Christian Life Community
THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF ST. IGNATIUS
The basic spirituality of the Christian Life Communities began with the person of St. Ignatius Loyola. He was given an extraordinary grace of conversion, and in the process he had a profoundly mystical experience of the Lord. The experience became the source of Ignatius' total dedication to the person and mission of Christ. The record of this experience was written down and perfected by lgnatius over the years as a guide to assist others in opening themselves totally to the Lord and allowing him to be the centre of their lives.
This record is entitled the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF SAINT IGNATIUS. As other persons were guided through this experience of the Lord, the Spiritual Exercises became the source of a new religious order, the Jesuits, and of congregations of lay persons which became the Marian Congregations from which the Christian Life Communities developed after Vatican II.
In deciding to make a retreat, we start to share St. Ignatius' experiences first on a sickbed: considering what life is all about and what we were made for. In successive stages we come to:
Liberation: What holds me back from a full Christian life?
We meditate on three questions:
- What have I done for Christ and God's humanity?
- What am I doing for Christ and God's humanity?
- What ought I to do for Christ and God's humanity?
Come and See! Christ answers the last question: "Come and See". So we meditate on his life, see how he gave himself for us, listen to his invitation to share in his work.
Passover: "The Trinity give themselves continuously to all persons and invites all people to give themselves continuously to them, in and with Christ." Loving his own, Christ loved them even to the Cross.
We try to share what the Cross meant to Jesus and to us: how it led Jesus (and can lead us) to a new and risen life for our world.
Finding God in all Things: With a new and vivid personal knowledge and love of the Lord we are better able to recognize Christ in our daily lives.
Choosing in Christ: By making our daily choices, big and small, not by mere human prudence but as part of a growing ability to see all things in God, according to the mind and heart of Christ.
In Action: Ignatius assumes that we start where he started: as convinced Christians whose religion has not yet invaded the whole of life and that we have not yet seen and felt the full challenge of Christ . . . but that we wish to do so.
Back to Ordinary Life: Powerful as the Spiritual Exercises are, one retreat is not likely to last for life. The real work must be done in ordinary life. The spirit of the Exercises must be continued from day to day, in regular prayerful pondering on the life of Jesus so we get to know Christ better and better and can recognize the Lord more clearly in others and daily circumstances.
We also need a retreat each year, to renew our spirit. CLC not only organizes such retreats, it also helps you to live the gospels in the midst of daily life, sharing your insights and difficulties with like-minded people, encouraging them and being encouraged by them to carry on Christ's work in a world that is often not very Christlike.
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