Abstract and Keywords
The Spiritual Exercises refer to both a particular practice and a text. It is a “book” that continues to be “made” by its practitioners. This contribution takes seriously the choice of Ignatius de Loyola: if the secrets of the “working” consciousness escape us, we can grasp the reading practices that are reflected in spiritual writings, as well as in pastoral actions in the missionary framework. The first part of this chapter presents the links between the Exercises and other sources regulating the life of the Society such as the Constitutions and the Directorium. Then follows a discussion about the development of the official discourses concerning the aims of the Exercises in the Imago primi saeculi. The chapter concludes with various examples of how the Jesuit missionaries, as well as laymen and -women, creatively appropriated the Exercises for their purpose. Thus, it is a long story in which the place of individual consciousness, actors in the decision-making process and the practice of obedience change over time.
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