Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Born of a noble family in the Basque region of northern Spain, Ignatius of Loyola embarked on a military career, intending to become a soldier. At the battle of Pamplona in 1521, he received a severe leg wound that left him disabled. During his painful period of recovery, he spent long periods in prayer and study of the lives of the saints. Through numerous mystical experiences, he concluded that God was calling him to be a soldier for Christ. He spent several years in study and contemplation, with an extended period (1528-1535) in Paris. There in 1534, he and six of his friends constituted the Society of Jesus with a concern to extend apostolic witness wherever they went. In 1540 Pope Paul III approved the Jesuits as an official order of the Roman Catholic Church, with Loyola as its first “general.” The Spiritual Exercises, which he began writing as early as the 1520’s but revised throughout his life, served as a guide to the spiritual life of the Jesuit order. It has become a textbook for spiritual renewal and discipline used by persons throughout the Church.
The materials that make up The Spiritual Exercises were written over a period of several years and grew out of the religious devotion and idealism of Loyola himself. They represent a handbook of Christian spirituality intended to move the faithful to ever-increasing maturity through moral reflection, meditation, and discipline. Just as the worldly soldier prepares for...
(The entire section is 1939 words.)
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