Resource Seminar: Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises for Protestants

Summer 2003

Instructor: Elizabeth Liebert, San Francisco Theological Seminary
Place: Montgomery Hall
Time: 10:30-12:00 (consult the daily APS schedule for modifications)

The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola has directly influenced numerous Protestants, especially in recent years. Furthermore, since both the retreat movement and contemporary spiritual direction trace their roots to the Spiritual Exercises, thorough these processes countless others have been indirectly influenced by the Spiritual Exercises. We will examine six dynamics from the Spiritual Exercises that are particularly congenial to and useful for Protestants:

  • Spiritual conversation
  • Examination of conscience
  • Prayer, especially Gospel contemplation
  • Discernment of Spirits
  • Discernment of vocation
  • Contemplation and action,

noting their original context, and discussing contemporary adaptations for various ecclesial contexts and ministry situations. We will pay particular attention to how these practices can be adapted for women. Some work will be done on the Internet. Participants who have portable computers may find it helpful to bring them; others can access the Internet through the computers in the computer lab.

Required Reading

Dyckman, K, Garvin, M and Liebert, E., The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women. New York: Paulist Press, 2001, Chapters 1-5, 9-11.

Gründler, Otto. “Devotio Moderna,” in Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation, ed. Jill Raitt.  New York: Crossroad, 1987, pp.176-193.

Huggett, Joyce.“Why Ignatian Spirituality Hooks Protestants,” The Way Supplement, 68 (Summer 1990): 22-34.

Ignatius of Loyola. Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works, ed. George E. Ganss. New York: Paulist Press, 1991, General introduction, Autobiography, Spiritual Exercises, with accompanying notes. Bring this text to class in the summer; we will use it almost daily to access the primary sources.

Lambert, Willi. Directions for Communication. New York: Crossroad, 2000, Ch. 2-3.

Liebert, Elizabeth. “The Role of Practice in the Study of Christian Spirituality,” Spiritus 2 (2) Spring, 2002: 30-49. Available at

Linn, Dennis, Linn, Sheila Fabricant and Linn, Matthew. Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life. New York: Paulist Press, 1995.

Lonsdale, David. Eyes to See, Ears to Hear: An Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000, Ch. 1-7. 10.

Lucas, Thomas. Landmarking: City, Church and Jesuit Urban Strategy. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1997, Chapter II, “Between Two Worlds,” pp. 25-38.

Raitt, Jill, “Saints and Sinners: Roman Catholic and Protestant Spirituality in the Sixteenth Century,” in Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation, ed. Jill Raitt. New York: Crossroad, 1987, pp. 454-463. (parts)

Recommended Reading

Johnson, Ben C. Listening For God: Spiritual Directives for Searching Christians. New York: Paulist, 1997. (An example of an adaptation by well-known Presbyterian author).

Tellechea Idígoras, José Ignacio. Ignatius of Loyola: The Pilgrim Saint. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1994. (An interestingly written biography of Ignatius by a non- Jesuit Basque.)

Course objectives

Participants will:

  1. Become familiar with the six dynamics listed in the syllabus, and demonstrate, using any two of the six dynamics, adaptations and/or connections to their own theological and ministerial contexts. (Final paper)
  2. Prepare the readings and participate actively in the class discussions, illuminating the materials both from their original contexts and from the participants’ individual ecclesial and ministerial perspectives.
  3. Experiment with various spiritual practices related to these six dynamics and with an on-line version of the Spiritual Exercises and debrief them together.
  4. Prepare two papers
    1. Using the perspective of Jonathan Edwards on reliable and unreliable signs of a work of God (presented in class), apply these principles to Ignatius’s own story as related in his Autobiography. 4-5 pages, double spaced, 12 point type. Due: June 19.
    2. Discuss any two of the six dynamics in terms of their original setting and purpose and then demonstrate how each can be (or must be) adapted for your particular ministry context. Maximum of 10 pp., double spaced, 12 point type. Due: July 8 at 4:00 p.m.

Special Learning Needs

If you have need of special consideration in the length and timing of assignments for reasons of documented disability, please inform the instructor within the fist few days of class so that appropriate accommodations might be discussed.

Probable daily schedule
(Assignments due on the day of class)

June 10 (1 hour):  Introduction of participants and their ministry contexts. Role of practice in the study of Christian Spirituality. Online resources and access demonstrated with Share experiences and adaptations of Linn/Linn/Linn, Sleeping With Bread.

            Assignment:  Liebert, “The Role of Practice”; Huggett, “Why Ignatian Spirituality Hooks Protestants.” Complete ignatiushistory website: “Family History,” “Young Ignatius,” and “Soldier.”

June 11 (1.5 hours): Where and when Ignatius lived: Physical, intellectual and spiritual context, urban strategy. Video: Michael Bellafiore, SJ. Ignatius of Loyola, The Story of the Pilgrim, Pt. I.

            Assignment:  Grundler, “Devotio Moderna”; Raitt, “Saints and Sinners”; Lucas, “Between Two Worlds” in Landmarking, Ch. 2. Complete ignatiushistory, “Convalescence,” and “Pilgrimage.”

June 12 (1 hour):  Ignatius’s early life. Bellafiore, Part II. Rubens illustrations of Ignatius’s life

            Assignment:  Autobiography, Chapters 1-3, pp. 67-83, Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, chapters 1-2 (pp. 1-47). Complete ignatiushistory, “Time of Studies,” “Formation of the Companions.”

June 13 (1.5 hours): Ignatius’s later life. Bellafiore, Part III. Rubens illustrations of Ignatius’s life

            Assignment:  Autobiography, Chapters 4-11, pp. 83-111; Lonsdale, Ch. 1-2. Complete ignatiushistory, “Founding of the Society,” “Legacy,” and “Death.”

June 16 (1.5 hours):  Jonathan Edwards: Reliable and unreliable signs of a work of God as a critique of Ignatius’s experiences.

            Assignment:  Write: Using Edwards’s signs, assess Ignatius’s early experiences of discernment. Had Ignatius known Edwards’s scheme, what might he have understood more directly about his own experience? Cite the Autobiography for references to Ignatius’s life. 4-5 pages, double-spaced. Due: June 19.

June 17 (1.5 hours): Introduction to the Spiritual Exercises, Principle and Foundation, outline of the “Weeks” and their respective graces, Spiritual Exercises, #21-23; Annotation #4. Vashon’s images on the Principle and Foundation.

            Assignment: Ganss, “General Introduction”; Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Chapter 4. Begin online retreat (directions given in class)

June 19 (1 hour):  Principles of Guidance and Conversation; Close reading of the Annotations, Spiritual Exercises, #1-24.

            Assingment: Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert; Ch. 3. Continue online retreat.

June 20 (1.5 hours): Principles of Guidance and Conversation II : Ignatius’s concept of spiritual conversation.

            Assignment: Willi Lambert, Ch. 2-3. Continue online retreat

June 23 (1.5 hours): Examination of Conscience and adaptations (Spiritual Exercises, #24-44): Consciousness Examen for individuals and groups, use in ministry (YMSP model).

            Assignment: Linn/Linn/Linn, Sleeping with Bread. Continue online retreat.

June 24 (1.5 hours):  Prayer from Spiritual Exercises: Meditation and Contemplation; Spiritual Exercises, #45-54, 102-109.

            Assignment:  Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch. 5. Continue online retreat.

June 26 (1 hour): Prayer from Spiritual Exercises II: Application of the Senses; Spiritual Exercises, #65-71, 121-126.

            Assignment:  Lonsdale, Ch. 5. Continue online retreat.

June 27 (1.5 hours): Discernment of Spirits I; Spiritual Exercises, #313-327.

            Assignment: Lonsdale, Ch. 4. Continue online retreat.

June 30 (1.5 hours): Discernment of Spirits II; Spiritual Exercises, # 328-336.

            Assignment: Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch. 10. Continue online retreat.

July 1 (1.5 hours):  Election (Discernment of vocation); Spiritual Exercises, #169-189.

            Assignment:  Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch. 11. Continue online retreat. 

July 3 (1 hour):  Contemplation to Attain Love, Action and Contemplation; Spiritual Exercises, #230-237.

            Assignment:  Dyckman/Garvin/Liebert, Ch. 9. Continue online retreat

July 7 (1.5 hours):  Personal experiences using the online retreat

            Assignment:  Write:  Final paper.  Due: July 8

July 8 (1.5 hours):  Closure, evaluation, final words. AnyWoman

            Assignment:  Complete paper. Due today.