Biblically “exile” refers to the fact that, after Original Sin, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden (cf Gen 3:24). Hence we are exiled from there and live in this “Valley of Tears,” another expression that occurs in the same prayer.
Since the death and resurrection of Jesus we can also say that “exile” refers to the fact that we are not living in our true home. For Christ has opened the way not merely back to the Garden, but to heaven. Heaven is now our true homeland. This sinful and suffering world is not our home, and thus our time here can be considered a kind of exile as we await our summons to “come up higher” to our true and heavenly homeland.
Finally, speaking of this world as an exile, valley of tears is a sober recognition that life in this world is often hard. And though we may ask God for certain relief, true and lasting joy can only come when we leave this exile for our true home with God.
"Building our Catholic faith one question at a time."