Key Buzz words, contemplative prayer, experiential Christianity, relational Christianity are key words in understanding spiritual formation.
The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (composed from 1522–1524) are a set of Christian meditations, prayers and mental exercises, divided into four thematic 'weeks' of variable length, designed to be carried out over a period of 28 to 30 days. They were composed with the intention of helping the retreatant to discern Jesus in his life, leading him to a personal commitment to follow him. Though the underlying spiritual outlook is Catholic, the exercises can also be undertaken by non-Catholics. The 'Spiritual Exercises' booklet was formally approved in 1548 by Paul III.
The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius form the cornerstone of Ignatian Spirituality—a way of understanding and living the human relationship with God in the world exemplified in the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Although originally designed to take place in the setting of a secluded retreat, during which those undergoing the exercises would be focused on nothing other than the Exercises, in his introductory notes, Ignatius provides a model for completing the Exercises over a longer period without the need of seclusion. The Exercises were designed to be carried out while under the direction of a spiritual director. The Spiritual Exercises were never meant only for the vowed religious. Ignatius of Loyola gave the Exercises for 15 years before he was ordained, and years before the Society of Jesus was even founded. After the Society was formed, the Exercises became the central component of the Jesuit novitiate training program, and they usually take place during the first year of a two year novitiate. Ignatius considered the examen, or spiritual self-review, to be the most important way to continue to live out the experience of the Exercises after their completion.
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