Spiritual Exercises can strengthen believers

Friday, Jan. 11, 2019
Spiritual Exercises can strengthen believers + Enlarge
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

SANDY — For some, the celebration of the Christmas season is enough, while for others it may seem only to awaken a yearning for more, for a greater, deeper relationship with God. Those who may feel that way but do not know where to turn may find that an upcoming St. Thomas More Parish Mission on Ignatian spirituality could hold at least some of the answers.

Led by Catherine and Ralph Morgan, the three-day mission will introduce participants to the Spiritual Exercises developed by the 16th-century Church theologian Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

Performed over 30 weeks (with an hour of nightly prayer on an assigned Scripture and a weekly meeting with a spiritual advisor), the Spiritual Exercises are designed to allow a person to see beyond her/his own life and to more fully discern God’s will for her/him.

The Morgans, who were originally members of the Episcopal Church, sought a deeper connection to God and studied for five years with the Sisters of Benedict/Newman University. They learned first to perform the exercises and then to become spiritual directors to share the exercises with those who are seeking more in their spiritual life.

“I fell in love with God; it was an amazing experience and I wanted more,” Catherine Morgan said.

The Morgans became Benedictine Oblate Novices in 2001 and were received into the Church in 2006. Becoming members of the Catholic Church was “just a natural progression,” they said.

The Spiritual Exercises were originally designed by St. Ignatius to be performed over a period of 30 days, with participants devoting more than six hours a day to them. While in his 19th Admonition Ignatius said the exercises should be made available to the general membership of the Church, prior to Vatican II they were mostly used in the training of priests and religious.

“Even in the 1500s, life made its demands on each human being,” Sister Danna Schweitzer said in “As Long As God Wants,” a video about the development of the exercises in Oklahoma.

After the admonition of Vatican II to include the laity in many of what Sr. Schweitzer calls “minor rituals and prayer forms in the Church,” some spiritual advisors sought to make the exercises more accessible to the people.  In 1981 in Oklahoma, Sister Jan Futtrell, her brother Rev. John Futtrell and Rev. David Fleming developed a 30-week form of the exercises that participants could do in their own homes at their own convenience.

The Morgans, who moved from Oklahoma two years ago, are bringing those exercises to the people in Utah, where they have found that people have a lot of interest.

“There’s a hunger for people here to get closer to God,” Catherine Morgan said.

During the three-evening mission at St. Thomas More Parish, those who attend will be introduced to Ignatian spirituality, the Ignatian worldview and hearing God’s voice using Ignatian spirituality and pondering. At the mission’s conclusion, they will have learned about the lecto divinio prayer form, contemplation and meditation. There will be no pressure to participate, and the mission is open to all denominations, Catherine Morgan said.

“It’s nice to be someplace where you can get into the silence,” Nancy Vargas, a retreat coordinator said of the three-day introduction in “As Long As God Wants.” “Even though three days isn’t very long, it gets you out of the stream of things; it’s a nice concentrated bit of quiet.”

Over the last couple of years that the Morgans have been offering it, close to 20 local Catholics have completed the retreat.

“We’ve seen some marvelous things happen with people who come,” Ralph Morgan said. “There’s so much satisfaction watching the movement of people; watching the surrender to the movement of God in your life and learning how to respond to the call of God.”

WHAT: Parish mission on Ignatian spirituality

WHEN: Tuesday-Thursday, Jan. 29-31, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Registration: 6-6:30 p.m.

WHERE: St. Thomas More Parish, 3015 E. Creek Road, Sandy

Presented by Catherine Morgan, Ph.D., certified Ignatian spiritual director, and Ralph Morgan, M.A., Ignatian spiritual companion. Register by Jan. 18; call Nora, 801-942-5285, ext. 100.

Free and open to the public.


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