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The Spiritual Exercises

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,624 ratings  ·  72 reviews
A reissue of a classic of the Christian text from the founder of the Jesuit Order.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola is the core work of religious formation for members of the Society of Jesus, the single largest religious order within the Roman Catholic Church. For four and a half centuries  in many thousands of editions in all languages, The Exercises have
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 19th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1548)
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Tim Byron
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious, jesuit
This is not a book to be read but a book to be experienced. What is meant by this is that the manual was never intended to be read, curled up by the fire, you would be inevitably disappointed (as famously Thomas Merton was). It has no literary or aesthetic pretensions. Ignatius intended it to be a manual to help the person 'directing' the Exercises, not the person making the Exercises. It attempts, often successfully, to create a space where the creature and the creator can encounter each other ...more
Roy Lotz
Just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491 1556), the founder of the Society of Jesus, has a claim to being among the most influential Spaniards in history.

His beginning was
James Millikan SJ
Jun 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Be advised, The Spiritual Exercises is a sort of religious exercise routine for developing the spirit; it is not a treatise on theology or an account of the life of this great saint. At the hands of a prudent spiritual director, this manual is sure to bear much fruit in the life of an individual on retreat. I did not encounter The Spiritual Exercises in this way--either as a director or as a participant in a formal retreat--and so if you are considering using this text to administer the ...more
As many of the readers below have indicated this is not a book to be read. Its a rough guide for a retreat, or spiritual exercise that my take three or four weeks at the least to lead you to some sort of awareness that the founder of the Jesuits intended for you. The Catholic Thought reading group has selected this reading and we are in the fourth week of doing the exercises. You are welcome to join the group if you wish to get more than the limited space in this review area allows. ...more
Beautiful and simple translation of the original. Based on my highlights and notes from 8 years ago when I did the Spiritual Exercises this was my favorite book of the three translations I worked with.
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mon-dieu
back in 1986 halfway my gt some cool people brought me to the black virgin of montserrat. that is nearby barcelona. i decided to stay there for a while. next day i went down the mountain in search for some cash. in returning the road was blocked by a huge bushfire. waiting for the things to come i met a couple from chicago, christopher and nina (yes in a red dress). silently we watched the moon rise and the fire grow. at midnight we had to run for our lives because also fire came from behind.

Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A very good friend introduced me to Ignatian Spirituality after years of studying it himself. While I can't afford to make one of those retreats that are popular around my neck of the woods, I figure the book is the next best thing! First off, this book isn't meant to be read like any other book. And this book is really meant for spiritual directors - like my friend, as its a bit difficult to really know what St Ignatius is trying to point out if you have no backgound in this type of thing. The ...more
Excellent reference for the Spiritual Exercises ~ as close a literal translation of Ignatius' writing from 15th/16th century Spanish to English as I am aware. A note of caution ~ without taking the in the context and traditions of his time, expressions found in this book, like "The enemy conducts himself as a woman" can take on a completely distorted meaning ~ I have been told by various Ignatian spiritual directors that what he most likely meant was "The enemy conducts himself as a *disordered* ...more
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saints
The Good: can transform steadfast individuals potent meditations

The Bad: not a conventional read; a serious conviction is required to see it through

As Robert Gleason calls it, this book is "a complete guide and framework for achieving Christian perfection." The organization of the book is well-described in the introduction:

"The first week is designed to help the retreatant to purify his soul and put his life in order; the aim of the second week is to lead the soul to a greater knowledge and
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, religion
This a very Catholic Jesuit book. Rather than a meditation or a series of essays, as I was expecting, this is a work-book. Ignatius suggests exercises for spiritual development.

What I don't like about this book:

1) Ignatius thought the spiritual exercises caused salvation. He says, "Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul."

This is dead wrong according to Apostle Paul in Ephesians:
'For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
For non-Catholics, its difficult to get past the myriad of scandals that constantly plague the church's image, but if judgement is suspended temporarily, one can see the spiritual life of devout Catholics unencumbered by abuse and corruption, and its interesting. I read this book for the same reason I've been reading many of the famous books on Catholic spirituality by great saints and mystics. Because while the hypocrisy and misery of the Vatican is infamous, behind that are thousands of ...more
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Seriously dedicated spiritual seekers with an inordinate amount of free time.
Don't let my seemingly low rating fool you into thinking there's little or no value in Ignatius's thought and teaching. It's a bit disingenuous to say I read this book as a large portion of it consists of strenuous intellectual exercises meant to be carried out by the spiritual seeker and that I made no attempt to do, and another segment of the book is meant as a guide for directors of intensive spiritual retreats. Similarly, it's not fair to call this a review since I didn't do the exercises so ...more
Christopher Floss
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola offers a means to encounter God through self-introspection and meditation on Scripture. Arising from Ignatius's own quest for God, the Exercises are meant as a guide for the seeker who desires to know God and His will. While they are meant to be used under the direction of a guide in a retreat context, the Exercises can be used as a part of one's daily spiritual regimen.

There are several themes throughout the "weeks" of the Exercises that
Alcebiades Diniz
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A book for those seeking ecstasy in intellectual, physical and spiritual terms, and the continuous renewal of that ecstasy when the exhaustion seems the only possible way.
James Imelda
The nature of the book leaves my review without a star rating. For those who don't know, this book is designed to be used as a sort of manual or guide while on a spiritual retreat. It's not just a spiritual book like something by St. John of the Cross that one would read daily and meditate with. Ideally, one has a director and is on a retreat, not doing it on one's own while living a life that contains work and other secular tasks. I did do it that way, though, and I still benefited from itbut I ...more
Dennis Podryadchikov
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This work by a sixteen-century monk can help anyone who is ready to spend a month in spiritual exercises. Primarily written for those in ministry, the book can be adapted for interested believers. Ignatius of Loyola readily presents instructions (so-called "rules") and delineates thirty days filled with times of focusing on different gospel narratives. His goal is to see God in everything. His means is what today we call contemplation or reflection. It is better to try these exercises under a ...more
Martha Smith
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, one of the greatest masterpieces of the Christian canon, today continues to offer some of the most accessible and insightful guidance for going on retreat-whether as part of a group or by oneself. Based on the rich fruit of St. Ignatius' own meditations and practice, this guide for spiritual perfection has been treasured and faithfully used for centuries by members of the saint's Jesuit order and by millions more. Definitively a worthwhile
Luke Langley
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Spiritual Exercises is a program for a 30 day retreat beginning with reflections of sin, the mercy of God, lectio divina reflections on the life death and resurrection of Christ and discernment of spiritual practices and interior movements of the heart. It is however a guided retreat and without the opportunity to go through it formally the book alone can seem dry or incomplete and that is because it is more of an outline than fully fleshed reflections. So as a book, a tough read, but the ...more
Jul 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first reading foray into Catholic writing were the Spanish mystics and Merton, wonderful but also very... well... mystic. Then there are so many, much more dry books of religious instruction out there that are classics as well. To me this book represented a very good middle ground to that. Straightforward, simple, direct but also very soulful and does not try to delineate some cold, formulaic form of spirituality.

Why did I stall so long to read this?
Sep 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Short and interesting meditation manual by the great St. Ignatius. He talks a lot about meditating and putting yourself in the shoes of the folks during biblical times. I think his view of poverty, penance, and marriage are not wholly biblical. Good read though.

Instructive towards meditation
Insights into the enemy

Legalism at ever so often
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius focus on two things, putting yourself in the place of the events of the Bible and meditating on God's will and seeking to obey it. The book is written as a devotional, although I read it all the way through in two days, rather than devotional style. However, I thought the book has much to offer in either capacity.
B.J. Richardson
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a book meant to be lived, not just read as one would normally read a book. Ignatius wrote the exercises as a manual for those on a spiritual retreat. It is not profound theology. It is not a literary masterpiece. It is a program for fine-tuning one's spiritual discipline so that they may, in turn, return to the world and live a godlier life. Don't just read this book, practice it.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
the purpose of the exercises is the conquest of self and the regulation of ones life such that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment. what more needs to be done with ones life?
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
spiritual warfare verses world flesh devil, be aware of battle field on, need all armor of God as Paul described as virtues, devil lets no crisis go to waste to create doubt anger unforgiving pride despair.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The bit I found most useful and enlightening was the section on discerning consolations and resolutions. Never change a decision when feeling desolution. Be resolute! :)
A.J. Mendoza
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful source for understanding spiritual formation in the 16th century. Though this should not be read as a book, for it functions as a manual for leaders in St. Ignatius' retreats. That being said, there are sections where St. Ignatius outlines the principles he wants his leaders to emphasize. This contains great practices that translate wonderfully today (e.g. the Examen) and some that would be more difficult to employ (e.g. the use of imagination to construct a hell and heaven ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remember: this is guidebook for Christian meditative prayer. It is written by a religious brother in the Catholic Church for the rest of the community in union with the Catholic Church, to deepen their prayer life in a retreat setting. It is not intended to discuss theology.

On a personal level, meditating on the words provided a deep prayer experience for me. However, I had to be reminded that I was dearly beloved by God, despite all the offences I committed against Him. A trained Spiritual
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prayer
Im certain that the value of The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius is far above my 3-star rating. For my modern eyes, the material seems more like a lengthy outline for a spiritual retreat, with the reader left to fill in all the details. Now, this may be due to the expectation that the exercitant will be guided by a Spiritual Director who is very familiar with the content of the Exercises, and who will put it all together for him/her. After I consult with someone more familiar with the ...more
I'm not really finished. This book is a method. It's a set of rigorous instructions to be followed for spiritual development. It's strict and should bear fruit. Most folks might see it as asking too much and giving too little. The book is not meant to be read and that's my fault for trying to read through the instructions to gain some insight or knowledge, and while that can happen it's primary purpose lay in its routine exercises aimed at anointing individuals in spiritual refreshment within ...more
Ben Guterson
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tough read for me--context and language made it tough to penetrate, though I've been interested in reading this book for a long time and found much to admire and consider. I'll most likely pick up one of the modern re-workings/interpretations of the book so that I can gain a deeper understanding. Passages like the following allowed me some inroads: "When one enjoys consolation, let him consider how he will conduct himself during the time of ensuing desolation, and store up a supply of strength ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Catholic Thought: The Fourth Week 3 9 Oct 01, 2016 09:32PM  
Catholic Thought: The Third Week 5 9 Sep 26, 2016 07:58AM  
Catholic Thought: The Second Week 7 15 Sep 23, 2016 10:06AM  
Catholic Thought: The First Week 15 14 Sep 14, 2016 12:43PM  
Catholic Thought: Preparation for the Spiritual Exercises 16 18 Aug 31, 2016 07:20PM  
Catholic Thought: The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola - Welcome 9 36 Aug 24, 2016 08:34AM  
Brain Pain: Loyola's Spiritual Exercises and Vollmann's Fathers and Crows 1 15 Jun 17, 2013 05:47AM  

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Saint Ignatius of Loyola was the principal founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus. The compiler of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius was described by Pope Benedict XVI as being above all a man of God, who gave the first place of his life to God, and a man of profound prayer. He was very active in fighting the Protestant Reformation and promoting the subsequent ...more

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