The Retreat in Daily Life - The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius
Are you up for an adventure for your soul? Do you long for a closer relationship with Jesus? Can you imagine yourself being more practically transformed, freed by His love to love others and partner more passionately with Him? If “yes”, then prayerfully consider doing The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola - The Retreat in Daily Life.
For those who aren't familiar with The Ignatian Exercises let me try to describe them: They were developed by Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. His conversion to and increasingly intimate walk with Jesus moved many to ask him to help them draw closer to God. He began, with great success, to offer an intense 5-week-long retreat to largely priests and nuns. He soon realized the invitation to walk closely with Jesus is not for professionals or theologians alone, but for all of the people of God. As a result, he developed what is known as the "19th annotation" which spreads the retreat of prayers, Bible passages and spiritual insights over an 8 month period. This is done in the midst of daily life rather than in a retreat setting.
In his rich guide book The Ignatian Adventure, Kevin O’Brien SJ describes the introductory week and each subsequent “movement” that comprise the 32 weeks of the exercises as follows:
- The Adventure Begins: Encountering the Unconditional, Creative, Inviting Love of God
- The “First Week”: Experiencing the Boundless Mercy of God
- The “Second Week”: Accompanying Jesus Christ on Mission
- The “Third Week”: Being with Jesus in His Suffering and Savouring the Grace of Compassion
- The “Fourth Week”: Experiencing the Joy and Sharing the Consolation of the Risen Lord
Out of my fruitful experiences journeying through The Exercises, I am offering to accompany in spiritual direction individuals or groups of 2-4 who feel called to this prayer experience. The Retreat In Daily Life is done as an 8-month long "retreat" which has been offered for centuries in traditional church communities, and which is now being re-discovered as deeply helpful by evangelicals, pastors and lay people alike. Those who do The Exercises benefit most by being accompanied one on one by an experienced spiritual director, but doing them in a small group with such support is a good option.
A retreatant needs to sense God's call to The Exercises because it can be a rigorous, emotional journey, best done in God's time and with the right support. This is for people who desire to know Jesus more intimately, love Him more intensely and follow Him more closely. Ignatius suggests it is not about "getting through it" but rather following the Spirit's leading. Most individuals progress with God’s grace through the entire 32 week retreat. There is however, no shame when a person finds they need to stop their retreat short. Each participant commits to 45-60 minutes of daily prayer, journalling and meeting bi-weekly to share their experience in prayer. Some retreatants may also enjoy the short time of evening prayer called The Examen, which is encouraged.
If you are interested in meeting individually or as a small group, in person or by video link, please contact me. Individuals would meet with me bi-weekly for one hour at a minimum of $30 per session. Groups would commit to meeting bi-weekly for 2.5 hours at a shared $60 per session. Financial ability can be considered. The retreat can be started at any time of the year. However, to align with Christmas and Easter of the church calendar, the retreat is ideally started mid September. Unless otherwise arranged, the preferred retreat guide book is: The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien SJ.
Ignatian Retreat - Testimonies from group experience 2019-2020
Doing the Ignatian spiritual exercises in this season of my Christian life was an amazing experience for which I am so grateful! It was just what I needed to help me "to know Jesus more intimately, love him more intensely, and follow him more closely." The exercises provided me with a structure and Scripture passages to contemplate and pray with that helped me grow in my love for Jesus and my desire to worship and serve Him. Journeying through the Exercises with Margot and three other beautiful Christian women over the past 9 months has brought indescribable joy and richness to my life as we did the exercises individually and then gathered every two weeks to share our experiences and respond to each other. I have been a Christian for 30+ years, and participating in this retreat has been one of the most significant and transformational experiences in my spiritual journey. I HIGHLY recommend it. I so appreciate Margot's authentic love for the Lord and her desire to help others experience God's love for them and to grow in their love and service of God (by leading them through the Exercises). I am grateful for her warm and welcoming posture, for the ways she created a safe and sacred space for sharing and guiding us through the exercises. I also appreciated her gentle, thoughtful questions and responses that encouraged me and helped me to reflect further. Her choice of materials to use was also excellent. Monique 2020
About the exercises: I loved the space the exercises allowed for God to speak. From the graces to being invited to place myself in the scene, use imagination and think about familiar passages in a new way. I felt the person of Christ take form for me and become more real than ever before. Times in the word flowed seamlessly into prayer. I made a journey with Christ through His life before, during and after the incarnation. Sometimes the content and language of the book was outside my experience and unfamiliar but I was usually excited to try a new way of seeing. The teachings on for example discernment or spiritual battle were very helpful. God is so faithful with the time we give to Him! Doing the exercises during this turbulent time of a global pandemic, violence at home in NS, and the grief over racism and its effects has been incredibly helpful. It's hard to separate the exercises from current events; both have left an indelible mark on my heart and mind.
About Margot's leadership: Margot's wise and generous guidance throughout the exercises were integral in making this such a rich experience for me and I believe the whole group. We felt free to experience God in this new forum and open ourselves up to what the Holy Spirit had for each of us. Margot helped demystify new words and foreign traditions that were new to me because of my protestant background. Readings, prayers, questions, observations and active listening were so helpful at each meeting. Thank you so much Margot for this invitation and experience in the exercises. I have been deeply encouraged and richly blessed! Kim 2020
It has been such a rich and transformational time to go through the exercises with Margot and three other women and reviewing the 8 month retreat has furthered enriched this experience. I have found much to marvel at and celebrate as I noticed the connections between things, some themes emerging, some wrestling and resistance and definite areas of growth. I am so grateful for Margot's gentle, prayerful, humble oversight as spiritual director. Her gracious welcome, her delight in the Lord, the journey and each of us quickly established an intimacy and vulnerability that is rarely experienced. Especially impactful were the readings, poems, reassurances, affirmations, insightful observations and questions which she brought to each meeting, and each one was a gift by the Holy Spirit to light the path. Margot has a gift of being truly WITH you on the pilgrimage. I found it a very special gift to be on the journey with a small group of women. Their incarnational listening and loving, encouraging, safe presence have kept me going and their insights and questions have blessed me one hundred fold. Janet 2020