Michael Loughnane shares his experience of making the Spiritual Exercises and the lasting affects in his life.
Michael made the Spiritual Exercises in silence over 30 days when he was 24 years old during the Jesuit novitiate. “I experienced the Exercises in a massive cold 19th century style manor in Ireland” he remembers. “I got up early each morning and did these amazing walks and had some deep spiritual experiences.”
However, the transforming effect of the Spiritual Exercises did not happen for Michael until after he had made the Exercises. “Before I made the Exercises, everyone was saying they will change your life, however when I did make them, it was to some extent an anti-climax. It was afterwards when they had the most transforming effect on my life.”
“Making the Exercises was not earth shattering, it was more like a quiet hum and its only after them that I have discovered them in a profound way.”
“A few months later I had a profound experience of God’s grace and a deep consolation
– it was my ‘Cardoner’ experience. It was utterly illuminating,
and I have lived out of that grace since that time.”
“I remember having a very deep experience of God shortly after making the Spiritual Exercises, I had a profound experience of God’s grace and was filled with deep consolation – it was my Cardoner experience. It was utterly illuminating, and I have lived out of that grace since that time.”
And even now 35 years later Michael finds the Exercises are coming into sharper focus and becoming more meaningful in his life. “The wisdom from teaching and giving them is an extraordinary privilege, it’s like I’m living the experience of them again and they are making more and more sense to me” exclaims Michael, “and I receive a new grace every time.”
Michael now enjoys the versatility of the Exercises when in regular retreats “I go with where I am and focus on the different weeks of the Exercises that I need at the time.”
Michael has been sustained by what he has received from the Spiritual Exercises over the years. “After making the Spiritual Exercises it was like God had placed a computer chip in me and that chip impacted, or determined the way I respond to the world, it altered the way I understood my life. I was hard wired with a new way of seeing and being in the world. It gave me a centre – a core affirmation that helped me believe in myself.”
Michael Loughnane is the Academic Dean and Research Coordinator at Jesuit College of Spirituality in Melbourne Australia.