Retreats and Spiritual Direction
For more than 470 years Jesuit spirituality has led many women and men to a greater intimacy with Jesus Christ and to a commitment to serve those most in need. Our spirituality follows the example of St Ignatius of Loyola who placed Jesus Christ at the centre of his life, and tried to live and pray as Jesus Christ did - in close communion with the Father. He involved God in all his major decisions and went out, as Christ did, to preach the forgiveness of sins, to heal the sick and to give hope to the poor and others at the margins of society.
St. Ignatius wrote a prayer manual – The Spiritual Exercises – derived from his experiences. Based on the Exercises, Jesuits make a full 30-day retreat (known as the Long Retreat) at least twice in our lives. The Long Retreat is an experience that brings us into close and powerful contact with Jesus Christ, who inspires us to generous, even heroic, service. That experience is the dominant force in our lives, and it is renewed every day in our prayer. This giving of self is found in the concluding offering of the exercises:
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given it all to me. To you, O Lord, I return it. Dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace, for this is enough for me.”
From our earliest days, we have followed St. Ignatius’ example of sharing the Spiritual Exercises with other men and women. We invite you too to share in our rich spiritual heritage by attending a retreat directed in the Ignatian tradition. It can be difficult to spare 30 full days to do a retreat and so the Jesuits and our associates organize shorter retreats and days of recollection.
THE FIRST PRINCIPLE AND FOUNDATION (ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, AS PARAPHRASED BY DAVID L. FLEMING, S.J.)
St. Ignatius begins his Spiritual Exercises with The First Principle and Foundation. While not typically thought of as a prayer, it contains much that is worth reflecting on.
The Goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts from God, Presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God Insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, They displace God And so hinder our growth toward our goal.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance Before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice And are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, Wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us A deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads To God's deepening his life in me.