He strode into the room in a black cassock. Very reminiscent of Bishop Fulton Sheen. Dad likes to watch Bishop Sheen on DVD. I almost thought I was in the studio for a moment. He began immediately “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen.” And after a Hail Mary, dove right into the teaching of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. I wasn’t sure if we were going to have handouts or not so I started taking notes.
Even though I have wanted to learn these exercises for some time, I almost skipped this course. I discovered that it includes a commitment to a daily holy hour and with getting up for Mass with Dad at 5 am, picking up my grandson from school every day, and keeping up with the high-schooler’s school work, I didn’t know where I was going to fit in an extra hour.
But by some happy accident, I decided to go. Even after Uncle called and told Dad that he would have no more softball games on Thursdays (my class day) until next year. So I went and was glad I did. Not only because I discovered that Edwards Cinema in Long Beach has $7 Sunday movies but also because I got to meet Fr. Ed Broom, the director of the course and a favorite blogger of mine. See his blog on Catholic Exchange and here.
What are the Spiritual Exercises?
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola is a prayer method involving deep meditation and contemplation. It is designed to deepen one’s spiritual experience, help one reform one’s life and experience a deeper relationship with Jesus.
I had bought a book on the spiritual exercises several years ago and valiantly tried to start working through them on my own. Apparently, you work through them one-on-one with a priest and this course is unusual. So I feel very privileged to be here. I struggled with the book. It was written in very dry theological terms which I have trouble wrapping my mind around. I didn’t last very long.
Fr. Ed started with a context of who Saint Ignatius was and the time in which he lived. He recommended we watch the movie Ignatius of Loyola for a better grasp of the historical context of when these exercises were given to Ignatius. He mentioned other saints of the time and pivotal moments in Saint Ignatius’ life that led him to this conversion experience. Next, he moved on to the tools of the exercises.
When I was trying to come up with a time for my holy hour I realized that the suggestion to get up an hour earlier, although detestable, was probably the best answer. I do miss my morning holy hours that I had before I started taking Dad to Mass. Even though Mass is the very highest and best form of prayer. I do desire my holy hours again.
Finally, we had a break. I grew very tired of sitting but came back to finish up and get the handouts for the week with the meditations and Bible readings. Now I’m off to practice the spiritual exercises. Come journey with me as I go through this and let you know how it goes.