The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola were born of his own personal journey of conversion and life-changing transformation. Out of this experience Ignatius formulated a 30-day version of his faith journey – which is known as the full, integrated experience of the Spiritual Exercises. One making the Spiritual Exercises in this manner would withdraw to a place of quiet and solitude for 30 days in order to pray daily four or five times and to meet daily with a prayer companion.
The prayer is grounded in Scripture, key meditations touching on significant moments in salvation history and in the life of Christ, and other contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius. There are four phases or themes in the movement of the Spiritual Exercises – each leading to an ever increasing freedom to know God, oneself, and one’s deepest goodness and desires. Even more, as with Ignatius himself, the movement of the Spiritual Exercises leads one to a freedom and compassion that moves us to want to respond generously to the call received.
Ignatius realized soon enough that the 30-day version of the Spiritual Exercises greatly limited the number of those who could benefit from them. Thus, he made an annotation or provision, that the full, integrated experience of the Spiritual Exercises could be made in the course of 30 weeks while one continued in their ordinary, daily lives. Typically, one would pray once daily and meet with a prayer companion weekly. Today, this experience of the Spiritual Exercises is often referred to as “The 19th Annotation Retreat” or “The Ignatian Retreat in Daily Life.”