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1548_Spiritual Exercises



Affording some understanding with respect to the Spi
ritual Exercises which follow ; for the help as well of
him who is to give, as of him who is to receive them.

THE first annotation is, that by the name
itself of Spiritual Exercises is understood
any method of examining one s own con
science ; also of meditating, contem
plating, praying mentally and vocally, and,
finally, of performing any other spiritual
operations, as will be said hereafter. For
as, to walk, to travel, and to run, are bodily
exercises ; so also, to prepare and dispose
the soul to remove all ill-ordered affec
tions, and after their removal to seek and
find the will of God with respect to the
ordering of one s own life, and the salva
tion of one s soul, are called Spiritual Exer

The second is, that he who delivers to an
other the order and method of meditating
or contemplating, should set forth faith
fully the history of the meditation or con
templation, going briefly through the chief
points only, and adding merely a very
brief exposition ; in order that he who is
about to meditate, having taken first the
foundation of the historical truth, may
afterwards go over the ground and reason
by himself. For the effect of this will be,
that when he finds anything which may
furnish something more of elucidation or
of apprehension of the history, (whether
this be effected by his own reasoning, or
by divine illumination of the mind,) he
will experience a more delightful taste
and more abundant fruit, than if the
matter itself had been more diffusely set
forth and drawn out by another. For it
is not the abundance of the knowledge,
but the interior feeling and taste of the
things, which is accustomed to satisfy the
desire of the soul.

The third is, that, whereas in all the fol
lowing Spiritual Exercises we use acts of
the intellect when we reason, but of the
will when we are affected, we must take
notice that in the operation which belongs
chiefly to the will, while we converse
vocally or mentally with the Lord God or
His Saints, a greater reverence is required
of us, than while by the use of the intellect
we are employed rather in understanding.
The fourth is, that, although to the fol
lowing Exercises are assigned four weeks,
answering to as many portions of the Ex
ercises, each to each, viz., that in the nrst
week the consideration may be concerning
sins ; in the second, concerning the life of
our Lord Jesus Christ up to his entrance
into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; in the
third, concerning His Passion ; in the
fourth, concerning His Resurrection and
Ascension, adding the three methods of
prayer ; yet these weeks are not to be so
understood, as if it were necessary that
each should contain seven or eight days.
For since it happens that some are slower,
others more ready, in attaining what they
seek, (for instance in the first week contri
tion, grief, and tears for their sins,) and
that some are more or less agitated and
tried by various spirits ; it is sometimes
expedient that any week should be cut
down * or extended, according to the
nature of the subject matter. The whole
time, however, of the Exercises is accus-
turned to be concluded in the space of
thirty days, or thereabouts.

The fifth is, that he who receives the
Exercises is wonderfully assisted, if, coming
to them with a great and liberal mind, he
offers his whole desire and choice to his
Creator, that, concerning himself and all
that belongs to him, He may appoint that
in which he may be able best to serve Him,
according to His own good pleasure.

The sixth is, that he who gives the
Exercises, if he perceives that the one who
receives them undergoes no spiritual com
motions of the mind, such as are consola
tions or sadnesses, nor any agitations of
different spirits, ought carefully to inquire
whether he performs the Exercises them
selves at the prescribed times, and in what
way ; also, whether he observes diligently
all the Additions ; and let an account be
asked of each thing. Now, concerning Con
solations and Desolations we shall speak
further on, in the First Rules about the
discerning of spirits; concerning the Ad
ditions, in the end of the First Week.

The seventh is, that he who has the
care of the exercising of another, if he sees
him affected by desolation or temptation,
ought to take care not to shew himself
hard or austere to him, but rather to be mild
and gentle, confirming his mind to act
vigorously for the future, and having laid
open the wiles of our enemy, to study to
dispose him for consolation, as for a thing
shortly to follow.

The eighth is, that concerning the con
solations and desolations of him who is re
ceiving the exercises, and concerning the
wiles of the enemy, the Rules which are
given in the two first weeks*, concern
ing the distinguishing of various spirits,
will be able to render service.

The ninth is, that when a person is to
be exercised who is inexperienced in spi
ritual things, so that it may happen that
in the first week he may be troubled with
some gross and open temptations ; when
he has shewn already certain impediments
to following out the service of God (such
as are trouble, anxiety, shame, fear, on
account of worldly honour), then he who
is instructing him in the exercises must
dispense with the Rules which belong to
the second week, concerning the distin
guishing of spirits, and use those only
which are given in the first. For as much
advantage as the other will gain from
these latter, so much damage will he re
ceive from the former, on account of the
subtilty and sublimity of the matter,
which is above his reach.

The tenth is, that, if he who is being
exercised is tossed by temptations having
on their face the appearance of good, he
must then be fortified by the aforesaid
rules of the second week. For the enemy of
the human race attacks by the appearance of
good those, for the most part, who have
already walked in the way of life which
is called the illuminative, answering to the
exercises of the second week, rather than
in the other which is commonly called the
/n/r<rftfiue, *and is comprehended by the
exercises of the first week.

The eleventh is, that for him who is
exercising himself in the first week, it is
expedient to be ignorant what he is to do
in the next ; and to labour strenuously to
obtain what he then seeks, as if he were
about to find no good afterwards.

The twelfth is, that he who is being ex
ercised must be admonished, that as on
each daily exercise, of the five to be
described hereafter, the space of one hour
ought to be spent ; he should always take
care to find rest to his mind in this, that
he is conscious that he has employed more
rather than less time. For it is a . fre
quent thing with the devil to labour that
the space of time appointed for medi
tation or prayer may be shortened.

The thirteenth is, that, whereas it is an
easy and light thing, when consolation
abounds, to go through with the hour; most
difficult on the contrary when desolation
happens ; for this reason, against tempta
tion and desolation one must always con
tend by prolonging the exercise beyond the
prescribed hour, for the sake of over
coming. For so we learn not only to re
sist the adversary, but also to vanquish

The fourteenth is, that, if he who is
engaged in the exercises is seen to be
borne along with much consolation and
great fervour, care must be taken that he
does not bind himself by any promise
or vow inconsiderately and precipitately
made; and this must be so much the more
diligently prevented, in proportion as he
is seen to be of a more unstable disposi
tion. Foralthough one person may rightly
move another to enter into Religion, in

Spiritual demises of

which the vows of obedience, chastity,
and poverty must be made; although, too,
a work done by vow is more meritorious
than one done without a vow, yet the
greatest regard must be had to the pecu
liar condition of the persons. Also it
must be attentively considered, what ad
vantage [help] or disadvantage [ nm ~
drance] may occur for the performance
of what any one is about to promise.

The fifteenth is, that he who gives the
exercises ought not to urge the other to
poverty and the promise thereof more
than to the opposite; nor to this rather
than to that plan of life: for although
out of the exercises it is lawful, and to be
accounted meritorious, to persuade all
those to embrace celibacy, religious life,
and any other evangelic perfection, who
from the consideration of their persons and
conditions will probably be fit subjects ; yet
it is far more suitable and better, in the
exercises themselves, not to attempt it, but
rather to seek the will of God, and wait until
our Creator and Lord Himself communi
cate Himself to the soul devoted to Him,
and embracing it, dispose it to the love,
praise, and service of Himself, as He knows
to be most fitting. Wherefore, he who

dictates the exercises must stand in a cer
tain equilibrium, arid, the instrument
apart, leave the Creator Himself to trans
act the matter with the creature, and the
creature with the Creator.

The sixteenth is, that, in order that our
Creator and Lord Himself may work the
more certainly in His creature, if the soul
happen to be affected and inclined to any
thing less right, one must struggle to the
utmost and with one s whole powers to the
contrary : as, for instance, if a man aspire
to the getting of an office or benefice for
the sake, not of the glory of God, or of the
common salvation of souls, but only of
his own advantage arid temporal affairs,
then the affection ought to be impelled to
the opposite by assiduous prayers and
other pious exercises in which the oppo
site is asked of God; that is to say, that
he offer to God this mind, namely, that he
seeks no longer such office or benefice, or
anything else, unless God shall have so
changed his former affection, as that he
may no longer desire it, or possess it, for
any other reason than the worship and
honour of God.

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