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Journey with Jesus Director’s Guide

by davesandel on July 15th, 2017

Journey with Jesus   (http://b-ing.org/journeywithJesus/index.php)

About the Book
Getting Started: Preparation for Guides – Listeners – Spiritual Directors
Wisdom for Guides – Listeners – Spiritual Directors from St. Ignatius
Alternate Time Frames for the Journey with Jesus (long term and daily)
Dialogue Boxes
Review Days
Prayer of Recollection
First Meeting
Second Meeting and Beyond: The Preparatory Exercises – God Loves You
Additional Week on God‘s Love
Unrealistic Expectations, Discouragement, Perfectionism, Guilt and Shame
Prayer of Examen TIPS
End of Section One: God Loves You – The Discernment Process 
The Preparatory Exercises: Principle and Foundation
Additional Week on Indifference
Principle and Foundation (something for the day)
Ignatius Prayer (struggles) – Section 4 of Principle and Foundation
End of Section Two: Principle and Foundation – The Discernment Process 
Week 1: Personal Prep for Spiritual Guide/Director
Week 1: Sin, Me and God‘s Love (beginning)
Week 1: Ongoing Journey
Week 1: Moving to Week 2 Discernment Process
Week 2: Personal Prep for Spiritual Director/Guide
Week 2: Walking with Jesus (beginning)
Week 2: Ongoing Journey
Week 2: Moving to Week 3 Discernment Process
Week 3: Personal Prep for Spiritual Director/Guide
Week 3: Journey to the Cross (beginning)
Week 3: Ongoing Journey
Week 4: Personal Prep for Spiritual Director/Guide
Week 4: Resurrection of Jesus (beginning)
Week 4: Ongoing Journey
Contemplation of Divine Love
FQA

About the Book
In Journey with Jesus, spiritual director Larry Warner guides us through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius similarly to the way he’s been leading people through them in person. Here’s what he’s observed: “The Spiritual Exercises helped people reconnect with Jesus and with themselves in life-giving ways. It was powerful.”

Ignatius wanted to help everyone, no matter what age or stage of life, experience Jesus. Through prayers and Scripture readings that largely focus on the life of Christ, the Spiritual Exercises that have been so powerful and growth-inducing for so many, including Warner himself, can be a tool for transformation in you as well.

The exercises are designed to help you:

  • encounter the person of Jesus
  • foster a deeper relational knowing of Jesus
  • cultivate a greater desire and freedom to say yes to Jesus

And you don’t have to go on a retreat to do it. You can start now, and grow in Christlikeness right in the midst of your life.

Are you hungry for Jesus and ready to do something about it? Are you committed to sticking with a sustained journey of growth and formation in Christ? Then this book is for you. Open these pages and let Warner guide you on the journey toward deeper intimacy with Jesus.

Getting Started: Preparation for Guides – Listeners – Spiritual Directors
Hello, and welcome to the web companion for the book Journey with JesusThe purpose of this site is to provide help for those who are journeying with others through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Before progressing too far, it must be stated that this website does not intend to replace the need for the book, Journey with Jesus. Rather, it presupposes that those navigating their way through this site have a copy of the book already. This site will contain information not found in the book. However, it will also expand on and point you to other important information contained within the book.


Preparation for Guides – Listeners – Spiritual Directors

Early on in your journey with another, it will be extremely helpful for you as the guide and for those you are guiding to become familiar with the following sections of the Exercises. This will provide you with an initial acquaintance with some very important pieces of the Exercises–pieces that will help those you are guiding to have a deeper and more profound journey with Jesus. These sections will provide you with tools to better help those you are guiding as they begin to struggle and experience difficulties on their journey. I recommend you reading through the following sections of Journey with Jesus at least twice initially and re-reading these each time before you meet those you are guiding through the Exercises.

Read through and become familiar with

  • daily elements of the Exercises (p. 23 – 40)
  • tips on how to approach the Exercises (p. 44 – 56)
  • rules of discernment for Week 1 (p. 109 – 115)
  • rules of discernment for Week 2 (p. 150 – 154) – you can wait on this section until they proceed through the Preparatory Exercises.
  • for spiritual directors and listeners (p. 280 – 287)
  • glossary of terms (p. 300 – 302)

    Additionally, if working with a group read ‘Using the Exercises with a Group’ (p. 288)

This web companion for Journey with Jesus will provide general guidelines for those leading others through the Exercises that are found in the original introductory remarks of St. Ignatius known as the annotations. St. Ignatius penned these annotations for the expressed purpose of equipping those who would be guiding people through the Exercises. We will then provide both specific and general information that will relate to the various sections that make up the Exercises (Preparatory Exercises, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4).

The information in these sections will include things to watch for in those you are guiding, helpful reminders for you as a guide, additional reminders to pass on to those you are guiding (including struggles that may emerge at certain stages of the journey), and more. These insights are a result of my experience of having guided others through the Exercises over the past 5 plus years. During this time, there have been certain patterns that have emerged in terms of struggles, temptations and the like. Although the information that follows will not pertain to every individual going through the Exercises, it is helpful for you, as the guide, to be aware of these distinct possibilities. This material will be listed out individually below so that you will be able to quickly and easily find the information that relates to the section through which you are guiding the individual or group.

Wisdom for Guides – Listeners – Spiritual Directors from St. Ignatius
Insights for Guides gleaned from the Annotations [1-20] (The following is briefly covered on page 281 in Journey with Jesus but expanded upon here.)

Annotations: These are the opening instructions that Ignatius provided for those who will be guiding someone through the Exercises. They include tidbits of wisdom to keep in mind as you journey with another through Journey with Jesus. It may be helpful to re-read these insights before you meet with the individual you are journeying with – at least for the first few times.

1. Less is more. Do not overwhelm your person (group) with information. Keep it short and sweet. It is not about how much they know but about helping them to become aware of and relish things interiorly that are important. [2]

2. It is important for those going through the Exercises to have an openness, generosity and courage in terms of their relationship to God. These qualities are fostered in the Preparatory Exercises that begin the Journey with Jesus. [5]

3. The person going through the Exercises will experience times of consolations and desolations during their prayer times, possibly even the during the same prayer period. If there are no such movements, this needs to be explored by the guide by asking about their time spent in prayer, where they pray, and how they are praying. If the person is experiencing times of consolations and desolation on various days during their prayer times it is important to name this as a good and normal time. [6]

4. When the one going through the Exercises is struggling with temptation (the temptation to quit or otherwise) and/or is in desolation, your role is to be gentle and gracious seeking to encourage, support and strengthen, while also exposing the wiles of human nature and the evil one. [7]

5. Take time to make yourself familiar with the rules of discernment (Week 1, p. 112-115 and Week 2, p. 150-154) found in Journey with Jesus. This is important so you can give instruction when needed regarding consolations and desolation explaining only what is needed at the time. The complete rules for Week 1 (p. 112-115) should be presented before the person enters into the Exercises associated with Week 1. This can be done in bite size pieces. [8-9]

6. When the one receiving the Exercises begins to be tempted and assaulted under the appearance of good, then it is time to instruct them about the Rules of Discernment for Week 2 (p. 150-154). This may be needed early on but definitely needs to be covered some time during Week 2. [10]

7. Make sure the person is putting in the prayer time, as well as the two Examen times. Encourage them to not put in more or less time than they have committed to doing. This is important even if the prayer time seems dry and unproductive, or the person is experiencing tremendous consolations. Remember to be gracious. [12-13]

8. Be a voice of caution and reason when you feel the one receiving the Exercises makes a hasty promise or vow. This can easily take place during times of consolations or as a reaction against desolation. [14]

9. Do not unduly influence one receiving the Exercises when, in their enthusiasm, they are opening up to God’s dream (will) for their life. Be a good listener, helping them to hear the still small voice of God. [15]

10. Be aware of any disordered attachments that may be a part of the life of the one receiving the Exercises. Help them to recognize this disordered attachment with gentleness and care, encouraging them to act contrary to those attachments and to seek to do that which is for the service, honor and glory of God. [16]

Alternate Time Frames for the Journey with Jesus (long term and daily)

9 Months or Not?

The journey in the Spiritual Exercises set out in this book is a 9 month journey which may not be ideal for each person or group. Because of this, I have included a few alternate time frames in the appendix of the book which one can use instead of the 9 month time frame. These time frames are 7 Weeks, 17 Weeks and a 3rd alternative which will help you to go through all the Weeks of the Exercises in smaller increments. So, if your retreatant or group is feeling that the 9 month journey is a bit much, check out the alternative suggestions found on pages 274-279.

7 Days a Week or Not?

Journey with Jesus is set up to be an everyday event. The retreatant is encouraged to enter into this journey seven days a week. When the journey is done in this way, there is great transformational power that can naturally flow as a result of the day in and day out.

BUT
This is not the only way to journey through this material. One of the hallmarks of Ignatian Spirituality is flexibility. Because of this, there is freedom to adapt this material to meet the life situation of your retreatant. Some people have adopted an every-other-day rhythm which, though not ideal (we don’t live in an ideal world), is still transformative. It is important to work with your retreatant to determine how many days a week they will be committed to entering into the Exercises. Another strategy is also good to start small (3-4 days a week) and gradually build up to 7 days a week. The point here is that the Exercises invite us to adapt them to our own current life situation. Make use of this freedom.

Not Doing the Exercises Everyday (below is a 14 week journey based on a 3 times a week rhythm)

If you and your retreatant decide on an alternate way of journeying through the Exercises that is not the 7 days a week rhythm, here are some additional instructions for you.

Even though you are not doing the daily prayer time every day, I would strongly encourage these two practices everyday:

1. The two prayers of examen (noon and evening). This prayer practice helps you to stay connected to God and yourself and to be aware of what the challenges and invitations from God that may be coming your way.
2. Begin each day by presenting yourself to God. This can be as simple as saying, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

These two practices will help unleash in part the transformational power that is innately a part of the 7 days a week pattern of journeying through the Exercises.

14 weeks: spending 3 times a week in the Exercises with an additional review day. The Examen is done twice a day, every day.

God’s Love

Section # 1 Days 1, 2, 6 (pages 63-67)

Section # 2 Days 3, 5, 6 (pages 68-71)

Principle and Foundation

Section # 1 Days 1, 2, 3 (pages 82-84)

Section # 2 Days 1, 2, 3 (pages 86-88)

Section # 4 Days 2, 5, 6 (pages 90-93)

Section # 5 Days 1, 3, 6 (pages 94-98)

Week 1

Section # 3 Days 1, 2, 3 (pages 128-131)

Section # 5 Days 2, 3, 4 (pages 134-137)

Week 2

Section # 4 Days 1, 3, 5 (pages 165-169)

Section # 6 Days 3, 5, 6 (pages 174-178)

Section # 8 Days 2, 3, 6 (pages 182-185)

Section # 9 Days 1, 2, 6 (pages 186-189)

Section # 10 Days 3, 5, 6 (pages 190-193)

Section # 11 Days 3, 5, 6 (pages 193-197)

Dialogue Boxes

The following are the dialogue boxes that appear throughout the book. These thoughts developed as a result of my experiences of journeying through the Spiritual Exercises with individuals over the years. Each of the following represent possible struggles that retreatants may experience as they journey through the Exercises. It is very helpful for you to become aware of these as there is a good chance that your retreatant may also struggle with many of these same things from time to time.

As you read through these, you will notice that some are tied to a certain Week of the Exercises. You will be reminded of these in the link that pertains to that specific Week. However, these can arise at any time. So, it is a good idea to at least have a sense of the possible issues that may arise so you are able to speak to it.

Preparatory Exercises: God Loves You

Love, Anger, Frustration and Sadness
Some who journey through this portion of the Exercises do not feel God’s love but instead feel emotions such as anger, frustration and sadness. Do not try to force yourself to feel a certain way, but rather allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and bring those feelings, as well as the issues that may birth these emotions, to God. That will be the place God will meet you. God is not afraid of your questions or emotions. He will meet you in the midst of them. Remember, God desires honesty; so be honest and be real with God.

“I BELIEVE, Help Me With My Unbelief”
As you spend time pondering the marvelous love God has for you, you may begin to realize that you ‘know’ this but at a deeper level you do not fully believe it. Do not let this trouble you but instead repeat the prayer, “I believe, help me in my unbelief.” This is a prayer Jesus heard and answered. The love of God is a ‘one of a kind, nothing can separate you from it’ love that is hard if–not impossible–to fully embrace. So, give yourself some time and grace as your ability to hold onto God’s love for you grows. The good news is that God’s love is always embracing you, wooing you and indwelling you.

Trying Too Hard
If you have been feeling yourself pressing to make something happen during your time in the exercises, I would encourage you to buy a bottle of bubbles and keep them near your journal. Then, the next time you feel yourself pressing to make something happen or to do the exercises ‘right,’ open your bubbles, take out the wand, and gently start blowing bubbles. As you gently blow your bubbles, watch them dance upon the currents while asking God to help you to enter these exercises freely and lightly, dancing upon the unforced rhythms of God’s grace.

The Slow Down
Use the slow down as you are able. If the slowdown time is producing additional stress rather than freeing you from your concerns and worries, try something else. Remember, the point of the slowdown is to help you to prepare your heart, soul, mind and spirit to enter into God’s presence. If the slowdown methods are not helpful, please feel free to find other ways to slow down and prepare yourself to enter into God’s presence.

Examen Review
How are you doing at making the noontime and evening examen a part of your daily rhythm? Ask yourself what steps you could take to make this a more regular practice as you go through the exercises. You might want to refer back to p. 28-31 for suggestions.

Showing Up
Your part is to show up and enter into the exercises for that day, as you are able. By doing this, you have offered yourself to God (Romans 12:1) and declared your desire to be with God and hear from God. This is all you can do – what happens beyond that is up to God. But rest assured, to come into God’s presence is to be changed. Regardless of your felt experience, God is at work.

Perfectionist
If you are a perfectionist or a recovering perfectionist, please be on guard. The structure of the daily exercises can tap into your strong desire to ‘do it right’ and then stir up negative messages of self-condemnation when you feel you have not or are not ‘doing it right.’ If you feel yourself stressing about ‘doing it right’ or you begin hearing the internal voices that birth shame and/or condemnation within you, stop and ask God to help you be gracious and patient with yourself. These voices are not coming from God but are rather lies that will distract you and keep you from the journey.

Your Space
The space you use for your prayer times can be a help or a hindrance to your time with God. Choose a space that has minimal distractions. Keep all the materials you use as you go through the exercises (Journey with Jesus, bible, pens, markers, journal, etc.) together and if possible in the area where you enter into the exercises each day. These simple suggestions can make a dramatic difference in your ability to present yourself to God during your prayer time each day.

Art Time
This could be a great week to get out your art supplies and have some fun during your journaling time. Using paints, colors, construction paper, etc., you can communicate your feelings and record the meaningful images that may arise during your prayer time; or just see what happens when you get artsy. Let go of the need to do it well or right and just jump in with both feet and see what emerges.

Resistance
As you journey through the Exercises, pay special attention to when you experience internal resistance. Whenever you become aware of resistance, respond to it as a warning light and seek to discover its source. Resistance is a gift from God that invites you to a deeper discovery concerning God and/or yourself. So, internally pause and ponder when you become aware of resistance. Ask God to help you discern where this resistance is coming from. What does it reveal about your image of God, your level of belief, love and trust in Him? What does it tell you about your sense of self, your identity? Take the time to reflect and unpack your resistance. Over time, the results can be life changing. (See Resistance p.47-48)

Reminder
Remember to make use of your examen questions each day at noontime and evening. The consistent use of the examen questions will dramatically increase the opportunity for transforming power in your life (see p. 30).

Putting in the Time
One of the greatest and most consistent temptations that will come your way is that of cutting your prayer time short. In the Annotations, Ignatius gives two instructions [13,14] regarding the importance of spending the full time in prayer. This temptation to cut the prayer time short will be especially strong during times of desolation. But endeavor to spend the time, for it is of great value for your heart and soul.

WEEK 1

Be Aware
One of the struggles of Week 1 will be the tendency to enter the exercises intellectually rather than with your heart. This is understandable but not helpful. It is important for you to enter into these exercises emotionally so you can feel sorrow and confusion arise within you as you explore the pervasive reality of sin in the world and in your own life. You may find that you want to protect yourself from the pain Week 1 may surface within you. However, it is this pain that will take you to God and ultimately to greater freedom because it will lead you to experience God’s love in a deeper way.

Remember
The purpose of Week 1 is not self-loathing, condemnation or hopelessness, but a deep awareness of sin in yourself and the world. and as a result, a deeper appreciation and realization of God’s love for you.

You Are Loved
As you focus on your own sin and brokenness, remember that your sin does not define you. You are forgiven. You are a saint uniquely loved by God. If you struggle with this, pray this prayer: “Jesus, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”

Desolation
There will be an up and down dynamic to your experience as you travel through the Exercises. This is normal. During those times seek to continue your journey spending your allotted time in prayer. Give special attention to praying the examen while seeking to discern the cause of your desolation (see p.114, #9). When in the grip of desolation, it will be hard to continue moving through the Exercises. However, this is exactly what you need to do–recalling to mind that this is just a season and God is faithful and ever present no matter what you may be feeling.

Prayer Postures
If you have not yet done so, I encourage you to experiment with different prayer postures (kneeling, lying face down or face up, standing, arms raised, head bowed, etc.). Prayer postures can be an aid in helping us move from head to heart as we come before God. They may also enable us to communicate to God what our mere words often fail to convey. Give it a try.

It is Not Happening
During Week 1 of the Exercises, some people get discouraged because they are not moved to tears because of their sin or do not feel like they are able to fully connect emotionally with their sinfulness. Be patient with yourself and trust God and the process. God is at work!

Journaling
It is very helpful to journal through these exercises. Journaling helps you to see patterns in your prayer times and to recall what God has spoken to you. Often as you journal, God may expand upon what you have discovered or of what you have been made aware. I strongly encourage you to journal. It will deepen your experience with the Exercises.

Forgiven and Loved by God
As you are looking at your own sin, recall to mind that nothing can separate you from the love of God and that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you are feeling condemnation during Week 1, it is not coming from God.

Examen Review
How are you doing at making the noontime and evening examen a part of your daily rhythm? Now ask yourself what some steps are that you could do to make this a more regular practice as you go through the exercises. You might want to refer back to p. 28-31 for suggestions regarding this.

WEEK 2

Recall to Mind
Recall to your mind the focus of your morning mediation throughout your day [p. 130]. This simple practice can radically impact your experience through this section of the Exercises. It helps you open up to God and present yourself to Him throughout your day. It also serves as a reminder that you are living with God, in God and God is living in you.

Opening Time in Prayer
Make sure you fully make use of the slowdown and commitment time that is to begin your time in prayer each day. Do not rush through the opening time. The opening is designed to help you slow down and foster respect for God as you come into God’s presence. This opening involves a conscious effort of presenting yourself before God as a living and holy sacrifice (Rom 12:1) and readying yourself to be present to God. It is a great aid in helping you to fully enter into the Exercises and experience God throughout your day.

I Am Not Doing This Right
If you feel that you are not journeying through the Exercises correctly, please seek to trust God and trust the process. God is at work. The exercises are bringing you into the presence of God with intentionality – the rest is up to God. Do not try and make something happen. Trust God and trust the process, focusing not on what is seen
but on what is unseen and thus, eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).

You and Jesus
As you meditate on the various passages of Scripture, focusing on the life of Christ, please be aware of what it is that draws you to Christ, challenges you, amazes you, gives you pause, causes resistance in you, etc. Take time to journal about and ponder these internal movements.

Expectations and Jesus
Knowing you are going to spend your prayer times walking with Jesus through the gospel narratives, be aware of the expectations and feelings that may spontaneously arise within you as you enter Week 2. You may anticipate emotionally powerful times, you may be anticipating some jaw dropping experience, mind blowing insights…but you need to come seeking to embrace indifference endeavoring to be present to and trusting of God and the process. Seek to enter each prayer experience expectation-free and with a desire to ‘show up,’ presenting yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship (Rom 12:2).

Imagination
The use of the imagination enables you to incorporate your mind and heart in your times of contemplation or meditation. It is important not to get discouraged because of what you may perceive to be a deficiency in your ability to make use of imagination. The important thing is to make use of your imagination to the degree you are able to do so and trust that God will honor your efforts. The use of the imagination is a powerful tool of illumination and formation that Ignatius incorporated in the Exercises. (Imaginative Prayer see p. 36-40).

Showing Up
Your part is to show up and enter into the exercises for that day as you are able. By doing so, you have offered yourself to God (Romans 12:1) and declared your desire to be with God and hear from God. That is all you can do – now what happens beyond that is up to God. But rest assured; to come into God’s presence is to be changed. You may or may not feel something but God is at work.

Emotions
Beware of what you are feeling about God, yourself, and the exercise of the day. We are often taught to ignore our emotions, but Ignatius found that our emotions are an aid to us in our spiritual formation as we become aware and unpack them. As you pay attention to your emotions and unpack them, you will, much like with resistance, learn more about yourself and your image of God in the process. Your emotions will prove to be an excellent source of material for journaling.

Questions and Perspectives
The questions given to ponder and suggestions regarding how to enter into the story are just that, suggestions. These are given to help you get started. In fact, in my own journey through the Exercises, I found it help to enter the same gospel narrative from a variety of perspectives – a bystander, a disciple, the person interacting with Jesus and even as Jesus. Each different way of entering into the narrative can bring additional insights and opportunity for connection with Jesus. Also putting yourself in the place of Jesus can bring great insight and opportunity to discover some aspects of who Jesus is or how Jesus interacts with others that cause you concern. In short, do not feel constrained by the suggested questions or person to be in the narrative – have some fun, explore, experiment always being open to God.

Imagine Freely and Lightly
Do not get bogged down trying to perfectly imagine the scene, especially those of you who, like Ignatius, have traveled to the holy land. The composition of the scene is but a small part of what imaginative prayer is about. The purpose of imaginative prayer is an encounter with the living God through the living word.

Subtly of Temptations
Be on guard. Temptations can change drastically during Week 2. The evil one will seek to derail your journey by using even good things, godly thoughts, consolations, or spiritual insights – but these may actually take you away from your time in the Exercises. So be aware. If these things take you from the very thing to which God has called you then there is a good chance that they are not from God. (See rules of discernment, Week 2 p.150-154)

Resistance
As you journey through the Exercises, pay special attention to when you experience internal resistance. Whenever you become aware of resistance, respond to it as a warning light and seek to discover its source. Resistance is a gift from God that invites you to a deeper discovery concerning God and/or yourself. So, internally pause and ponder when you become aware of resistance. Ask God to help you discern from where this resistance is coming. What does it reveal about your image of God, your level of belief, love and trust in Him? What does it tell you about your sense of self, your identity? Take the time to reflect and unpack your resistance. Over time, the results can be life changing.

A Lesson from Children
Children are those who most readily use their imagination. Thus, there should be playfulness to this endeavor, a freedom to use our imagination as we can, not how we cannot. Resist the inner voices that may seek to pressure you to ‘do it right’ instead have fun with it. As you enter into this way of engaging with the text, your time will be transformed from knowing about Jesus to an experience of Jesus and yourself in life giving and transforming ways.

Putting in the Time
One of the greatest and most consistent of the temptations that will come your way is that of cutting your prayer time short. Ignatius, in the Annotations, gives two instructions regarding the importance of spending the full time in prayer. This temptation to cut the prayer time short will be especially strong during times of desolation. In Week 2 and beyond, consolations may also take you away from the Exercises prematurely. Be alert and endeavor to spend your full time in the Exercises for it is of great value for your heart and soul.

I Don’t Like Jesus
As you spend time with Jesus day after day, you may begin to discover that there are aspects of Jesus’ dealing with people you just do not like. If you discover this, do not fret but bring this to Jesus even as you continue your journey with Him. As you continue your sojourn with Jesus you will discover that Jesus is much more complicated than we make him out to be. And sometimes He may even rub you the wrong way. This is not to be feared for it is an indication that you are being real and honest with Jesus and with yourself.

Emotions
Pay attention to what you are feeling about God, yourself, and the exercise of the day. We are often taught to ignore our emotions, but Ignatius found that our emotions are an aid to us in our spiritual formation as we become aware of and unpack them. As you pay attention to your emotions and unpack them, you will, much like with resistance, learn more about yourself and your image of God in the process. Your emotions will prove to be an excellent source of material for journaling.

Reminder
Although the emphasis of Week 2 is on the use of Imaginative prayer please feel free to make use of the lectio divina method (p. 34-36) from time to time.

Beware of Consolations
In Week 2 and beyond, consolations can be used to derail your journey through the Exercises. Be on guard. This often happens during the opening of the prayer time. You will be tempted by insights, worthwhile subjects to ponder, or even a sense to just be with God. Though each one of these is good, they can actually take you away from the Exercises which God has lead you into. Be alert to this tactic. Remember that now the evil one can very well appear as an angel of light using good and godly thought for his own ends. You may want to take time to read through the rules of discernment for Week 2 (See p.150-154).

Contemplation
Each day, make space at the end of your prayer time just to be with Jesus. Do not seek anything from Jesus but just be still and rest in and with Him in silence – knowing that Jesus is with you and is actively loving you in this moment and into the next moment.

Recall to Mind
Recall to your mind the focus of your morning mediation throughout your day. This simple practice can radically impact your experience through this section of the Exercises. It helps you open up to God and present yourself to Him throughout your day. It also serves as a reminder that you are living with God, in God and God is living in you.

Questions and Perspectives
The questions given to ponder and suggestions regarding how to enter into the story are just that, suggestions. These are given to help you get started. In fact, in my own journey through the Exercises, I found it help to enter the same gospel narrative from a variety of perspectives – a bystander, a disciple, the person interacting with Jesus and even as Jesus. Each different way of entering into the narrative can bring additional insights and opportunity for connection with Jesus. Also putting yourself in the place of Jesus can bring great insight and opportunity to discover some aspects of who Jesus is or how Jesus interacts with others that cause you concern. In short, do not feel constrained by the suggested questions or person to be in the narrative – have some fun, explore, experiment always being open to God.

Examen Review
How are you doing at making the noontime and evening examen a part of your daily rhythm? Now ask yourself what some steps are that you could do to make this a more regular practice as you go through the exercises. You might want to refer back to p. 28-31 for suggestions regarding this.

Contemplation
As you ponder the ‘I Am’ statements of Jesus, make space at the end of your time in the exercises each day just to be with Jesus. Do not seek anything from Jesus but just be still and rest in and with Jesus in silence – knowing that Jesus is with you and is actively loving you in this moment and into the next moment.

WEEK 3

Reminder
Did you purchase a crucifix or download an artist’s rendition of the Crucifixion of Christ to use during your prayer times? This is not a requirement but can an aid in helping you to focus on Christ crucified.
Contemplative Eating
This involves first and foremost eating and drinking with a focus on the presence of Christ. Additionally, Ignatius encourages you to eating slowly in silence while exercising moderation and drinking water. Please seek to employ these guidelines during one of your meals each week. See rules for eating p. 218-219.

Setting the Stage
During your prayer time, create an ambience that may be more conducive to entering into the pain and sorrow of Jesus. Some things you might consider doing would be to close the curtains/shutters to darken the room in which you will be spending the time and using a candle as your light source. You can also use different postures during this time (kneeling, lying prostrate…) to help you engage more fully with Jesus as you enter into the Passion narratives.

Fasting
Additionally, if you are physically able (if in doubt, please visit your doctor before beginning a fast) I encourage you to seek to fast from food (you can have water and fruit juice) for an entire day each week. I would suggest you do so on Friday each week to commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross. See rules for eating p. 218-219.

Showing Up
Your part is to show up and enter into the exercises for that day as you are able. By doing so, you have offered yourself to God (Romans 12:1) and declared your desire to be with God and hear from Him. That is all you can do – what happens beyond that is up to God. But rest assured to come into God’s presence is to be changed. You may or may not feel something, but God is at work.

Putting in the Time
One of the greatest and most consistent of the temptations that will come your way is that of cutting your prayer time short. Ignatius, in the Annotations, gives two instructions regarding the importance of spending the full time in prayer. This temptation to cut the prayer time short will be especially strong during times of desolation. In Week 2 and beyond, consolations may also take you away from the Exercises prematurely. Be alert and endeavor to spend your full time in the Exercises for it is of great value for your heart and soul.

WEEK 4

Setting the Stage

Create an ambience that may be more conducive to entering into happiness and spiritual joy that flows from the resurrection of Jesus. Allow the sunshine to fill the room and place potted plants or cut flowers or other things around the room that communicate beauty, joy, and hope to you.

Review Days

Using Review Days

Review days are an opportunity given to the retreatant to spend additional time exploring something that has caught their attention during a daily prayer time and/or during the examen periods. Please encourage the retreatant to be open to re-visiting times of consolation, desolation and resistance. It is often as the retreatant sits with resistance that they enter into a deeper knowledge of God and themselves. This is always to be encouraged. Also, if they feel they are struggling through a period of desolation, the review day is an excellent time to go over the Rules of Discernment (# 5-9, p.113-114) that give wisdom in discovering the possible causes of their desolation as well as the courses of action to take during a time of desolation.

Additionally, let the retreatant know it is okay to switch a review day to another day if one has a particularly busy day or something unexpected arises. For example, one day I was all set to do my daily exercises on the train to work. However, the train was delayed so I was forced to drive. I postponed my daily exercise to another day and did my review during my drive to work – less than ideal to be sure, but anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. I was able to fully enter into the daily exercise the next day!

Prayer of Recollection
The following prayer is to be incorporated into your focused prayer time before entering into your daily exercise. It helps to ground you in whose and who you are in Christ – an identity that is true and sure no matter what. This is an important part of your daily experience as you Journey with Jesus and in developing the inner freedom to more fully live into and out of the you God has created you to be.

Prayer of Recollection Definition: The prayer of recollection is a prayer that helps us to separate from our own strength and cling to God – to ultimately find our identity ‘in Christ.’ This prayer opens up our very being to God and prepares us to live more fully into and out of the reality that; God lives within us, that we live, move and have our being in God and that we are in Christ – which has transformed us into a new creation, a-one-of-kind-masterpiece of God. This prayer is divided into three parts.

The first part of the prayer helps us to name and own our limitations as a finite person while also affirming that this is not the end of the story. In part two we recall to our mind, heart and soul who we are in Christ – the truth of who we are. Finally in step three we sit in the truth of God’s love and who we are in Christ.

The three steps of Prayer and Recollection 1. Affirm and Embrace my limitations as a finite person – apart from Christ I can do nothing and God grace is manifested in my weakness. (2 Cor 12:9, John 15:5)

  1. Affirm, Embrace and Celebrate your soul’s TRUE identity as one forgiven, adopted, chosen by God, belonging to God, containing God, and the beloved of God (all of which does not change) – you may need to add to this step the prayer from that gospel Jesus heard and answered, “I believe help me in my unbelief.” Forgiven – Psalm 103:12-13 Adopted – Romans 8:15-17a, Ephesians 1:5, Chosen by God – Ephesians 1:4, John 15:16-17, Colossians 3:12 Belonging to God – Romans 14:7-8, 1 Peter 2:9 Containing God – 1 Corinthians 3:16, Galatians 2:20 Beloved of God – Colossians 3:12, Romans 8:38-39, Ephesians 3:17-19
  2. Be still and soak in the truths that God loves you, is with you, is within you and you are God’s new creation, a-one-of-kind-masterpiece of God created anew and afresh in Christ.

    First Meeting

Before your first meeting, you need to have read through:

  • Getting Started: Preparation for Guides – Listeners – Spiritual Directors
  • Wisdom for Guides – Listeners – Spiritual Directors from St. Ignatius
  • Dialogue Boxes

Additionally, if you are leading a group, please read:

  • Group Sharing
  • Group Covenant

The first meeting is a time to get to know one another and become familiar with the daily rhythm of the Exercises. When you have completed your first meeting (about one hour long) you will have:

• Discerned together if you are a good match for each other.
• Explored if the person actually has time (50 – 75 minutes) each day. If so, then determine the length and type of the journey they are considering (see p. 274) and decide to move forward agreeing on how often will you meet and for how long (I suggest at last twice a month for about one hour).
• Set the date of your next meeting: Schedule the next meeting within two weeks so you can see how it is going and review some of the material they have read through (p. 23-62).
• Spent some time going over pages 23 – 26 in Journey with Jesus. These pages cover the daily rhythm of the Exercises–it is important for the retreatant to have a sense of the flow and pattern of each day.

  • Encourage your retreatant to implement the various elements of the Exercises emphasizing that this will feel artificial at first, but that this is normal. Eventually, the retreatant will develop their own natural flow through these steps.
    • Cautioned them against seeking to do each step perfectly – stress to them that that is not important, but to begin where they are.
    • Encouraged them to make the examen part of their routine twice a day–but also that once a day is better than no times a day.
    • Stressed the importance of baby steps: one day in the exercises is better than no days, one examen is better than no examen.
    • Reinforce to them that this is all new. They can give themselves the freedom to start slow and build, celebrating little success along the way!

    Now, ask your retreatant to do the following before your next meeting:
    • Read pages 23 – 62
    • Start and begin making their way through section 1 of the Preparatory Exercises: God Loves You (p. 63).

    Finally:

  • Summarize the importance of the Preparatory Exercises (p.57-60) for their present and continuing journey through the Exercises.
  • Explain the concept of Consolation and Desolation to the retreatant (p. 59).
  • Review with them the role of the ‘optional exercises’ (p. 52) stressing the freedom they havenot to do them.

I normally pray at the beginning and end of a session. I also combine some silence at the beginning of our time together so that we each have the opportunity to still some of the internal noise we carry.

Second Meeting and Beyond: The Preparatory Exercises – God Loves You

Preparatory Exercises Part 1: A template for your meetings through the ‘God Loves You’ portion of the Preparatory Exercises (p. 63-77).

The journey with Jesus now begins in earnest. It is important for you, as the guide, to prepare yourself for each meeting and to keep in mind that you play a major role in creating the internal and external space that helps the retreatant (group) open up to God and themselves during your time together and beyond. It is important that you are ‘prayed up,’ as they say in the south, and that your heart is in a place of rest and surrender to whatever degree possible.

Please read through the following in preparation for your meetings.

As you journey with your retreatant (group) during their time in part one of the preparatory exercises, it is important to keep in mind the following potential pitfalls. The first and foremost pitfall for this section and all the sections to come is expectations – expectations that this will be a smooth journey and expectations that each day will be a time of great felt connection with God. Both of these expectations need to be dispelled sooner rather than later.The difficulties experienced during this time can come as a huge shock, especially given that the focus of this section is God’s love. As people enter into this section, many think it will be a glorious walk in the park. But they soon find out that they have not truly internalized the love of God – this can be a bit disconcerting to say the least.

Also, as you begin this journey please endeavor to not give the impression that people are to march through the materials, nor that the goal is to finish them. The materials are not designed to get through, but are a place to encounter God and self. It is important to encourage those making their way through the Exercises to camp where they experience internal movement. This movement may take the form of resistance, peace, invitation, challenge, joy, sorrow…. In order to help facilitate this awareness, there are no dates and no days of the week associated with exercises presented in the book (this is good to point out from time to time). The tendency of those making this journey is to complete the daily exercise and move on. But the goal is for them to open themselves up to God through the exercises and have the freedom to camp in a particular exercise if that is where they sense internal movement. When people make comments like, “I am behind,” your response can be that it is impossible for that to be true. How can you be behind? There are no dates! You cannot be behind!

There are common struggles that retreatants often experience along the way. It is extremely helpful for you, as the guide, to have an idea of what these struggles might be. To do so, you can read over the Dialogue Boxes found in the particular section through which your retreatants may be going.

Be aware of tendencies of the retreatants to Self–Condemnation, Perfectionism, Discouragement, Unrealistic Expectations and Guilt (see link)

During this meeting and the subsequent meetings in this section of the Preparatory Exercises, your goals are as follows:

  • Help the retreatant to explore and unpack their experience in the Exercises. If appropriate, use the suggested questions (p. 282-285) to help your retreatant to explore their experience.
  • Discuss with them the use of the slow down, examen and experience during prayer times (What is difficult? What is easy? And what has been happening in terms of feelings, self and God?).
  • Offer suggestions, if needed, regarding slow down, incorporating the prayer of examen in one’s life twice a day, staying with a certain passage, repeating a number of the exercises, time spent in prayer….
  • Discern if you need to begin sharing/reviewing the rules of discernment.
  • Celebrate successes big and small – this is vitally important!
  • Be sensitive to any tendency of the retreatant towards self-condemnation, perfectionism, discouragement and unrealistic expectations. These are a few of the tendencies I have dealt with over the years and have found that God often uses the Spiritual Exercises to surface these very things so they can be dealt with (not cured necessarily, but dealt with). For information for helping the retreatant deal with these, go to the link entitled: Discouragement, Unrealistic Expectations, Perfectionism and Shame.

Assignments for Retreatant:

  • Continue on with the Exercises.
  • Encourage them to pay special attention to those areas with which they may be having difficulty: the slow down, the examen, spending the allotted time, journaling (you may want to refer them to the section in Journey with Jesus that gives information about the area with which they are struggling).
  • Encourage the retreatant to scan through “Tips on How to Approach the Exercises” that provide tips that help to make their experience in the Exercises fuller and richer (p. 44-53).
  • Encourage the retreatant* to use one of their review days to:

– read through the glossary (p. 300)

– read the brief biography of Ignatius (p. 263)

* this would also be good for you to do as well

The above will basically be the format for all the times you get together with your retreatant. There will be some changes in terms of questions and struggles that commonly arise based on the different sections (Weeks) of Journey with Jesus. These will be presented in the appropriate sections on this website. So, make sure you read the appropriate sections before you meet with your retreatant.

Additional Week on God‘s Love

Additional Week of Exercises for
God Loves You

The grace you are seeking is a deeper awareness of God’s love for you.

Examen Questions

When and how did I experience God’s love for me today?

How did my awareness of God’s love for me affect the way I interacted

with others, my circumstances and myself today?

Process

  • Opening Closing
  • Daily exercise
  • Journaling
  • Noontime examen
  • Evening examen


Day 1.
 Read the 3 parables contained in Luke 15:1-32 paying special attention to what each one reveals about the kind of love God has for you. Take time to write out the characteristics of God’s love for you. Now take time to slowly ponder all that you have discovered regarding God’s love. What feelings does this stir within you? How does this make you feel toward God/Jesus? Spend time sharing your heart with God and savoring God’s love for you.


Day 2.
 Read through Psalm 23 reflecting on the variety of ways this Psalm speaks of God’s love for you, care of you and presence with you. What are the explicit and implicit promises of God toward you contained in this Psalm? What promises are you most drawn toward? Why? What feelings arise within you regarding the caring involvement of your Shepherd in your life. Write a letter to God expressing your feelings.

Day 3. Sit with the words of Isaiah 49:15. What is this verse communicating concerning God’s love for you, concern for you and mindfulness of you? Take time to soak in the message of this passage not seeking to understand it but rather opening up your heart to this precious picture of God’s love for you. As you soak in the words and imagery of this passage what feelings arise within you? Give yourself permission to creatively express yourself to God – singing, praising, dancing, drawing, gestures… – using your body to express what words are not able to convey.

Day 4. Review the past three days

In the past three days, which passages were you drawn to or resistant

toward? Why?

How are these passages shaping your image of God and your sense

of God’s love?

How has your awareness of God’s love been changing?

You may want to use one of the optional blanket exercises today (see p. 61 in Journey with Jesus).


Day 5.
 Nothing can Separate You From God’s Love

Romans 8:38-39

Take some time to prayerfully consider what are the things in your life that hinder your ability to fully embrace God’s unconditional love for you. Write those things that surface down on a piece of paper. When you are done turn to Romans 8:38-39. Now using these two verses as a template re-write the passage substituting those things you replace with you] have written down in place of what Paul has enumerated as things that are not able to separate us from God’s love.

e.g. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, things present or things to come…nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us (me) from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You replace the italicized words with your own words. When you are finished read your passage to Jesus. What feelings arise within you? What is Jesus’ reaction to your personalized passage of scripture? It may be helpful at this point to add the following words to the end of your passage – “I believe, help me in my unbelief.” Prayerfully read your passage at the beginning and end of your day for the next week.

Day 6. Song of Songs Reading (1:15, 2:10 (b), 11-14, 4:1,2 (a), 7-8 (a), 9 (NAS))

Read the following passages as if God was speaking them just to you. What phrases drawn you, speak to you, birth feelings of belonging, being cherished, loved, adored within your heart? What phrases in the passage are you resistant to, have difficulty embracing, feel as they cannot possible describe how God feels about you, toward you? Share your feelings with God.

How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are like doves.”

‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,

And come along.

‘For behold, the winter is past,

The rain is over and gone.

‘The flowers have already appeared in the land;

The time has arrived for pruning the vines,

And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.

‘The fig tree has ripened its figs,

And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.

Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,

And come along!’”

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your form,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your form is lovely.”

You are altogether beautiful, my darling,

And there is no blemish in you.

Come with me

“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;

You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes,

With a single strand of your necklace.

“ How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!

How much better is your love than wine,

And the fragrance of your oils

Than all kinds of spices!


Day 7.
 Review the past week

Which passages were you drawn to or resistant

toward? Why?

How are these passages shaping your image of God and your sense

of God’s love?

How has your awareness of God’s love been changing?

You may want to use one of the optional blanket exercises today (see p. 61 in Journey with Jesus).

Unrealistic Expectations, Discouragement, Perfectionism, Guilt and Shame

Discouragement, Unrealistic Expectations, Perfectionism, Guilt, Shame and Self–Condemnation

As people journey through the Spiritual Exercises, there are a number of recurring issues that tend to arise and have the potential of derailing the retreatant along the way. I would say those listed below are among the most common and the most devastating. As the guide, it is important for you to keep your eyes open for these insidious purveyors of mayhem and be prepared to offer aid and assistance to the retreatant. Also, know this: these will not go quietly into the night, but will continue to plague the retreatant. However, as you name these realities they cease to be an unknown and unseen enemy. The retreatant will be able to see, name and deal with them, which will loosen the power and hold of these issues in the experience of the retreatant. Also, as you see growth, even small growth, in your retreatants’ particular area of struggle, make sure you name and celebrate that!

Discouragement and unrealistic expectations often go hand in hand. Many people begin this journey with a wide variety of expectations concerning their own faithfulness to the daily prayer time and their experience of God during those prayer times. A number of people think the that regiment set out in the spiritual exercises will help them to become a disciplined person, even though, prior to this they were not disciplined. This can quickly lead to discouragement and the desire to stop. They view their lack of discipline as failure. But this is not failure; it is reality, a reality God will use to continue to mold and shape the person into Christ-likeness. I would remind them of baby steps (p.48) and encourage them to celebrate the steps they are taking and seek to build from there.

Another source of discouragement is birthed by an expectation that when they spend their time in prayer each day it will be a glorious time of blessing and revelation. This can be especially acute in the first part of the preparatory exercises when the focus is on God’s love. The thought is, “Since I am focusing on God’s love, I will begin to feel God’s love in an ever deepening and more profound way.” One reality that can emerge at this time is the retreatant realization that they do not really even know God’s love internally and this can be extremely discouraging. Once again, you are to come alongside and encourage them on their journey, possibly encouraging them to do optional exercises. More importantly, this is the beginning point of their journey and this is a quite common experience for people at this juncture. Sometimes knowing something is ‘normal’ and expected can bring a level of comfort.

Above, we said that often people will have the expectation that their time with God will always be glorious and filled with blessing and revelation, which will not happen. If you remember, the section entitled Wisdom for Guides, number 3 (see website) told you that prayer time will not always be times of consolation, but there will be an undulating reality to their prayer times. In fact, you were warned that if this ebb and flow is not happening then something is wrong. Once again, it is good to name this for the retreatant. A subtle twist on this is the belief, consciously or unconsciously held, that if I do my part, God is obligated to give me some kind of felt spiritual blessing. This is an erroneous belief that transforms God into a spiritual vending machine. You need to stress that everything we receive from God is a gift, a result of God’s grace unearned by us. The daily prayer times are a means of presenting ourselves to God, not a way of getting something from God. Be alert to the appearance of discouragement in your directee and work within them to discern what may be the cause, so you can deal with it in the best way possible.

Another deadly trap that seems to ensnare retreatants is perfectionism. The spiritual exercises do not create this tendency, but do often bring a retreatant’s perfectionistictendencies to the forefront. This is usually manifested in their need (more than a mere desire) to do the exercises the “right” way. They often ask many questions about a certain prayer practice, the best way to do a slow down, what each examen needs to look like, how long to spend journaling, sitting in silence… They are driven to perform in an acceptable manner; and when they believe they have missed it, they begin to heap self-condemnation upon themselves that often leads to feelings of shame and self-loathing. Although perfectionism is powerfully enslaving, the fact is, since it is so easily seen in this context, it affords you and the retreatant a perfect opportunity to deal with this powerful nemesis. One way I deal with this is using a breath prayer, which I write about below in the self-condemnation section. I have found this to be a very powerful tool in this battle. It provides a means of taking these internal thoughts captive to Christ and replacing them with a powerful God-truth. The other way I deal with perfectionism is through the use of the review days. I instruct them to do nothing on those days. Now, they know they are supposed to review on review days, so this instruction causes some internal unrest. But if they can actually heed my instruction, it begins to loosen their sense of what the ‘right’ way to do the exercises might be. They can begin to learn something about grace. Eventually, as I get to know them, I may encourage them to paint on those days, to play volleyball, take a walk, go to a coffee shop, I choose something they like, something they enjoy to help them begin to see that this journey is not all about duty and the need to do the ‘right’ thing in the ‘right’ way. It is about presenting ourselves to God, just as we are in whatever we may be doing. Finally, I remind them of one of my favorite quotes: “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” This confounds and gives them something to think about that is very contrary to the way they view and do life. You will pick up on the perfectionism of your retreatant pretty quickly. When you do, name it and gently begin to help them name, own, and begin to deal with it. The insidious nature of perfectionism is that they will seek to deal with their perfectionism in the “right” way.It is a battle, but one in which I have seen great victories achieved in over the years.

The next two foes with which many reteatants do battle are guilt and self-condemnation. I do not think this comes as much of a surprise for we tend to be gracious to others, but are often quick to judge ourselves. We are patient with others but impatient with ourselves when we are struggling or not growing as we think we should (unrealistic expectations). So, let us take a moment to look at guilt and self-condemnation.

Many retreatants feel guilty when they miss a day or two in the Exercises. But these feelings are neither helpful nor valid. What I tell retreatants who are feeling guilty is this: Imagine that one of your friends came to visit you unannounced but you were not home at the time. What would you feel? Would you feel guilty? Or would you feel sad and disappointed that you were not at home when your friend came since you would have loved to see them? This feeling of having missed an opportunity to be with Jesus and listen to Jesus is what I want you to replace feelings of guilt. When you realize you missed an opportunity to visit with Jesus, think to yourself, “Oh, it would have been so nice to have spent time with Jesus this morning.” As people exchange their feelings of guilt with this fresh new feeling of having missed out on seeing Jesus, it will help them to reconnect with Jesus in the now of their life, during the examens that day, and will set them up for meeting with Jesus in the prayer time the following day. When we feel guilt, we tend to hide just like Adam and Eve. When we miss someone, we are drawn to that other person.

Finally, we arrive at shame. Shame is akin to guilt, but is a deeper, more pervasive and damaging emotion. Whereas guilt says, “I did something wrong,” shame says’ “I am bad,” “I am worthiness” and statements along those lines. This shame turns into a voice of self-condemnation. There are many things that can surface this voice of self-condemnation(unrealistic expectations, perfectionism…) and feelings of shame. I don’t have space to unpack all that could be said. But I will share with you how I begin to deal with self-condemnation when it arises within my retreatants. What I am about to share is simple, but it is not simplistic.

I use what is called a ‘breath prayer’ (p. 116). The breath prayer I encourage them to employ is taken from Romans 8:1 “there is no condemnation is Christ.” The retreatant is instructed to make use of this breath prayer whenever they sense feelings of self-condemnation arising within them. The breath prayer is not a one-time cure, but a weapon in their ongoing battle with self -condemnation. It is a means of taking those thoughts/feelings captive to Christ. I have seen this simple prayer profoundly change the lives of retreatants. It has brought them to greater levels of freedom and given them the ability to own God’s love and their worth in Christ.

As a guide, it is important to be alert, watching for telltale signs of any of the above mindsets or tendencies in your retreatant. When you notice them, it is vital that you see this as an invitation to gently begin to help the retreatant to name and deal with them. As they do this, it is important to stress that this is not an enemy that is fought and beaten with one battle. Rather, this battle will continue. Also, I tell them that as this battle rages on, they may feel that they are not progressing. This is a lie, however, for to fight this battle is to make progress in the battle, no matter what their feelings may be saying. That is why it is vitally important for you to celebrate their victories–big or small.

Prayer of Examen TIPS

The five steps involved in the Prayer of Examen are found on page 30 of the book.

There are some retreatants who get stuck on step 2 which reads: Ask God to reveal your sins to you.

These retreatants often feel that this step is asking them to come up with a laundry list of sins but this is NOT the case. The key is to ask God to reveal your sins to you. The retreatant is asking God to show them if there is something to which they need to pay special attention. This step involves coming before God and asking God if there is any hurtful way in them (Ps 139:23-24). Often times God will choose not to reveal anything to the retreatant during this step.

Other retreatants struggle to remember all the steps. I encourage these individuals to continue to work on incorporating all five steps. But if they are not able to remember all five on a given day, I encourage them to do these two steps:

1. Take time to thank God for what you have received this day (abbreviated step 1)

  1. Use your examine questions to help you reflect your day. (Step 3)

These two steps are critical. And though the others are important too, doing these two steps is much better than doing nothing at all. In fact, it will help to create an internal spiritual sensitivity to the movements and invitations of God, while fostering a greater awareness of God’s love, grace and presence.

End of Section One: God Loves You – The Discernment Process 

End of Section One of the Preparatory Exercises: The Discernment Process

Before you meet with your retreatant, read pages 76 -77.

Staying or Moving On
Make sure you work with your retreatant (group*) through the discernment process provided at the end of this section. Remember to stress that the exercises are not about completion, but rather tools for opening oneself up to God. It is very important, before a person moves on, to have internally embraced God’s love and own their identity as the beloved of God.

Before discerning with you if it is time to move on or stay in a particular section, each individual needs to have worked through the material on their own. If the retreatant decides to remain in a particular section, they do not need to go back through all the entire section–though they can if they want. Give them the freedom to revisit those exercises to which they may have felt resistance or where unable to enter into. If the person goes back through a section whether in part or in its entirety, they will need to revisit the discernment section again before moving on. I have had individuals spend 3 months going through this section of the Preparatory Exercises as they sought to internalized God’s love – it was a life-changing experience for them. Remind yourself and your retreatant the goal is NOT to get through this material but to use it as a means to open themselves up to God.

If the retreatant decides to move on, have them read pages 78-82 before they begin this section.

*group: it is important to allow each person in the group to move or not move to the next section as they sense God’s leading. To this end, it is important for you as the leader to create an atmosphere where each person feels the freedom to discern apart from pressure to conform to unspoken or spoken expectations of the group or themselves. The tendency is for a group to move or stay as a group; but that is not important. In fact, I have done this both ways and found that it is very powerful for people to be at different junctures within a group. Doing this affirms the individuality of each person and their journey and creates a sense of freedom and grace within the group. This can lead to a deeper level of sharing and openness to God and one another.

This process will become a little more involved as you make your way through the Exercises.

The Preparatory Exercises: Principle and Foundation

Preparatory Exercises: Principle and Foundation

As your retreatant moves into this new section called the ‘Principle and Foundation,’ some things will change while others remain the same. The daily rhythm does not change. There is prayer time with all its components (slow down, reflection time using lectio divina, journaling…) and the noon time and evening examen. What changes is the focus of each of the weeks. As the retreatant journeys through this section they will have a total of five different focuses (creation, praise, reverence, service and indifference). Make sure you read pages 79-82 before you meet with your retreatant.

Also during the first week, the retreatant will be asked to make use of their senses (section1), take a walk (section 2) and be invited to use bubbles (section 2) as a prayer practice.This section is 5 weeks and concludes with a very critical focus in section 5 on indifference.This is an important concept for your retreatant to know and understand before moving on to Week 1 of the exercises. Another difference in this section is that the examen questions will change each week depending on the focus.

Remember to look through the dialogue boxes (see website or in book) that pertain to the preparatory sections.


During
 this meeting and the subsequent meetings in this section of the Preparatory Exercises, your goals are as follows:

  • Help the retreatant to explore and unpack their experience in the Exercises. If appropriate, use the suggested questions (p. 282-285) to help your retreatant to explore his/her experience.
  • Spend some time exploring their experiences of using their senses which they do during the first week of this section.
  • Spend time with the retreatant exploring with them their understanding of indifference before they move on to Week 1. This is an important ingredient in the Spiritual Exercises and will be built upon indirectly throughout the Exercises.
  • Discuss with them the use of the slow down, examen and experience during prayer times (what is difficult, what is easy and what has been happening in terms of feelings, self and God). Remind them that the examen questions change each time they begin a new section.
  • Offer suggestions, if needed, regarding slow down, incorporating the prayer of examen in one’s life twice a day, staying with a certain passage, repeating a number of the exercises, amount of time spent in prayer….
  • If you have not done so, begin sharing/reviewing the rules of discernment. Suggest that they use a review day to go through and explore the rules of discernment (pages 109 – 115) paying special attention to the contents of pages 112-115.
  • Celebrate successes big and small – this is vitally important!
  • Continue to be sensitive to any tendency of the retreatant towards self-condemnation, perfectionism, discouragement and unrealistic expectations. For information for helping the retreatant deal with these go to the link entitled: Discouragement, Unrealistic Expectations, Perfectionism and Shame.

The above will be the format for all the times you get together with your retreatant during the second section of the preparatory exercises. Always make sure you read the appropriate sections before you meet with your retreatant.

Additional Week on Indifference
Additional Week of Exercises on Indifference

The grace you are seeking is the ability to identify those areas and desires in your life that hinder you from freely being able to choose God’s purpose for you (praise, honor, service of God).

Examen Questions
Look back over your day, seeking to identify the areas and desires that made it difficult for you to say yes to God. What were they?

What is the source of their power over you?
Share your insights with God, asking for God’s help and wisdom.

Process
•     Opening Closing
•     Daily exercise
•     Journaling
•     Noontime examen
•     Evening examen

Day 1. Jesus’ Example

Phil 2:5-8 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
•     Mt: 8:20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
•     John 4:34″My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me.
•     John 5:30 …for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
•     John 5:41 “I do not accept praise from men…” (cf. John 12:43 speaking of the Pharisees; “for they love the praise of men more than the praise of God”)
•     Mt 26:38 …Yet not as I will but as you (God) wills.

Spend some time pondering the scope and level of Jesus’ attachment to things, to independence, to comfort, to suffering, to the praise, acceptance or criticism of others? What gave Jesus the ability to be indifferent? What was his focus? Spend some time with Jesus sharing with him your struggles to be indifferent.

Day 2. Imagine yourself coming before Jesus as the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16ff). After some initial interaction you say to Jesus, “What else must I do?” Jesus looks deep within your heart and says, “I want you to….”. Sit before Jesus and listen for His words of direction and guidance. Ask Jesus to help you discover the underlining, core desire of your attachment.

Day 3. It is not what we own that we must discard, but that which owns us. Look at your life: your use of time, resources, your relationships, your daily life and ask yourself some hard questions:
•     What consumes my thoughts and plans?
•     What holds my allegiance?
•     Who or what tells me who I am?
•     What gives me security and comfort?
•     What makes me feel whole and complete?
•     Who/What meets my deepest needs?

Ask God to show you what need you are seeking to meet through each of these.
Ask God what He is asking you to do with each. Write each answer down. Write a prayer of commitment and love to God.

Day 4.
 Below is a list of a number of areas people often need to explore in terms of unhealthy attachments (things people ‘need’ to be happy). Slowly mull over the list, asking God to reveal to you areas where you may need to apply the discipline of detachment. How do each of these become destructive desires that lead you away from God rather than to God?
•     The need to be in control
•     The need to be right
•     The need to be liked
•     The need to rescue/help/serve others
•     The need to be understood and appreciated
•     The need to be perfect – to do it right
•     The need to be comfortable
•     The need to be healthy
•     The need to be esteemed/thought well of by others
•     The need to be happy
•     The need to be pain free
•     The need for financial security (now and in the future)

What is the core desire (attention, affection, control, security, belonging, significance, power) you are seeking to fulfill with these finite sources? Ask God to help you explore these core desires and then release them to God. Turning to God as the sole source of your happiness.

Day 5.
 Read the following passages which express Paul’s attitude toward life and the circumstances life brings.

2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Phil 1:21-24 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

How do the attitudes of Paul expressed in the above passages enable him to be free to say yes to God and empower him to “do all things through Christ who strengthens him?” As you read the above passages which ones are you drawn to? Why? Which ones are you resistant toward? Why? What feelings do these passages surface within you? Try your hand at writing a prayer that expresses the level of your indifference, your commitment to saying yes to God, your valuing of God above all things. When you are done share your prayer with God.

Day 6. Read through the 4 prayers listed below. What aspects of the prayers are you drawn to? Why? Which aspects of the prayers are you resistant toward? Why? Which one of the prayers most expresses your heart? Which one of the prayers is hardest for you to honestly prayer? Why? What feelings arise within you as you prayer these prayers. Share your feelings with God.

O Lord, Our God, Give me the grace to desire you with my whole heart, so that desiring you I may seek and find you, and finding you I may love you, and loving you I may hate those things which have separated me from you.
St Anselm

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will – all is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.                                           St Ignatius

I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

Prayer for detachment

I beg of you, my Lord,
to remove anything which separates
me from you, and you from me.

Remove anything that stands in the way of
my seeing you, hearing, tasting , savoring, and touching you;
reverencing and being mindful of you;
knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you;
being conscious of your presence
and, as far as is possible, enjoying you.

This is what I ask for myself
and earnestly desire from you. Amen.

Based on a prayer of Peter Faber SJ (1506-46)

Day 7. Review this past week
Which verses really challenged you? Why?

Around which verses did you feel some resistance? Why?

What have you discovered that you seek after as a source or sources of your happiness other than God? Ask God for help in growing in your love for God, trust of God and belief that God does love you.

What have you discovered regarding the link between indifference
and freedom to say yes to God?

What have you learned about inordinate attachment and enslavement
to the world? To self?

What might it mean for you to “seek first the kingdom of God”?

Additional
Possible lyrics to ponder: Be Thou My Vision, Turn Your Eye Upon Jesus
What words/phrases are you drawn to, resistant to? What might be the invitation/challenge of those lyrics for you?

Principle and Foundation (something for the day)

Encourage the retreatant to choose something from their morning time (a word, phrase, image, insight…) to take with them. This practice is known as the nosegay. This prayer practice dates back to the black plague era when individuals would carry flowers in their pockets so that when the stench of death would overwhelm them they could pull out their flowers and revive their senses. Likewise the retreatant carries something with them from their time in the daily exercise so when the stench of the world overwhelms them they can take out their chosen spiritual bouquet and breathe in the wondrous fragrance of God’s truth.

This practice will continue through the first three weeks of their time in the Principle and Foundation and will be picked up again during Week 2.

Ignatius Prayer (struggles) – Section 4 of Principle and Foundation

The Prayer of St Ignatius found during the Principle and Foundation (Section 4 of 5: Service – it appears there 3 times) can be particularly difficult for those who have escaped from a history of spiritually abusive teaching where the Christian was to be a human doormat. This prayer of Ignatius could easily be seen as promoting this errant theology.

Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest;

to give, and not to count the cost,

to fight, and not to heed the wounds,

to toil, and not to seek for rest,

to labor, and not to ask for any reward,

save that of knowing that we do thy will.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola

However that is not the case. The key phrase is in the last phrase of the prayer; ‘save that of knowing that we do thy will.’ This phrase is saying that we enter into the above realities only as God leads and not as a means of seeking to earn something from God or demonstrating to God how committed we are. The prayer is also not promoting being a doormat for others, but rather is communicating a willingness to say yes to God no matter the cost as God leads the individual. This is a huge difference that needs to be articulated to the reteatant.

So, as the Spiritual Director/Guide, beware that this prayer might be seen by the retreatant as an invitation to surrender oneself on the altar of works and self-mutilation and that is NOT the intention of this prayer.

End of Section Two: Principle and Foundation – The Discernment Process 

Before you meet with your retreatant for the discernment phase of this section, please prayerfully read pages 98-100 with your retreatant in mind.

Staying or Moving On
Make sure you work through the discernment process with your retreatant (group*) provided at the end of this section. Encourage them to take their time considering where they see themselves on the continuums (p.99) and the questions that proceed and follow those continuums. It is very important that the person has been prepared and readied for this new section. Remember to stress that the exercises are not about completion, but rather tools for opening oneself up to God. It is very important, before a person moves on, to have internally embraced God’s love and own their identity as the beloved of God.

Before discerning with you if it is time to move on or stay in a particular section, each individual needs to have worked through the material on their own. If the retreatant decides to remain in a particular section, they do not need to go back through all the entire section–though they can if they want. Give them the freedom to revisit those exercises to which they may have felt resistance or where unable to enter into. If the person goes back through a section whether in part or in its entirety, they will need to revisit the discernment section again before moving on. I have had individuals spend a couple additional weeks going through the section on indifference before moving on. This extra time is time well spent because the concept of indifference is a foundational piece of the Spiritual Exercises.Remind yourself and your retreatant the goal is NOT to get through this material but to use it as a means to open themselves up to God.

If the retreatant decides to move on have them read pages 103-117 before they begin the new section. It would be helpful for you to have read this section before you meet with the retreatant regarding their discernment of whether they will stay or move on. If they move on, you can give them some pointers and cautions regarding this new section before they begin (see below).

If your retreatant is choosing to move on, it is vitally important for you to explain to the retreatant that the title of this section is ‘Sin, Me and God’s Love’ and the focus is on both sin and God’s love. It is very possible to get into a downward spiral in this section (just like what happened to Ignatius) and this is NOT the goal. But if this happens, instruct them to stop going through the daily exercises in this section until you both meet again. During the time leading up to your meeting, have the retreatant revisit some exercises in the ‘God loves you’ section. I have seen this happen on a number of occasions. However, it usually lessens when time is spent meditating on God’s love.

The grace that the retreatant is asking for in Week 1 is the ability to experience sorrow, tears and confusion over their choices to sin in light of God’s limitless love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. This dual focus can be difficult to maintain. Remind the retreatant that whatever they may feel is a gift from God it is not earned or acquired by trying harder. Additionally, let them know that the gift of tears is very rare and most never experience it–and that is okay.

Finally, reemphasize to the retreatant that this can be an emotionally difficult section because of what they may feel or sometimes because of what they do not feel. Encourage them to be very self-aware. If they feel themselves slipping toward despair and/or hopelessness, they are to STOP doing these exercises until they can meet with you and go back to some of the exercises in the God loves you section and spend their prayer time there.

*group: it is important to allow each person in the group to move or not move to the next section as they sense God’s leading. To this end, it is important for you as the leader to create an atmosphere where each person feels the freedom to discern apart from pressure to conform to unspoken or spoken expectations of the group or themselves. The tendency is for a group to move or stay as a group; but that is not important. In fact, I have done this both ways and found that it is very powerful for people to be at different junctures within a group. Doing this affirms the individuality of each person and their journey and creates a sense of freedom and grace within the group. This can lead to a deeper level of sharing and openness to God and one another.

Week 1: Personal Prep for Spiritual Guide/Director

It is important for you, as the spiritual director/companion, to prepare yourself for entry into Week 1. This can be a difficult section of the Exercises for your retreatant because of the focus–sin–and the additional variety of components to the daily experience.

Please take the time to:

  • Read pages 103 – 117, spending additional time familiarizing yourself with the rules of discernment.
  • Read through the exercises for Week 1 paying attention to the dialogue boxes.
  • Get acquainted with the Jesus prayer: a powerful tool that can be used throughout the rest of the Exercises (p. 116-117). Make a note of the additional exercises at the end of this section (p. 140-142 ). These exercises can be used to help those who are being overwhelmed with the reality of their own sin and who are struggling to own God’s love for them. (Also, if they are having difficulties embracing God’s love, it may be helpful to have them go back to the preparatory exercises for a while which focus on God’s love.)
  • Have the retreatant(s) read pages 103 – 117 before you meet together in preparation for Week 1.

Again, this section of the Exercises can be perilous and unsettling at times. Seek to get a sense of the internal state of your retreatant as they make their way through Week 1. If they are struggling, do not rush in to rescue them; but do not let them drown in a sea of despair either. You will need wisdom and insight. If you sense they are spiraling downward, have them step out of this week and enter into the Exercises at the end of this section (p. 140-142) or go back to the first preparatory section (p. 63ff) dealing with God’s love until your next meeting.

Week 1: Sin, Me and God‘s Love (beginning)

Meeting before retreatant enters Week 1

Share with the retreatant:

  • Rules of discernment: Take time to explain the role of desolation as possibly being a positive and not always a negative reality (see rule 9, page 114). This is an important concept for them to begin to understand.
  • Question the retreatant regarding how they tend to be attacked (see rule 12-14, p. 114-115).
  • New Examen questions for this section (same for entire week). Remember to do the Examen twice a day.
  • Confession: this is optional but can be very powerful. If they decide to use this option, encourage them to choose someone who is spiritually mature, trustworthy and grace giving.
  • Colloquy: help the retreatant to see this as a conversation and not formalized prayer. If their style of prayer is already conversational then this will not be an issue.
  • The Grace you are seeking: the ability to experience sorrow, tears and confusion over your choices to sin in light of God’s limitless love, grace, mercy and faithfulness. The tears asked for in this grace do not come very often to those going through the Exercises.There are a number of reasons for this including personality, theological upbringing and emotional make-up. Regardless, the presence of tears is always a gift from God and should not be used as a way to measure one’s experience in Week 1 either positively or negatively.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you journey through Week 1, especially feelings of self-condemnation and guilt leading to despair rather than to God. If that happens, stop going through the Week 1 Exercises and continue through the exercises beginning on page 140 until we meet.
  • Lord’s Prayer: this is to be prayed slowly and thoughtfully, lingering with, and noticing–willing to stop and reflect as God prompts. The goal is not to finish this prayer but open up one’s heart to God through this prayer. I encourage the retreatant to pray this prayer slowly and then, when they think they are praying slowly to slow down a little more.
  • Anima Christi: pray this prayer in the same manner stated above for the Lord’s Prayer
  • Discuss the Jesus Prayer (p. 116-117) and use of breath prayers.
  • Briefly talk through suggestions for prayer (p. 108).

REMINDERS to share with retreatants:

This officially begins our journey into ‘the Weeks,’ the 4 major sections that comprise the Exercises.This can be a perilous and unsettling time as well as a profoundly transformative time. You will be invited to look at sin not only as a reality outside yourself, but also you will be instructed to look at your own sin. The goal is that you will be able to hold in tension your own sin, seeing it for what it is, and at the same time see God’s forgiving love. The hope is that you will come to know the depth and breadth of forgiveness, begin to grasp the height, depth, width and breadth of God’s love and in turn, live into the truism ‘that those who are forgiven much, love much.’ This can be a very difficult section of the Exercises so be aware.

The additions for this section can feel a bit overwhelming. Assist the retreatant by reminding them of the additions through Week 1 so that they have the freedom to not memorize them themselves. It is helpful to name this reality and remind the retreatant of the concept of baby steps (p. 47) and celebrating growth.

Resistance is a gift from God, a doorway to divine and self-discovery. Do not ignore it or push through it but explore it, seeking to determine what is giving birth to your resistance.

The grace for this week is the ability to experience sorrow, tears and confusion over your choices to sin in light of God’s limitless love, grace, mercy and faithfulness. The experience of tears is rare. The goal is really entering into a sorrow for your sin (as you are able). Many seem to experience the inability to feel sorrow for their sins to the point of tears. Remind the retreatant that this is not a matter of trying harder but of asking God for this gift and then letting go (indifference). This can be a very difficult place (heartfelt sorrow for sins), for if you have been a Christian your whole life, you have always known God’s grace and forgiveness. So, enter into these exercises as you can (not as you can’t) trusting God and the process. There is also a tendency for those going through this section to jump too quickly to forgiveness and not feel the weight of personal sin and global sin. Please seek to be open to the weight of your sin and its consequences for this will lead to godly sorrow and eventually take you back to the foot of the cross.

If you sense yourself spiraling downward, step out of this week and enter into the exercises at the end of this section (p. 140 – 142). Or, go back to the first preparatory section (p.63) dealing with God’s love until our next meeting.

Do not try and force something to happen. Enter this section as you are able, trusting God and trusting the process.

Week 1: Ongoing Journey
Ongoing Journey Through Week 1

 

  • As the spiritual director or guide, continue to be aware of the inner state of the retreatant, especially in terms of their ability to hold the twin realities of their own sin and God’s love and forgiveness. Explore with your retreatant which side of this equation (their sin/God’s forgiveness) they tend towards and why.
  • Explore with them what their experience during the daily exercises is like in terms of desolation and consolation. If they are going through an extended time of desolation, review with them Rules of Discernment (# 5-9, p. 113-114.) Spend time helping the retreatant discover what the causes of their desolation might be and coming up with a plan of action.
  • Discuss with the retreatant any areas of resistance they may be encountering and explore what may be birthing these feelings.
  • Explore how the Prayer of Examen is going for them.
  • Be sure to continue to celebrate with your retreatant small and larger areas of growth.
  • If you become aware of the retreatant’s struggle with maintaining the balance between their sin and God’s forgiveness and they are becoming overwhelmed by their own sin, instruct them to take a break from the Week 1 exercises and spend some time working through the exercises at the end of this section (p.140-142). Or, they can always re-visit some of the preparatory exercises focusing on God’s love (p. 63). If you sense the struggle is not that intense, have the retreatant use some of the exercises focusing on God’s love from the preparatory section on one or both of their review days until you meet again. Be discerning in this. The goal is NOT to rescue them from difficulty but to guard their soul from harm.

Week 1: Moving to Week 2 Discernment Process

As your retreatant(s) make their way to the end of Week 1, it is time for you to help them work through the discernment potion of this section (p. 137-140). The vast majority of those who enter these Exercises do continue into Week 2. This discernment time gives you the opportunity to name and celebrate areas of growth your retreatant has experienced over the last few weeks. This time affords you the opportunity to evaluate where your retreatant is along the continuums and also how they see themselves. This is always helpful.

If the person reaches the end of Week 1 doubting God’s love, you can suggest they go through the exercises starting on page 140 and then re-visit this discernment section.If they are deeply struggling, I would encourage them to work through the initial preparatory exercises (p.63-75). They do not need to do all 3 weeks of these exercises but can pick and choose. When they are finished, they need to re-visit the discernment section at the end of Week 1 (p.137-139)

If you both get to the place where it feels like it is time to move on, encourage your retreatant(s) to read pages 143 – 154 and through Mark 1-10 before entering the exercises for Week 2. Briefly go over the new addition of bowing (p. 147), the three cautions (p. 149 – 150) and the use of imaginative prayer (p. 36- 40). Imaginative prayer will be the prayer means used for interacting with the text during the 15 weeks that comprise Week 2.

In the website section entitled ‘Beginning Week 2’ we will explore further what you are to do for that first full meeting with your retreatant(s).

Week 2: Personal Prep for Spiritual Director/Guide

It is important for you, as the spiritual director/companion, to prepare yourself for entry into Week 2. This is the section of the Exercises that begins the retreatant’s journey with Jesus through the gospels. This can be a time of high expectations on the part of the retreatant – expectations which can open the door to desolation and disillusionment. Be alert as your guide your retreatant during the 15 sections that comprise Week 2. It is during Week 2 that many retreatants begin to get sidetracked during their daily exercises. The temptations of the evil spirit (the flesh, the world, the devil) become more subtle and are oftentimes disguised as a good. It is very important for you to be familiar with the Rules of Discernment that pertain to Week 2 (see below).

Please take the time to:

  • Read pages 143 – 154, spending additional time familiarizing yourself with the Rules of Discernment for Week 2 (p. 151-154).
  • Read through the exercises for Week 2 (p.155-207) paying attention to the dialogue boxes.
  • Make a note of the new additions: bowing, two graces (not just one), use of colloquies, two prayers in addition to the Lord’s Prayer (that will be prayed slowly).
  • Be aware of the three cautions (p.149) and check to see if your retreatant is experiencing them as they journey through Week 2. If you determine that they are, talk it through with them.
  • Have the retreatant(s) read pages 143 – 154 and Mark 1-10 before you meet together in preparation for Week 2.
  • Make sure you are aware of the steps involved in Imaginative Prayer (p. 36-40)
  • Make a note of the various graces and the new examen questions. The graces and examen questions will change for the first five sections of Week 2 and then be the same starting at section six through the rest of the sections.

This is the longest of the Weeks and can be a time of struggling, desolation, wonderful consolations and even confusion as the retreatant’s image of Jesus may be challenged. Week 2 can be a time of deep internal transformation and choosing a deeper level of commitment to Jesus. Be very prayerful for your retreatant during their journey through the fifteen sections of Week 2. It can be a very pivotal time and for a number of the retreatants, it will mark the end of their journey through the Exercises (at least for now).

Two things to be on watch for:

There are many who begin to struggle with feelings of desolation during Week 2 and doubting the value in continuing this journey. This is much like a marathoner who ‘hits the wall’ around mile 19 of their race. If this happens to your retreatant, remember rule # 5 (p.113) that says not to change your decision when in desolation and also make use of rules 6-9 (p.113-114). Endeavor to hang in there; growth is happening within.

Another common occurrence during Week 2 is that during the slow down time, things will arise that the person feels need to be pondered, reasoning that they will never have this much time during the day to do so. This is a temptation along the lines outlined in Rule # 4 (p.152). The result is that this takes the retreatant away from the very exercises which they believe God has guided them to take. It is important to name this and urge the retreatant to be faithful to the exercises, for this is when a deeper work is taking place. Beware of the devil appearing as an angel of light.

Week 2: Walking with Jesus (beginning)

As you meet with your retreatant prior to entering Week 2:

  • Cover the importance of bowing slowly.
  • Review with them the two new prayers to pray through slowly, allowing God to stop them along the way (p. 147-148).
  • Go over the 3 cautions (p. 149).
  • Walk them through the steps of Imaginative Prayer (p. 38-39) and ascertain if they are comfortable praying this way or if they have any questions.
  • Mention to them that Ignatius has designed a few non-biblical meditations for Week 2. These are important to enter into and deal with honestly. Resist the temptation to give the “right answer” and be honest with God where you are in the moment. The first section will begin with one of these meditations.
  • Examine the Rules of Discernment for Week 2. I would suggest working through these new rules in the first few times you meet with your retreatant for this section.
  • Reconsider Rules 3 – 5 (p. 152-153) stressing that consolation is no longer a guarantee, that God is involved in this internal movement. The enemy (Satan, world, the flesh) can bring about this circumstance. As one matures in Christ, the temptations often move from things overtly evil to things that may be good but not the best. Satan begins to appear as an angel of light willing to use good ends to cause one to stumble.
  • Remind them to take time to review briefly their prayer times and to make good use of their review days, revisiting the previous days.
  • Remind them that the graces and examen questions will be changing in the first five sections so they need to make a note each time they begin a new section.

REMINDERS to share with retreatants:

This begins your journey with Jesus. In Week 2 you will walk with Jesus from his birth up to the Passion Week (Week 3). This is a time in which you will be invited to explore your level of commitment to Jesus.

When you come across exercises that invite you to do this, please endeavor to be honest with God and yourself. The purpose of these times is not to give the right answer, or the answer you wish were true, but to give the answers which are true regarding your current level of commitment to Jesus.

The additions for this section can feel a bit overwhelming. Assist the retreatant by reminding them of the additions through Week 2 so that they have the freedom to not memorize them themselves.

Even though there are new Rules of Discernment for Week 2 and following, that does not mean that the Rules of Discernment for Week 1 are rendered null and void. They are still in affect and can be very helpful when used in conjunction with the new rules of discernment for Week 2.

When you are going through the daily exercises, you will be invited to be one specific individual in the story. Please feel free to go through the gospel narrative more than once in a session, choosing a different person each time. What changes in terms of your experience and feelings toward Jesus? Also, do not be afraid to step into the sandals of Jesus from time to time. When we see ourselves as Jesus it can be very enlightening regarding who we are and who Jesus is.

Remind your retreatant not to try and force something to happen. Enter this section, as you are able to do so, trusting God and trusting the process. Be aware of your inner movements during your time in the daily exercises, especially feelings of consolation and desolation.

Remind them that they are to choose a thought, words, phrase or insight to carry with them throughout the day as they did during the Principle and Foundation.

Please make sure you read Mark 1-10 in one sitting before starting Week 2.

Week 2: Ongoing Journey
Continuing through Week 2

As you meet with the retreatants (not all of these need to be covered each time):

  • Explore with them their experiences in the extra biblical meditations (p. 155, 157, 170, 171, 208).
  • Continue to monitor their use of the prayer of examen. Is the examen beginning to spontaneously happen throughout their day?
  • Explore with then their experience of bowing.
  • Discuss how they are doing regarding the use of their imagination
  • Review the rules of discernment (once you have covered the Rules of Discernment for Week 2, review them and the Rules of Discernment from Week 1 as needed).
  • Encourage them to experiment with various postures in prayer (p. 108, 125).
  • Unpack their experiences with/of Jesus.
  • Inquire about their prayer times: How is it going? What is going well? With what are you struggling?
  • Inquire: What do you currently sense are the invitations and challenges of God for you?
  • Encourage them to experiment with different ways of journaling – colors, drawing, collaging… (p. 32-34).
  • Explore their internal movements of desolation and consolation.
  • Encourage them to use their imaginations to go through a passage more than once, being a different person each time, even being Jesus.
  • Discuss with them their time in the daily exercises. Are they getting sidetracked? – this often happens during Week 2.
  • Find out if they sense a growing internalization of the grace of knowing Jesus intimately, loving Jesus more intensely, and following Jesus more closely.

Looking ahead:

When they enter into section 13 and 14 of Week 2 (p. 200 – 204) they will be instructed to mediate on the “I am” statements of Jesus. Since they have been using their imagination in their prayer times for the last 12 plus weeks, it may be difficult to sit with a single verse. Encourage them to continue to employ their imagination as an aid to unpacking the various spiritual truths contained in each of these images.

Week 2: Moving to Week 3 Discernment Process

As your retreatant reaches this point, they will have completed 196 daily exercises. It has been a long journey up to this point; and the end of Week 2 may very well mean the end of their journey in the exercises. As I have stated along the way, this journey is not about finishing all the exercises but about using the exercises as a means of opening up and presenting oneself to God.Many get to this point and feel that God is inviting them to call their journey to an end – at least for now. There are some who come back the next year and pick up Week 3 during the next Lenten season and then move through Week 3 and 4 in harmony with the season of the Church. In fact, there is a section in the back of the book that enables the retreatant to begin that journey on Ash Wednesday and then continue through the entirety of the Lenten season and Holy Week. This can be a very powerful way to experience Week 3.

All that to say, do what you can to give the retreatant freedom to continue or not to continue through the Exercises. The next two Weeks (Week 3 and Week 4) are very different in terms of what they ask of the retreatant. The retreatant is no longer asked to follow Jesus but to enter into the experience of Jesus. This asks the retreatant for a deeper level of commitment than any of the previous Weeks. It is important that you help the retreatant take the time needed to discern the invitation of God at this point of their journey. This could take a few days to a week or more. This is not a decision that needs to be rushed, but rather one that needs to be given the time and space required to ascertain where God is leading them.

Make sure you really work through pages 208-211 with your retreatant.

Week 3: Personal Prep for Spiritual Director/Guide

The goal of Week 3 is not for the retreatant to be overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and shame because their actions (sins) led to Christ’s death, but to choose to join with Jesus in his suffering for the sins of the world–a grace that Paul deeply desired and wrote about in Philippians 3:10: “I want to know . . . the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings.”

This Week is about walking with Jesus in a deeper, more personal and intense way than in Week 2. It is entering into Jesus’ journey as a companion in all he encounters.

Read pages 212-220. Please familiarize yourself with the following:

The three questions reflection questions for the retreatant during each daily exercise:

  • What did Jesus suffer in his humanity in this narrative?
  • How did Jesus hide (not use) his divinity in this narrative?
  • What is your response to Jesus’ sacrifice for you in terms of how you might view life, live life and interact with others?

Be aware of :

  • the difficulties your retreatant may have with focusing on the crucifixion of Christ (p. 215)
  • the use of the sign of the cross (p. 216)
  • the use of the crucifix encouraging the retreatant to give it a try but emphasizing it is their choice. (p. 217)
  • rules for eating (be prepared to discuss the role of fasting) (p. 218)
  • stations of the cross (p. 219)
  • the grace: to sorrow with Christ in sorrow, anguish with Christ in anguish, with tears and interior suffering because of the suffering that Christ endured for you.
  • the Examen questions: Today did you recall to your mind Jesus’ willingness to suffer physical, emotional and spiritual trauma for you? Why, or why not? How did the truth of Jesus’ willingness to suffer and die for you and others impact how you interacted with others today? How did you die to self today?

Read through the exercises for Week 3 (p. 221-240). Make note of the poem on pages 232 and 238.

Week 3: Journey to the Cross (beginning)

As you meet with your retreatant prior to entering into Week 3:

  • Speak with them about why Week 3 can be difficult (p. 212-216) and how it can seem similar to Week 1 but is completely different.
  • Go over the three questions upon which they will be reflecting during each daily exercise.
    • What did Jesus suffer in his humanity in this narrative?
    • How did Jesus hide (not use) his divinity in this narrative?
    • What is your response to Jesus’ sacrifice for you in terms of how you might view life, live life and interact with others?
  • Review the sign of the cross (p. 216) encouraging them to incorporate it with the bow from Week 2 and to make the sign of the cross slowly. This is yet another way to involve the body in prayer.
  • Talk over the use of the crucifix exploring any resistance to using the crucifix during their prayer time. However, encourage the retreatant to give it a try while emphasizing it is their choice. (p. 217)
  • Read through the rules for eating with them. Pay special attention to role and different ways of fasting. Highlight the warning regarding fasting. (p. 218)
  • Briefly cover the Stations of the Cross (p. 219) pointing them to the website as a means of entering into the stations.
  • Encourage the retreatant to create a space that recalls to mind the focus of this week.
  • Help them to understand the grace of Week 3 (to sorrow with Christ in sorrow, anguish with Christ in anguish, with tears and interior suffering because of the suffering that Christ endured for you.)
  • Briefly touch on the Examen questions: Today did you recall to your mind Jesus’ willingness to suffer physical, emotional and spiritual trauma for you? Why, or why not? How did the truth of Jesus’ willingness to suffer and die for you and others impact how you interacted with others with whom you came in contact today? How did you die to self today?
  • Remind them of the rules of discernment of Week 1 and the role desolation can play. This can be a time of desolation.
  • Remind them to take time to review their prayer times and to make good use of their review days to re-visit previous days.
  • Remind them that this can be a tough Week but it is also a very transformative portion of the Exercises (214-215).

Week 3: Ongoing Journey

As you journey through Week 3 with your retreatant:

  • Continue to be aware of the inner state of the retreatant.
  • Explore with them what their experience is like during the daily exercises in terms of desolation and consolation. If they are going through an extended time of desolation review with them Rules of Discernment (# 5-9, p. 113-114) spending time helping the retreatant discover what the causes of their desolation might be and coming up with a plan of action.
  • Caution them about being aware of consolations and how the Evil Spirit can appear as an Angel of light and lead the retreatant away from God. Rules of Discernment (#2-8, p. 152-153).
  • Discuss with the retreatant any areas of resistance they may be encountering and explore what may be birthing these feelings.
  • Explore how the Prayer of Examen is going for them. What are they noticing about how their living their lives, interacting with others, viewing others as they focus on the cross of Christ?
  • Explore their experience of eating contemplatively and fasting.
  • What have been their feelings regarding making the sign of the cross? Have they chosen to incorporate it? If not, why? If yes, what has been the impact on them and their prayer time?
  • What have been their feelings around making use of the crucifix? Have they chosen to incorporate it? If not, why? If yes, what has been the impact on them and their prayer time?
  • Have they chosen to use the Stations of the Cross? If so, what was their experience of that journey? Where there any stations to which they seemed more and/or were resistant toward? Which ones and why?
  • What are you learning about yourself and Jesus as you journey through Week 3?
  • Be sure to continue to celebrate with your retreatant small and larger areas of growth.

Week 4: Personal Prep for Spiritual Director/Guide

The goal of Week 4 is to embrace the joy and consolation that flows from the reality of the resurrection of Christ. Week 4 moves from the weeping and torment of Week 3 into a time of intense joy as we come face to face with the risen Jesus.

Read pages 241-244. Please familiarize yourself with the following:

Each morning the retreatant is encouraged to begin their day by reciting Ephesians 5:14: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Additionally, they are encouraged to conclude their prayer time with the following words: “Jesus is risen. Jesus is risen, indeed. Alleluia. Amen.”

There are three questions the retreatant will be using for sections 1-3. These questions are to be used after they finish exploring the daily passage using imaginative prayer.

  • How does Jesus now manifest his divine attributes, his true self, following his resurrection?
  • How does Jesus console those he encounters?
  • What do you experience as you encounter the resurrected Christ?

The final week of this section is called Contemplation of Divine Love and is included in Week 4 but is entirely different (see page 255).

Be aware that many find it difficult to enter into the joy of this section. I have seen it time and time again. It may be an indication that the person is not fully ready to into this section and their time in the Exercises is at an end.

Week 4: Resurrection of Jesus (beginning)

As you meet with the retreatants prior to their entry into Week 4:

  • Celebrate with them their journey up to and subsequent arrival into Week 4.
  • Go over the three questions the retreatant will be using for sections 1-3 of Week 4. These questions are to be used after they finish exploring the daily passage using imaginative prayer. How does Jesus now manifest his divine attributes, his true self, following his resurrection? How does Jesus console those he encounters? What do you experience as you encounter the resurrected Christ? (p. 243)
  • Review with them the use of Ephesians 5:14: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (to be said each morning as they get out of bed) and “Jesus is risen. Jesus is risen indeed. Alleluia. Amen” (to be said as they conclude their opening prayer time.) (p. 243)
  • Encourage the retreatant to create a space that recalls to mind the focus of this week, namely, joy and gladness. (p. 243)
  • Help them to understand the grace of Week 4: the ability to rejoice and be intensely glad because of the great glory and joy of Jesus, your risen Lord.
  • Briefly touch on the Examen questions: How did the joy and power of Jesus’ resurrection impact how you viewed your life, yourself and your circumstances today? How did it impact how you dealt with others today? How did the truth of Jesus’ resurrection bring consolation and the ability to experience the reality of Jesus in the happenings of your life today?
  • Remind them to take time to review briefly their prayer times and to make good use of their review days to re-visit the previous days.
  • Encourage them to continually ask God that everything in their day may more and more lead them to divine praise and service.
  • Remind them of the value and importance of journaling and of continuing to experiment with various ways of journaling.
  • Encourage them to continue to use the act of bowing and making the sign of the cross during the opening times of this Week.
  • Let them know that the fourth week of Week 4 has a different focus and ties back to the Principle and Foundation of the Preparatory Exercises.
  • Share with them that some will struggle with entering into the joy and gladness of this Week. Point out that this can lead to discouragement and self-doubting because of the failure of their effort to make this happen. But remind them that this is a grace and that like all the graces that have preceded this one, is a gift given by God.

Week 4: Ongoing Journey

As you meet with your retreatant:

  • Continue to be aware of their inner state.
  • Discuss with the retreatant any areas of resistance they may be encountering and explore what may be birthing these feelings.
  • Explore how the Prayer of Examen is going for them. What are they noticing about how they are living their lives and interacting with others as they focus on the resurrection of Christ?
  • Discuss their recitation of Ephesians 5:14 when they wake and the pronouncement of”Jesus is risen. Jesus is risen indeed. Alleluia. Amen.” How is this impacting their morning and day?
  • Explore their use of journaling.
  • Invite them to share about their image and experience of Jesus.
  • Talk over with them their ability to enter into the grace prayed for: the ability to rejoice and be intensely glad because of the great glory and joy of Jesus, your risen Lord.
  • Explore if they have created an ambiance for their prayer time that communicates happiness and spiritual joy. If they have, ask them how this has been helpful.
  • What are you learning about yourself and Jesus as you journey through Week 4?
  • Be sure to continue to celebrate with your retreatant small and large areas of growth.

Contemplation of Divine Love

This section is only a few days in length but holds the Exercises together by seeking to harvest the seeds that were planted long ago in the Preparatory Exercises and gently nurtured in the subsequent weeks. The focus of this section is on God’s love. Its goal is to elicit a heart of gratitude that in turns leads to loving service of God. This is not a section to rush through or enter into lightly. This section is worth investing additional time.

The grace sought is an intimate knowledge of all the goods that God lovingly shares with you so that,filled with gratitude, you may be empowered to respond just as totally in your love and service to God.

The Examen questions are as follows: How has your awareness of God’s unceasing giving to you and God’s continual laboring for you impacted how you viewed your life, your self and your circumstances today? How did it impact how you dealt with others today? How did it enable you to more fully enter into and manifest the fullness

of God in your life?

There are two prayers in this section that are worth sitting with for more than one day. One is taken from the Spiritual Exercises and the other is from John Wesley’s writings. Both of these prayers are an expression of the indifference communicated in the Principle and Foundation.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will—all is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.-Ignatius of Loyola

I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. -John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

The retreatant will be instructed to spend time expressing thanksgiving and gratitudeindividually to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit for rooting you and establishing you in love. Thank them also for all that they have done, are doing and will do on your behalf, which communicates their investment, sacrifice and demonstration of love to you.

Additionally, the retreatant will be asked to consider what they have to give to the Divine Majesty (God).

Take time to debrief the retreatant’s experience of this section of Week 4 separately from the first 3 weeks of Week 4. This is a very important section that is designed to help the retreatant to become an active contemplative rather than embracing an individual and privatized faith.

FQA

Question:
Just got your book in the mail! Read the intro. This could be a journey changer. And I am excited!Can someone who has not been through the Exercises be my director? I suspect it should be someone who has been through the Exercises, right?

Ideally, it would be good to have someone who has gone through the Exercises as your guide BUT this is a bit unrealistic. So, because of that, there is a portion of this website that has a dedicated section for those taking others through the book. Under the Journey With Jesus tab, you will find sections entitled:

  • Getting Started: Preparation for Guides, Listeners and Spiritual Directors
  • Wisdom for Guides, Listeners, Spiritual Directors
  • First Meetings and much more.

The website also has materials for those leading groups. The materials on the website are organized in harmony with the sections in the book and provide the leader with the information they need as they guide the retreatant(s) through the sections in the book. The material on the website is drawn from my own experience as a guide of others through the Exercises. There is also material in the last section of the book that will help those leading others through this material.

So, yes, a person who has not gone through the Exercises can lead another through them if they are willing to put the time and effort needed to read and understand the material in the book and on the website. It will not be easy BUT it will be worth the extra effort both for the leader and the retreatant.

Question:

What is the purpose of the Website?

The website is primarily designed to help those who are guiding individuals through Journey with Jesus. It helps the guide to be prepared and equipped as they journey with the retreatant through each section. However, the material here would also be helpful for those going through the Exercises as a retreatant.

Question:
What if I am not currently able to do the entire 9 month journey?

If you are not able to enter into the full expression of the Exercises as presented in Journey with Jesus, I would encourage you to wait until you have more space in your life. This is not something you need to do right now. There is much value in waiting until you can more fully enter into the material as presented. However, if you feel God is inviting you to begin this journey, there are a few different options outlined in the book (p.274) and on this website (see Alternate Time Frames for Journey with Jesus). When St. Ignatius penned the Exercises he allowed for great flexibility in the administration of the Exercises. He encouraged those giving the Exercises to take into account the uniqueness of each retreatant.

Question:
Can Journey with Jesus be used in small groups?

Yes! This is a wonderful tool for small groups. But if you are going through this as a group it is important to decide what rhythm you are embracing as a group in terms of days per week in the Exercises and the length of time spent engaging with the daily exercises. There is also a section in the book that speaks of a way of using this material with a small group and two sections on the website (Group Sharing and Group Covenant) that are geared for those leading groups. The sections dealing with small groups are currently being expanded.

 

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