An important focus of the work of the SJM is the offering of the Spiritual Exercises. Every priest of the congregation undertakes at least twice the so-called “Long-Exercises” during his formation: four weeks in strict seclusion, silence and prayer. In addition to this, they undertake every year an eight-day retreat after the method of St. Ignatius. Out of this personal experience, the SJM-priests guide other faithful to a fruitful experience of the exercises.
The fascinating thing about St. Ignatius is that he consciously observed and analysed the working of Grace while on his way from a courtier to a saint. In his Book of Spiritual Exercises he describes way. This short work has shaped not only the great Jesuit Order, but also countless saints. Without the exercises, it would be impossible to imagine the counter-reformation in Germany. For centuries, priests and laity were formed by the "Spiritual Exercises", as St. Ignatius himself named them. As St. Frances de Sales put it, more souls have been saved through this little book than it has letters.
The story begins with a cannon-ball, that on Pentecost Monday of the year 1521, during the defence of the fortress of Pamplona, shattered the leg of the 29-year-old Officer Íñigo López de Loyola. During the month-long recovery, he experienced an inner change: out of the courtier and worldly-minded Soldier, "wanton in play, womanising, brawls and military feats" (as a friend later described him), came a saint.
"The person who undertakes to better others, wastes his time, if he does not begin with himself" (St. Ignatius of Loyola).
Ignatian Retreats follow in their structure the Book of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The goal is the deepening of the individual's spiritual life through a conscious directing of all the facets of one's life towards the final end of man. The practice of interior, meditative prayer is supposed to strengthen the soul in her relationship to God, so that it recognises more easily the will of God and is able to follow him. Precisely in questions of faith, worries about the future, life plans and similar things, the exercises are a most valuable help to discover the path of God for us.
The exercises are characterised primarily by personal meditations and silence. Moreover, the daily Mass, Rosary, and opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration are further elements which can be very individually customised. Although there are four short spiritual conferences every day, the principle still applies: The Director of the Exercises does not preach the Exercises, but the retreatant "makes" them himself: He spends time with Jesus, speaks with him, listens to him.
The structure of the Ignatian Exercises offers the context and the possibility for personal talks with the accompanying priest. These make possible a very personal direction and the opportunity to adapt to the individual requirements of each individual.
You can here find a list of the current dates of the Spiritual Exercises. Upon enquiry, a date for individual retreats can also be arranged (subject to availability).