Guiding Standards For The Jesuit Ministry 
Of The Spiritual Exercises
In The USA And English Speaking Canada
May 18, 2005

From The Jesuit Provincials (1)  Of The United States And Upper Canada


              We, the Jesuit provincials of the United States Assistancy together with the Jesuit provincial of Upper Canada, recognize that the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola are a gift of the Holy Spirit to the whole Church. We realize that the Society of Jesus bears a special responsibility to preserve this gift and promote its authentic use in its many applications and adaptations.(2) Furthermore, we recognize that the spirituality and world view of the Spiritual Exercises inform all of the ministries and apostolic institutions of the Society. Therefore, we offer to Jesuits and our partners the following guidance for this ministry.

              Care for and promotion of the Spiritual Exercises are collaborative efforts involving Jesuits and many others. The leadership, staffing, and governance of Jesuit affiliated apostolic works, whether spirituality centers or educational institutions, are accomplished by lay persons, Jesuits, clergy, and religious working together.

              We expect that Jesuit formation will include an understanding of the structure and dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises and the preparation to give them in one or more modalities. In addition efforts must be made to assist our partners in ministry with appropriate formation in the Spiritual Exercises.

              We encourage Jesuit sponsored ministries to collaborate with other associations engaged in the ministry of the Exercises, especially the Jesuit inspired networks of lay persons who give the Spiritual Exercises in daily life. As far as possible, the Society of Jesus seeks to offer guidance, training, and support for these associations. The Jesuit Conference shall promote regular conferences and workshops on Ignatian spirituality in general and on the adaptation and the application of the Spiritual Exercises in particular.

              Finally, we ask those Jesuits and Jesuit affiliated works whose ministry is giving the Spiritual Exercises to adopt the following guiding standards. This set of guiding standards is to be reviewed in three years ---- May, 2008.

Guiding Standards for Those Who Give the Spiritual Exercises: 

1. Personal Spiritual Formation ---- Those who would give The Exercises to others will:

a. have completed the full four "weeks" of the Spiritual Exercises under annotation 19 or 20 (testified to by the director);
b. be in personal spiritual direction and making an annual retreat for at least two years;
c. have discerned a call to this ministry;
d. be a fully initiated Roman Catholic in good standing for at least three years or a similarly invested member of another Christian denomination who is respectful of, and comfortable with, Roman Catholicism.

2. Intellectual formation ---- Those who would give The Exercises to others will have:

a. received basic instruction on the structure and dynamics of The Exercises;
b. familiarity with the "text" of The Exercises;
c. a basic understanding of the study of Sacred Scripture, especially of the New Testament;
d. a basic understanding of Theology (especially Theology of the Trinity, of Christ, of Salvation, of morality, and of the Church).

3. Professional Preparation ---- Those who would give The Exercises to others will have:

a. one-on-one mentoring (3) and supervision (4) by an experienced director through two retreats for those who give individually directed retreats;
b. mentoring by an experienced preacher for at least two retreats, for those who give conference retreats;
c. basic pastoral counseling skills;
d. training in preaching for those who give conference retreats.

Note: A person who does not have all the formal training required but has been competently practicing in this field for some years can be recognized as having equivalent competence, knowledge and experience.

4. Continuing Education/Formation ---- Those who would give The Exercises to others will:
a. participate annually in a conference, formal course, workshop, or other structured program on spiritual ministry;
b. do regular reading in spirituality and religion;
c. maintain on-going supervision (5) (one-on-one, group, peer, or with the retreat center director);
d. make a personal annual retreat;
e. continue to receive spiritual direction.

5. The Practice of Giving the Exercises ---- Those who give The Exercises to others will:

a. observe standard professional boundaries with regard to relationships, setting, place, content, etc.; (6)
b. strictly observe confidentiality (7) (as limited by mandated reporting laws);
c. consult and refer (8) when entering areas of unfamiliarity or non-competence (e.g. emotional or psychological disorder);
d. be faithful to the content of lgnatius' Spiritual Exercises regularly reviewing the "annotations" and "rules";
e. evaluate each retreat carefully.

  1.   This document was formally adopted by the Jesuit Provincials of the United States and English Speaking Canada at  their tri-annual meeting in May 2005.
  2. This document distinguishes the terms "application" and "adaptation" according to the vocabulary of the Spiritual        Exercises. "Application" refers to the act whereby an exercitant performs one or more of the specific exercises as          intended in Ignatius' text. "Adaptation" refers to the practice of modifying one or more of the exercises or movements         of the Exercises to fit the particular circumstances or capabilities of the exercitant. Annotation 18 defines and         encourages "adaptation."
  3. "Mentoring" is understood as the process whereby an experienced retreat director coaches, instructs, and guides a   neophyte director.
  4. "Supervision" is here used in the sense the word is generally used in the helping professions. It refers to a practice whereby the retreat director reflects on and processes with another professional his/her own interior experience while giving a retreat.
  5. see footnote 3 above.
  6. The Jesuit Conference recommends the Spiritual Directors International Guidelines for Ethical Conduct.
  7. Nothing learned from the directee may be disclosed to another without the directee's permission. The director must inform the directee that he or she (the director) is being supervised and will make every effort to protect the directee's identity.
  8. When dealing with psychological or emotional issues that impair a directee's judgment (e.g., trauma or addiction), the director may, with permission, consult a professional or recommend that the directee see a clinician or specialist.

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