Ignatian Companions Guide:
An Introduction to the Spiritual Exercises
Companions in Ignatian Service and Spirituality has developed and adapted the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius for use alongside our service program. The guide is used to grow in daily prayer and in building community among one another.
This Guide has been designed as a series of Months with each month divided into 4 Weeks. Each Week is identified by a specific theme. The structure of this Spiritual Journey is meant to be a written companion for you; to help you focus your prayer and your reflection on your service to Christ’s poor. As such, what we have prepared for you is a series of suggestions in the context of traditional Ignatian Spirituality. These suggestions are not meant to be slavishly adhered to, but rather as a method for you to pray. This journey is essentially between you and God. Open your heart to where God desires to lead you and discover there the joy of being one who is loved.
Early in your prayer and through discussion with your spiritual director you may find you may only have 20 minutes for prayer. The length of time that you spend in daily prayer is less important than being faithful to praying each day.
Each week of these Spiritual Exercises has the same structure. Every prayer period is divided into 6 sections, or as we call them, the 6 C’s.
The structure of the daily prayer, or the 6 C’s, is as follows:
1. COLLECT: The “collect” means “to gather.” In this context, meaning to collect yourself for prayer. At the time of prayer ask the Spirit to help you recognize that you are in God’s presence. Come before the Lord consciously, just the way you are at the moment, with fears or joys, convictions or doubts, victories or defeats, tiredness or zeal. Acknowledge God’s presence and see God looking at you and smiling. Hear God call your name. Hear God say to you, “You are my delight!”
2. CONTEXT: For each day, there is a grace to be requested. This is our context, that is, why we are coming to prayer. Never omit asking God for what you want. When you are ready, you may use the prayer provided or some other words that you find helpful.
3. COMPOSITION: Read one of the scripture passages slowly. Pay attention to what feeling or thoughts arise in you. You are preparing yourself to be ready to observe, listen, or participate, as you feel drawn to do so.
4. CONTEMPLATION: Be aware of all your senses, see, hear, feel, smell, taste the details of the passage. Enter into the scene or situation however you can, as a participant, or as an observer, as a participant, or as an observer. There is a suggestion for contemplation provided for you each day. Use it as you find helpful or some other for entering into contemplation.
5. CONNECTION: Our Connection is the bridge between your prayer, your ministry and your life. It is a simple question intended to increase awareness of how your spiritual journey is a part of your journey with those in your ministry.
6. CONCLUSION: When you come to the end of your prayer period, ask yourself what you want to especially bring before God. Then talk to God personally, the way you would talk to a friend. End your prayer with recommended prayer, typically the Our Father.
In addition to the core prayer period for each day, there are other materials provided to you for each week. These are:
1. ON THE JOURNEY: All prayer happens within a context. Our prayer happens in a larger structure of movement to desire and freedom as sons and daughters of God. More so, the context actually describes the “back drop” for the week’s prayer. Every week, therefore, begins with some words on the context of prayer. Be sure to begin the week with this reading and it is helpful to read it once or twice more in the course of the week.
2. OTHER RESOURCES: We have provided other resources that you may want to supplement your week with. These supplements are suggestions that you may find helpful on your journey and as a way to maintain the spirit of prayer throughout your day.
3. FOR THE JOURNEY: Every week there is a reading, prayer, reflection. These are “tidbits” to help keep you fed. If you find them useful, then use them; if not, disregard them!
Monthly Themes during Ignatius Year
MONTH I: Beginnings
- Carey Landry, Only a Shadow
- Rumi , The Guest House
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur
- David Whyte, Everything is Waiting for You
MONTH II: Darkness
MONTH III: Decisions
- Fra Angelico, The Annunciation
- El Greco, The Holy Trinity; El Greco, The Holy Trinity; The Annunciation
- Juan Correa, The Annunciation
MONTH IV: And the Word was Made Flesh…
- James Tissot, The Annunciation
- Henry Ossawa Tanner, Angels Appearing Before the Shepherds
- James Tissot, Journey of the Magi
MONTH V: The Ministry Begins
- Ted Loder, In the Silence, Name Me
MONTH VI: To Heal the Sick and Broken-Hearted
- Theophanes, Greek Icon 14th Century
- Consider the images of Jesus or moments in his life that have been important to you – Google to find an artist’s rendering, or search www.abcgallery.com
MONTH VII: The Ultimate Gifts
- Salvador Dali, The Last Supper
Graham Sutherland, The Crucifixion
Michaelangelo, The Pieta
Walk the Stations of the Cross
Prayer, Anima Christi
MONTH VIII: “Peace Be with You!”
- Caravaggio, The Incredulity of St Thomas
- John August, Festival of Lights
- Bagong Kussudiardja, The Ascension (in the Bible Through Asian Eyes)
- ee cummings, I thank You God for this most amazing day
MONTH IX: Life in the Spirit