Pilgrimage in our life

The Spiritual Exercises and the Pilgrimage on the Ignatian Way

Saint Ignatius of Loyola left us a spiritual heritage of great value in the form of his Spiritual Exercises. Precisely “Exercises” which are for “exercising” and coming to have a good “spiritual form”. The Ignatian Way offers us with generosity opportunities to acquire a good physical form. Our interest is to be able to go further and also to offer some good “exercises” so that the pilgrim can do his inner journey at the same time that he does it on the roads and paths of the Iberian Peninsula.

As Saint Ignatius indicates to us in the 1st annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, “by this name, spiritual exercises, we mean every way of examining consciousness, of meditating, of contemplating, of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual operations, according to what will be said below. For just as walking, walking and running are bodily exercises; in the same way, every way of preparing and disposing the soul to remove from itself all disordered affections and, after being removed, to seek and find the divine will in the disposition of its life for the health of the soul, are called spiritual exercises.
Accepting the ALL WAY of Ignatius, it is our interest to offer a spiritual guide that follows “parallel” to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, and to propose some “exercises” that offer a “grace” to pray each day, plus a little reflection and a fragment of the writing to read (don’t forget to take a Bible with you!). The order of the meditations follows the format of the Spiritual Exercises. Therefore, anyone who walks the Ignatian way that we propose could have a small “self-directed” experience of the Spiritual Exercises.

Ignatius suggests a form of prayer known as a “colloquy,” where we speak to Jesus, “as one friend speaks to another. A pilgrimage is precisely an ideal version of this type of prayer-colloquium. It consists in imagining Jesus walking with us from time to time. To speak with Jesus, as a good friend speaks with another. The image is not outlandish: the Gospels present Jesus and his companions in constant movement, travelling from village to village on foot, carrying with them all the few belongings they had, without fear of the heat or the rain, just as we are doing on pilgrimage. Let us use this imagination to help us in our meditation. Certainly on pilgrimage we will walk for many hours each day, so we will have plenty of time to pray!
The Spiritual Exercises are divided into “four weeks”, which more or less correspond to the stages of the Ignatian Way. We do not pretend an artificial union between the route of the Way and the Exercises, but the truth is that the idea of dividing the whole process into 4 phases is not crazy: the first week from Loyola to Navarrete; the second from Navarrete to Zaragoza; the third from Zaragoza to Lérida; the fourth from Lérida to Manresa. The hardness of the road in Euskadi, with its steep slopes and rugged landscapes reminds us of the difficulty of seeking God’s will in our personal history, too often blocked in our disordered affections. The plains of the Ebro valley and its green banks lead us to the happiness of those who walk with the Master, in a constant learning. Once again, the ascent towards the Monegros plateau invites us to enter into the difficulties of following and a horizon marked by the Cross that we cannot avoid. Finally, back to the fertile lands bathed by the river Segre, we find that presence of resurrection that invites us to go to look for the Master again in Galilee.

We leave it to the freedom of the pilgrim to choose the weeks that he wishes to experience and to apply the indications that we suggest in this guide, certainly in a too global way. Each one knows the point at which he finds himself in his personal itinerary and it is from that point that he has to set out on the Ignatian Way.

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