The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics (Episode IV) — ‘The Spiritual Exercises as a School of Conversion’ with Fr. Ramon Bautista, SJ



Episode IV of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM’s Ignatian Year lecture series, “The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics”, aired last Friday evening, July 30, examining the Spiritual Exercises as a School of Conversion.

Streamed live via the Ateneo de Manila University campus radio’s Facebook and YouTube pages, Fr. Ramon Bautista, SJ, discussed Conversion’s ‘What’, ‘How’ and ‘Why’; its biblical roots and four dimensions; St. Ignatius’ own transformation experience in relation to the Spiritual Exercises; and the Three Elements of Conversion’s ‘How-ness’, all in his hour-long talk.

Highlighting how the Spiritual Exercises is an excellent instrument to help people go through their conversion experience, Fr. Bautista referred to the compelling reason for one’s reorientation of life.

“The simple answer is divine friendship. We go back to John 15, ‘I no longer call you slaves, but now I call you, my friends, my beloved ones’. That is the why, the reason why conversion persists despite difficulties, why many continue to pursue it through the Lord’s grace,” affirmed the Tertian Master of the Society of Jesus’ Philippine Province.

Focusing on the key biblical word “metanoia”, which translates to “complete change of mind and heart”, Fr. Bautista referenced Luke 15:7, Matthew 9:13, Acts 3, and Acts 14, as examples of Christian conversion’s fundamental characteristics.

“Conversion is a process, never a once and for all event. As weak and graced individuals, we always experience ourselves existentially, as both sinful and being converted. Conversion is a gift from the lord, requiring a free response from us. With this gift, a new assessment of one’s hierarchy of values takes place,” he defined.

Fr. Bautista then reviewed Conversion’s intellectual, moral, affective, and religious dimensions, noting how all these were present during St. Ignatius’ nine-month convalescence in Loyola’s Casa Torre.

“With so much solitude, Ignatius started to see how life was so fragile, with secular values so fleeting. This was the beginning of his intellectual conversion—a change of perspective. His heart started to develop new and holy desires. This was his affective conversion—a change of attitudes and top values,” Fr. Bautista expounded, describing St. Ignatius’ recuperation at Loyola, as the Jesuit founder’s “first retreat and experience of the Exercises”. 

“He started to abhor his past sinful life, and considered doing much penance for it. This was his moral conversion—a change of his sense of right and wrong. In the end, Ignatius tells us in his autobiography, that ‘I felt within myself, a strong impulse to serve our Lord.’ This was the beginning of his religious conversion—with Christ becoming more real to him.”

From there, Fr. Bautista underscored how through God’s grace, true conversion takes place, beginning with honest self-confrontation. Similar to St. Ignatius’ self-denial experiences in Loyola, Monserrat and Manresa, exercitants are also exposed to truths of the Christian faith and interiorize these during the Ignatian Retreat. Thus, the practice of humble self-emptying then becomes realized.

“Our Lord insisted that there is no other way to true life, to true salvation and redemption, except through the narrow road—the Paschal Mystery, mentioned Fr. Bautista, before ending with a prayer inspired by Mother Teresa.  

“What needs to be emptied in me at this point, so that the Lord and His spirit can fill me up all the more? And thus, the grace of conversion can be made more real in our lives.” 

“The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics” airs on all Fridays of July and August, at 8 pm.

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