As a conclusion to the Ignatian Year, a daily look at aspects of the spirituality of Saint Ignatius Loyola and his tradition.
Back in 1987, I remember having a long-distance conversation with someone at a Jesuit retreat house. I was finishing up my graduate degree and it seemed likely it would be my last opportunity to do the Exercises in a retreat of thirty days. The conversation went back and forth and I was questioned carefully. Eight days would be better than thirty, I was told. I confess a smidge of sullenness about it. But on day seven, I could see the wisdom of it.
Here is an outline of the Spiritual Exercises. The first stage or “week” is described as a time of purgation:
The problem of evil: global and personal sin.
The need for healing from fear, guilt, poor self-image.
Conversion from personal sin (not a breach of a law but of a love relationship).
Coming to faith in Christ crucified (Paul to the Romans).
Knowing oneself as totally forgiven.
Baptism and reconciliation.
Discipleship: Incorporation into Christ.
The Call of the King: Christ’s call to follow him.
Deeper desire to be a disciple.
Discipleship and related words have become one of the newest forms of churchspeak. Being a disciple of Jesus is a real thing, no matter how much in vogue the terminology seems.
I suppose not everyone is ready for thirty days of serious pilgrimage into the spiritual life. But these eight days looking into evil, healing, conversion, and discipleship are well within anyone’s reach.