CH 502 Medieval & Reformation Church History
Dr. Katherine H. Lee Ahn
The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola
Presented by Jeong Jin Yoo
March 6, 2012
Historical Background of the Spiritual Exercises 4
Deepening Experiences at Manresa, 1522-1523 6
The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola 9
Fruits of the Spiritual Exercises 12
Any attempt to search fully for ways to understand the sixteenth century Reformation must address not only the Protestant Reformation but the Catholic Reformation. However, the voices calling for reform have been focused on figures like Luther, Calvin, and the Left Wing of the Reformation. Roman Catholic action in this context has been described mainly in terms of reaction and retrenchment. Their concern for reaction and renewal that existed in certain Catholic circle often has been passed off simply as a countermove, or a Counter-Reformation. According to Gonzalez the movements of reform that characterized Protestantism grew out of attempts at renewal within the Roman Catholic Church.  One figure was Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), author of the Spiritual Exercises and founder of the Society of Jesus.
The central research issue is to understand how the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola affects the Catholic Reformation. The research questions that will be addressed in this paper are as follows: What was the spiritual soil that the Spiritual Exercises was conceived? What was, if any, the personal experience that the Spiritual Exercises was initiated? What was the purpose of writing of the Spiritual Exercises? How could the Spiritual Exercises contribute to the Catholic Reformation? For respecting the boundaries of the field this paper will be confined within the history of Christian Spirituality in the sixteenth century Catholic Reformation context. This paper will explore the spiritual disciplines of Ignatius Loyola with a particular attention to the period of the "Deepening (1522-1523)" at Manresa. It will also describe the main points of the Spiritual Exercise and analyze the significant impact on the Catholic Reformation. Before we explore the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, it would be helpful to trace back the tradition of the spiritual exercises in the Western church of the 13th-15th century.
Historical Background of the Spiritual Exercises
According to Ganss this period can be characterized by a lack of respect for authority and scandalous examples of moral degradation in all levels of society.  It led many fervent believers to resort to a spirituality that was one of withdrawal from the world, fortified by well-regulated spiritual exercises and definite methods of prayer. What would the spiritual exercises of the time be? The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola embraces every method of examination of conscious, of meditation, of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual activity. 
The existence of spiritual exercises in the life of the Church before Ignatius is well illustrated by the Devotio Moderna. Toward the end of the medieval period, methodical meditation was introduced in the Lowlands through various treatises on prayers as a means of spiritual reform to lead the laity, clergy and religious back to a true Christian life. The New Devotion Movement (devotio moderna) was led by three great men – Geert Grote (1340-1384), Gerard Zerbolt of Zutphen (1367-1398) and the charismatic organizer, Florens Radewijns (1350-1400). They aimed at influencing ordinary people. They proposed four classes of subject for meditation. First, things those concerned the birth, life, and passion of Christ contained in canonical Scripture. Second, matters those treated the same themes but revealed at a later time to certain saints. Third were matters from the teaching of the doctors. Finally, many imagined and fictional things received in some lesser manner as aids to our childishness.  During this period the movement spread from the Ijssel Delta in the Netherland, to Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland. The movement aimed at the reformation of the soul and the rejuvenation of the spirit as the basis for renewal of individuals and groups.
In Italy the two reformers of the clergy and religious were St. Laurence Justinian (d. 1455) and Louis Barbo (d. 1443). For both of them the instrument of reform was the practice of methodical mental prayer or meditation. Their reforming influence was left at Motecassino and through Garcia Jimenez de Cisneros (1455-1510), at Valladolid and "Montserrat" in Spain.  At the request of Pope Eugene IV, Barbo wrote to the Benedictines at Valladolid to acquaint them with methodical meditation, and it was from this abbey in 1429 that Cisneros went with twelve monks, to reform the abbey of Montserrat near Barcelona, Spain. Although he did not attain the fame of St. Ignatius, Cisneros must be recognized as one of the most influential figures in the Tridentine reform of the Church and in early Spanish spirituality.  Cisneros left two works which were printed in Spanish at Montserrat in 1500: Ejercitatorio de la vida espiritual and Directorio de las horas canonicas. The former became a standard directory for spiritual exercises (in Spanish, ejecicios). 
Generally, three weeks were assigned for the spiritual exercises. The fourth part of the directory is intended specially for contemplatives. The method of making the exercises is spelled out in some detail, as are the themes for the meditations. His material is practically a transcription of Gerson’s De monte contemplations  , but he propose three ways of contemplating Christ: (a) to consider the sacred humanity, as St. Bernard teaches; (b) to look at Christ as God and man; (c) to rise above the sacred humanity and focus on the divinity of Christ.  Cisneros states that "each person should follow his own spiritual attraction to the degree of his prayer life."  Numerous devoted laymen would go to the monasteries for the purpose of making the spiritual exercises, as it was the case with Ignatius at Manresa where he had probably learned this type of meditation which formed the basis of the Spiritual Exercises. The period of the "Deepening at Manresa" will give us a clue how Ignatius initiates to write down the Spiritual Exercises.
Deepening Experiences at Manresa, 1522-1523
Inigo Lopez de Loyola,  known to history as Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), set out from Loyola in early 1522.  He went to the shrine of Our Lady at Montserrat in Catalonia and then to the nearby town of Manresa for a few days in order to write some things in a notebook – he began to carry around with him- but these few days became some eleven months that were to be the most important months in his life. Later he describes them at some length in his autobiography, and frequently extolled the Manresa period as his Primitive Church. Why did Inigo prolong his stay in Manresa? It is not known why he did not immediately embark for Italy. Possibly Manresa was suggested to him by the Montserrat monk Fr. Chanon as a quiet place where he could do penance, continue his note taking and prepare spirituality for his pilgrimage,  but there may have been an outbreak of the plague in Barcelona, which closed its port to shipping. Another probable reason by Dalmases is that Inigo may have missed the opportunity of undertaking the pilgrimage during that year 1522, for intending pilgrimages required the permission of the Pope, and Adrian VI had not yet arrived in Rome.  Whatever the reason Inigo’s stay at Menresa was, it should be considered, providential. This stay had immense importance for his spiritual formation and for the first formulation in writing of the Spiritual Exercises. His interior development during his eleven months can be divided into three periods.
The first is a state of a great equanimity coupled with a constant joy without any clear knowledge of interior spiritual things. It was a time of prayer, spiritual joy, and penance in imitation of the saints especially Francis, Dominic and Humphrey. His whole intention was to do such great external works, as he previously did, because the saints had done so for the glory of God. He was emphasizing their external deeds and austerities rather than the interior spirit from which their action sprang, and often his penances were excessive.
The second is a severe struggle with doubts, scruples, and desolation. In the midst of his anguishing situation he continued his seven hours of prayer and other spiritual practices. Nevertheless, human efforts could not achieve what divine grace did. Suddenly he was delivered from these agonies of conscience. This anguish came from two sources. On the one hand it is questions about his perseverance in his new way of life; on the other it scruples about his past confessions. That terrible ordeal served to complete the work of his purification and transform Inigo into a master experienced in the art of curing scruples.
In the third period he received marvelous divine illuminations and began to compose the Spiritual Exercises. In this transitional period, "God treated him at this time just as a schoolmaster treats a child whom he is teaching."  Then he began his account of his divine illuminations. Harvey Egan states in his book that scholars such as Hugo Rahner and Joseph de Guibert consider these illuminations to denote a high degree of mystical prayer and divinely infused contemplation.  Ignatius’ realization of the effective transformation of the cave-experience is intimated in his bewildering question: "What new kind of life is this upon which I am entering?"  Here two features of these illuminations are especially noteworthy. The same core of thought that Inigo had drawn at Loyola from the lives of the saints and Ludolph’s Life of Christ was now being "deepened" and synthesized through the grace of infused contemplation. Also his experiences were predominantly intellectual visions and insights, in which God communicates with him in a way that leads a mystic to a better understanding of truths, and experiences.
Especially significant was the illumination which occurred beside the river Cardoner. After this illumination Inigo saw everything in a new light. As Dalmases points out, what he saw in a general way was the new course his life was to take and the consequences.  Sometime during the third period, Inigo organized his notes and began to write the first page of what was to become the Spiritual Exercises. He himself stated that "he had not composed the Spiritual Exercises all at once, but that when he noticed some things in his soul and found them useful, he thought they might be useful to others, and so he put them in writing",  and thus he traced such experiences all the way back to Loyola. He was writing, not for publication, but notes for himself as a spiritual diary and as an aid in his apostolic conversation with others.
From the period of Manresa came the fundamental meditations of the Four Weeks, and the linking of them together into an order aimed at the attainment of the end of the Spiritual Exercises, which is to overcome oneself and to order one’s life free from disordered affections.  Hence the Spiritual Exercises was the fruit of a prolonged period of elaboration at Manresa, and Inigo practiced them himself before he put them down in writing. Of striking importance for all his future work, then he left Manresa. The major ideas and thrusts of his spiritual doctrine were now formulated, at least in a skeletal form, both in his mind and to some little extent in writing. We will now look at more details about the Spiritual Exercises.
The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola
As this paper traces the spiritual exercises through history within the Church, one learns that there are many styles of retreats or personal spiritual-renewal periods. In contrast, the Spiritual Exercises themselves are focused primarily on passage from the four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ, with certain key structures presented by Ignatius at precise interval as a distillation of a particular movement or call within the Gospels.  The carefully constructed content of the Spiritual Exercises was written down specifically to guide one who sincerely desires to facilitate the response to God’s special grace and call in an individual Christian’s life, and can withdraw from ordinary occupations for thirty days to make four or five daily contemplations alone with God in complete solitude with the help of a director. 
Ignatius divides the Spiritual Exercises into four groups, called "Weeks," a designation based not on seven chronological days, but upon the grace granted as a result of each week’s exercises. "The time should be set according to the needs of the subject matter" (no.4), Ignatius writes. The First Week corresponds to the "purgative way" (no.10); the Second Week, the "illuminative way" (no.10); the Third Week and the Fourth Week are perhaps a means of deepening, in the light of Christ’s passion and resurrection, the "election", or resolution, made at the end of the Second Week. The main points of the Spiritual Exercises are as follows. 
In the First Week Ignatius insists that all should be done for the service and praise of God, a thought that would later become the motto of the Society of Jesus and a characteristic of Ignatian spirituality (no. 23). Then he introduces the subject matter for the meditations of the first week, which are sin and hell. He advised the retreatant to bring the three powers to bear on the subject; that is, to recall to one’s memory the sins the question; then to reflect on them with the intellect; and finally to move the feeling with the will. At the end of the material for the first week, he lists ten additions (nos. 73-89) which instruct the retreatant on various matters such as comportment and penances.
The Second Week contains the contemplations on the life of Christ, together with five meditations on Two Standards and Three Classes of Men (nos. 101-162). The goal of the second week is to make one’s election in response to God’s call (no. 91). On the first day the retreatant compares the response of a good and loyal subject to a libral and kind king with the response Christians should give to Christ the King, he then provides meditations for the first three days (nos. 102-109). On the fourth day Ignatius introduces the symbol of the Two Standards, that of Christ and Lucifer, and he explains that Christ wants to bring all souls to spiritual poverty, willingness to suffer contempt, and humility (nos. 136-157). From the fifth to the seventh day the meditations return to the life of Christ, after which Ignatius explains the three types of humility: that is necessary for salvation which is more perfect, and which is most perfect (nos. 158-161). At the end of this second week, the retreatant is supposed to make his election, and this must be done in the view of the glory of God and salvation of one’s soul. If the election does not concern the choice of one’s vocation or some other matter that needs to be decided, it is suggested that one make an election concerning the reform of his or her own life or some detail that pertains to his or her state in life. But in every case, the glory of God must be the primary factor in the choice that is made (nos. 184-189).
The subject matter for the meditation of the Third Week is the passion and death of Christ, so that the retreatant will find motives for fidelity to Christ and will also be able to petition the graces and strength needed to carry out his election (nos. 191-199). This particular section of the Spiritual Exercises concludes with detailed rules for abstinence in food and drink (nos. 200-207). Taught by experience, Ignatius here manifests his great prudence in matter of penance and he advices the retreatant to imagine how Christ acted in the matter of food and drink and then to imitate him (nos. 208-217).
The Fourth Week consists of meditations on the events of Christ’s life from the resurrection to the ascension and the emphasis is not so much on asceticism, as in the third week, but on temperance and moderation (nos. 226-229). Ignatius offers some outlines for meditations aimed at fostering growth in love and he follows this with directions on three kinds of mental prayer. First is to make a reflection and self-examination on the Ten Commandments, the capital sins or the faculties of soul and body (nos. 239-248). Second is to make a meditation on one word or pausing at a word of a prayer for as one gains benefit from it, then moving on to the next one (nos.250-257). Third is to make a one-word aspiration each time one draws and exhales a breath or doing this with each word the Our Father (no. 258). Finally, as appendices at the end of his book Ignatius places sets of suggestions on a variety of topics: a list of Mysteries of Christ’s life especially suitable for a time of retreat; rules for the Discernment of Spirits; the Distribution of Alms; thinking, judging, and feeling rightly within the Church; and brief Notes on Scruples (nos. 259-260).
It is through the Spiritual Exercises that Ignatius has exerted his most effective and widespread influence directly upon individual persons. During his own lifetime from Manresa onward he gave these Exercises continually to innumerable persons with whom he dealt. By means of the Spiritual Exercises, too, he won and trained the first followers with whom he founded the Society of Jesus in 1539.  How could then the Spiritual Exercises contribute to the Catholic Reformation? Before we are going to make the list, it might be good to weave together the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Reformation in terms of the "Fabric of Reformation."
Fruits of the Spiritual Exercises
The sixteenth century in European history is marked by the religious upheaval we call the Reformation, and attention is generally focused on Luther and the other Protestant reformers those who broke with the established Church and preached new doctrines and practices. According to Whale, however, the Protestant Reformation was not merely a social and political revolt from an outmoded ecclesiastical system, nor was it merely the setting up of a rival system.  One of crucial and inevitable factors was a spiritual movement. It was initiated by a theological concept and, by giving the individual the Bible, it provided a dynamic that changed society wherever the reformation triumphed.
Likewise Catholic reform, called the Catholic Reformation, in a positive sense had a different origin and purpose. It did not begin opposing Protestantism but was a parallel movement, springing out of the same context and responding to very similar needs for religious change and revival.  Its manifestations in fact antedate Luther’s revolt. Its purpose was to correct ills in the Church and reinvigorate its life and mission. It was profoundly affected by the crisis and schism that developed after 1517, but it did not suddenly arise then. It was, however, given new urgency and a new dimension by the serious problems that were now posed, and a complex pattern of Catholic activity unfolded under the shock of widespread dissension and revolt.  The survival of Catholicism and many lives of the most important Catholic figures of the time and the nature of many events demand another and a broader perspective. Renewal and reform continued within the framework of the Church’s teaching and authority, though inevitably these efforts tended to merge with the defense of the institution and the struggle to maintain and refresh it. It has thus a period of almost seventy years to observe the phenomenon of Catholic reform, years of profound historical change and years of crucial importance for the survival and revival of the Catholic faith.
Here we can see that one of the significant impacts of the Spiritual Exercises would be the "gift of weaving together" of believer’s idea of the Reformation. Especially when it comes to the Catholic Reformation it is evident. According to Ganss the Catholic church has been especially indebted to Ignatius for the following contributions to the spiritual renewal. First is the practice of spiritual exercises or retreats. Second is a successful method for the practice of mental prayer. Third is the universal popularity of the general and particular examen. Fourth is recognition of the need for mortification, but adjusted to the conditions and strength of the individual. Fifth is the importance of the spiritual director. Sixth is a theology of the apostolate as an obligation for all Christians. Finally, it gave an adaptation of religious life to the needs of the times.  The Christian laity of the Middle Ages did not examine themselves in the manner of the Spiritual Exercises. To choose a religious way of living was a natural and ordinary thing to do, acceptable to society and surprising no one. In the sixteenth century the Reformations had begun to set themselves against purely external forms of religion. At this vital point, Ignatius provided a test so that men and women could see whether, contrary to the drift of the age, they really had an inner urge towards the spiritual life. This ideal was not only for clergy, monks and nuns but also was put forward as a program for all devoutly-inclined men and women. No doubt, of course, the influence of the Devotio Moderna and other later medieval traditions on Ignatius’s teaching about prayer is clear, but he gathered, reformulated, and transmitted that heritage in a way and to a degree that others did not.
The Spiritual Exercises are rooted in the great mystical experiences of Inigo Lopez de Loyola, his dramatic conversion to a holy life and his definitive commitment to Catholicism. Fundamentally they represent the first fruits of his "Deepening" heart experience in the cave of Manresa in the months between March 1522 and February 1523. But actually they are the studied product of more than twenty-five years (1522-1548) of practical asceticism and mysticism. The Spiritual Exercises, of course, as a vital instrument of renewal in the context of the Catholic Reformation reshaped the identity of the people of God. The reshaping of identity that the pilgrim sought in Manresa was distilled into the practices of the Spiritual Exercises of Catholic Reformation Europe. Ignatius proposed to his followers and to those whom he directed in the Spiritual Exercises the same end a restructuring of the self, of one’s sense of self, one’s identity, in terms of total commitment to God’s will and to unstinting enlisting in His service. The entire corpus of the Spiritual Exercises was organized and directed to this end. It proposed nothing less than a restructuring of one’s life, one’s ideals and values, one’s goals and hopes, and the commitment of that life to the service of King of Kings. Indeed the Spiritual Exercises were the secret weapon of the Catholic Reformation.
It is my honor and joy to have a wonderful experience exploring the world of the Medieval and Reformation Church History with the guidance of Dr. Katherine Lee Ahn. I deeply appreciate your powerful teaching ministry at Fuller. A wider and deeper understanding in the learning of the West both in Protestantism and Roman Catholicism was possible because of this class. Thanks, be to our God.
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