The Review of The Prayer Exercise
Updated: Nov 13
The Review is a distinct spiritual exercise used in the Spiritual Exercises by which the pilgrim reflects on his/her own experiences of the prayer. The Review is an instrument that helps us notice what happened which helps us to discern our own spiritual movements* that were taking place during the Exercise.
St. Ignatius recommends after the Exercise is finished, either walking for sitting, we are to consider (SE#77) for a quarter of an hour what happened during the prayer time.
Writing down our noticing during the Review helps us to put our emotions into words, name our experiences and to express our feelings from our encounter with God. Without a review of the experiences of grace, those moments are left at the unopened door of our memory, can will thereby be forgotten, yet not forgotten by God.
The Review Process has three aspects that are important to be attentive to. The key question we ask ourselves during the review period is," What happened in me during the prayer exercise?" Here are a few suggestions.
The Before: How and why did I come to prayer.
How was I when I came to prayer?
Rested, tired, hungry, stressed, content, distracted, or excited?
Did I feel an excitement, a hesitation, or unsettled?
What was the grace I desired? My requests, my needs?
What were my expectations?
2. The During: How was I during the prayer, and what came up for me.
Was my prayer more in my head (thoughts, analyzing, searching) or heart (felt senses, responding) or moving between both?
What stood out as the significant interior movements*?
What reactions, feelings or thoughts occurred to me during the period of prayer?
Where was I comfortable or uncomfortable during the period of prayer?
Was I distracted? With what?
Where did I sense God’s presence?
What were the insights, promptings, and or graces received?
3. The After: Taking notice of what came up and how has it affected me.
Where am I now after this prayer time?
Do I have feelings of consolation, dryness, or desolation?
What did I learn about myself? About God?
Is there something that I should return to?
Importance of Writing by Hand
If you are used to writing on the computer, you may initially feel some resistance to writing by hand. Handwriting (as opposed to typing) slows us down, helps us maintain a meditative frame of mind, and keeps the intuitive and subconscious parts of our brain engaged. Typing on a keyboard, on the other hand, lends itself to linear thinking.
The Use of the Review Notes
Recording notes of our prayer experience is also helpful in preparation for our meeting with a spiritual director.
After a retreat, these reflections become a keepsake we can return to long after the retreat ends.
*Interior movements consist of the interactions of our intellect, will, and affect: thoughts, insights, feelings, emotions, moods, urges, impulses, desires, imaginations, attractions, longings, inclinations, and even resistances that spontaneously arise within us.
(Sources: John A. Veltri, S.J. Orientations Volume 2: Part A, pages 12-24, Louis J. Puhl, S.J. Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius)
Our Lady of the Way, Pray for us!
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