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By Gayle McGregor
I have been a member of Christ Church Cranbrook for about a year. I grew up in a fundamentalist, non-liturgical church in a small town and converted to Roman Catholicism when my husband and I married. In the early 2000s, feeling called to deepen my spirituality, I studied Ignatian Spirituality with the Jesuits at Manresa Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills. At the time, the Jesuits taught a 2-year course to train spiritual directors called the Internship in Ignatian Spirituality. I completed the spiritual direction practicum portion of the Internship in 2003 and have been working with people in spiritual direction ever since.
After the Internship, my teacher, Fr. Bernie Owens, strongly suggested I pray the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola (as a retreat in daily life). My experience of the Exercises was life-changing. For the first time, I really understood what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I also learned to pray with the scriptures in a contemplative way, as well as to experience the prayer of quiet. Biblical characters came alive in my imagination, and my prayer led to an understanding of the “spiritual key” of the scriptures I prayed. I began to see God in my daily life, and God’s purpose for me became clear. My values shifted.
After I completed my own 35 weeks of the Spiritual Exercises, I apprenticed with a seasoned director to lead others through the Exercises. The daily structure of the Exercises provides the retreatant the opportunity to connect experiences of prayer with their daily living. The Exercises are a commitment to prayer, meditation, and journaling that offer significant rewards for those who undertake it. It is an inward pilgrimage.
If you feel called to deepen your spirituality, I invite you to join me in this life-changing experience of the Spiritual Exercises. More info and sign up here.