The Spiritual Exercises are the only kind of retreat that is given at Manresa. In fact Manresa exists for that purpose. The Exercises themselves are structured prayers in the sense that the presentations and accompanying prayer are part of an on-going process of conversion. By surrendering to the method, the retreatant disposes himself to God’s call of grace to enter into an even more deepening relationship with Himself and the life of the Trinity. Simply stated the Exercise move through four phases that describe degrees of “intimacy” with God. 

The first phase, the retreatant is asked to consider the nature of sin and its destructiveness. Then one looks at one’s own sinfulness and asks for the grace to be embraced by God’s great love and forgiveness, which are always present even when I sin. I ask for the grace to see this and to respond to it. 

In the second phase, the retreatant is invited to consider the life of Jesus on earth. The retreatant is asked to pray in such a way that he enters into companionship with Jesus so that he may become a true disciple who knows Jesus more intimately, follows him more closely, and loves him more ardently. 

In the third phase of the Exercises, the retreatant enters into the prayer of the passion of our Lord. We are asked to pray over this and try “to live” through it with Him and feel compassion for Him in his sufferings. This also strengthens us in our “passions” which will surely come. 

In the fourth and final phase of the Exercises, the retreatant is called upon to pray over the resurrection of our Lord. We are asked to feel joy for the Risen Lord and to realize that it is this Lord who now exists and who will raise us up and share the fruits of His victory with us and who is present in us now.