Uncover the Heart of your Call

Published in the June 2019 edition of the Edmonton Anglican "Messenger"
By Rev. Dan Ash, Pat Jameson, Rev. Jonathan Crane

Loyola Press – a major source of references on the spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius describes the exercises as “a compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola to help people deepen their relationship with God.” The exercises are a structured and guided approach designed to uncover the heart of our call to serve God and God’s people. St. Ignatius in his time, developed them as a tool to help young men discern if they were indeed called to serve as a Jesuit and take up the potential dangers of being sent all over the world in witness to God (think the movie “The Mission”). Originally, the Spiritual Exercises were used within a thirty-day silent retreat.  There remain a number of retreat houses in the world where you can still do this, but the Exercises are more commonly used these days as a thirty-week “retreat in daily life.” The structure of the weeks is a progressive immersion in scripture and prayer: they are not primarily an intellectual study of the scriptures, but a personal experience of the life of Jesus through prayer.  The process allows us grow in our ability to hear how deeply the Spirit of God is speaking to our spirit through the scriptures. The Exercises are broken into four sections, or movements of prayer through the thirty weeks. Theme I: God’s Love.  The exercises begin with an immersion in the love of God which invites us into a generous offering of our whole selves just as we are. Theme II: Invitation.  The second movement focusses on God’s hope for the world as it is expressed in the gift of Jesus and his ministry and our call to follow Jesus and participate in this life. Theme III: Suffering.  We walk alongside Jesus in the suffering of his self-offering. Theme IV: Resurrection.  In the last set of prayers, we share with Jesus in his rising to new life.  We share in living out the life and ministry of the risen Christ. The whole process invites us into a deeper awareness of the particularities of our own call to ministry.  We often find that the Spiritual Exercises lead us to discern God’s movement in us and gives us tools to continue growing in this daily practice. This process is not designed to be done on one’s own, but with an experienced director who can help us reflect on God’s movement in our lives. The exercises are geared particularly to moments in our lives when we are experiencing transition and change, when we are discerning a change of our vocations, or simply seeking a deeper relationship with God.  The exercises have potential to be transformative and people may find a huge shift between their life before the exercises and their life after the exercises. If you are wondering where God is calling you, come, set aside space to walk through the exercises with one of several experienced directors in our Diocese.  We invite you to move towards Gratitude, Freedom, and Generosity: Gratitude at who God is and what God has given, Freedom to be set free to serve in full Generosity.

If you are interested in learning more please send an email to ignatianspirit46@gmail.com.  We intend to facilitate a Spiritual Exercises Retreat in Daily Life with a small group of participants to run from September 2019 to May 2020.