "mociones". A menudo les damos una importancia que no tienen. Estamos como desnortados, a merced de nuestros impulsos e intereses. Este libro enseña a tomar en serio ese mundo invisible. La verdadera libertad está en controlar todo el flujo de mociones que fluyen en nuestro interior.

Hay algo que le falta a la "equidad" para llegar a la plenitud. Los creyentes lo llamamos "amor" y su modelo es alguien real - no un constructo - se llama Cristo. Seas creyente o no, es indudable que existe un mundo interior compuesto por lo que pensamos. De ahí manan nuestras decisiones, palabras y acciones, que son las que dan forma a nuestras relaciones y nuestra realidad. Como dice Benedicto XVI en su magnífico Introducción al Cristianismo: "somos imagen y semejanza de Dios, somos pensamientos de Dios." El autor del libro, San Ignacio de Loyola, tomó en serio todo esto y te ofrece en este libro su perspectiva. Por eso es importante. Sean cuales sean tus creencias, tú decides en libertad.

El lenguaje de esta edición es un español antiguo pero se entiende bien. El mensaje no envejece, sigue siendo plenamente vigente. Escrito en el siglo XVI, queda filtrado el ruido de la modernidad, y se argumenta directamente desde lo esencial. Para esta búsqueda interior se ofrecen unas meditaciones maravillosas, repasemos algunas de ellas:

En la bellísima "contemplación de la Encarnación" (Semana 2, contemplación 1, preámbulo 3), el autor nos ofrece una "visión planetaria de la Trinidad" para salvar el mundo del pecado. San Ignacio describe el auténtico "matrix" que nos envuelve, con el lenguaje y conocimientos de aquella época. En palabras del autor: "contemplar el haz de la tierra en toda su diversidad". Hoy se nos llena la boca con términos como "diversidad" e "inclusión". ¿Puede haber un mensaje más actual y futurista?

Otra contemplación que deja huella es la de "buscar el amor" (Semana 3) Se trata de una lección de vida maravillosa que vamos aprendiendo con los años. El autor afirma que todo lo que recibimos viene sólo desde arriba. Te das cuenta de esto cuando en la vida, empiezan a caer las cosas que creías seguras. Por ejemplo, podrías ver que tu carrera laboral era una burbuja cuando, por la pandemia, tu sector desaparece de un día para otro. Y desde entonces aprendes a valorar el crecimiento de un tomate, un atardecer o la simple promesa de una tortilla de patatas al finalizar el día. Este libro te reencontrará con lo esencial.

La "contemplación del infierno" (Semana 1, ejercicio 5) San Ignacio habla metafóricamente cuando describe el "verme (gusano) de la conciencia". Lo hace con razón - qué mayor infierno que el de la soledad provocada por nuestros malos pensamientos y palabras. El autor escribe este libro con un registro dominado por la pasión y la fe. Similar al de cantantes actuales, cuando en sus letras hablan de cosas del tipo: "el fuego del amor en tu piel". En este sentido, puedo observar una firmeza similar a la contemporánea.

Habla también de la moderación corporal y de apetito ¿Cuántos gurús hoy día parecen descubrir las bondades del ayuno? El autor, desde el siglo XVI, ya lo hace en las meditaciones de la semana 3. Puede decirse lo mismo sobre la limosna. Hoy se habla de solidaridad e inclusión, cuando el autor ya lo expone en el apartado final de reglas generales.

La tradición católica tiene una verdadera joya en estos ejercicios espirituales. La oración por compás de la semana 4, tiene similitudes con las tan de moda prácticas orientales, aportando un chequeo completo de nuestros pensamientos a través de los exámenes de conciencia. Y con él, el control de nuestros impulsos. Poner "aduanas" a nuestros pensamientos, es necesario para mantener un sano equilibrio emocional. Es la reflexión básica de este libro y una de las cosas que Fabio Rosini describe en su excelente libro El Arte de Recomenzar. Las mociones sugestionadas - basadas en el miedo - nos bloquean y constriñen en las sombras de nuestra ansiedad. Jesús revela en Mt 16, 23 la procedencia de las sugestiones. De forma contraria, los pensamientos inspirados nos abren al mundo y traen paz interior, ayudándonos en la toma de decisiones.

Si tratas de poner orden en tu vida - eliminar comportamientos desordenados, tomar una decisión importante o discernir tu vocación - este libro te ayudará. Adaptar estas meditaciones a nuestras vidas, hará que se produzcan cambios interiores desde nuestro orgullo y endiosamiento, haciéndonos mejores personas. Como dijo Felipe a Natanael, "Ven y ve" (Jn 1:46)
Profile Image for Emily.
54 reviews9 followers
July 20, 2020
Man. Wise words from one of the most fascinating and misrepresented Saints. If the Jesuits I knew in college spoke like St. Ignatius, there would be a lot more faithful and catechized Catholics. It's basically full of prompts for prayer, but dang that's what makes it so awesome.
Profile Image for Vincent.
64 reviews3 followers
June 13, 2013
The Good: can transform steadfast individuals potent meditations

The Bad: not a conventional read; a serious conviction is required to see it through

As Robert Gleason calls it, this book is "a complete guide and framework for achieving Christian perfection." The organization of the book is well-described in the introduction:

"The first week is designed to help the retreatant to purify his soul and put his life in order; the aim of the second week is to lead the soul to a greater knowledge and love for Jesus Christ; the third week is devoted to freeing the will from the psychological obstacles which stand in the way of a generous decision to follow Christ; and the fourth week is intended to purify the heart in the highest degree from false attachment to creatures, goods, or worldly ambition and honor."

While it is ideally for retreatants because they can devote time to these exercises, it can also be used on an individual basis. However, this is intended for people who have a serious conviction to model their lives in God's image. For all practical purposes, this book isn't for a single read-through, but rather to be used as a reference several times daily over the course of one to four months, depending on the spiritual progress of the "exercitant.

This is not a book you're just going to pick up, read, feel daunted about what is required, and give up. The effectiveness and powerful nature of the meditations hit you in such a way, that it fills you with zeal, and somehow gets you excited to perform the exercises on a daily basis. Obviously there is always some difficulty or reluctance when it comes to incorporating a new routine into your life. But you will feel the desire to remain firm and steadfast, to see this thing through to allow the Holy Spirit take a hold of you.

The book gives a brief history of the beginning of Ignatius' life and how he initially longed for worldly things. This is encouraging because it signifies that the Ignatian method doesn't merely work for superhuman persons of heroic virtue; it works for any person that has enough conviction to see these exercises through to the end.

To give you an of idea of the content, here is an excerpt of one of the meditations:

The second prelude is to ask God our Lord for what I want and desire. The request must be according to the subject matter. Therefore, if the contemplation is on the Resurrection I shall ask for joy with Christ rejoicing; if it is on the passion, I shall ask for pain, tears, and suffering with Christ suffering. In the present meditation I shall ask for shame and confusion, for I see how many souls have been damned for a single mortal sin, and how often I have deserved to be damned eternally for the many sins I have committed.

As you can see, St. Ignatius doesn't fool around. Historically, the Ignatian method has delivered results, and it's plain to see from his Spiritual Exercises that when one follows it today in a steadfast manner, he will most definitely be a changed man.
Profile Image for Anna O.P..
Author 3 books67 followers
May 19, 2022
Picked up the second time. Still couldn’t connect with it. Too systematised and structured for my taste. I did find some gems this time though, regarding using the five senses to aid in devotion. I’m more inclined to the Teresian Carmelite way.
Profile Image for Malcolm.
27 reviews
March 15, 2014
For non-Catholics, its difficult to get past the myriad of scandals that constantly plague the church's image, but if judgement is suspended temporarily, one can see the spiritual life of devout Catholics unencumbered by abuse and corruption, and its interesting. I read this book for the same reason I've been reading many of the famous books on Catholic spirituality by great saints and mystics. Because while the hypocrisy and misery of the Vatican is infamous, behind that are thousands of monasteries and convents and households of devout faithful who take Catholicism very seriously. I want to know what they see in this belief system, and I have to say there are elements that are very beautiful and transcendent and books like "The Spiritual Exercises" illustrate that. Of course, there are things in this book that I find reprehensible. For example, it starts off with a list of rules for the Church Militant which begin with "All judgement laid aside, we ought to have our mind ready and prompt to obey, in all, the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother, the Church hierarchal." This is of course to my ears, and most people living in the first world in the 21st Century outrageous. But this is a Catholic book written by a Catholic mystic, so I find it no surprise, unlike some reviewers of this book, that it does actually embody Catholic theology.
Profile Image for Denny.
322 reviews26 followers
March 12, 2015
Don't let my seemingly low rating fool you into thinking there's little or no value in Ignatius's thought and teaching. It's a bit disingenuous to say I read this book as a large portion of it consists of strenuous intellectual exercises meant to be carried out by the spiritual seeker and that I made no attempt to do, and another segment of the book is meant as a guide for directors of intensive spiritual retreats. Similarly, it's not fair to call this a review since I didn't do the exercises so can't comment upon their validity or efficacy.

Still, I did read the read-only parts of the book and the instructions for many of the exercises, and I'm posting this review as a warning to those considering reading it: Unless you're a student reading it for a class or to write a thesis or dissertation, or you have a lot of free time, an intense desire or need to grow spiritually, and the singleminded dedication necessary to carry out the execercises as prescribed, you'd be much better off locating and enrolling in a retreat or series of retreats modeled on Ignatius' spiritual exercises.
Profile Image for Melissa.
773 reviews
December 31, 2020
What I like about his book:
1) The Preparatory Prayer
This is my paraphrase --
First of all, when you pray, ask God to help all your motives, actions and goals to be directed only toward serving and praising God.

2)Ignatius encourages his readers to study other Christian classics, the gospels, and the lives of great Christians

3) Interesting quotes:
"... it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created."

"I presuppose that there are three kinds of thoughts in me: that is, one my own, which springs from my mere liberty and will; and two others, which come from without, one from the good spirit, and the other from the bad"
Profile Image for Christopher Floss.
31 reviews2 followers
January 5, 2016
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola offers a means to encounter God through self-introspection and meditation on Scripture. Arising from Ignatius's own quest for God, the Exercises are meant as a guide for the seeker who desires to know God and His will. While they are meant to be used under the direction of a guide in a retreat context, the Exercises can be used as a part of one's daily spiritual regimen.

There are several themes throughout the "weeks" of the Exercises that resonate with everyone who is seeking to know and serve God through his or her life: surrender, conversion, greater communion with God, knowledge of God's will... to name a few. If used with devotion and perseverance, the Exercises enable the opening of one's deepest self to the grace of God.

I would highly recommend using the Spiritual Exercises as the framework for a silent retreat or incorporating them into your daily spiritual discipline.
Profile Image for Alcebiades Diniz.
Author 31 books30 followers
September 26, 2016
A book for those seeking ecstasy in intellectual, physical and spiritual terms, and the continuous renewal of that ecstasy when the exhaustion seems the only possible way.
34 reviews
February 4, 2020
The nature of the book leaves my review without a star rating. For those who don't know, this book is designed to be used as a sort of manual or guide while on a spiritual retreat. It's not just a spiritual book like something by St. John of the Cross that one would read daily and meditate with. Ideally, one has a director and is on a retreat, not doing it on one's own while living a life that contains work and other secular tasks. I did do it that way, though, and I still benefited from it—but I would not recommend that to many people—if anyone—nor would I recommend it to all Christians even if able to do it on a retreat.
The book guides one through on rigorous path to unite the mind, the emotions, and the will in order to detach from sins, from the worldly and temporal, and from oneself, so as to produce a disciplined servant of God whose desires and whose whole life are set on the Eternal. The methods St. Ignatius uses employ the senses and the imagination in various practical (though not easy) exercises, divided up into different 'weeks' (not necessarily seven days), with a different spiritual goal in mind. I would recommend it to anyone new to the faith, or new to taking their faith sincerely, if they are able to find such a retreat; or to someone who is more advanced in the spiritual life and desires such a means of disciplining themselves, getting out of their routine and comfort zone, and growing by trying the body, mind, and spirit. However, if such a person could not find a retreat and director, it would only be helpful if he already has a lifestyle and personal discipline conducive to such a retreat on some level. Even so, they would not benefit as much as they might want; nor did I benefit, I think, as much as I could have in a better setting and with a guide. If one were to do it oneself, I give the following cautions: Read through the entire book first (this is necessary to undertake the exercises), and maintain caution. St. Ignatius is rightly honoured for his catechesis on discernment and for his zeal for God. However, I do not agree with everything in this book, and doing it alone could be dangerous for someone not already practised in spiritual discernment. And while St. Ignatius' teachings on discernment and prayer are great and many of us have learned them without knowing it was in part through him, one can read elsewhere about his rules for discernment (for instance, Fr. Gallagher's 'Discernment of Spirits'). Finally, do not read the Louis Puhl translation that I read.
Also, there is a section of mysteries of the life of Jesus, which I did not read all of—but neither would many going through these exercises, and I think what I've written still holds.
Profile Image for Martina.
71 reviews
May 20, 2020
Niet echt waar ik naar op zoek was, ik zocht meer informatie over de leer van Ignatius, maar dit is eerder een zelfhulp bidboek in die theorie, wat mij betreft niet diep genoeg, aangezien ik de oefeningen niet ga uitvoeren.
Profile Image for David Bruyn.
Author 12 books15 followers
July 3, 2021
Loyola's use of imagination is fascinating, but built upon strongly Tridentine ideas, so it fails to harness the power of the gospel.
Profile Image for Cameron Barham.
156 reviews
April 15, 2022
“For it is not much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but intimate understanding and relish of the truth.”, p. 5
Profile Image for Marius.
234 reviews
August 24, 2016
Citind „Cronică de familie”, vol.2” mi-am adus aminte că am răsfoit mai demult „Exerciţiile Spirituale” ale sfântului Ignaţiu de Loyola. Doar că nu le-am practicat.

În „Cronică de familie” un anume profesor de filosofie, Fănică Niculescu (de fapt Nae Ionescu) îi recomandă personajului Şerban Romano cartea „Exerciţii Spirituale”, adăugând:

Aici e metoda ca din mintea şi voinţa ta să se facă o armă de oţel care poate fi distrusă, dar nu învinsă. Cărţulia asta a salvat Biserica Romană, şi poate Europa, şi poate civilizaţia. Oamenii care şi-au călit voinţa cu aceste exerciţii au fost misionari în China, Japonia, Tibet, Africa şi cele două Americi; au întemeiat statul Paraguay, stăpânit de ei direct; au fost consilierii atotputernici ai dinastiei de Habsburg, ai lui Filip al II-lea şi ai Regelui-Soare; au devenit atât de puternici, încât toate statele s-au speriat de ei şi până şi papii au ajuns duşmani ai iezuiţilor, ceea ce e destul de semnificativ
156 reviews2 followers
October 10, 2017
This work by a sixteen-century monk can help anyone who is ready to spend a month in spiritual exercises. Primarily written for those in ministry, the book can be adapted for interested believers. Ignatius of Loyola readily presents instructions (so-called "rules") and delineates thirty days filled with times of focusing on different gospel narratives. His goal is to see God in everything. His means is what today we call contemplation or reflection. It is better to try these exercises under a guidance of a spiritual mentor and away from one's usual place of habitation. Ignatius, thus, writes a helpful guide for those interested in a getaway to focus on spiritual exercises.
Profile Image for Martha Smith.
261 reviews7 followers
November 16, 2011
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, one of the greatest masterpieces of the Christian canon, today continues to offer some of the most accessible and insightful guidance for going on retreat-whether as part of a group or by oneself. Based on the rich fruit of St. Ignatius' own meditations and practice, this guide for spiritual perfection has been treasured and faithfully used for centuries by members of the saint's Jesuit order and by millions more. Definitively a worthwhile read.
Profile Image for Luke Langley.
51 reviews
April 18, 2015
The Spiritual Exercises is a program for a 30 day retreat beginning with reflections of sin, the mercy of God, lectio divina reflections on the life death and resurrection of Christ and discernment of spiritual practices and interior movements of the heart. It is however a guided retreat and without the opportunity to go through it formally the book alone can seem dry or incomplete and that is because it is more of an outline than fully fleshed reflections. So as a book, a tough read, but the reflections themselves are incredible especially the first weeks reflections on sin.
Profile Image for Andrew.
650 reviews110 followers
May 24, 2011
My first reading foray into Catholic writing were the Spanish mystics and Merton, wonderful but also very... well... mystic. Then there are so many, much more dry books of religious instruction out there that are classics as well. To me this book represented a very good middle ground to that. Straightforward, simple, direct but also very soulful and does not try to delineate some cold, formulaic form of spirituality.

Why did I stall so long to read this?
Profile Image for Stevie.
164 reviews12 followers
September 10, 2007
Short and interesting meditation manual by the great St. Ignatius. He talks a lot about meditating and putting yourself in the shoes of the folks during biblical times. I think his view of poverty, penance, and marriage are not wholly biblical. Good read though.

Instructive towards meditation
Insights into the enemy

Legalism at ever so often
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