The Craft of Approaching Spiritual Exercises Well
1. Be at peace.
I need not be anxious about knowing enough of prayer, the Bible or church life to make a FSE retreat. I do not need to be churched. Nor do I need to be concerned about my past. None are necessary to meet God. My desire itself is more than enough [Spiritual Exercises 1, 2].
2. Value personal experience.
My own prayer will be more fruitful than anything I may read in a book or be taught by an expert. In making the FSE, I can be confident in my own graces and insights [Spiritual Exercises 2].
3. Seek inner relish.
Ignatius felt strongly that “the inner feeling and the relish of things” will fill and satisfy my soul much more than knowledge [Spiritual Exercises 2].
4. Practice reverence.
As my retreat advances, I will become aware of a growing intimacy in my relationship with each person in the Trinity. This will call for a deeper reverence in prayer [Spiritual Exercises 3].
5. Go with the dynamic of the four weeks.
The FSE take four weeks. Each week opens a new theme, progressively guiding me forward. I will be happily guided, step by step, in each new exercise and prayer method [Spiritual Exercises 4].
6. Look for fruit in the right place.
I look for the fruit appropriate to the exercise I am making now. Everything else is a distraction [Spiritual Exercises 4].
7. Adjust the prayer time if needed.
I may adjust my exercises by making them a little longer or shorter, or by moving a day, if I need to. But I do not move them for ordinary convenience. Each retreat week has its own integrity [Spiritual Exercises 4].
8. Have a largeness of heart.
I begin every exercise with great generosity and a magnanimous spirit—as does my Creator [Spiritual Exercises 5].
9. Offer God everything.
I offer God all my desires and every freedom. I do so that he may avail himself of me and all that I possess. This offering is made in the preparation prayer of each exercise [Spiritual Exercises 5].