SP 5042 Spiritual Exercises in Context


Elizabeth Liebert (eliebert@sfts.edu; 415-451-2880)

Fall Semester, 2008

Fridays, 9:40-12:30



Course Description:

            This course will focus on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola in its historical, cultural and documentary contexts. The Autobiography and the Official Directory of 1599 will support our close reading of the text of the Spiritual Exercises. We will attend to the issue of the limits of adaptability of a classic spiritual text through raising the questions: Where were the women at the time Ignatius was composing the Spiritual Exercises? In the early years of their use? How can this text and process be adapted for today’s women (and men)? For those in different church contexts? Useful for doctoral students in Christian Spirituality as well as for those seekeing to gain deeper understanding of spiritual classic that became the basis for the modern retreat movement. Doctoral students (and other advanced students—ie most of you!) will share teaching responsibilities. Experience of making the Spiritual Exercises in some form a prerequisite. Reading, discussion, lecture, audio-visual presentations, Moodle discussions (requires internet access), class presentations, final paper.


Requirements: Participants will:

1.     Read and discuss Required Reading assignments.

2.     Read selected items from Recommended Reading as relevant for presenting mini-lectures and/or final paper.

3.     Prepare three brief  reviews of  between 300-500 words critiquing various presentations of the Spiritual Exercises (see outline for topics and due dates).

4.     (Doctoral students required; others encouraged) Present at least one mini-lecture on a topic selected from the list (others may be substituted in consultation with the instructor.).

5.     Select, in conversation with the instructor, an area for in-depth research (this CAN be an area that you do a mini-lecture on to jump-start your research). Initial topic ideas due on Sept. 19, developed topic and half-dozen relevant bibiographic entries due on Oct. 3. Be prepared to summarize (e.g. 5-10 minutes) your research for the class on the final class session, Dec. 12 (outline will be provided).

6.     Prepare a final paper of approximately 20 pages on a topic to be treated at a scholarly level (primary sources, foreign language resources, etc.). Due at final class, Dec. 12.


Goals:  At the end of the course, participants will:

1.     Be able to place the Spiritual Exercises in its historical, documentary and biographical contexts. Demonstrated by mini-lecture, presentation of individual research and final paper.

2.     Demonstrate familiarity with and be able to critique some contemporary resources on the Spiritual Exercises in various media. Demonstrated by the first and third critical reviews and discussion.

3.     Know the major movements, concepts, and practices contained in the Spiritual Exercises. Demonstrated by  mini-lecture, discussions, presentation of individual research and final paper.

4.     Be able to articulate and justify a position on the issue of appropriate adaptation of a classic text to a contemporary situation. Demonstrated by discussion and three critical reviews.

5.     Explore and be able to teach an aspect of the Spiritual Exercises that is of scholarly or pastoral interest using appropriate scholarly sources and apparatus. Demonstrated by mini-lecture, presentation of individual research, and final paper.


Required Reading:

Dyckman, K, Garvin, M and Liebert, E., The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2001. BX2179.L8 D93 2001.

Ignatius of Loyola. Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works, ed. George E. Ganss. New York: Paulist Press, 1991. BX4700.L7 A25 1991 (“General Introduction,” Autobiography, Spiritual Exercises, with accompanying notes.) 

Ivens, Michael. Understanding the Spiritual Exercises. Herfordshire, England: Gracewing and Surrey, England: Inigo Enterprises, 1998. BX2179.L8 I94 1998  (reserve)

Lacouture, Jean. The Jesuits: A Multibiography. Washington D.C. Counterpoint, 1995 (Chapters 3 and 5).  BX 3706.2 L33 1995  (On course page in Moodle)

Lucas, Thomas. Landmarking: City, Church and Jesuit Urban Strategy. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1997, Chapter VI,  “A Good and True Jerusalem” pp. 85-105. BV2290.L83 1997  (on  moodle course page)

Melloni, Javier. The Exercies of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Western Tradition. Herfordshire, England: Gracewing and Surrey, England: Inigo Enterprises, 2000. BX2179 B8 M45 2000.

“Official Directory of 1599,” in Palmer, M. On Giving the Spiritual Exercises: The Early Jesuit Manuscript Directories and the Official Directory of 1599. St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996.  BX2179.L7 E5 1996 (reserve)

Wolter, Hans “Elements of Crusade Spirituality in St. Ignatius” in Ignatius of Loyola: His Personality and Spiritual Heritage, 1556-1956, ed. Friedrich Wulf. St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1977, pp. 97-134.  BX4700.L7 W813  (On course page in Moodle)


Recommended Reading:


Bacht, Heinrich, “Early Monastic Elements in Ignatian Spirituality: Toward Clarifying Some Fundamental Concepts of the Exercises,” in Ignatius of Loyola: His Personality and Spiritual Heritage, 1556-1956, ed. Friedrich Wulf. St.Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1977, pp. 200-236 (BX4700.L7 W813) (on course page in Moodle)

Ignacio de Loyola, Ejercicios Espirituales, con Introducción, texto, notas y vocabulario por Cándido di Dalmases, SJ, 2a edition. Santander, Sal Terrae, 1990 (or other scholarly edition based on the autograph text).

Ribadeneira, Pedro de. The Life of B. Father Ignatius of Loyola 1616. London: The Scolar Press, 1976 BX 1750 A1E5 V.300  (reserve)

Rahner, Hugo, Ed. St. Ignatius Loyola: Letters to Women. New York, Crossroad, 2007 or earlier edition, Herder and Herder, 1960

Tellechea Idígoras, José Ignacio. Ignatius of Loyola: The Pilgrim Saint. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1994. BX4700.L7 T4513 1994  (reserve)

Toner, Jules. A Commentary on Saint Ignatius’ Rules for the Discernment of Spirits: A Guide to the Principles and Practice. St. Louis: Institute for Jesuit Sources, 1982. BX2179.L8 T66 1982 (reserve)

Toner, Jules. Discerning God’s Will:  Ignatius of Loyola’s Teaching on Christian Decision Making. St. Louis: Institute for Jesuit Sources, 1991. BX2179.L8 T663 1991 (reserve)


Virtual materials used as part of requirements:


http://www.creighton.edu.CollaborativeMinistry/cmo-retreat.html (selections)


Course process:

This course will meet in seminar fashion. Generally, we will gather around a prayer stimulated by the Spiritual Exercises, comment on the materials assigned for the day, often using visuals and quotations, introduce the new material, answer questions. Teaching and leading discussion will be shared via mini-lectures. NB:  Students who need accommodation for reasons of documented disability, please inform the instructor early in the class so that appropriate accommodations can be made.



35%  Reading and discussion (including reviews and Blackboard postings) of assigned materials, printed and web-based

20%  Mini-lecture

10%  Presentation of research

35%  Final paper


(for those not doing Mini-lecture: 

40% Reading and discussion (including reviews and Blackboard postings) of assigned materials, printed and web-based

20% Presentation of research

40% Final paper)


Proposed Outline of Class Sessions: (adjustments will be made given the make-up and size of the class)


Note: All assignments due on the date given in the syllabus unless otherwise noted.


Sept.  5:  Introductions, syllabus, audio visual access, ignatiushistory.info.



            1. Become acquainted with the internet-based resources; solve matters of access.

2. Moodle based discussion: introducing ourselves: Write a paragraph that offers the other members of the class a sense of your background in the Spiritual Exercises and/or Ignatian Spirituality and your study/research interests with respect to the class. I will start a thread; add yours there. Please complete this introduction by Thursday, Sept. 11 so that all can read the materials by class time on Sept. 12.

3. View complete website, ignatiushistory.info. Write a review, including an overview of the contents, for whom the resource is aimed, strengths and critiques, and how you might imagine using it. (You may choose either a “scholarly” or a “pastoral” audience and tone.) Length between 300-500 words, due on Sept 19.


Sept. 12:  Ignatius of Loyola, the broad context of his life and ideas.



            1. Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch. 1 (pp. 3-24)

            2. Wolter, “Elements of Crusade Spirituality in St. Ignatius” pp. 97-134 (on course page)

3. Melloni, The Exercises. . . Western Tradition (all – 54pp)

4. Select topic for  Mini-lecture—consult options spread through the various weeks of the syllabus; the lecture would be given on that day.


Sept. 19:  Ignatius: Immediate context and early life.



            1. Ganss, “General Introduction” (pp. 9-63)

            2. Autobiography  #1-37, pp. 67-83

3. On-line discussion: First pass at a research topic today. (We are posting these topics so others in the seminar can offer constructive suggestions for bibliography, experiences that might be helpful, etc., so please feel free to comment on postings.)

4. Hand in Review #1 (see Sept. 5 for details of assignment)


[PhD/Advanced Student mini-lecture options: Ludolph of Saxony’s Life of Christ or Voragine’s Golden Legend.]


Sept. 26:  Ignatius, his life to conclusion of the Autobiography



            1. Autobiography, # 38-101, pp.83-111

2. Lacouture, Jesuits, Chapter 5, “No Women Need Apply,” pp. 136-160 (course web page)

3. “Vida,” (course web page) Write a brief essay, in the format of a “review,” comparing the illustrations of the 1609 biography by Lancicius, Rinaldi and Pazmany to Ignatius’s Autobiography. Pick at least one illustration (but several may be useful) and write a brief (between 300- 500 words) comparison of the contents, goals, and nuances of the Rubens-inspired illustrations in “Vida” versus the Autobiography. Include an answer to the following: In what is/is not each of these views a reliable historical source? Begin the work this week; review due October 10.


Oct.  3: Ignatius, from the conclusion of the Autobiography to his death.



  1. Lacouture, Jesuits, Chapter 3, “Perinde ac cadaver,” pp. 75-97 (on course page)

              2. Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch. 2, pp. 25-50.

  3. Lucas, Landmarking, Ch. 6, “A Good and True Jerusalem,” pp. 85-105 (on course page)

              4. Hand in topic for final paper: short description and several crucial resources.


[Mini-lecture options: The 1616 Life of Ignatius by Pedro Ribadeneira, Ignatius and the Counter Reformation, and Ignatius and women as seen through letters]


Oct.  10:  Spiritual Exercises: Annotations, presupposition, Principle and foundation, general and particular examinations



            1. SE, #1-44

            2. Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch 3 and 4 (pp.53-109)

            3. Directory of 1599, Ch. 1-13, pp.289-313.

            4. Ivens, pp. 1-43

5. Hand in review of “Vida”/Autobiography (see Sept. 26)

6. Developed topic plus first half-dozen bibliographic resources.


[Mini-lecture option: Examination of conscience in the Spiritual Exercises: a bit of its history and the development of current practice]


Oct. 17:  Spiritual Exercises: First Week Meditations



            1. SE, #24-90

            2. Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch.5-6, pp. 113-180

            3. Directory of 1599: Ch. 11, 14-17

            4. Ivens, pp. 43-73

            5. http://www.creighton.edu.CollaborativeMinistry/cmo-retreat.html. Explore this on-line version of the Spritual Exercises. Spend a few weeks examining (and even praying with) the options. Then write a brief review (about 300-500 words) discussing what is present in the site, how it corresponds (or doesn’t) to the dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises, for whom it would be useful, and how you might use or adapt it. Review due Nov. 7.


[Mini-lecture option:  Meditation and contemplation in the Exercises]


Oct. 23: Fall Reading Week, No class

Oct. 31: No class; begin work on paper.


Nov. 7: Spiritual Exercises: Second Week; Meditations and Contemplations



            1. SE, # 91-165

            2. Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch.7, pp. 181-213.

            3. Directory of 1599, Ch 18-21

            4. SE # 261-312 (Not necessary to read everything, but look for patterns)

            5. Ivens, pp. 74-127

            6. Review due on on-line Exercises, http://www.creighton.edu.CollaborativeMinistry/cmo-retreat.html


[Mini-lecture options: Ignatius’s additional suggestions for prayer; Application of the senses]


Nov. 14: Spiritual Exercises: Discernment of Spirits and Election



            1. SE, # 313-336, 169-189

            2. Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch. 10-11,  pp.247-304

            3. Directory of 1599, Ch 21-34 (pp.323-340)

            4. Ivens, pp 205-237, 128-145


[Mini-lecture options: Distinction between Ignatius’s concept of desolation and John of the Cross’s Dark Night; Ignatian corporate discernment]


Nov. 21: Spiritual Exercises: Third Week



            1. SE: #190-209

            2. Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch. 8, pp. 215-227, (Ch. 5, revisited)

            3. Directory of 1599: Ch. 35

            4. Ivens pp. 146-161


Nov. 28: Thanksgiving Weekend: no class


Dec. 5:  Spiritual Exercises: Fourth Week, Contemplation to Attain Love and Rules for Thinking with the Church 



            1. SE # 218-327, 352-370

            2. Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch. 9, 12, pp. 229-244, 305-328

            3. Directory of 1599: Ch. 36-40

            4. Ivens pp. 238-264


[Mini-lecture option: Contemplation and Action as a fruit of the Spiritual Exercises]


Dec. 12:   Research summaries, course evaluation, final words, papers due