What are the Spiritual Exercises?

St Ignatius developed the Spiritual Exercises after being hit by a cannonball in battle. As he recovered, he re-assessed his life and its purpose and decided to re-focus his life on Jesus Christ.

A deeper desire had been kindled in him. He wanted others to experience this new sense of closeness to Jesus, so he began to write down a series of meditations on scripture and other ways of praying that could aid this. This became the Spiritual Exercises.

He described them this way in a letter written in 1536: ‘The Spiritual Exercises are all the best that I have been able to think out, experience and understand in this life, both for helping somebody to make the most of themselves, as also for being able to bring advantage, help and profit to many others.’

In daily life

St Ignatius knew that undertaking the Spiritual Exercises in a condensed form, spending many hours per day in prayer, was not possible for most people. So, he made provision, written down in the 19th Annotation to his Exercises, that allowed people to spend a shorter period in prayer each day over a longer period of time.

This has become known as doing the Spiritual Exercises in daily life (or the 19th Annotation).

For most people, this looks like a period of prayer each day and a meeting with their spiritual director once a week. The Exercises undertaken in this way can take 9-12 months. In recent years, the Jesuit Institute have developed a third way of offering the Exercises over the period of six months, which is part residential and part in daily life, called The Hybrid Spiritual Exercises.

Many people have found undertaking the Spiritual Exercises in this way to be life-changing, getting to know Jesus in a new and intimate way.


Your interest

If you would like to apply to do the Spiritual Exercises in daily life, just get in touch!