Resources and Tips For Your Spiritual Journey

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On your ten-week journey in the spiritual world, you will be involved in daily exercises that will help you to build your discernment ability and tune your spiritual radar. The exercises are designed to help you grow closer to Christ by understanding and following his inspirations and to avoid the traps of the enemy of human nature by understanding and resisting his inspirations.

These rituals described below comprise a spiritual awakening method and are key elements of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and his Examen that have proven effective for hundreds of years. They are simple and practical and they work. I am also proposing times during the day to give yourself a break from technology so that you can more readily listen to the spiritual world.

I propose you practice these exercises as suggested—some every day, and others once a week. This page is your reference for the exercises for your excursion into the spiritual world. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do all of them every day. Do what you can and just keep moving forward! Be Not Afraid! But pay attention to this short lesson on time.....



All the exercises of Understanding the Spiritual World are designed to help you migrate from a focus on chronological time (linear time) and enter Kairos or God’s time. Kairos is stepping into the stream of God's eternity on a daily basis—keeping you focused on your true home. You will be amazed at how even the unstructured non-tech times help you to listen to the spiritual world and to your heart. Our enemy is the one who wants to keep us busy and distracted.

Defeat him by making your Kairos times intentional and frequent.  

1. When I Awake in the Morning—1 Minute Total

When you awaken, keep your eyes closed and “feel” the day before you. Are you anxious or hopeful?

Ask Christ to help you overcome the specific anxieties you experience.

Thank Him for the hopes you identify.

Before opening your eyes, offer your day to God with a Morning Prayer[i] and end by praying for protection to St. Michael the Archangel, Christ’s lead guardian in the battle against evil.[ii]

2. Morning Time—Twenty Minutes Total

For the first twenty minutes after getting up in the morning (including the 1 minute of “when I awake” prayer), keep free of all media and technology so that your heart has the necessary quiet time to access the spiritual world and your own heart.

3. Core Exercise Time—Fifteen Minutes Total

Take fifteen minutes to do the Ignatian Examen exercise discipline reflecting on Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy and Eternity. Do it mid-day, mid-afternoon or just after the evening meal. We have extensive research to show that these times for praying this discipline are the best ones for keeping to the daily ritual and remaining faithful in its practice. You may want to download and use the MP3 version of the Ignatian Examen on our Sacred Story website.[iii]

Find a quiet place apart, a place where you will not be disturbed by family, friends, or the things of the world. Bring with you any specific annoyances or strong emotional events you experienced today. Bring also your particular graces and inspirations.

During this time, kneel or sit, whichever is better suited to your prayer style and more conducive to contemplative reflection, prayer, and devotion.

Keep your eyes closed, or if opened, in a fixed position, not allowing them to roam.

Take 15-minutes for this exercise, no more and no less.

Consciously enter the spiritual world for these 15-minute periods in one of two ways both of which are proposed by St. Ignatius (try both and determine which best suits your character and personality).

First Way: Say the word “Creation” and continue meditating on this word as long as you find meaning, connections, delight, and inspirations—the positive graces you seek. The same method of reflection should be followed for each of the other words and for the meditations associated with each word (Presence, Memory, Mercy and Eternity). You’ll find those meditations below.

Second Way: With each breath or respiration, say “Creation” internally then from one breath to another say the word while you ponder the graces and inspirations you seek. During this same time, direct your attention mainly to the meaning of the word and graces you seek, the Person who is addressed, and why you need those graces.  Follow this method with the other words (Presence, Memory, Mercy, Eternity) until you finish all the other meditations in the Examen prayer.

If my description of these two ways sounded a bit abstract, don’t worry, everything will clarify as you move through the days and weeks. And no matter which way you choose, briefly at the beginning and at the end of the prayer time, see in your mind your whole life in God’s hands. While breathing slowly and deeply, say inwardly the litany of: Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy, and Eternity. Ignatius discovered that one of the best ways open your heart to God is through daily pondering these eternal truths.

Remember, for the body of the 15-minute prayer, after the opening litany, and before the closing litany, you can be flexible. On some days, you may spend equal amounts of time on each meditation. On other days, you may spend most of your time on one meditation. Let your heart lead you, based on the events of the day, and the images and emotions that emerge in your reflections. When praying, all roads lead to God.


As you move through your life remember, too, that this fifteen minute ritual can move with you—long after you have ended the Understanding the Spiritual World program. You can pray the whole 15-minute Sacred Story prayer once or twice daily and consciously repeat to Christ Jesus the five-word refrain (Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy, Eternity) whenever you are in the grip of fear, anxiety, sins, addictions, or destructive compulsions.


I believe God created everything in love and for love; I ask for heart-felt knowledge of God’s love for me, and for gratitude for the general and particular graces of this day.


I believe God is present in each moment and event of my life, and I ask for the grace to awaken, see and feel where and how, especially in this present moment.


I believe every violation of love committed by me and against me is in my memory, and I ask God to reveal them to me, especially those that have manifested themselves today, so I can be healed.


I believe that forgiveness is the only path to healing and illumination. I beg for the grace of forgiveness, and the grace to forgive the general and particular failures in my past and of this day.


I believe the grace of forgiveness opens my heart, making my every thought, word and deed bear fruit that endures to eternity. I ask that everything in my life serve Christ’s Great Work of Reconciliation.

As the days and weeks progress, you will learn each meditation by heart. If you prefer, you can use the 15 minute guided meditation version of this prayer on our website. Go to the Members tab on the website and become a member. It is free. Then go to Forty Weeks “Audio and Video Resources.” On that page you will find an MP3 download called “Meditation.” This is the entire Examen prayer in a guided format with music that you can listen to and follow along with your mind and heart.

Close the 15-minute Examen exercise with one or other of these two prayers:

Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.


(This is the prayer favored by Ignatius for this discipline).

Prayer for Generosity

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.


(This is the prayer of St. Ignatius)

4. Day Time—One Contiguous Hour Total

Have one hour in the day where you use no media or technology. The time should be a contiguous hour and not several non-sequential time segments added together equaling an hour. Use this time to do the reading/reflection spiritual exercises for each day or just to enjoy the quiet. If you can’t do a full hour, then try 45 or 30 minutes.

5. Evening Time—One Contiguous Half Hour Total

Turn off all technology and media one half hour before going to bed. This will help you access the spiritual world and also sleep better. Use this time also to spend 1-2 minutes to do your Daily Spiritual Journal.

6. Daily Spiritual Journal—1-2 Minutes Once Daily


Once you begin the journey you will be aware of new spiritual movements in your life. Writing them in your Exercise Record will help you build the discipline to understand and work with your spiritual life. This book has an Exercise Record for each day of the journey so if you have your book, you have your Record. Keep it with you when you do your structured 15-minute exercise periods and at the end of the day. Write your journal entries in your own hand. Writing long-hand is a greater expression of your spirit than typing.

Write in your Record daily, after you end your last Examen 15-minute prayer session. What you write should be only single words or short phrases. The goal is to track the most significant events from your days.

CONSOLATIONS: On the graced end of the scale, you are looking for gratitude, hope, and peace and the daydreams and fantasies coming from the Divine-Inspirer. So look for those things that increase your faith, your hope and your love of God and your neighbor.

DESOLATIONS: Make sure to look for destructive patterns and trends in your life: patterns of fear, anger and grief, and patterns of sin, compulsion and addiction. In both of these patterns you are also looking for links to persons, events, or issues that decrease your faith, your hope and your love of God and neighbor.

The patterns and trends that St. Ignatius thought were most productive to focus on for spiritual growth and are most relevant to this journey are those that help you identify damaging, addictive, sinful habits at their roots. So remain aware of patterns and trends that reveal the triggering mechanisms that make you easy prey—these may be patterns and trends from you early life that have become ‘sources’ the ‘origins’ and ‘roots’ of bad habits. We might put it into a helpful phrase like this: “Where you fall, there dig for gold! Or: “Where you find difficulties will be the main source of your spiritual growth!”

Every day, take one minute before going to bed to write your brief Exercise Record entry. Remember your day’s awakening exercises, and ask for the grace to be aware of the importance of any significant events that open you to anger, fear, grief or temptations, failures and sins. Ask for God’s grace to see your life integrated and holistic as God does.

God longs to be with you and lead you to freedom, forgiveness, peace and healing. As you read these instructions now you might say, “I don’t know…this seems like a lot of work,” but remember, people like you who have engaged the Exercises gained much more from the entire journey method than those who did not write in their journal.

And those who persevered in the journal practice are the ones who learned to be brief and to write no more than a few words or a short phrase. I can promise you: you will not succeed in the journal practice if you take more than a minute or two a day to accomplish it! Be brief, but specific and address Jesus in your notes. Here is an example to help you focus:

1)       CONSOLATION: Jesus, the letter I received today from my brother brought me peace because it made me realize God will help me every step of the way.

2)          DESOLATION: Jesus, I felt like I would never overcome some of my bad habits today and I felt very discouraged. Help me not lose hope in you or myself. 


8 As I Lay Down to Sleep—1 Minute Total

Pray for your loved ones by name.

Are you anxious or hopeful? Ask Christ to help

you overcome your specific anxieties. 

Thank Christ for the hopes you identify.

Ask God to be present in your dreams.

End by asking your spiritual guardian to stand watch through the night.

9. Night Vigils—30 to 45 Minutes A Week


You are being invited to spend thirty to forty-five minutes in a guided Ignatian meditation on a Gospel story each week. Hopefully you have the option of doing this at a church that has a 24 hour adoration option, but you can also do it at home. You can choose to do this on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

These night vigils will appear at the end of day seven of each week. The Night Vigils can substitute for the Evening Time Exercise. If that is your choice, do nothing after these vigils but go home, do your journal, then go to bed.

The Night Vigils are best done between the hours of 10 PM to 1 AM when the night becomes quiet and you can more readily have access to the spiritual world. Depending on your schedule and level of energy, you may decide it best to do them earlier.

10. Reconciliation-Thirty Minutes a Month

This ten-week journey asks you to use the great sacrament of Reconciliation to focus your heart, experience the mercy of Jesus and clear away the junk in your life that blocks your ready access to grace.

Spiritual exercise is even more important than physical exercise. Many of the results of spiritual exercise will have a far greater impact on your whole life.

It is work, it is exercise, but you will be amazed at the world that opens up to you by engaging it with a diligent passion! A recent study by the Catholic Leadership Institute said that the frequency of the reception of Reconciliation is the biggest difference between:

 Those who have encountered Jesus and are growing as disciples and

>  Those who say Jesus Christ is the most important relationship in their life.

This practice opens your heart to forgiveness and peace and makes you a more committed disciple of the Lord Jesus. Take advantage of its powerful graces on your spiritual journey of life.


11. Journal at Week’s End—5 Minutes Total

On Sunday (or Saturday if that is your “week’s end”), in place of the day’s end journal exercise, review the consolation and desolation phrases from the preceding week. 

Notice what particular insights or inspirations arise as you review the short phrases. Then write one sentence for the pattern of consolation and desolation that seems to you to be the most significant of the week.

Write these insights on the two NOTES pages after the Day Seven exercises. Date these reflections so you can watch your growth as the Exercises progress.


12. Journal at Month’s End—5 Minutes Total

At the end of a month, in place of the week’s end journal exercise, review your summary insights from these end-of-week exercises. Look for any patterns that are emerging. As you see patterns, write short comments (“I think…” “I believe…” “I discovered…”) that reveal any changes you experience in your life as a result of grace, healing, forgiveness, or the insights you receive. Write these also on the NOTES pages after Day Seven.

Example: “I’ve figured out now that not making the “a” group and feeling that loss of confidence is linked to the very same issue that made me hope my brother would always be there to help me. Earlier in my life it was my brother who built up my confidence and now he’s not around so I need to focus on the hope he gave me and now give it to myself through Christ. This will help me to not let myself get discouraged by false messages in my everyday life that tell me: ‘I am no good’.”

Spiritual World Daily Exercise Record

In every chapter of this ten-week journey, for every day of every week, you are invited to keep a record of your daily spiritual exercises. There is a record for each day of each week of Understanding the Spiritual World.

One goal in filling this out is to see the exercises you complete and don’t complete. The ideal would be, of course, to complete all the exercises every day, but that will not always be possible. By having the record you can see patterns that might help you become more faithful or gain insights as to why you are not faithful.

For example, if you notice that you generally don’t complete your daily exercises because you just can’t turn your smartphone off for a half hour, you can work with that, pray about it, ask for help to change that pattern.

If you do other exercises but miss the journal exercise regularly, perhaps you’ll see a pattern related to when you go to sleep—maybe you are not going to sleep early enough, and your whole schedule is off-kilter. You can fix that.

Having the exercise record will help you not only to more fruitfully engage the ten-week journey, but also to improve your life. Fill-in the locations for the next day’s exercises before you go to bed. This will really help you focus your attention on the journey and enable you to be more faithful to the daily disciplines.


 1. When I Awake in the Morning—1 Minute Minimum - 2 Maximum


Location___________   I Exercised Yes___(___Minutes) No___ 


2. Morning Time Exercise—10 Minutes Minimum -20 Minutes Maximum


Location___________   I Exercised Yes___(___Minutes) No___ 


3. Examen Exercise Time—15 Minutes Maximum


Location___________   I Exercised Yes___(___Minutes) No___ 


4. Day Time Exercise—60 Contiguous Minutes (30 or 45 if 60 is not possible)


Location___________   I Exercised Yes___(___Minutes) No___ 


5. Evening Time Exercise—30 Contiguous Minutes Minimum – 60 Maximum


Location___________   I Exercised Yes___(___Minutes) No___ 


6. Exercise Journal—1-2 Minutes Once Daily


Location___________   I Exercised Yes___(___Minutes) No___ 


7. As I Lay Down to Sleep—1 Minute Total


Location___________   I Exercised Yes___(___Minutes) No___ 



8. Night Vigils—30 minutes minimum – 45 maximum


Location___________   I Exercised Yes___(___Minutes) No___ 



DESOLATION From the Day – Write no more than two sentences on what decreased your faith, your hope and your love for God and neighbor today.




CONSOLATION From the Day – Write no more than two sentences on what increased your faith, your hope and your love for God and neighbor today.



Finding the Name for God or Jesus

That Speaks to Your Heart

Before embarking on your spiritual journey, it will be most beneficial to uncover the name for God, Jesus or the Spirit that speaks most directly to your heart. One of the things you want to do on this journey (and for all of your life) is to talk directly to God from your heart. Pray to be inspired on which name touches you most deeply.

For this exercise, go to a church and sit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or go to your place of prayer in your home. Once you are settled in your place of prayer, ask for God’s inspiration to uncover the name for God that speaks most directly to your heart. Then ask, in words from your heart, to be inspired to discover or remember the most intimate and/or meaningful name for God the Father, Son and Spirit that you have used in prayer.

The name will resonate deeply in your heart and reflect God’s relationship to you and your personal relationship with God. The following may be helpful:

Merciful Father, Loving Father, Almighty Father, Our Father, Father God, Loving Creator, Creator God, God of Love, My God, Holy God, Father of the Poor, God of All Mercy, God of All Compassion, Father of Jesus, Lord Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus, Christ Jesus, Dear Jesus, Adorable Jesus, Adorable Christ, Good Jesus, Jesus, Merciful Savior, Jesus My Savior, Son of God, Dearest Lord, My Lord, My Lord and My God, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Lamb of God, Good Shepherd, Crucified Savior, Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus, Spirit of the Lord, Loving Spirit, Holy Spirit of God, Love of God, Divine Spirit, Creator Spirit, Creator God.

 Ask for the grace to discover the name for God that touches your heart most intimately. You will know the right name because it has the power to unlock your trust and your love, and to stir your affections.

Write the name for God or Jesus in your notebook when you discover it. From this point forward, use this name when you address God or Jesus Christ. The Trinity delights when you to speak directly from your heart.[iv] 


[i] Invite God to be with you all day long:

Traditional Morning Offering

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.

I arise to-day : 
might of Heaven 
brightness of Sun 
whiteness of Snow 
splendour of Fire 
speed of Light 
swiftness of Wind 
depth of Sea 
stability of Earth 
firmness of Rock.

I arise to-day : 
Might of God 
Power of God 
Wisdom of God 
Eye of God 
Ear of God 
Word of God 
Hand of God 
Path of God 
Shield of God 
Host of God 

(Morning Prayer from The Book of Cerne, 9th C)

St Michael Prayer Before Opening Eyes

[ii] Holy Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do you, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls.


[iii] Go to and click on the MEMBERS tab on the upper right corner. Sign up to be a member-- it is free. Open the Members page and then open the Forty Weeks Audio and Video Resources. Under Audio Resources, you will see MEDITATION. This is the 15 minute Examen prayer we use for Sacred Story. Download it and use it on your phone or home system for a guided meditation version of the Daily Examen. Described in the Spiritual Exercises for the Daily Journey.

[iv] A suggestion: Use this name to address God and/or Jesus every time you naturally think of God throughout the day. For example, you may say in your heart before a meeting: “Lord Jesus, be with me now.” Say it, and then just move on with your meeting. Do not make this a tedious exercise, but one that feels natural and relaxed. You do not have to think long and hard about God. The purpose of this spontaneous prayer is just a short, friendly reminder of God’s presence. Use this name if you find yourself conversing with God during the day.


Complete and Continue