Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL)


Here is the link to the application: SEEL Retreat Application. Please scroll down for more information about the retreat and the application process.

The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) is a retreat designed for busy people like you. Even people who work full time can make the retreat because it is extended over nine months from September to May following the Liturgical calendar. The Spiritual Exercises is a series of prayers, meditations, and reflections put together by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the 16th century founder the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits.

The retreat honors the uniqueness of each person and leads participants to a deeper relationship with God and others. You may be asking questions such as: Do I desire a deeper relationship with God, myself and the world in which I live? Do I desire a greater sense of direction and purpose in my life in light of my relationship with God? Do I feel that there is more to my life than I am experiencing? Do I want to understand better what I really want in my life? The SEEL retreat has helped many participants find answers to these kinds of questions. If you struggle to feel connected to others, perhaps even to the parish community, the Spiritual Exercises offers a wonderful opportunity to be involved more intentionally with others as you pray and grow spiritually together.

Those who benefit most from the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life have:

  • An openness to spiritual growth and personal transformation.
  • A desire to deepen their prayer.
  • A desire to draw closer to Jesus.

In the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) Retreat you will:

  • Pray from 40 minutes to one hour each day using materials provided by your director.
  • Meet weekly with your spiritual director for an hour of conversation in which you talk about your experience of prayer. Your director is someone who has made the Spiritual Exercises and who receives ongoing formation and supervision to guide others in making the Exercises. You and your director will decide the meeting place and time, as well as the pace of the retreat.
  • Gather monthly for communal prayer and faith sharing. These retreat evenings are centered around specific themes of the Spiritual Exercises. They offer opportunities to companion your fellow retreatants on their spiritual journeys, which will deepen your experience of the retreat.

Prayer in the Spiritual Exercises

The primary forms of prayer in the Exercises are meditation and contemplation. In meditation, you use your mind. You ponder the basic principles that guide your life. You pray over words, images, and ideas. Contemplation is more about feeling than thinking. Contemplation often stirs the emotions and enkindles deep desires. In contemplation, you rely on your imagination to place yourself in a setting from the Gospels or in a scene proposed by St. Ignatius. You pray with Scripture. You do not study it. The discernment of spirits underlies the Spiritual Exercises. You notice the interior movements of your heart, and discern where they are leading you. A regular practice of discernment will help you make decisions in alignment with your deepest, most authentic desires.

Cost of The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) Retreat

There is no cost to participate. St. Francis Xavier Parish subsidizes the cost of the Spiritual Exercises as part of our commitment to the spiritual life of the parish and community. The parish covers the cost of all materials, library, supervision, and education of the directors. The retreat directors donate their time for education, supervision, and spiritual direction. The Spiritual Exercises offered elsewhere cost the retreatants up to $1,500. We only ask of you a generosity of spirit and a commitment to prayer. A goodwill offering to the SEEL retreat ministry is always welcome.

Schedule for SEEL Retreat Evenings 2020-2021

  • September 9 – SEEL Introductory Evening
  • September 16 – Life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola
  • October 14 – First Principle and Foundation
  • November 11 – Sin/Examen
  • December 9 – Incarnation
  • January 13 – Two Standards
  • February 10 – Discernment
  • March 10 – The Passion
  • April 14 – Resurrection
  • May 12 – Contemplation on the Love of God

What Past Retreatants Have Said About The Spiritual Exercises In Everyday Life

I have a neighbor who went through the SEEL retreat. I was very intrigued, but thought I was too busy to devote the necessary time. As life goes, I was feeling more and more stressed. With several problems swirling around me, I wanted to concentrate on God. I needed SEEL!

I am so much closer to Jesus now than any other time in my life. I have learned more about the Bible and different ways to pray and meditate on Scripture. I feel gratitude and joy in ways that I never imagined possible. I really enjoyed meeting with my spiritual director every week and discussing how the prayer materials were affecting me. The monthly meetings with the other retreatants was also a highlight.

Wendy Flynn

The time was right last year for me to go through the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) retreat. I sought spiritual and emotional healing, along with the physical and cognitive healing, as I continued to recover from a major accident. Now I’m better able to see the “big picture” of life through Jesus Christ, rather than being focused solely on my rehabilitation.

I enjoyed the weekly meetings with my spiritual director; the monthly gatherings with the other retreatants; and my many “light bulb” insights into the Bible and an improved approach to daily events through the example and teachings of Jesus.

Retreatant from Missoula, MT

The SEEL retreat was suggested as a way to carry me through a time of transition. Throughout the retreat, I savored and delighted in scripture in a different way. I argued and wondered and studied and imagined through prayer with scripture. I was able to read scripture in light of my life circumstances and imaginatively pray the questions. The retreat served as a guide and my spiritual director served as a companion in this time of transition. My favorite aspect of the retreat was the scripture readings without the burden of having to explain them to anyone else.

Rev. Courtney D. Arntzen (she/her/hers) – Presbyterian Pastor – Missoula Community Chaplain

The desire to deepen my relationship with Jesus drew me to the SEEL retreat. I had been feeling like I was in a desert while trying to control everything in my life. The daily Examen helped me focus on “moments” rather than events that may have consumed my time and energy. I’ve also been able to connect with others in my life in more meaningful, forgiving and loving ways, which includes myself.

Through the SEEL retreat I developed a much deeper prayer life. My relationship with Jesus, reliance on Mary, and recognition of how the Holy Spirit moves within me have all increased. I’m now able to recognize the times of desolation and consolation. I appreciated and valued my director’s wisdom and guidance. It’s been an experience that has given me tools for life. Thank you all! 

Parishioner from St. Ignatius Mission

I saw a SEEL retreat announcement in the bulletin and thought it looked interesting. My son told me that he had recently completed SEEL and suggested I look into it. Then Father mentioned it in the announcements at Sunday Mass. It was apparent that God was calling me to the SEEL retreat.

It took a while before the daily prayer periods began to flow naturally. But then coming to know that God is with me, beside me, in me, and listening to me at all times has given me an immense amount of peace and calm, as well as a lack of fear about things that happen in this life and in the next. The change in my relationship with Jesus and the Blessed Trinity has affected me deeply and made my daily life so much better.

Parishioner from St. Francis Xavier Church

My spiritual director suggested I make the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) retreat. At first, I struggled with setting aside an hour a day for prayer. I’m so glad I stayed with it because SEEL rekindled my love relationship with God. One of my favorite parts of the retreat was meeting with my SEEL spiritual director each week.

Cathy Burleson

The SEEL retreat had been recommended to me by several former retreatants and I was interested in finding ways to enrich my prayer life and deepen my spirituality. The combination of the directed readings and journaling, together with the commitment of time, led to more self-assessment and contemplation. I was also inspired to do additional reading and exploration of spirituality, prayer, and scripture. Now I’m more focused and grounded and I’m experiencing the spiritual freedom Ignatius advocates.

I enjoyed the whole SEEL retreat. process as a whole. As it progressed, I came to anticipate and enjoy my weekly meetings more and more.

Parishioner at St. Francis Xavier Parish

There is much to say about connecting heart to heart in the stillness and silence of early mornings. For me, SEEL was a way to reconnect with my first love… in a rich experience that is hard to explain. Finding an hour a day is a difficult task for all of us but, for me, prioritizing that hour was a game-changer. For weeks, I sat in the silence, the long uncomfortable silence. However, I was expectant. I can’t even tell you when the silence changed from being uncomfortable to being life giving… like having coffee with a good friend. One of the first images I received in prayer was being in a huge storm in a tiny drift boat with the waves crashing and the winds blowing hard… but Jesus was in the boat with me. There was an indescribable peace as Jesus was in total control despite the weather. I took that into my daily life, into my crazy job, into circumstances that felt too difficult to handle… and was reminded that I am never alone. Through SEEL I found my best self. I also found a richer faith than I knew before. Making my spiritual life a priority helped me get every other aspect of my life under control again. 

Tanya Johnson, SEEL Retreatant 2018-2019

Carving out time every day for prayer, along with writing in a journal, was a struggle at first, but I really wanted to deepen my prayer life and the SEEL retreat helped me make the commitment. I learned so many new and different ways to pray. I’m now more comfortable praying and I look forward to prayer time. I’m learning more and more how to give my life over to God. I also enjoyed the monthly speakers during the retreat. They broadened my experience, and often spoke right to where I was in the retreat. God at work! 

Retreatant from Missoula, MT

I wanted my faith to be an emotional, as well as a cognitive, commitment. That is what drew me to the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life. As a result of the retreat, I now have a real prayer life, way more than previously experienced. I am no longer afraid of the mystic aspects of my faith. I have had conversations with Jesus and no longer see Him solely as Christ, but far more human. And I see the Holy Spirit in most, if not all, of my life. I am grateful for this gift of life and love, which I never particularly felt before. Praying by rote was dry. Praying in conversation is like being embraced.   

Parishioner at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Before my SEEL retreat, I struggled to trust that God would stick around. I had an unexamined expectation that God would leave me. In the course of the Spiritual Exercises, Jesus and I developed an intimate, mutual, trusting relationship that I didn’t know I was missing. He didn’t leave me, and He isn’t going to. Imagining myself with Jesus, talking with Jesus, was a highlight of the retreat. I also appreciated the chance to talk weekly with a faithful, competent spiritual director.   

Brian Johnson

About two years ago I spoke with a former SEEL retreatant. Her enthusiasm was infectious. It took me a couple of years to finally commit. The SEEL retreat deepened or matured my faith in such a way that connects me with God in my everyday life. The retreat helped me to realize that Jesus was a real person. He was fully human in every way. Believe it or not, that thought never actually occurred to me before. I always imagined him simply as God in human clothing. But now I see him as a distinct member of the Trinity, and that has made all the difference in how I understand my faith.   

Parishioner at St. Francis Xavier Parish

SEEL is AMAZING! I am a graduate student and was feeling overwhelmed with my work load, and also feeling alone in my faith. SEEL was the perfect way to find companions in spirituality and reconnect with God. It also was doable as a student since cost was not a factor, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I now know how to find peace, even in moments of chaos. All I have to do is take a minute and talk to Jesus. And now I crave prayer. At first I was thinking that my prayer should look a certain way. For example, I should be able to have a full on conversation with Jesus, imagine Him, do the readings, and be completely focused in prayer. I soon learned, however, that prayer does not have one “right” way. I gained a faith community with my small group during the SEEL Retreat Evenings. We laughed, cried, prayed, and sat in joy with each other. We truly supported one another on our journeys with all of our hearts, and I will take that love with me forever.    

SEEL Retreatant from Missoula

I was concerned about the commitment to spend an hour a day in prayer. But, as I got into the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life retreat, that became quite easy. My spiritual director was kind, gentle and understanding. He let me just be me as I explored my faith. Along the way, I became closer to Jesus and experienced His infinite love for me. Now the Eucharist has become even more important as I try to live out the Beatitudes in my daily life. I’m so thankful for my director and my fellow retreatants. May God bless and keep them always.    

Marie Gillette, Sacred Heart Church, Arlee, Montana

Last fall, when SEEL was just beginning and everyone was talking about it, I said to my friend, “I wasn’t ready for the retreat when I made it in 1997, but I’m ready now… twenty years later.” So I applied and was delighted when my director offered to make the nine-month journey with me. SEEL has cemented in place a powerful and sincere prayer life. The Incarnation is alive within me. And I have discovered the Trinity. Now I include the Holy Spirit in all my prayers. The most specific, tangible result of the retreat is that I no longer worry about the future, or the past. I trust my whole life to Jesus Christ. I have found my Beloved, who does not wish me to be anxious about anything. The SEEL retreat was a journey of a lifetime, one I will never forget. I doubt it will ever be “over.” 

Linda Swanberg

The desire to do the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life retreat has been with me for many years. I wanted to find joy in all things and circumstances. I also wanted to enrich my relationship with God through prayer. In the beginning the most daunting part of the retreat was the time commitment to prayer. The amount of time eventually did not seem as important as the commitment to prayer. I now turn to prayer more readily in times of frustration, gratitude, happiness, friendship and love. I recognize God’s presence in almost everything I do and everyone I see. This gives me great joy. Praying the Examen each night has helped me see God’s presence in my life and in the all of creation. It has helped me put the happenings of the day into perspective. It has helped me to be less egocentric and become more other-centered. The monthly retreat evenings afforded a wonderful opportunity to celebrate, share insights, and learn from others. I encourage anyone seeking a closer relationship with God to make the SEEL retreat. No one feels ready, but everyone ends the retreat feeling closer to God. Thanks be to God!    

Evie Larson

I had been intrigued by SEEL for years. I witnessed the profound changes it made in the faith of my friends. I was yearning for that peace and intimacy with the Lord. I had made a Journey/Cursillo in 2000 and my faith came alive. I wanted more, and SEEL is where I found it. I wanted to deepen my relationship with God and wasn’t sure how. I’d sit down to pray and after 10 minutes I was like, “Now what?” In making the SEEL retreat I learned new prayer techniques and discernment practices. Now I find myself thinking, “Where did that hour go?” Someone once said, “If you give the Lord an hour a day he will knock your socks off.” That was certainly true for me. If God is nudging you, I encourage you to step out in faith and apply to be a SEEL retreatant this year. Just hold onto your socks!    

Amy Nulliner

I had attended a silent retreat after Easter in 2017 and realized that something like this was what I had been searching for my whole life. It is difficult to feel like I belong in the Church as a single woman. I don’t fit into the usual categories or groups. I didn’t have a prayer life at all. And I had confined my relationship with God to a future “something”. When this happens – a new job, a move, losing weight – my relationship with Christ will be better. I thought I had to earn it and that I had to discover my vocation to be content in life. This brought such unrest and chasing after the next best thing. I didn’t realize what I was doing until I slowed down in the retreat. As a result of making the SEEL retreat, I know that I have Christ’s love. It is not “someday” or an “eventuality.” It is today. He creates me every single day and He loves me in my humanness. I finally grasped that realization as I sat with the Trinity during the retreat. I learned so much about prayer and had such beautifully vivid prayer periods throughout the SEEL retreat. Dedicating an hour to prayer each day was hard at first, but when the retreat ended, all I wanted was to keep going. I am seeing Christ in my everyday life. And I loved my time with my spiritual director. She was a blessing. This year was so much better because of her love and guidance.    

Regina DeCristofaro

I learned of the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) retreat twenty years ago. I was not able to devote the time needed to participate when my children were in school, although I kept the idea on the back burner. I was enthused by the lives of SEEL participants who were very active in parish ministries and social justice activism. When our youngest child was a senior year in high school, I seized the opportunity to participate in SEEL. It was a transition time for me and, as a nurse for 35 years, I wondered, “What is God’s plan as I enter the next stage of my life? I found the discernment process of the Spiritual Exercises invaluable in deciding to pursue a Masters in Psychiatric Nursing. I would not have had the courage to take on the huge commitment had I not experienced God’s call. Ignatius offers a test that I found particularly compelling: “If you do not do a particular action, will you regret it when you are dying.” I would have regretted not working as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. I will be eternally grateful for SEEL in my life. The daily examens move me forward on my faith journey.


I had lost my husband after living and caring for him for 50 years. Then I was helping my sister who has dementia. I thought the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life retreat would give me the respite I needed. And it did. My favorite part of the SEEL retreat was meeting with my spiritual director and parish priest. I have always talked to God – and I see Jesus in my family, friends, my music ministry, and my religious education classes – but to be able to share completely about all of that with my spiritual director was truly amazing. The SEEL Retreat Evenings were immensely satisfying as well.    

Anne Stewart, Parish Staff, Sacred Heart Church, Arlee, MT



After you have taken some time to pray about your decision to participate in The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) retreat, please click on this link for the application: SEEL Retreat Application

Your responses to a series of questions on the application will form your spiritual autobiography that will be shared with your retreat director. We also ask for two references (one can be a family member). Please complete and submit your application as early as possible. Applications must be submitted no later than Friday, August 28th. After receiving your completed application, we will review of your materials and then contact you about your acceptance into the retreat. Please be aware that space is limited and completing an application does not guarantee acceptance.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call Luke Larson, Director of Spirituality, at 406-541-6042 or email at lukelarson@sfxmissoula.org.