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



Episode V of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM’s “The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics”, aired last Friday evening, August 6, presenting the Spiritual Exercises as a School of Prayer.

Streamed live via the Ateneo de Manila University campus radio’s Facebook and YouTube pages, the fifth installment of Fr. Ramon Bautista, SJ’s Ignatian Year lecture series, covered the Exercises’ fundamental methods of Preparatory Prayer, Prayerful Begging, Meditation, Contemplation, Review, and Repetition.

“All these prayer methods blend and complement one another, awakening our consolations and desolations, thus leading us to a truly deep encounter with the Lord. This is the meaning of Ignatian prayer,” described Fr. Bautista, adding how these would lead to a better understanding of the Exercises’ overall dynamic and structure.

Recalling his advice to novices and tertians to write their Preparatory Prayers “straight from the heart”, Fr. Bautista underscored this short yet critical method, highlighted in Spiritual Exercises (SE) #46.

“For Ignatius, Preparatory Prayer is so critical, that he asks the retreatant to include it in each and every formal prayer period. Ignatius would insist that it would be worthwhile if the retreatant does not skip this and always does it with much fervor.”

Beginning with SE #48, Fr. Bautista explained how the Exercises are structured in terms of graces, summarized in Latin as “id quod volo” or “that which I desire in my deepest and truest self”.

“For each and every prayer period, the exercitant is asked to beg for a corresponding ‘id quod volo’ grace. In the 30-day retreat, one cannot enter into formal prayer and end it, without these consolation graces, these ‘what I want and desire graces’. This is the Ignatian method,” he articulated.

Fr. Bautista then expounded on how Ignatian Meditation, isn’t that very different from the practice of Lectio Divine or ‘Holy Reading’. Involving the elements of Lectio (reading of the text), Meditatio (meditating on what has been read), Oratio (praying) and Contemplatio (dwelling on a phrase that has touched us), meditative prayer thus “exposes the retreatant’s heart to God’s inspired word, which can awaken many inner experiences in us, in light of the graces begged for,” commented Fr. Bautista.

As weeks two, three, and four of the Ignatian Retreat shift their emphasis towards Contemplation, the regular exposing of oneself to the Gospel values and the person of Christ, thus leads to the grace of sensus Christi, as Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ would state.

“We gain ‘interior knowledge’ of the Lord, as Ignatius would say. We begin to think, feel and love like our Lord-that is the fruit of constant contemplation. As long as we are faithful to our prayer, we need to trust our contemplation. It is a real, honest-to-goodness encounter with the Lord and His grace,” reminded Fr. Bautista.

Concluding his hour-long talk, the Tertian Master of the Society of Jesus’ Philippine Province focused on the values of Ignatian Review and Repetition. In an effort to maximize their encounter with the Lord, retreatants critically evaluate their prayer period and communicate their inner experiences to their directors with the use of ‘feeling words’. Following St. Ignatius’ advice to ‘rouse one’s feelings’, Fr. Batista affirmed how “there is so much power in prayerful dwelling, relishing and interiorizing of these affections, for we ultimately become what we relish.”

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

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Watch Episode V on YouTube ( via the link below: