The exercises are, above all, a time for intimate contact with God. The most important qualities in the person who enters into these exercises are openness, generosity, and courage.
As we consider the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola this week, we enter into a spirituality rooted in a strong daily practice of reflection, dialogue, consideration and commitment. The Exercises are full of specific considerations that are designed to increase our awareness, our honesty and our commitment to continual growth, both as individual persons and as a human community. They help us to simplify our lives and orient each day to what matters most. They make us aware of the ways that we squander time and resources, and they invite us to continually recalibrate our day-to-day living so that we live fruitful and fulfilling lives.
The Exercises are also an invitation to acknowledge that our relationship with God is socially located and involves much more than personal improvement. Our relationship with God also draws us into the work of making the world a place that is welcoming to God and to all who share life on this planet.
With as many options, possibilities, and challenges as this world presents, Ignatius offers a helpful principle for ordering our lives. He writes:
While everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God, our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.
This principle encapsulates Ignatius’s hope that greater honesty both about the possibilities life offers and our own limitations will remind us to embrace a deeper collaborative partnership with God and allow that partnership to give us the courage we need to bring light and change into the world around us.