The Spiritual Exercises

Discover God’s unique love for us

Becoming free

To love and serve in all things


In daily life – in silent retreat – flexibly

Individuals and groups

The Spiritual Exercises is the very best thing that in this life, I can think, perceive or understand for helping a person benefit her or himself as well as bringing fruit, benefit, and advantage to many others; for even if you felt no need for the former, you will see immeasurably and incomparably you will be helped with regard to the latter.

St Ignatius Loyola 1491 – 1556.
Letter to Rev. M. Miona, 16 November 1536.

The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola are the bedrock of Ignatian Spirituality

The origin of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola are found in Ignatius’ own personal experience of conversion and prayer. He kept a journal where he recorded his particular spiritual experiences that he felt could be of benefit to others.

Through a process of reflection, Ignatius produced a manual of considerations, meditations, contemplations and notes to help others advance their spiritual life and deepen their relationship with God. Within a short period of time the Spiritual Exercises became renown for their transformative effect on those who received them.

St Ignatius wrote this manual for giving the Spiritual Exercises out of his own experiences over the time he was in the cave at Manresa, and subsequent to that, when he was studying in Paris. He first gave the full Exercises to a few of his fellow students. This intensive retreat then became a standard part of Jesuit formation. Now the 30 Day retreat is open to people from all walks of life along with the 30+ Week adaptation.

The aim of this spiritual experience, Ignatius writes in the introduction, is to “prepare and dispose the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, to seek and find the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.”  During the retreat the participant discovers those things in his or her life that are getting in the way of his or her relationship with God, and learns how God communicates with him or her, revealing how this one unique individual can live life to the full with God.

The Spiritual Exercises invite us to contemplate the life and mission of Jesus and deepen this experience through accompanying Him in his life, pain and resurrected joy – as we experience in our own lives.

Contact us to find out how the Spiritual Exercises can be adapted for you or your group.

1300 EXAMEN (1300 392 636) or

About the Spiritual Exercises

The Spiritual Exercises are divided into four phases or ‘Weeks’ (not actually 7 days) each of which builds on the last.

The first week of the Exercises is a time of reflection on our lives in light of God’s boundless love for us. We see that our response to God’s love has been hindered by patterns of sin. We face these sins knowing that God wants to free us of everything that gets in the way of our loving response to him.

The meditations and prayers of the second week teach us how to follow Christ as his disciples. We reflect on Scripture passages: Christ’s birth and baptism, his sermon on the mount, his ministry of healing and teaching, his raising Lazarus from the dead. We are brought to decisions to change our lives to do Christ’s work in the world and to love him more intimately.

In the third and fourth weeks we meditate on Christ’s Last Supper, passion, and death. We see his suffering and the gift of the Eucharist as the ultimate expression of God’s love. We meditate on Jesus’ resurrection and his apparitions to his disciples. We walk with the risen Christ and set out to love and serve him in concrete ways in our lives in the world.

The two primary forms of praying taught in the Exercises are meditation and contemplation. In meditation, we use our minds. We ponder the basic principles that guide our life. We pray over words, images, and ideas. Contemplation is more about feeling than thinking. Contemplation often stirs the emotions and enkindles deep desires. In contemplation, we rely on our imaginations to place ourselves in a setting from the Gospels or in a scene proposed by Ignatius.

Flowing through the Exercises is the practice of the discernment of spirits  This means that the Exercitant notices the interior movements of his or her heart, and discerns where these are leading him or her. A regular practice of discernment helps them make good decisions.

All the characteristic themes of Ignatian Spirituality are grounded in the Exercises. These include a sense of collaboration with God’s action in the world, spiritual discernment in decision making, generosity of response to God’s invitation, fraternity and companionship in service, and a disposition to find God in all things. Spiritual integration is a prominent theme of the Exercises: integration of contemplation and action, prayer and service, and emotions and reason.

FULL Spiritual Exercises in silence over 33 days

at Sevenhill, South Australia

For those who desire to immerse themselves in the Full Spiritual Exercises, we offer the 33-day retreat at JISA Sevenhill. In this silent retreat, you will meet once every day with your Spiritual Director and engage in the methods and models of prayer provided by St Ignatius in his text, The Spiritual Exercises.

We offer the Spiritual Exercises to religious and lay people from all walks of life, who are already familiar with Ignatian spirituality and Ignatian spiritual direction.

If you are seeking to deepen your relationship with God and to discern what God wants for you, the Spiritual Exercises may be what you are looking for.

Making the Spiritual Exercises can be a truly wonderful and life-changing experience. We hope that all retreatants can experience this at some point in their lives. 

That said, it is highly advisable that you have had ongoing spiritual direction with someone who can help you prepare for the Exercises and to live them out after the retreat. 

It is also helpful to have made a shorter silent directed retreat of about 6-8 days so your are familiar with the dynamics of silence and prayer involved in the Spiritual Exercises.

You can request an application. This invites you to reflect and discern. Completed forms plus two references are reviewed at JISA and then a decision is made whether it is fruitful to embark on the Spiritual Exercises at this time.

FULL Spiritual Exercises in daily life over 30+ weeks

in person or online

What is God inviting me to?

Nourishment – Discernment – Clarity – Freedom

Looking to deepen your relationship with God and discern God’s will in your life? The full Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola are a practical way of discovering God’s unique love and desire for you in your daily life.

This one-on-one program involves daily prayer/reflections and weekly face-to-face or online conversations with an experienced Ignatian Spiritual Director – adapted to your individual needs as your journey unfolds.

Anyone is welcome to apply for the program – no prior experience necessary. It can be started anytime and will span across 30-35 consecutive weeks.

What’s involved:

  • A commitment to a daily prayer time approximately 1 hour per day
  • The Daily Awareness Examen, which is prayed at the conclusion of each day.
  • Meet once per week with a Spiritual Director who acts as a guide along the way.

One of the blessings of this Retreat is that all of our daily life can be integrated into our prayer and the Spiritual Exercise of that particular day, also that this Retreat does not conclude on a particular day, but lives on in us as we continue to reflect, discern and grow through our individual experience of God in our day to day activities.

Those who have made Retreat in Daily Life found that they have a continued desire for prayer. Their discernment and thought patterns have greater clarity, their prayer life has deepened, and they have a better understanding of their own self and their journey with God. Moreover, they are clearer about their personal vocation and how God desires to utilize them as a collaborator in building the Kingdom.

“When I started the Spiritual Exercises, I didn’t know what a profound impact they would have on my life. I didn’t know much about the Exercises, and I came to them because I had a major faith crisis. God works in mysterious ways I was given an amazing Spiritual Director. To have been able to journey with him over these weeks was incredible, he his caring and very aware of where I was on my faith journey. During the Exercises I was experiencing an extremely stressful time, and I was very aware of God’s presence which made things easier to manage. I know my relationship with God has deepened and I will be forever thankful that I was led to do the Exercises.” Retreatant of the Full Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life.

FIRST Spiritual Exercises

Over four weeks in daily life – for groups or individuals, at your location or online

The First Spiritual Exercises (FSE) combines the two ministries of spiritual conversation and spiritual exercises, akin to the form of the spiritual exercises given most frequently by Ignatius and the early Jesuits to anyone of good will.

These questions helped create the First Spiritual Exercises:

  • What do I desire?
  • Where can I find life?
  • What is my true face?
  • What is under my feet?
  • Do I have to be strong to serve?

About The First Spiritual Exercises

The First Spiritual Exercises help a person ask for and receive inner peace. This inner peace is utterly unmistakable. I feel the love of God so overwhelmingly unconditional, so gently intimate, that I am left with a deep-seated peace that will survive all sorts of trials, selfishness and loss.

The FSE is a four-week retreat in daily life, with a choice of four retreats. It involves a commitment to daily prayer from Monday to Thursday and a Sunday exercise. Retreatants usually meet weekly during the retreat and share their experience in spiritual conversation facilitated by trained guides. The FSE can always be adapted to the particular needs and circumstances of those making the retreat.

We can connect you with local spiritual conversation guides who give the FSE to parishes, pastoral teams, prayer groups, teaching staff, ecumenical groups and individuals. We work in collaboration with Spiritual Directors, Christian Life Community (CLC) and other Ignatian partners.

Praying an FSE retreat can bring us swiftly back into relationship with a personal God and the meaning and direction of our life journey. It slows us down, to reground us in what matters.

The FSE offers life through listening and conversation. A single story from another can change us for life. Such stories reach deep and catch us up, to transform and nourish. And our life stories carry life for others. The FSE is full of deep stories – our stories, the story of the universe, of people in great need, of intimacy with Jesus.

If you would like to experience one of these retreats in your parish, your group or personally, please contact us at 1300 EXAMEN (1300 392 636) or

The First Spiritual Exercises Retreats


In these exercises, we reflect on our experience of God’s gift to us. In remembering such gifts, we become open to gratitude and response. The exercises begin with our experience of love and teach us how to bring those original feelings into the present. Come and experience this journey into divine love.



These exercises take us in prayer through the mysteries of love, sin and mercy, healing and freedom. They track through the dark side of our humanity and life journey. But in doing so, with God’s tender love, they also provide us with a sure route to greater faith, wholeness and intimacy with God. Indeed, they lead us to a profound friendship with God. Come and experience this journey into the mercy of God.



Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.’ (Proverbs 18:24)
Using sacred symbols for each exercise, begin with the first acts of divine friendship, the creation of the universe and ourselves, and end with the last act of friendship, our eternal union with the Trinity. In the core of the retreat, we pray ‘friendship’ exercises that help people we know in need. Come and experience this journey into divine friendship



The core of this retreat is praying the Beatitudes, gifts of the Spirit, works of mercy and more in a way that draws naturally on our own experience of these gifts in our lives. We are encouraged to ask for the grace we most need now. Come and experience this journey into a more fruitful service.


If you would like to experience one of these retreats in your parish, your group or personally, please contact us at 1300 EXAMEN (1300 392 636) or

The Concise Spiritual Exercises

Highlights of the Spiritual Exercises for busy people seeking nourishment and clarity

Would you like a deeper prayer life and to discover the desires God has for you? The full Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius provide an invaluable and time-tested framework for a powerful, life-changing encounter with God; however, they take a significant time commitment.

If you would like to experience the full Spiritual Exercises in a time frame that suits your busy life, The Concise Spiritual Exercises may be an option for you. You will experience key exercises in all four ‘Weeks’ or parts of the Spiritual Exercises over approximately four months.

Each of the four ‘Weeks’ commence with a retreat day (including refreshments, lunch and individual spiritual direction). Then in the month or so that follows, at home there will be five prayer periods each week of at least 30 minutes (one should be for an hour), following a guide. An online zoom spiritual direction session will be offered at a mutually convenient time approximately halfway through each ‘Week’ and a final spiritual direction face to face session will occur at the conclusion of the four months.

It is recommended that prior to embarking on The Concise Spiritual Exercises, that participants have had regular spiritual direction and experienced a silent retreat of at least two days. It is suggested that participants extend one or more of the monthly day retreats to two days (at additional cost).


To find out more about the Concise Spiritual Exercises please contact us at 1300 EXAMEN (1300 392 636) or

Spiritual Exercises in silent retreats over 3 to 8 days

If you would like to experience a silent retreat over 3 to 8 days please contact us at 1300 EXAMEN (1300 392 636) or

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