a Basque from Loyola in the north of Spain in 1491, is the founder
of the Roman Catholic religious order known as the Society of
Jesus or "Jesuits".
Something of an adventurer in his youth he enjoyed the swordplay
and loose living common for young noblemen of his day.
While trying to drive away an attack by French
at Pamplona in northern Spain, he was wounded in the leg. He
was sent back home to Loyola. During his convalescence he had
a conversion experience. When recovered he set off on pilgrimage
to Jerusalem. On the way he stopped off at Manresa (near Barcelona)
and spent many months in anguished reflection and prayer. The
fruit of this period was his 'Spiritual Exercises'. Something
of an attempt to help others avoid the pitfalls he had fallen
into. His aim was to inspire the retreatant with enthusiasm
to follow Christ, our Lord.
The Spiritual Exercises
Ignatius developed a programme of prayer and reflection on life,
based on the life of Christ, in which the person doing his Exercises
looks at how best to serve God in his or her life. The Exercises
introduce the retreatant to various ways of praying - using
scripture in imaginative contemplation, meditating upon one's
own life. The Scripture follows the life of Christ from birth
to passion and resurrection. The retreatant, in meditating upon
these scriptural stories, allows the life of Christ to interplay
with his/her own life. One of the basic aims of the Exercises
is to help the retreatant more clearly see how our daily life
can see us under the influence of good or negative forces.
The term 'retreat' covers a much broader range
of subjects than just the Spiritual Exercises. Sometimes it
is a time away from the normal routine, perhaps in a place of
quiet, where a person can take some time to reflect and pray
and take stock of life.
Who am I?
What is really important for me?
Where are you God?
What should I do?
Often there is someone to talk to on this time
away, a spiritual guide or director. Individually Guided Retreats
are where the person sees a guide daily to see how things are
going and how to proceed most fruitfully. Most retreats at St
Beuno's are made in silence to help focus the prayer and stay
away from the daily distractions such as TV, radio, computer,
mobile phone etc. which we too often fill every waking moment.