How to Give Inner Peace in Service of God



In 1527, Ignatius gave the exercises of this retreat to help people better serve God. Two women, Leonor and Beatriz, were among them and we hear their voices through the transcripts of the Inquisition interviews made of the spiritual conversations and exercises being given by Ignatius in Alcala.

And the Inquisitor asked Leonor whether she had listened to Yñigo and what he had taught her. She replied that Yñigo had taught her the commandments of the Church and the five senses and other things for the service of God (Leonor de Mena, 6 March, 1527).

Yñigo was giving doctrine on the first two commandments, how it was necessary to know and love God, etc. and about this he spoke at length; and that this witness found herself amongst these people, and was overwhelmed in seeing that what Iñigo talked about were things, not new to this witness, but about loving God and one’s neighbor, etc. (Beatriz Ramirez, 21 November, 1527).

Here is the birth of this retreat. The purpose of the first week is to help your receiver discover meaning and find relish in her or his faith. It prepares the ground. The second week takes your receiver deeper into divine relationships. The third and fourth weeks elicit particular and deeply personal ways to serve God and neighbour.

The four Sunday exercises ask your receiver to consider the service of others through the Body of Christ. Finally, a Program for Life charts how your receiver may serve God.

To bear fruit in every good work


Be filled
with the knowledge of God’s will
in all spiritual wisdom
and understanding,

so that you may lead lives
worthy of the Lord,
fully pleasing to him,
as you bear fruit
in every good work

and as you grow
in the knowledge of God.

—Colossians 1:9–11

Please Note

Please do not read this guide if you have not yet received the Inner Peace in Service of God retreat or are in the middle of receiving it. The reason is simple, you are unique as is your relationship with God. The graces you will receive will be yours, personal to your desires and God’s personal relationship with you. So reading this guide, or comparing your graces with others, runs the danger of creating unhelpful expectations. This guide is for Givers of the retreat not Receivers. Thank you for your understanding.

Retreat Map


Week One     Progress through delight

Monday         Awareness Examen

Tuesday        Delight and meaning in the Father

Wednesday   Delight and meaning in Mary

Thursday       Delight and meaning in my faith

Sunday          Food in the Body of Christ


Week Three  Progress through desire

Monday         Particular Examen

Tuesday         Progress through the new commandments

Wednesday   Progress through the beatitudes

Thursday       Progress through the virtues

Saturday        Reconciliation Examen

Sunday          Ligament in the Body of Christ


Retreat Map


Week Two     Progress through relationship

Monday         Breathing in the Father

Tuesday         Breathing in the Soul of Christ

Wednesday   Breathing in the Spirit

Thursday       Breathing in the Creator

Sunday          Life in the Body of Christ


Week Four    Progress through service

Monday         Progress through the gifts of the Spirit

Tuesday         Progress through the gifts of the Body

Wednesday   Progress through the works of mercy

Thursday       Program for Life

Sunday          Service in the Body of Christ

The Prayer Methods To Guide in this Retreat

New Prayer Method 1

Ex 64 – Delight and Meaning in the Father


I will allow my spirit to rest a little and consider where I am going and for what purpose. I make a gesture of reverence and humility. I read the prayer texts.

Opening Prayer
I ask the Father for the grace to direct my whole self toward him.

I desire to find delight and meaning in the Father.

In this prayer I pray each word or sense phrase of the Our Father prayer. (See text below). Keeping my eyes closed, or fixed on one spot without wandering, I say the words “Our Father,” staying with these two words for as long as I find meanings, comparisons, relish, and consolation in considerations related to it. These four ways of engaging with each word should be taken in turn and savoured before moving on.

I give more timer to those words that I have more feeling for and less on those that do not.

I spend my whole prayer time on the Our Father. When I am finished I say the Our FatherApostles’ CreedSoul of Christ, and Come, Holy Spirit, aloud or silently, in the usual way. (See these texts below).

I ask the Father for the virtues or graces for which I feel the greatest need.

How to Give This Exercise


The title of this exercise is “Delight and meaning in the Father,” It is day two, Tuesday of Week One of this retreat. The prayer texts, read in the preparation step, ground the content of each exercise in the gospels. The prayer method is the Prayer of Consideration. So the key to this exercise is the four considerations of each word: meanings, comparisons, relish and consolation.

The meaning of each word straightforward. Comparisons means comparisons that illuminate the word. So for the word ‘Father’, your receiver might compare God the Father to his or her own father, or fathers and mothers, or being a parent like the Father, or how different fathers love and protect, or the lack of a father compared to one present, or God as Father compared to God as Mother, and so on. Relish would be finding wonderful feelings, taste, tang, or delight in the reality of having God as a Father. Consolations means spiritual consolations, so joy, freedom, wonder, quiet peace, new hope, confirmation of choices, love, etc. in a relationship with God the Father.

And similarly for each word of the prayer. Discuss these four considerations with your receiver before giving the exercise.

As you guide your receiver in this new method, the longest pause will be after the instructions for praying each word and before the invitation to end by saying the other four prayers in the usual way. After a generous time for the four prayers, conclude by giving your receiver time to converse with God. Show your receiver the words of the five ancient prayers after this first exercise.

Ignatius adds the following instructions, “If I find in one or two words rich matter for reflection, relish and consolation, I will have no anxiety to go further, even though the whole prayer time is spent on what has been found. When my prayer time is up, I will say the remainder of the Our Father in the usual way. And then the other prayers as named above” (Spiritual Exercises 254).


Suggested Prayer Time: 20 Minutes
Preparation: 2 minutes. Opening Prayer: 1 minute. Desire: 1 minute. Prayer: 20 minutes. Conversation: 1 minutes. Listening Book: 10 minutes.

New Prayer Method 2

Ex 68 – Breathing in the Father


I will allow the spirit to rest a little, considering where I am going and for what purpose. I make a gesture of reverence and humility. I read the prayer texts.

Opening Prayer     
I ask for the grace to direct my whole self toward the Father.

I desire to breathe in the Father.

I pray silently on each intake or expulsion of my breath, by saying one word of the Our Father, so that only a single word is pronounced between one breath and the next. I do this with the natural rhythm of my normal breathing.

Contemplatively, I pay special attention to the meaning of that word or to the Father to whom I am praying. In this way I deepen my relationship with the Father. I make myself ready for his action in me.

I spend my whole prayer time on the Our Father. When I am finished I say the Our Father, Apostles Creed, Soul of Christ and Come Holy Spirit aloud or silently, in the usual way.

I ask the Father for the virtues or graces for which I feel greater need.

How to Give This Exercise


The content of this exercise is the four traditional prayers but the method of prayer is different. The instructions for the exercise are straight forward, with similar pauses to last week. In practice, it is important for your receiver to keep his or her breathing normal, neither deeper nor shallower than usual.

The method is to have your receiver discover a rhythm in their breathing and word prayer, so that the exercise is both contemplative and focused. She or he may find it easier to pray a sense phrase on a breath or one word on several breaths. The focus is the meaning of the word or the divine person to whom your receiver is praying.

Ignatius adds, “If a complete prayer time has been spent on one or two words and I want to go back to the same prayer on another day, I will say those one or two words in the usual way, and then begin the contemplation on the word immediately following them” (Spiritual Exercises 255).

If helpful to your receiver, a nuance of this exercise is to simply “breathe in” the Father. Here your receiver could breathe the Father into her or himself, or breathe inside the Father, a part of his breath. Over time, either prayer is profoundly life-giving.


Suggested Prayer Time: 20 Minutes
Preparation: 2 minutes. Opening Prayer: 1 minute. Desire: 1 minute. Prayer: 20 minutes. Conversation: 1 minutes. Listening Book: 10 minutes.

New Prayer Method 3

Ex 78 – Progress through the Fruits of the Spirit


I will allow my spirit to rest a little and consider where I am going and for what purpose. I make a gesture of reverence and humility. I read the prayer texts.

Opening Prayer
I ask the Spirit for grace, help, and understanding of the fruits, that I may use them better for her greater service.

I desire spiritual progress through the fruits of the Spirit.

1. I consider love. What does love mean to me?

2. Where is love present in my life?

3. Where is love absent in my life?

4. I reflect on the contrary of love.

After 3 minutes of consideration, I ask the Spirit for what I desire now.

I say the Our Father.

The same procedure is repeated for each of the seven fruits.

After going over all the fruits, I examine them as a whole. I ask myself:

1. Which gift do I have in the greatest measure, more than any other?

2. Which gift do I desire for greater service of God?

3. Which gift would give me the greatest inner peace now?

In conversation with the Spirit, I ask for grace and help. Then I choose one gift to live well today.

How to Give This Exercise


The title of this exercise is “Progress through the Fruits of the Spirit”. It uses the Prayer of Consideration. Your receiver may pray either the seven fruits of the Spirit or the seven gifts of the Spirit. The first, shown here, is better to teach your receiver this method.

Fruits of the Spirit
  1. 1. Love
  2. 2. Joy
  3. 3. Peace
  4. 4. Patience
  5. 5. Kindness
  6. Generosity
  7. 7. Gentleness
Gifts of the Spirit
  1. Wisdom
  2. Understanding
  3. Counsel
  4. Fortitude
  5. Knowledge
  6. Piety
  7. Fear of the Lord

There is a vast difference between knowing how to pray this exercise and doing that exercise. To cite The First Spiritual Exercises book, “it is as great as the difference between knowing how to pan for gold and doing it. Between knowing and desiring to find gold, searching for the right river, working hard to pan the gravel, with the same repetitive motions, accepting days of no result and then feeling the utter delight of finding what is sought,”

Four questions guide your receiver’s consideration of each gift. As he or she pours their memories, experience and desires into each question, it is crucial to spend half a minute with each one in turn. Similarly with the three questions in the fifth point of the exercise, Conversation.

The Particular Examen is made on the particular gift, sense, etc., chosen to practice each day.

Ignatius adapts, “if I find I am not much engaged with one (commandment) as I pray, there is no need for me to spend long over it. But according to how I live or desire each one, more or less, so I should spend more or less time in the consideration and examination of it” (Spiritual Exercises 242)


Suggested Prayer Time: 35 Minutes
Preparation: 3 minutes. Opening Prayer: 1 minute. Desire: 1 minute. Prayer: 25 minutes. Conversation: 5 minutes. Listening Book: 10 minutes.

Four Ancient Christian Prayers

Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come;

your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us;

and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.

(Lk 11:1–13; Jn 16:23–24; 17:11–26)


Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

Creator of heaven and earth,

and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended into hell;

on the third day he rose again from the dead;

he ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;

from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and life everlasting. Amen.

(Jn 6:65–69; 11:17–27; Mt 3:11; Rom 8:15–17)


Soul of Christ – Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from Christ’s side, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O good Jesus, hear me;

within your wounds hide me.

Suffer me not to be separated from thee;

from the malicious enemy defend me.

In the hour of my death call me

and bid me come unto thee that I may praise you

with your saints and with your angels,

forever and ever. Amen.

(Jn 19:17, 32–34; 20:19–29; Rom 8:35, 37–39)


Come, Holy Spirit — Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit,

fill the hearts of your faithful

and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit

and they shall be created.

And you shall renew the face of the earth.

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit

did instruct the hearts of the faithful,

grant that by the same Holy Spirit

we may be truly wise

and ever enjoy his consolations,

through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Acts 2:1–4; Jn 14:15–27; Mt 3:11)

Please note.  For greater depth in the content and dynamic of this retreat see the Manual  here.