Annual Retreat Exercise #2: How and when to do the second part of the annual spiritual exercises

October 18, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 266
By St. Francis de Sales


The examination of the soul concerning the advancement of a devout life.

As the second point of the exercise is somewhat long, in order to practise it, I must tell you that it is not necessary you should perform it all at once, but at different times, taking what regards your conduct towards God, for one time; what relates to yourself, for another; what concerns your neighbour, for a third; and the consideration of your passions, for the fourth.

Neither is it expedient that you should perform it on your knees, except at the beginning and the end, which comprises the affections.

The other points of the examination you may perform profitably whilst walking abroad, or still more profitably in bed, provided you can preserve yourself against drowsiness, and keep thoroughly awake: but then, to do this, you must have read attentively beforehand.

It is necessary, however, to go through the whole of the second point in three days and two nights at furthest, dedicating as much time to it on each day and night as you possibly can; for if this exercise should be deferred to times far distant from each other, it would lose its force and make but weak impressions.

After every point of the examination, you must remark those in which you may find that you have failed; also in what you are defective, and the nature of the principal disorders you may have discovered, that you may declare them to your confessor, in order to take his advice and acquire resolution and spiritual strength to overcome them.

And although on some days, on which you may perform one or other exercise, it is not absolutely necessary to withdraw yourself from all company, yet you must be in some measure retired, especially towards the evening, that
you may go sooner to bed, and take that repose of body and mind which is necessary for reflection.

You must also in the daytime make frequent aspirations to God, to our Lady, to the angels, and to the whole court of heaven: moreover, all this must be done with a heart fully inflamed with the love of God, and a desire of attaining perfection.

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