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The first edition of this translation, which consisted of three thousand copies, has been for some time out of print; and, influenced by representations made to me from several quarters, I have judged it advisable to bring out a second edition. In preparing it for the Press, the book has been carefully revised throughout, so that I trust the present edition will be found an improvement on the former one, and will merit at least an equal share of public favour.


St. Colman's College, Fermoy, 24th May, 1883.


Although Spiritual Retreats are of very frequent occurrence in our days, nevertheless, that total change of life—the result of generous resolutions carried out with fortitude and constancy—which in times past almost invariably accompanied them, is by no means so common. Now-a-days people come out of Retreat pretty much the same as they entered it; and even though they should gain some additional fervour, and manifest some improvement in their lives, the change is but of brief duration, and at the end of a month they return to their former failings and tepidity.

What is the cause of this 1 Is it that the Exercises have lost that efficacy which formerly rendered them so powerful 1 It is not so: but it happens because people do not perform the Exercises in the manner which S. Ignatius requires. They do not endeavour to penetrate his spirit thoroughly; they do not direct their resolutions into the proper channel; they do not attend sufficiently to the connection between the different meditations; they, for the most part, pass over the Exercise on the Choice of a State, around which, as a centre, all the others are grouped; and they either omit, or but glance hurriedly at some fundamental meditations—such as those on The Kingdom of Christ, on The Two Standards, on The Three Classes of Men, on The Three Degrees of Humility— which, as it were, constitute the foundation that supports the entire of this spiritual edifice. Hence they fail to derive from the Exercises all the benefit that they ought.

It is my desire, therefore, to help you, if I can, by means of this little book, and to assist you in gathering all that fruit which the Exercises usually produce when they are well performed. But shall I be able to do this of myself 1 May the Lord grant me His assisting grace, while on my part I shall leave nothing undone to ensure success. And that you may know, reader, that I am not about to place before you any theories of my own, I take the liberty of informing you that I will not lay down in the following pages any doctrine which may not be found either in the work of our holy Father, S. Ignatius, or in the Directory, or in the treatises of other approved interpreters. We shall see later on what weight attached itself to the book of the Exercises; and the authority of the Directory may be inferred from the circumstances under which it was drawn up. This work was undertaken by command of the First General Congregation, and was by its advice forwarded to all the provinces of the Society, in order that the most experienced Fathers in all places might decide whether there was anything to add to, or take from it, or whether it might be otherwise improved. The judgments and opinions of all having been forwarded to Rome, and subjected in the Fifth General Congregation to a most exact and rigorous examination, by Fathers specially deputed for that task—an examination afterwards scrupulously repeated by the Father-General Claudius

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