Ω2 Ignatian Retreat

Submitted by rjzaar on April 30, 2017 - 1:56pm



This is the fulfilment of the MAYO spiritual formation program. It is hoped that retreatants would have already developed a personal prayer time as well as a structured time such as evening prayer. It would also be hoped that they would have some experience of spiritual direction. If these have not happened, someone can still begin the retreat if they wish to.

The Ignatian retreat is normally carried out during 30 days of silent prayer with daily spiritual direction. It is made up of 4 “˜weeks’, but each week is not 7 days, but rather a set of meditations that aim for a particular grace to be achieved. Once that grace has been achieved, the retreatant can move on to the next “˜week’ of the retreat. The number of meditations also do not match 7 per week with the most being in the second “˜week’. There is a basic flow through the retreat. The first week seeks to achieve a deep sorrow for past sins in the light of God’s love to seek to do His will above all things. The second week seeks to journey with Jesus through his life to discover what God’s call is for the retreatant. This call, might just be a clarity about what the next step in life should be. Once this direction has been discerned it is solidified through meditation on Christ’s passion (third week) and resurrection (fourth week). This might lead to an adjustment of the retreatant’s decided direction.

There is much to be gained from an Ignatian retreat and even if it is completed haphazardly. There are two key aspects to the retreat, one is greater depth in prayer and personal relationship with Jesus and the other is discernment. No personal movements of the spirit should be taken for granted, but all examined and dissected according to the rules for discernment, the examen of conscience and the guidance of spiritual direction. The aim of the retreat is to have built a personal relationship with Christ and to be able to discern the movements of the spirit which will guide the retreatant to continue to grow in holiness and service to others


 Seminar: Ideally there would be an evening introductory seminar that would explain the retreat and help consolidate the primary prayer method used, journaling, the examen and spiritual direction. Otherwise this guide is sufficient and any questions should be discussed with the spiritual director.

Book: The primary source for the retreat is Timothy Gallagher's books.

Commitment: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights: carry out the daily examen and read the meditation for the next day. 10-15 minutes

· Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 20 minutes meditation including a 5 minute reflection time.

· Particular days and times can be shifted to other days and times, whatever works for the retreatant. If one is missed no problem, just leave it out. It is important to continue on through the retreat and keep the flow happening. There are some essential meditations that must not be missed.

· About every 3 weeks to catch up with their spiritual director for about 45 mins to discuss progress.

· Work on the retreat continuously until complete with various very busy times when it is suspended at the discretion of the retreatant.

· If need be shorten the retreat with particular meditations excluded.


These levels provide different ways to complete the retreat. It is best to start with the minimum and work up if you have increased interest and will make the time.

Minimum: 1) Introduction: Read “˜Introduction and Explanatory remarks’ p. 17-27 
Read through once and refer back if unsure of particular issues.

2) Examen: Read the “˜Guide to Daily Examen’ and practice it for a week, ie use it for the evening examens and for the meditation the next day. Also use the rules for the discernment for the first week (p. 221-226) for the meditation, by reading and reflecting on them. If this hasn’t been fully mastered, it should be continued until it is well understood and practiced.

3) Prayer features: Read “˜Common Features of Every Prayer’ p. 29-34 and begin the retreat.

4) Sunday Evening: The meditation for the week (ie that particular “˜day’) should be read through. The examen should be practiced each evening.

5) Meditation: The meditation should be read through and each point reflected upon. A point could be a single sentence that the retreatant finds interesting. If could be a whole paragraph or a whole section. The aim is depth and not breadth. Whatever the retreatant finds interesting and while it is still interesting. If the retreatant finishes the whole meditation and there is still time, the retreatant should reflect with greater depth a point from the meditation. The retreatant should avoid distractions and stay focused on the meditation alone. 
The last 5 minutes of meditation should be used to write down any thoughts or particular ideas that were “˜illuminated’ during the prayer time.

6) Spiritual Direction: The retreatant should organise spiritual direction about every 3-4 weeks to discuss highlights, issues, challenges, inspirations and clarifications.

7) Reconciliation: The retreatant should celebrate reconciliation towards the end of the “˜first week’ of the exercises.

8) Second week: For the second week: Read “˜How God Makes Known His Will to Each of Us at Every Minute of the Day (p. 218-220) This is very important, particularly for the second week and should be read as often as needed, particularly the last quote of St. Francis on p.220.

9) Better discernment: When the retreatant is ready (usually the second week) the retreatant can read through the “˜Rules for Better Discernment’ (p. 227-229) and start to practice them. These should also be read often during the nightly examen and learnt so to be known habitually.

10) Skimping: Non-essential meditations can be skimped if time is running short.

Methodical 1) The same as minimum, and skimping is allowed, but the meditations method should be followed more closely. That is, the retreatant reads through the details of the different prayer methods and chooses a particular prayer method and practices it.

2) Prayer steps: Common Features of Every Prayer (p. 29-34). This should be followed for each meditiation time.

a. How to live in an atmosphere of prayer each day 
This is for the more serious retreatant.

b. At the Beginning of Prayer 
This is THE method of prayer to follow and should be referred to often until known.

c. During the Time of Prayer 
The important thing is once you have found “˜what you have desired’ stay with it. I will come back to this point

d. Ending the prayer 
The review should be a written review in the journal

e. After the prayer time 
It is good to call to mind God’s presence frequently throughout the day

3) Prayer methods: There are two chapters on prayer methods. These two chapters both talk about different methods of prayer. Each is a tool that can be applied to a particular meditation. Ideally the retreatant should have tried each method of prayer and be able to work out which method works best for them and which method to apply to a particular meditation for the greatest profit. Of course there can be experimentation during the retreat with a deeper appreciation of the content and the method gained.

a) The Framework of Prayer p35-42 
As the book says, “There is no such thing as an “˜Ignatian method’”. The four suggested methods are explained. Retreatants should try to develop some discipline in their meditation and not just reflect upon the material, but it is fine if that is where they are at.

 ii. Meditation by the Three Powers of the Soul. 
This applies memory, then understanding then will to the content.

 iii. Contemplation on a Gospel Mystery 
This is about “˜reliving the mystery with a great deal of faith and love’. It is particularly imaginative. It is worth trying and using this method for the gospel meditations.

 iv. Application of the senses 
This consists of applying each sense to the meditation. Again it is worth trying this method.

 v. Repetition of One of the Many Exercises 
The retreatant may repeat any exercise at will, which may mean particular meditations will need to be left aside.

b) Three Methods of Prayer p43-47

 i. Prayer that Evolves from Our Daily Living 
This is particularly good for the first week and should be used as part of the preparation for the general examen. It can then be repeated as often as the retreatant desires.

 ii. Prayer That Evolves from Spoken Words 
This is similar to the classical “˜Lexio Divina” prayer method. And should be tried.

 iii. A rhythmic Prayer 
Similar to the previous method, this is focused on repeating one set of words many times.

Advanced: 1) The same as methodical, but with a greater awareness of all the retreats aspects, ie general and particular examen (p. 48-50), “˜Note One: Penance’ (p51-53), “˜Note Two: The Spiritual Exercises and The Mystical Life’ (p.??) and How to deal with Scruples (p. 230-231).

2) The Particular Daily Examen 
If a particular fault is recognised, then this is a useful way to help eradicate it and should be used. If so, it become part of a daily routine, and can take some of the prayer times, but still allow for the flow of the retreat to continue

3) Note One: Penance (p51-53) This should only be allowed for the more advanced and commited retreatants. Year 12 is penance enough.

4) Note Two: The Spiritual Exercises and The Mystical Life. This is a more advanced point at the discretion of the spiritual director to address.

5) How to deal with Scruples (p. 230-231). Only if needed.


 Try some different methods of prayer. At least 15 minutes of prayer should be given to each method.

1) Start with one of the gospel passages from the third day (p.67) and practice the method of prayer “Contemplation on a Gospel Mystery” p. 37.

2) Using the same gospel passage, use the “Meditation by the Three Powers of the Soul” method of prayer. P.36

3) If someone wishes to they may then try the “Application of the Senses” to the Gospel scene. P. 39

4) Prayer That Evolves from Spoken Words p.45
Try this method on the words of Jesus from the chosen passage

5) It appears that the “Repetition of one or many exercises” is just a repetition, but is in fact a particular way of repeating the meditation to enter more deeply, this may also be tried if wished.


Your journal is your friend. It is where you have total freedom to express your thoughts, feelings, ideas, anything and everything. It is THE place to store away what is happening so you can reflect later upon what is happening or what happened. What you write can take different forms. It could just be clinical comments on what is happening. It could be a personal letter, poetry, a diagram or a picture. What should be included is the date, a general comment on how you are feeling and any illuminations you might have had. You are free to use the journal to explore a particular issue and to try to work it out.