May 24, 2021 | Miles Christi
Each saint has contributed something of his own to the bountiful tree of Catholic spirituality. St. Benedict of Nursia, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, and many others, have bequeathed with their eminent teaching truly admirable gifts to the Church. St. Ignatius handed down his Spiritual Exercises so that the whole Church might profit from it.
Hence, since the middle of the 16th century the Church has made use of this “spiritual apparatus”, this true gift from heaven, which can convert unbelievers, inflame the lukewarm, and produce saints. St. Ignatius himself, a man of few words, with little affection for exaggerated praise or superlatives, said, “The Spiritual Exercises are the best means that I can think of, experience and understand in this life, both to help a person improve himself and be able to benefit, help and bring profit to many others” (Letter of Nov. 16, 1536).
As our Constitutions state: “From among all spiritual retreats, we give clear preference to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, received by the saint of Loyola from the hands of Mary in the cave of Manresa. The Church has always rendered the highest praise to the Spiritual Exercises, due to the excellence of their spiritual doctrine, the wonderful ease with which they can be adapted to any type of person, the organic unity of their parts, and the successive, clear, and admirable order of their meditations. They are, without doubt, a tremendously powerful weapon of spiritual combat, with an effective force for converting souls to God and leading them to the greatest divine service” (no. 41).
This characteristic of the spirituality of Miles Christi providentially coincides with the teaching and practice of Servant of God Fr. John Hardon, S.J., an untiring preacher of the Spiritual Exercises. When Fr. Hardon discovered the Ignatian quality of our Order and our appreciation for the Spiritual Exercises, he invited us to help preach them. When he became ill, he entrusted to us the preaching of the retreats that he had been giving in Barrington, Illinois.
Armed with the solid formation that we have received in our Order, and supported by the confidence that Fr. John Hardon had shown to us when we first arrived in the United States, we began the marathon of Spiritual Exercises in 2001 and the grace of God did not stop pouring itself out over the participants!
As we mentioned above, the Spiritual Exercises are the precious and invaluable legacy of St. Ignatius to the Church. At the same time, for the religious of Miles Christi they are a legacy and a mission that Fr. Hardon generously entrusted to us in the United States. May God grant that we continue to be faithful to this heritage and to this mission! May God grant that we be capable instruments for the sanctification of souls! This gives us courage to continue our mission, to push on with this apostolate that is so well appreciated by the Church and so beneficial to souls. We certainly experienced their efficacy as we preach them. We would be very glad if all our readers could experience for themselves the spiritual and apostolic benefits that they provide.
If you have never attended a Spiritual Exercises retreat, if it has been a while since you have attended, or if you enjoy making a yearly retreat (as we highly recommend), please visit our list of upcoming retreats all over the country and register at mileschristi.org/spiritualexercises.