THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES
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 Gods 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 ones own sinfulness and asks for the grace to be embraced by
Gods 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.