Loyola members experience Ignatian workout
In the coming weeks, Loyola faculty, staff and alumni will be participating in a silent retreat and spiritual exercises created by St. Ignatius himself.
The spiritual exercises are a guided eight week retreat that begins Jan. 21 and will conclude on March 27. The retreat is open to all faculty and staff at Loyola, but members of the community surrounding the university are welcome. Assistant director of the Jesuit Center Dr. Ricardo Marquez and Associate Professor Fr. Stephen Rowntree are in charge of the retreat.
The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola were first performed after Ignatius' convalescence ended and he moved to Manresa. The exercises are now being resurrected at Loyola, after a hiatus of many years, for the second year in a row to carry on this tradition.
Participants are given a spiritual director who will guide them through the daily prayers and exercises given to them at the start of the retreat. The spiritual directors also serve as an outlet that participants can use to share their emotions from a stressful week.
Participants meet on campus with their spiritual directors once a week to discuss prayers and new insights that they have gained about themselves and their relationships with God. The participants will also read the gospels, focusing especially on the life and death of Jesus Christ and ending with his resurrection.
According to Marquez, the end desire of the retreat is to bring people closer to God.
"The final goal is how we can have an intimate relationship with God, with the transcendent," Marquez said.
Rowntree's opinion reflects a desire for individuals to strengthen their faith and change their lives for the better.
"It's highly individualized. It's basically the Christian gospel and the Christian story helping people to really hear it if they haven't heard it before and see how it applies to their own life. About the good things in their life and maybe some of the things that need changing," Rowntree said.
The retreat is based on the desire to strengthen the individual's spirit. The time that is taken by this retreat is meant to help gain tranquility and bring balance to the soul. Participants are also guided toward their own self-discovery as members of the church and the Loyola community.
Ultimately, the retreat is meant to reinforce the bonds that participants share as members of the Loyola community, followers of God and finally as fellow human beings.
Marquez said that he can see the true beauty of this retreat.
"We have different ways to call God. Nobody can control what God is. We have different images of God, different experiences of God," Marquez said. "It is like a rainbow, at the end it is all white, but it is composed of different colors and that is beautiful and that is the beauty of this retreat."
Laura Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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