The Spiritual Exercises (SE) are St. Ignatius’ kerygmatic legacy, his “Gospel.” The practice of the Exercises – in various modes suited to the needs of each exercitant, always respecting the integrity of the steps involved in the process – is ordered to the choice of one’s state of life or its reform. Therefore, at the heart of the thematic structure of the Exercises is a set of norms and practices that are an essential part of the kerygma.
The exercitant, guided by the one who directs him or her through the Exercises, is situated in the midst of the mysteries of Christ’s life, contemplated from the perspective and according to the rhythm of meditations proposed by St. Ignatius. In this process – that of the “four Weeks of the Exercises,” which are organized around the choice to be made (preparing for and confirming it) – St. Ignatius proposes strategies that we can call “normative” and “practical” and which are proper to the discernment of spirits.
The themes of the Exercises are structured, chosen and ordered in such a way as to necessarily provoke the motions – consolations and desolations – about which discernment will be made according to the corresponding rules, which are dealt with on the normative and practical levels.