In celebration of the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s conversion, Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM has prepared an insightful and inspiring festival of talks, conferences, concerts, recollections, and exhibits for the landmark “Ignatian Year”.
The first of these talks aired last Tuesday evening, June 21, 2021, on the Ateneo de Manila University’s official radio station, and centered on the theme of spiritual conversion- its definition and dimensions, how its transformative effect takes place, and relevance in the famed Spiritual Exercises.
Leading the hour-long program entitled, “Learning from Our Patron”, was Fr. Ramon Bautista SJ, Tertian Master of the Society of Jesus’ Philippine Province, Asia Pacific Conference, who emphasized the “change of perspective and re-visioning” expressed in the anniversary’s motto “To see all things new in Christ”.
“This is one of the first things that happens when conversion comes in a person’s life- the person begins to have new eyes, he begins to see everything anew, all new things in the Lord. If there is a season in the Liturgical Calendar intimately associated with conversion, it is the season of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday,” he underscored.
“It is the cardinal virtue of humility-remembering and realizing that we are mere dust, and to dust, we shall return, that ultimately leads people to this graced experience of conversion.”
Referencing the Greek term metanoia, Fr. Bautista then explained the two-fold nature of conversion.
“This radical transformation, a redirection of one’s life with sincere repentance from sin, includes not only one’s thinking but also one’s will, feeling, and judging. Utak at Kalooban. A change of heart, a change of interiority that makes one turn away from sin, and turn towards the Lord in loving faith.”
In understanding the ‘How-ness’ of conversion, Fr. Bautista noted that “we have to realize that people do not just convert, transform and change longstanding habits or behaviors, and go beyond comfort zones”.
“At the start of the conversion process, there usually is some force, power, or energy, disturbing and jolting enough to compel to push or prod the person, to transform and change for the better. Mainly, this jolting power comes in the form of a crisis,” he continued, citing the real-life conversion stories of Dr. Jose Rizal, fashion model-turned-nun Olalla Oliveros, vocation director Fr. Donald Calloway MIC, and most importantly, St. Ignatius himself.
“The Pamplona experience was his ‘crisis experience’. Ignatius started to see how life can be so fragile, so uncertain. This was the beginning of his intellectual conversion. Then slowly, his heart started to develop new and holy desires and longings. This was his affective conversion- a change of values and attitudes,” described Fr. Bautista of conversion’s four dimensions.
“He soon began to feel much abhorrence for past sinfulness and considered doing much penance for it. This was his moral conversion- the change of a sense of right and wrong. In the end, Ignatius himself tells us he felt within himself, a strong impulse to serve the Lord himself. This was his religious conversion- with Christ, becoming more real to him in his life.”
After explaining how the elements of ‘honest self-confrontation’, ‘exposure to certain truths and their interiorization’ and ‘humble self-emptying’, are present in the Spiritual Exercises, and “through God’s grace, conversion surely can happen in people’s hearts”, Fr. Bautista concluded with a heartfelt prayer for his audience.
“Hopefully what Ignatius received in terms of spiritual grace, we too will receive. Through this beautiful gift of conversion, the best of us will come out- serving others, serving the Lord, and finding all things new in the Lord.”
For the updated schedule of Radyo Katipunan’s Ignatian Year lineup of activities, follow the ‘Voice of the Blue Eagle’ on Facebook (facebook.com/radyokatipunan)