The Exercises in daily life: spiritual leaven at the heart of the world
The Manresa Spirituality Centre, Quebec City
The Manresa Spirituality Centre (Centre de spiritualité Manrèse - CSM) was founded in 1976 by Gilles Cusson, SJ, a leading figure in the renewal of the Spiritual Exercises in the 20th century, supported by a team of Jesuits who wished to share the treasure of Ignatian spirituality with the contemporary world. From its beginnings, the Centre attached the utmost importance to intellectual depth in the interpretation of the Exercises, in a sustained dialogue with contemporary culture, as well as to rigor in the formation of spiritual accompaniment. By putting the practice of the “Exercises in Daily Life” group approach (EVC, in French, often called in English circles “19th annotation Exercises”), the CSM participated, in an original manner, in a certain democratization of the Spiritual Exercises, making the Ignatian journey and the ministry of spiritual accompaniment more accessible to all of God’s people and especially to lay people.
Mostly constituted by lay people today, the Centre’s team of animators forms a community of discernment for the mission within a true Ignatian and Jesuit partnership. Galvanized by the universal apostolic preference of the Society of Jesus which calls for “showing the way towards God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment,” the CSM feels deeply called to receive, in a new manner, the grace of the EVC in order to further their implementation in our world in the spirit of the magis.
Much more than a simple pedagogical option, the EVC teach us a spiritual pathway providentially tailored to increasingly secular societies. The EVC radically integrate Christian spirituality into the dynamic of the Ad amorem, this final Contemplation of the Exercises (Nos. 230 and following) which invites us to move towards love in the “dough” of the world and beyond religious affiliations. In the EVC, in a more immediate way than in the “closed retreat,” the world, along with the everyday life that it implies - in its family, professional, social, economic and political dimensions - becomes the subject itself of the Spiritual Exercises. Daily life essentially forces us to discern God’s work in everything and to fully participate in it.