THE PRAYER: SOUL OF CHRIST
SOUL OF CHRIST, SANCTIFY ME
BODY OF CHRIST, SAVE ME
BLOOD OF CHRIST, INEBRIATE ME
WATER FROM THE SIDE OF CHRIST, WASH ME
PASSION OF CHRIST, STRENGTHEN ME
O GOOD JESUS, HEAR ME
WITHIN THY WOUNDS HIDE ME
PERMIT ME NOT TO BE SEPARATED FROM THEE
FROM THE WICKED FOE DEFEND ME
AT THE HOUR OF MY DEATH CALL ME
AND BID ME COME TO THEE
THAT WITH THY SAINTS I MAY PRAISE THEE
FOR EVER AND EVER.
The purpose of these observations is to provide some understanding of the spiritual exercises which follow and to serve as a help both for the one who is to give them and for the exercitant
I. By the term “Spiritual Exercises” is meant every method of examination of conscience, of meditation, of contemplation, of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual activities that will be mentioned later. For just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.
II. The one who explains to another the method and order of meditating or contemplating should narrate accurately the facts of the contemplation or meditation. Let him adhere to the points, and add only a short or summary explanation. The reason for this is that when one in meditating takes the solid foundation of facts, and goes over it and reflects on it for himself, he may find something that makes them a little clearer or better understood. This may arise either from his own reasoning, or from the grace of God enlightening his mind. Now this produces greater spiritual relish and fruit than if one in giving the Exercises had explained and developed the meaning at great length. For it is not much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and relish of the truth.
III. In all the Spiritual Exercises which follow, we make use of the acts of the intellect in reasoning, and of the acts of the will in manifesting our love. However, we must observe that when in acts of the will we address God our Lord or His saints either vocally or mentally, greater reverence is required on our part than when we use the intellect in reasoning.
IV. Four Weeks are assigned to the Exercises given below. This corresponds to the four parts into which they are divided, namely: the first part, which is devoted to the consideration and contemplation of sin; the second part, which is taken up with the life of Christ our Lord up to Palm Sunday inclusive; the third part, which treats of the passion of Christ our Lord; the fourth part, which deals with the Resurrection and Ascension; to this are appended Three Methods of Prayer.
However, it is not meant that each week should necessarily consist of seven or eight days. For it may happen that in the First Week some are slower in attaining what is sought, namely, contrition, sorrow, and tears for sin. Some, too, may be more diligent than others, and some more disturbed and tried by different spirits. It may be necessary, therefore, at times to shorten the Week, and at others to lengthen it. So in our search for the fruit that is proper to the matter assigned, we may have to do the same in all the subsequent Weeks. However, the Exercises should be finished in approximately thirty days.
V.It will be very profitable for the one who is to go through the Exercises to enter upon them with magnanimity and generosity toward his Creator and Lord, and to offer Him his entire will and liberty, that His Divine Majesty may dispose of him and all he possesses according to His most holy will.
VI. When the one who is giving the Exercises perceives that the exercitant is not affected by any spiritual experiences, such as consolations or desolations, and that he is not troubled by different spirits, he ought to ply him with questions about the exercises. He should ask him whether he makes them at the appointed times, and how he makes them. He should question him about the Additional Directions, whether he is diligent in the observance of them. He will demand an account in detail of each one of these points. Consolation and desolation are treated in # 316–324; the Additional Directions are given in # 73–90.
VII. If the director of the Exercises observes that the exercitant is in desolation and tempted, let him not deal severely and harshly with him, but gently and kindly. He should encourage and strengthen him for the future by exposing to him the wiles of the enemy of our human nature, and by getting him to prepare and dispose himself for the coming consolation.
VIII. If the one who is giving the Exercises should perceive from desolations, from the wiles of the enemy, and from consolations that the exercitant has need of them, he should explain to him the rules of the First Week and of the Second Week for the understanding of different spirits, # 313–327, and 328–336.
IX. It should be observed that when the exercitant is engaged in the Exercises of the First Week, if he is a person unskilled in spiritual things, and if he is tempted grossly and openly, for example, by bringing before his mind obstacles to his advance in the service of God our Lord, such as labors, shame, fear for his good name in the eyes of the world, etc., the one who is giving the Exercises should not explain to him the rules about different spirits that refer to the Second Week. For while the rules of the First Week will be very helpful to him, those of the Second Week will be harmful, since they deal with matter that is too subtle and advanced for him to understand.
X. When the one who is giving the Exercises perceives that the exercitant is being assailed and tempted under the appearance of good, then is the proper time to explain to him the rules of the Second Week, which we mentioned above. For commonly the enemy of our human nature tempts more under the appearance of good when one is exercising himself in the illuminative way. This corresponds to the Exercises of the Second Week. He does not tempt him so much under the appearance of good when he is exercising himself in the purgative way, which corresponds to the Exercises of the First Week.
XI. While the exercitant is engaged in the First Week of the Exercises, it will be helpful if he knows nothing of what is to be done in the Second Week. Rather, let him labor to attain what he is seeking in the First Week as if he hoped to find no good in the Second.
XII. He who is giving the Exercises must insist with the exercitant that since he is to spend an hour in each of the five exercises or contemplations which are made every day, he must always take care that he is satisfied in the consciousness of having persevered in the exercise for a full hour. Let him rather exceed an hour than not use the full time. For the enemy is accustomed to make every effort that the hour to be devoted to a contemplation, meditation, or prayer should be shortened.
XIII. We must remember that during the time of consolation it is easy, and requires only a slight effort, to continue a whole hour in contemplation, but in time of desolation it is very difficult to do so. Hence, in order to fight against the desolation and conquer the temptation, the exercitant must always remain in the exercise a little more than the full hour. Thus he will accustom himself not only to resist the enemy, but even to overthrow him.
XIV. If the one who is giving the Exercises sees that the exercitant is going on in consolation and in great fervor, he must admonish him not to be inconsiderate or hasty in making any promise or vow. The more unstable in character he knows him to be, the more he should forewarn and admonish him. For though it is right to urge one to enter the religious state in which he knows that vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity are taken, and though a good work done under vow is more meritorious than one done without a vow, nevertheless, it is necessary to consider with great care the condition and endowments of each individual, and the help or hindrance one would experience in carrying out his promises.
XV. The director of the Exercises ought not to urge the exercitant more to poverty or any promise than to the contrary, nor to one state of life or way of living more than to another. Outside the Exercises, it is true, we may lawfully and meritoriously urge all who probably have the required fitness to choose continence, virginity, the religious life, and every form of religious perfection. But while one is engaged in the Spiritual Exercises, it is more suitable and much better that the Creator and Lord in person communicate Himself to the devout soul in quest of the divine will, that He inflame it with His love and praise, and dispose it for the way in which it could better serve God in the future. Therefore, the director of the Exercises, as a balance at equilibrium, without leaning to one side or the other, should permit the Creator to deal directly with the creature, and the creature directly with his Creator and Lord.
XVI.Hence, that the Creator and Lord may work with greater certainty in His creature, if the soul chance to be inordinately attached or inclined to anything, it is very proper that it rouse itself by the exertion of all its powers to desire the opposite of that to which it is wrongly attached. Thus if one’s attachment leads him to seek and to hold an office or a benefice, not for the honor and glory of God our Lord, nor for the spiritual welfare of souls, but for his own personal gain and temporal interests, he should strive to rouse a desire for the contrary. Let him be insistent in prayer and in his other spiritual exercises in begging God for the reverse, that is, that he neither seek such office or benefice, nor anything else, unless the Divine Majesty duly regulate his desires and change his former attachment. As a result, the reason he wants or retains anything will be solely the service, honor, and glory of the Divine Majesty.
XVII. While the one who is giving the Exercises should not seek to investigate and know the private thoughts and sins of the exercitant, nevertheless, it will be very helpful if he is kept faithfully informed about the various disturbances and thoughts caused by the action of different spirits. This will enable him to propose some spiritual exercises in accordance with the degree of progress made and suited and adapted to the needs of a soul disturbed in this way.
XVIII. The Spiritual Exercises must be adapted to the condition of the one who is to engage in them, that is, to his age, education, and talent. Thus exercises that he could not easily bear, or from which he would derive no profit, should not be given to one with little natural ability or of little physical strength.
Similarly, each one should be given those exercises that would be more helpful and profitable according to his willingness to dispose himself for them.
Hence, one who wishes no further help than some instruction and the attainment of a certain degree of peace of soul may be given the Particular Examination of Conscience, # 24–31, and after that the General Examination of Conscience, # 32–43. Along with this, let him be given for half an hour each morning the method of prayer on the Commandments and on the Capital Sins, etc., # 238–248. Weekly confession should be recommended to him, and if possible, the reception of Holy Communion every two weeks, or even better, every week if he desires it.
This method is more appropriate for those who have little natural ability or are illiterate. Let each of the Commandments be explained to them, and also the Capital Sins, the use of the five senses, the precepts of the Church, and the Works of Mercy.
Similarly, if the one giving the Exercises sees that the exercitant has little aptitude or little physical strength, that he is one from whom little fruit is to be expected, it is more suitable to give him some of the easier exercises as a preparation for confession. Then he should be given some ways of examining his conscience, and directed to confess more frequently than was his custom before, so as to retain what he has gained.
But let him not go on further and take up the matter dealing with the Choice of a Way of Life, nor any other exercises that are outside the First Week. This is especially to be observed when much better results could be obtained with other persons, and when there is not sufficient time to take everything.
XIX. One who is educated or talented, but engaged in public affairs or necessary business, should take an hour and a half daily for the Spiritual Exercises.
First, the end for which man is created should be explained to him, then for half an hour the Particular Examination of Conscience may be presented, then the General Examination of Conscience, and the method of confessing and of receiving Holy Communion.
For three days, let him meditate each morning for an hour on the first, second, and third sins, # 45–54. For three more days, at the same time, he should take the meditation on personal sins, # 55–61. Then for three days, at the same hour, he should meditate on the punishment due to sin, # 65–71. Along with all of these meditations, he should be given the ten Additional Directions, # 73–89.
In the mysteries of the life of our Lord, the same order should be observed which is explained later on at great length in the Exercises themselves.
XX. To one who is more disengaged, and desirous of making as much progress as possible, all the Spiritual Exercises should be given in the same order in which they follow below.
Ordinarily, the progress made in the Exercises will be greater, the more the exercitant withdraws from all friends and acquaintances, and from all worldly cares. For example, he can leave the house in which he dwelt and choose another house or room in order to live there in as great privacy as possible, so that he will be free to go to Mass and Vespers every day without any fear that his acquaintances will cause any difficulty.
There are many advantages resulting from this separation, but the following three are the most important:
First, if in order to serve and praise God our Lord one withdraws from numerous friends and acquaintances and from many occupations not undertaken with a pure intention, he gains no little merit before the Divine Majesty.
Secondly, in this seclusion the mind is not engaged in many things, but can give its whole attention to one single interest, that is, to the service of its Creator and its spiritual progress. Thus it is more free to use its natural powers to seek diligently what it so much desires.
Thirdly, the more the soul is in solitude and seclusion, the more fit it renders itself to approach and be united with its Creator and Lord; and the more closely it is united with Him, the more it disposes itself to receive graces and gifts from the infinite goodness of its God.
Which have as their purpose the conquest of self and the regulation of one’s life in such a way that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment
To assure better cooperation between the one who is giving the Exercises and the exercitant, and more beneficial results for both, it is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false. If an orthodox construction cannot be put on a proposition, the one who made it should be asked how he understands it. If he is in error, he should be corrected with all kindness. If this does not suffice, all appropriate means should be used to bring him to a correct interpretation, and so defend the proposition from error.
First Principle and Foundation
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.
Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.
Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.
Daily Particular Examination of Conscience
There are three different times of the day and two examinations involved in this practice
First, in the morning, immediately on rising, one should resolve to guard carefully against the particular sin or defect with regard to which he seeks to correct or improve himself.
Secondly, after dinner, he should ask God our Lord for the grace he desires, that is, to recall how often he has fallen into the particular sin or defect, and to avoid it for the future.
Then follows the first examination. He should demand an account of himself with regard to the particular point which he has resolved to watch in order to correct himself and improve. Let him go over the single hours or periods from the time he arose to the hour and moment of the present examination, and in the first line of the figure given below, make a mark for each time that he has fallen into the particular sin or defect. Then he is to renew his resolution, and strive to amend during the time till the second examination is to be made.
Thirdly, after supper, he should make a second examination, going over as before each single hour, commencing with the first examination, and going up to the present one. In the second line of the figure given below, let him make a mark for each time he has fallen into the particular fault or sin.
Four Additional Directions
These are to serve as a help to more ready removal of the particular sin or fault
I. Every time one falls into the particular sin or fault, let him place his hand upon his breast, and be sorry for having fallen. He can do this even in the presence of many others without their perceiving what he is doing.
II. Since the first line of the figure to which G is prefixed represents the first examination of conscience, and the second one, the second examination, he should observe at night whether there is an improvement from the first line to the second, that is, from the first examination to the second.
III. The second day should be compared with the first, that is, the two examinations of the present day with the two of the preceding day. Let him observe if there is an improvement from one day to another.
IV. Let him compare one week with another and observe whether he has improved during the present week as compared with the preceding.
It should be noted that in the figure below the first G is larger, and signifies Sunday. The second is smaller, and stands for Monday, the third for Tuesday, the fourth for Wednesday, and so forth.
General Examination of Conscience
The purpose of this examination of conscience is to purify the soul and to aid us to improve our confessions.
I presuppose that there are three kinds of thoughts in my mind, namely: one which is strictly my own, and arises wholly from my own free will; two others which come from without, the one from the good spirit, and the other from the evil one.
There are two ways of meriting from evil thoughts that come from without:
When a thought of committing a mortal sin comes to my mind which I resist at once, and thus overcome it.
When the same evil thought comes to me, and I resist it, but it returns again and again, and I always resist it till it is conquered.
This second way is more meritorious than the first.
It is a venial sin if the same thought of sinning mortally comes to mind and for a short time one pays heed to it, or receives some sense pleasure, or is somewhat negligent in rejecting it.
There are two ways of sinning mortally:
The first is to consent to the evil thought with the intention of carrying it out, or of doing so if one can.
The second way of sinning mortally is actually carrying out the sin to which consent was given.
This is a greater sin for three reasons:
Because of the greater duration;
Because of the greater intensity;
Because of the greater harm done to both persons.
(One may also offend God in word in many ways: by blasphemy, by swearing.) One must not swear, neither by the creature nor by the Creator, unless it is according to truth, out of necessity, and with reverence.
By necessity I mean that the truth I swear to is not just some true statement I choose to confirm by oath, but one of real importance, either for the welfare of the soul or of the body, or with regard to temporal interests.
By reverence I mean that when the name of the Creator and Lord is mentioned, one acts with consideration and devoutly manifests due honour and respect.
It must be noted that in idle oaths we sin more grievously when we swear by the Creator than when we swear by a creature. However, to swear as one ought, according to truth, out of necessity, with reverence, is more difficult when we swear by a creature than when we swear by the Creator. There are three reasons for this:
When we wish to take an oath by some creature, the intention to call upon its name does not make us so attentive and cautious to speak the truth, or to confirm it by oath only if necessary, as we would be with the intention to use the name of the Creator and Lord of all.
When we swear by the name of some creature, it is not so easy to observe reverence and respect for the Creator as when in swearing we use the name of the Creator and Lord Himself. For the intention of using the name of God our Lord carries along with it a greater respect and reverence than the intention to use the name of a creature.Hence, those who are perfect should be allowed to swear by a creature rather than those who are imperfect. The perfect, due to constant contemplation and the enlightenment of the understanding, consider, meditate, and ponder more that God our Lord is in every creature by His essence, power, and presence. Therefore, when they swear by a creature, they are more apt to be disposed to show respect and reverence to the Creator and Lord than those who are imperfect.
In frequent swearing by a creature, idolatry is more to be feared in those who are imperfect than in those who are perfect.
(Among other sins of the tongue that we must avoid are idle words.) No idle word should be uttered. I understand a word to be idle when it serves no good purpose, either for myself or for another, and was not intended to do so. Hence, words are never idle when spoken for any useful purpose, or when meant to serve the good of one’s own soul or that of another, of the body or of temporal possessions. Nor are they idle because one speaks of matters that do not pertain to his state, for example, if a religious speaks of wars or of commerce. In all we have mentioned, there will be merit if what is said is directed to some good purpose; there will be sin if it is directed to an evil purpose, or if engaged in for no good end.
(Lying, false testimony, detraction are also sins of the tongue.) Nothing should be said to lessen the good name of another, or to complain about him. For if I reveal a hidden mortal sin of another, I sin mortally; if I reveal a hidden venial sin, I sin venially; if his defect, I manifest my own.
If, however, my intention is good, there are two ways in which it is permissible to speak of the sin or fault of another:
When a sin is public, as in the case of a woman openly leading a shameless life, or of a sentence passed in court, or of a commonly known error that infests the minds of those with whom we live.
When a hidden sin is revealed to someone with the intention that he help the one who is in sin to rise from his state. But then there must be some grounds or probable reasons for believing that he will be able to help him.
(Among sins of the tongue may be considered ridicule, insults, and other similar sins, which the one giving the Exercises may discuss if he judges it necessary.)
The subject matter for examination will be the Ten Commandments, the laws of the Church, the recommendations of superiors. All transgressions of obligations arising from any of these three groups are more or less grievous sins according to the gravity of the matter.
By recommendations of superiors is meant crusade indults and other indulgences, such as those for peace on condition of confession and reception of Holy Communion. For to be the cause of one acting against such pious recommendations and regulations of superiors, or to do so oneself, is no small sin.
Method of Making the General Examination of Conscience
There are five points in this method:
The first point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the favors received.
The second point is to ask for grace to know my sins and to rid myself of them.
The third point is to demand an account of my soul from the time of rising up to the present examination. I should go over one hour after another, one period after another. The thoughts should be examined first, then the words, and finally, the deeds in the same order as was explained under the Particular Examination of Conscience.
The fourth point will be to ask pardon of God our Lord for my faults.
The fifth point will be to resolve to amend with the grace of God. Close with an Our Father.
General Confession and Holy Communion
Among many advantages of a general confession which one makes of his own accord during the time of the Spiritual Exercises, there are especially these three:
It is true that one who confesses every year has no obligation to make a general confession. But if one is made, there will be much greater merit and profit, because of the greater sorrow experienced for all the sins and perversities of his whole life.
While one is going through the Spiritual Exercises, a far deeper insight into his sins and their malice is acquired than at a time when he is not so engaged with what concerns his inner life. Since at this time he attains to a deeper knowledge and sorrow for his sins, there will be greater profit and merit than he would otherwise have had.
As a consequence of having made a better confession, and of being better disposed, he will find that he is worthier and better prepared to receive the Most Blessed Sacrament. This reception will strengthen him not only against falling into sin, but will also help him to retain the increase of grace which he has gained.
It will be better to make this general confession immediately after the Exercises of the First Week.
This is a meditation on the first, second and third sin employing the three powers of the soul. After the preparatory prayer and two preludes it contains three principal points and a colloquy
In the preparatory prayer I will beg God our Lord for grace that all my intentions, actions, and operations may be directed purely to the praise and service of His Divine Majesty.
This is a mental representation of the place.
Attention must be called to the following point. When the contemplation or meditation is on something visible, for example, when we contemplate Christ our Lord, the representation will consist in seeing in imagination the material place where the object is that we wish to contemplate. I said the material place, for example, the temple, or the mountain where Jesus or His Mother is, according to the subject matter of the contemplation.
In a case where the subject matter is not visible, as here in a meditation on sin, the representation will be to see in imagination my soul as a prisoner in this corruptible body, and to consider my whole composite being as an exile here on earth, cast out to live among brute beasts. I said my whole composite being, body and soul.
The Second Prelude
I will ask God our Lord for what I want and desire.
The petition made in this prelude must be according to the subject matter. Thus in a contemplation on the Resurrection I will ask for joy with Christ in joy. In one on the passion, I will ask for sorrow, tears, and anguish with Christ in anguish.
Here it will be to ask for shame and confusion, because I see how many have been lost on account of a single mortal sin, and how many times I have deserved eternal damnation, because of the many grievous sins that I have committed.
The Preparatory Prayer, which is never changed, and the two Preludes mentioned above, which are changed at times according to the subject matter, must always be made before all the contemplations and meditations.
The First Point
This will consist in using the memory to recall the first sin, which was that of the angels, and then in applying the understanding by reasoning upon this sin, then the will by seeking to remember and understand all to be the more filled with shame and confusion when I compare the one sin of the angels with the many sins I have committed. I will consider that they went to hell for one sin, and the number of times I have deserved to be condemned forever because of my numerous sins.
I said we should apply the memory to the sin of the angels, that is, recalling that they were created in the state of grace, that they did not want to make use of the freedom God gave them to reverence and obey their Creator and Lord, and so falling into pride, were changed from grace to hatred of God, and cast out of heaven into hell.
So, too, the understanding is to be used to think over the matter more in detail, and then the will to rouse more deeply the emotions.
In the same way the three powers of the soul are to be applied to the sin of Adam and Eve. Recall to memory how on account of this sin they did penance for so long a time, and the great corruption which came upon the human race that caused so many to be lost in hell.
I said recall to mind the second sin, that of our First Parents. After Adam had been created on the Plain of Damascus and placed in the Garden of Paradise, and Eve had been formed from his side, they sinned by violating the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge. Thereafter, they were clothed in garments of skin and cast out of Paradise. By their sin they lost original justice, and for the rest of their lives, lived without it in many labours and great penance.
So, too, the understanding is to be used to think over the matter in greater detail, and the will is to be used as explained above.
In like manner, we are to do the same with regard to the third sin, namely, that of one who went to hell because of one mortal sin. Consider also countless others who have been lost for fewer sins than I have committed.
I said to do the same for the third particular sin. Recall to memory the gravity and malice of sin against our Creator and Lord. Use the understanding to consider that because of sin, and of acting against the Infinite Goodness, one is justly condemned forever. Close with the acts of the will as we have said above.
Imagine Christ our Lord present before you upon the cross, and begin to speak with him, asking how it is that though He is the Creator, He has stooped to become man, and to pass from eternal life to death here in time, that thus He might die for our sins.
I shall also reflect upon myself and ask:
“What have I done for Christ?”
“What am I doing for Christ?”
“What ought I to do for Christ?”
As I behold Christ in this plight, nailed to the cross, I shall ponder upon what presents itself to my mind.
Note on Colloquies
The colloquy is made by speaking exactly as one friend speaks to another, or as a servant speaks to a master, now asking him for a favor, now blaming himself for some misdeed, now making known his affairs to him, and seeking advice in them. Close with an Our Father.
This is a meditation on our sins. After the preparatory prayer and two preludes there are five points and a colloquy.
The preparatory prayer will be the same.
This will be the same as in the First Exercise.
This is to ask for what I desire. Here it will be to ask for a growing and intense sorrow and tears for my sins.
This is the record of my sins. I will call to mind all the sins of my life, reviewing year by year, and period by period. Three things will help me in this: First, to consider the place where I lived; secondly, my dealings with others; thirdly, the office I have held.
I will weigh the gravity of my sins, and see the loathesomeness and malice which every mortal sin I have committed has in itself, even though it were not forbidden.
I will consider who I am, and by means of examples humble myself:
What am I compared with all men?
What are all men compared with the angels and saints of paradise?
Consider what all creation is in comparison with God. Then I alone, what can I be?
I will consider all the corruption and loathsomeness of my body.
I will consider myself as a source of corruption and contagion from which has issued countless sins and evils and the most offensive poison.
I will consider who God is against whom I have sinned, going through His attributes and comparing them with their contraries in me: His wisdom with my ignorance, His power with my weakness, His justice with my iniquity, His goodness with my wickedness.
This is a cry of wonder accompanied by surging emotion as I pass in review all creatures. How is it that they have permitted me to live, and have sustained me in life! Why have the angels, though they are the sword of God’s justice, tolerated me, guarded me, and prayed for me! Why have the saints interceded for me and asked favours for me! And the heavens, sun, moon, stars, and the elements; the fruits, birds, fishes, and other animals—why have they all been at my service! How is it that the earth did not open to swallow me up, and create new hells in which I should be tormented forever!
I will conclude with a colloquy, extolling the mercy of God our Lord, pouring out my thoughts to Him, and giving thanks to Him that up to this very moment He has granted me life. I will resolve with His grace to amend for the future. Close with an Our Father.
This is a repetition of the first and second exercises with three colloquies
After the preparatory prayer and the two preludes, this exercise will consist in repeating the First and Second Exercise. In doing this, we should pay attention to and dwell upon those points in which we have experienced greater consolation or desolation or greater spiritual appreciation. After the repetition, three colloquies are to be used in the following manner:
The first colloquy will be with our Blessed Lady, that she may obtain grace for me from her Son and Lord for three favours:
A deep knowledge of my sins and a feeling of abhorrence for them;
An understanding of the disorder of my actions, that filled with horror of them, I may amend my life and put it in order;
A knowledge of the world, that filled with horror, I may put away from me all that is worldly and vain.
Then I will say a Hail Mary.
I will make the same petitions to her Son that He may obtain these graces from the Father for me.
After that I will say Soul of Christ.
I will make the same requests of the Father that He Himself, the eternal Lord, may grant them to me.
Then I will close with the Our Father.a
This exercise consists of a summary of the third exercise given above
I have called it a summary, because the intellect, without any digression, diligently thinks over and recalls the matter contemplated in the previous exercises. The same three colloquies should be used at the close.
This is a meditation on hell. Besides the preparatory prayer and two preludes it contains five points and a colloquy
The preparatory prayer will be as usual.
This is a representation of the place. Here it will be to see in imagination the length, breadth, and depth of hell.
I should ask for what I desire. Here it will be to beg for a deep sense of the pain which the lost suffer, that if because of my faults I forget the love of the eternal Lord, at least the fear of these punishments will keep me from falling into sin.
This will be to see in imagination the vast fires, and the souls enclosed, as it were, in bodies of fire.
To hear the wailing, the howling, cries, and blasphemies against Christ our Lord and against His saints.
With the sense of smell to perceive the smoke, the sulphur, the filth, and corruption.
To taste the bitterness of tears, sadness, and remorse of conscience.
With the sense of touch to feel the flames which envelop and burn the souls.
Enter into conversation with Christ our Lord. Recall to memory that of those who are in hell, some came there because they did not believe in the coming of Christ; others, though they believed, because they did not keep the Commandments. Divide them all into three classes:
Those who were lost before the coming of Christ;
Those who were lost during His lifetime;
Those who were lost after His life here on earth.
Thereupon, I will give thanks to God our Lord that He has not put an end to my life and permitted me to fall into any of these three classes.
I shall also thank Him for this, that up to this very moment He has shown Himself so loving and merciful to me.
Close with an Our Father.
(If the one giving the Exercises judges that it would be profitable for the exercitant, other exercises may be added here, for example, on death and other punishments of sin, on judgement, etc. Let him not think this is forbidden, though they are not given here.)
The First Exercise will be made at midnight; the Second, immediately on rising in the morning; the Third, before or after Mass, at all events before dinner; the Fourth, about the time of Vespers; the Fifth, an hour before supper.
This is more or less the arrangement of hours that I take for granted is being observed in all four Weeks. But as age, condition of health, and the physical constitution of the exercitant permit, there may be five exercises or fewer.
The purpose of these directions is to help one to go through the exercises better and find more readily what he desires
I. After retiring, just before falling asleep, for the space of a Hail Mary, I will think of the hour when I have to rise, and why I am rising, and briefly sum up the exercise I have to go through.
II. When I wake up, I will not permit my thoughts to roam at random, but will turn my mind at once to the subject I am about to contemplate in the first exercise at midnight. I will seek to rouse myself to shame for my many sins by using examples, let us say, of a knight brought before his king and the whole court, filled with shame and confusion for having grievously offended his lord from whom he had formerly received many gifts and favors. Similarly, in the Second Exercise, I will consider myself a great sinner, loaded with chains, that is, I will look upon myself as bound with fetters, going to appear before the supreme and eternal Judge, and I will recall the way prisoners, bound and deserving of death, appear before an earthly judge. As I dress, I will think over these thoughts or others in keeping with the subject matter of the meditation.
III. I will stand for the space of an Our Father, a step or two before the place where I am to meditate or contemplate, and with my mind raised on high, consider that God our Lord beholds me, etc. Then I will make an act of reverence or humility.
IV. I will enter upon the meditation, now kneeling, now prostrate upon the ground, now lying face upwards, now seated, now standing, always being intent on seeking what I desire. Hence, two things should be noted:
I. If I find what I desire while kneeling, I will not seek to change my position: if prostrate, I will observe the same direction, etc.
II. I will remain quietly meditating upon the point in which I have found what I desire, without any eagerness to go on till I have been satisfied.
V. After an exercise is finished, either sitting or walking, I will consider for the space of a quarter of an hour how I succeeded in the meditation or contemplation. If poorly, I will seek the cause of the failure; and after I have found it, I will be sorry, so that I may do better in the future. If I have succeeded, I will give thanks to God our Lord, and the next time try to follow the same method.
VI. I should not think of things that give pleasure and joy, as the glory of heaven, the Resurrection, etc., for if I wish to feel pain, sorrow, and tears for my sins, every consideration promoting joy and happiness will impede it. I should rather keep in mind that I want to be sorry and feel pain. Hence it would be better to call to mind death and judgement.
VII. For the same reason I should deprive myself of all light, closing the shutters and doors when I am in my room, except when I need light to say prayers, to read, or to eat.
VIII. I should not laugh or say anything that would cause laughter.
IX. I should restrain my eyes except to look up in receiving or dismissing one with whom I have to speak.
The tenth Additional Direction deals with penance. This is divided into interior and exterior penance. Interior penance consists in sorrow for one’s sins and a firm purpose not to commit them or any others. Exterior penance is the fruit of the first kind. It consists in inflicting punishment on ourselves for the sins we have committed. The principal ways of doing this are three:
I. The first kind of exterior penance concerns eating. In this matter, if we do away with what is superfluous, it is not penance, but temperance. We do penance when we deny ourselves something of what is suitable for us. The more we do this, the better the penance, provided only we do no harm to ourselves and do not cause any serious illness.
II. The second kind of exterior penance concerns sleep. Here, too, it is not penance when we do away with the superfluous in what is pampering and soft. But it is penance when in our manner of sleeping we take something away from what is suitable. The more we do in this line, the better it is, provided we do not cause any harm to ourselves, and do not bring on any notable illness. But we should not deny ourselves a suitable amount of sleep, except to come to a happy mean in case we had the habit of sleeping too much.
III. The third kind of penance is to chastise the body, that is, to inflict sensible pain on it. This is done by wearing hairshirts, cords, or iron chains on the body, or by scourging or wounding oneself, and by other kinds of austerities.
The more suitable and safe form of penance seems to be that which would cause sensible pain to the body and not penetrate to the bones, so that it inflicts pain, but does not cause sickness. For this reason, it would seem more suitable to chastise oneself with light cords that cause superficial pain, rather than in any other way that might bring about a serious internal infirmity.
I. The principal reason for performing exterior penance is to secure three effects:
To make satisfaction for past sins;
To overcome oneself, that is, to make our sensual nature obey reason, and to bring all of our lower faculties into greater subjection to the higher;
To obtain some grace or gift that one earnestly desires. Thus, it may be that one wants a deep sorrow for sin, or tears, either because of his sins or because of the pains and sufferings of Christ our Lord; or he may want the solution of some doubt that is in his mind.
II. Note that the first and second Additional Directions are to be observed for the exercises at midnight and at daybreak, and not for the exercises made at other times. The fourth Direction is never to be followed in the church before others, but only in private, for example, at home.
III. When the exercitant has not found what he has been seeking, for example, tears, consolation, etc., it is often useful to make some change in the kind of penance, such as in food, in sleep, or in other ways of doing penance, so that we alternate, for two or three days doing penance, and for two or three not doing any. The reason for this is that more penance is better for some and less for others. Another reason is that we often quit doing penance, because we are too much concerned about our bodies and erroneously judge that human nature cannot bear it without notable illness. On the other hand, at times we may do too much penance, thinking that the body can stand it. Now since God our Lord knows our nature infinitely better, when we make changes of this kind, He often grants each one the grace to understand what is suitable for him.
IV. The Particular Examination of Conscience will be made to remove faults and negligences with regard to the Exercises and the Additional Directions. This will also be observed in the Second, Third, and Fourth Week.
The Kingdom of Christ
The Call of an Earthly King
This will help us to contemplate the life of the eternal king
The preparatory prayer will be as usual.
This is a mental representation of the place. Here it will be to see in imagination the synagogues, villages, and towns where Christ our Lord preached.
I will ask for the grace I desire. Here it will be to ask of our Lord the grace not to be deaf to His call, but prompt and diligent to accomplish His most holy will.
This will be to place before my mind a human king, chosen by God our Lord Himself, to whom all Christian princes and people pay homage and obedience.
This will be to consider the address this king makes to all his subjects, with the words: “It is my will to conquer all the lands of the infidel. Therefore, whoever wishes to join with me in this enterprise must be content with the same food, drink, clothing, etc. as mine. So, too, he must work with me by day, and watch with me by night, etc., that as he has had a share in the toil with me, afterwards, he may share in the victory with me.”
Consider what the answer of good subjects ought to be to a king so generous and noble-minded, and consequently, if anyone would refuse the invitation of such a king, how justly he would deserve to be condemned by the whole world, and looked upon as an ignoble knight.
The second part of this exercise will consist in applying the example of the earthly king mentioned above to Christ our Lord according to the following points:
If such a summons of an earthly king to his subjects deserves our attention, how much more worthy of consideration is Christ our Lord, the Eternal King, before whom is assembled the whole world. To all His summons goes forth, and to each one in particular He addresses the words: “It is my will to conquer the whole world and all my enemies, and thus to enter into the glory of my Father. Therefore, whoever wishes to join me in this enterprise must be willing to labour with me, that by following me in suffering, he may follow me in glory.”
Consider that all persons who have judgement and reason will offer themselves entirely for this work.
Those who wish to give greater proof of their love, and to distinguish themselves in whatever concerns the service of the eternal King and the Lord of all, will not only offer themselves entirely for the work, but will act against their sensuality and carnal and worldly love, and make offerings of greater value and of more importance in words such as these:
Eternal Lord of All Things
Eternal Lord of all things, in the presence of Thy infinite goodness, and of Thy glorious mother, and of all the saints of Thy heavenly court, this is the offering of myself which I make with Thy favor and help. I protest that it is my earnest desire and my deliberate choice, provided only it is for Thy greater service and praise, to imitate Thee in bearing all wrongs and all abuse and all poverty, both actual and spiritual, should Thy most holy majesty deign to choose and admit me to such a state and way of life
 Note I
This exercise should be gone through twice during the day, that is, in the morning on rising, and an hour before dinner, or before supper.
 Note II
During the Second Week and thereafter, it will be very profitable to read some passages from The Imitation of Christ, or from the Gospels, and from the Lives of the Saints.