This edition of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola comes complete with a Touch-or-Click Table of Contents, divided by each section.
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, (composed from 1522-1524) are a set of Christian meditations, prayers and mental exercises, divided into four thematic 'weeks' of variable length, designed to be carried out over a period of 28 to 30 days. They were composed with the intention of helping the retreatant to discern Jesus in his life, leading then to a personal commitment to follow it. Though the underlying spiritual outlook is Catholic, the exercises are often made nowadays by non-Catholics. The 'Spiritual Exercises' booklet was formally approved in 1548 by Paul III.
To this day, the Spiritual Exercises remain an integral part of the Novitiate training period of the Roman Catholic religious order of Jesuits. Also, many local Jesuit outreach programs throughout the world offer retreats for the general public in which the Exercises are employed.
Beginning in the 1980s, Protestants have had a growing interest in the Spiritual Exercises. There are recent (2006) adaptations that are specific to Protestants that emphasize the exercises as a school of contemplative prayer.
The Exercises are still, today, undertaken in their original form over the full 30 days. Participants in the full Exercises usually spend their days in silence, doing up to 5 hours prayer a day. In the original form each retreatant has a guide to help lead him through the meditations of the Exercises. The Exercises done in this full-time way offers what is probably the most intensive spiritual experience. Most commonly such a retreat is undertaken at a specialist retreat centre. Such Centres are found wherever there are large groups of Catholics.
Besides the 30 day enclosed form of the Exercises many undertake it in its "Exercises in everyday or in daily life" (the other name is "19th annotation exercises" based on a remark of St. Ignatius in his book) form which brings the exercitant through the process of the Ignatian Exercises throughout a longer (several month up to a year and a half) period of time, time spent daily with reflection and prayer. This form has its advantages with respect to the enclosed form: it does not require extended stay in a retreat house and the learned methods of discernment can be tried out on the experiences life brings with it.
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