Monday, January 04, 2010

Repeating the Exercises

A year ago tonight I was in Boston, breaking the drive up from Philadelphia to Gloucester on my way to Eastern Point to make the Spiritual Exercises. I checked into my hotel, found a place to get my hair cut (the shortest it has ever been -- by the time the Long Retreat was over it had just about grown back to "just cut" length), and gone out to dinner. Tonight? I've written a thousand words on the book, made dinner, done the laundry and gone to a parish council meeting. The quiet of retreat seems a dim memory - but the retreat itself? I've just done it all again...

One of Ignatius' basic principles in the Exercises is that of repetition. The idea is not to simply replay an exercise, but to gradually let the focus of a contemplation narrow, to move more deeply into the affective realms where as one early director of the Exericises said, "the fruit chiefly lies." I'm off tomorrow night to see my spiritual director, and as I sifted through the last month I realized that I've revisited all four weeks of the Exercises -- in order, no less. As befits a repetition, the contemplations have been more tightly focused, and for the most part sounded themes drawn from my Long Retreat. The exhaustion of illness has kept things from becoming too intellectual -- enhancing the sense of repetition. In some ways it feels like a jazz improv version of the Exercises....unplanned, but structured nonetheless.


  1. I think that once we've done them, we repeat them forever -- altho my own experience is a good deal more "disorderly" LOL!

  2. GG, I think you are so right...and right, too, that the contemplations/exercises will rarely order themselves neatly. Proof that God is not a Jesuit? :)

    Urban Spiritual Director used to begin each session post the Exercises by asking me, "So what week does it feel like?"

  3. Do you have some old posts about last year? Or some old columns to share?

    I'm very interested in The Exercises ... I have some books from Mother Nadine and well... a willingness.

  4. artandsoul -- if you click on the tags for 30-days or spiritual exercises a set of posts on them should come up; I wrote a set of six or so columns on them last year...

    I should probably go look at what I wrote as well, part of my "homework" from patient spiritual director was to skim my journal from the Long Retreat, but there are pieces here I should read....