Diary from the Spiritual Exercises; 8 Oct 1938

Tertianship is the final stage of Jesuit formation. A Jesuit is generally invited to begin tertianship several years after ordination or studies. During this time the Jesuit is required to study the foundational documents of the Society of Jesus, to be in ministry with the poor, and to undergo the Spiritual Exercises [30 day silent retreat]. This intense period, which can last between 7 to 9 months, is intended to offer the Jesuit an occasion to examine and to renew his life in the order. At the end of tertianship, a Jesuit is invited to pronounced final vows in the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius of Loyola called tertianship “the school of the heart”–an opportunity to get in touch with our affect and God’s love for us.

Here is a brother Jesuit’s testimony on his tertianship experience.


In these upcoming posts, I offer you selections from the diary of Alfred Delp while he was making the Spiritual Exercises as a tertian. I will focus my effort on translating the entries that connect with his devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I believe, nonetheless, it is fitting to give the very 1st entry in Delp’s diary.

[translated from Gesammelte Schriften I: Geistliche Schriften]


Feldkirch, Austria; 8 October 1938

God has serious work to do with me and I have serious work to do with him. He must have more worth in my life. I must always stand under his “impression.” This daily examination is an exercise and effort on which I must work.

To pray: to have personally have to deal with God. This must be the end result of the Exercises.

I want therefore to pray, that I have the joy of God. That my heart feels free and joyful before him and not so much burden and anxiety.

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