The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius date back to the Counter Reformation times and were designed to be held over a 30-day period. For most lay people today, however, this is not practical and would involve a very difficult, usually impossible commitment of time and expense.
For this reason, a successful adaptation to a five day format has been made, without sacrificing the contents, but involving only a reduction in the time for meditation on each of the 28 topics presented. It might thus be aptly termed "The 30 day Ignatian Spiritual Exercises for busy people."
The Exercises present the central truths of the Catholic faith: the existence and providence of God, the meaning of life on earth and the eternity to which it leads, the Saviour of the human race, Jesus Christ, and how to follow Him, in the form of meditations, examination of conscience and prayers, to find peace of heart, rid oneself of worldly attachments and discover the will of God for the salvation of one's soul.
The Benedictine Fathers of the Abbey of St Joseph, Flavigny, France, conduct retreats for men according to these five day Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.
In recent years the Fathers have been offering these silent retreats in the English language, not only at their monastery in France, but in Great Britain, Ireland and Australia.
They first visited Australia in 2007, then again in 2009. They will be here once more in December 2011 to hold two men's retreats.
Two priests, very experienced and skilled in the Exercises, conduct the retreats, which genuinely follow the Ignatian Exercises.
Over the five full days, some 28 conferences are given, each followed by a time of personal reflection. In addition, daily Mass according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, Rosary and prayer are held, as well as Confession after a thorough preparation, Holy Hour and Benediction.
Although it is a packed five days, the atmosphere is one of tranquility. The two priests are readily available, whenever not otherwise engaged, for private unhurried and personal guidance. These are the only occasions when silence is broken.
The retreat allows Catholic men from 18 years and at all levels of spiritual development to draw closer to Christ, away from everyday distractions.
More information on the Fathers and their monastic activities is provided at the Abbey Website: www.clairval.com
A choice of two retreats is available, at the Hartzer Park Retreat Centre, in pleasant surroundings near Bowral, NSW.
The dates offered are: 5-10 December and 12-17 December 2011. They commence and conclude at about 5pm.
Following the retreats, the Fathers will conduct a "Day of Recollection" for women at the same location from 18-19 December.
Intending participants may register for the retreats on line at the Abbey website as indicated.
Alternatively, those interested may request further information or a brochure with details and registration slip locally by phoning: (02) 8086-3745; or mobile: 0415-179-898; or email: jimeileen13_at_optusnet.com.au. Those registering for the women's day should also phone or email these numbers.