Episode II of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM’s Ignatian Year Talks, “The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics”, aired last Friday evening, July 16, with the ‘Annotations’ as its central theme.
Streamed live via the Ateneo de Manila University campus radio’s Facebook and YouTube pages, Fr. Ramon Bautista, SJ discussed the Spiritual Exercises as a pastoral text; Spiritual Direction in general; the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of Ignatian Spiritual Direction; and the Person and Tasks of the Ignatian Spiritual Director, all in his hour-long lecture.
“The Annotations are introductory explanations, notes on the full 30-day Exercises. Their purpose is to help both the one of gives the Exercises, the director, and the one who receives, the exercitant,” began Fr. Bautista.
Explaining how the book of the Spiritual Exercises was meant to be experienced in an actual retreat setting, Fr. Bautista differentiated St. Ignatius’ masterpiece from other literary Christian classics such as Thomas à Kempis’ “The Imitation of Christ” and St. Augustine’s “Confessions”.
“The book of Ignatius is a pastoral prayer manual, a handbook to be utilized more by retreat guides. The text truly comes alive only in a retreat context, the way a musical score comes alive only when sang or played,” he noted.
“Here we can see the genius of Ignatius as a spiritual guide. In just 20 short annotations, he was able to cover and specify the fundamentals and qualities of what Ignatian spiritual direction is- during a retreat context.”
Referencing the Christian view of Spiritual Direction where ‘co-discerners’ share inner experiences in the spirit of faith, hope and love, Fr. Bautista pointed out how St. Ignatius’ Annotations include all these essential elements, yet modified and adjusted to a retreat context. In the Spiritual Exercises’ full 30-day, four-week format, retreatants withdraw from their regular activities, pray for five hours daily, and fully dispose themselves of any inordinate attachment to seek and find God’s will.
As they accompany the exercitants in their spiritual activities, directors ultimately hope to lead them towards a fruitful, religious experience.
“In Ignatian vocabulary, these inner movements, these consolations and desolations, are the raw materials of discernment. It is these that directors seek and examine in the retreatant’s heart and interiority. Without them, no quality discernment and guidance would be possible,” underscored Fr. Bautista.
“Religious experiences come to the exercitant, in and through the grace of spiritual consolation. Spiritual activities and exercises are structured and set, such that they would sooner or later awaken within the heart of exercitant, one’s inner experiences.”
Before finally concluding his talk with a quote from Annotation #15, Fr. Bautista reminded audiences of the main purpose- the ‘why’ of Spiritual Direction.
“Spiritual Direction, in the context of the Ignatian Retreat, helps us in preparing our soul. For Ignatius, the best way to be united with God, is when we are able to seek, find and live out His will in our lives. This is real intimacy, closeness, and deepening of our personal relationship with the Lord.”
“The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics” airs on all Fridays of July and August, at 8pm.
For announcements and the latest episodes of the 10-part lecture series, follow Radyo Katipunan via facebook.com/radyokatipunan