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

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Episode VI of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM’s Ignatian Year lecture series, “The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics”, aired last Friday evening, August 13, focusing on the Spiritual Exercises as a School of Discernment.

Streamed live via the Ateneo de Manila University campus radio’s Facebook and YouTube pages, Fr. Ramon Bautista, SJ’s hour-long talk discussed Discernment’s general meaning and its four different kinds: Discernment of Presence, Discernment of Interiority, Discernment of Meaning, and Discernment of God’s Will.

“Discernment is a gift and an art, seeking and finding God’s presence in our lives. Our images of God play a crucial role when entering discernment,” summarized the Tertian Master of the Society of Jesus’ Philippine Province.

“All these four ways of doing discernment, in one way or another, would be present and found in the Exercises. Ignatius took all these and incorporated them into the Exercises.”

After introducing the Greek word “diakrisis” and its examples in the New Testament, Fr. Bautista highlighted how Discernment involves being mindful of where the Lord is “communicating, inviting and challenging us” at this point in our lives. Eventually, this leads to making wise choices in harmony with the Holy Spirit’s lead—ultimately shaping who we are.

Apart from being a wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12, Fr. Bautista explained that the art of Discernment is best learned by constant and faithful practice. Among his recommended methods were the daily examen, journal writing, prayerful introspection, ‘looking-in’ to one’s feelings, and clarifying how these affect one’s way of choosing.

“Even before engaging in any formal discernment, we first need to ask ourselves ‘What kind of a God do we have?’ For Ignatius, our God is a God of presence,” reminded Fr. Bautista.

“He is always accessible, available, reaching out to us, revealing His love, and journeying with us. As Ignatius once wrote, ‘God, our Divine Majesty, is truly in everything by His presence.’ That is why as serious discerners, we need to keep our communication lines always open and be connected.”

Recounting St. Ignatius’ background as a mystic, who would always be seeking God, Fr. Bautista connected how we too, can find and discern God’s presence through our daily lives, our work, and our relationships. “Finding God in all things” was of great importance to Ignatius, that he advised Jesuit scholastics, Fr. Laynez, and Bro. Miguel Nobrega to do the same.

Citing the conversion story of St. Francis Borgia, Fr. Bautista described Discernment of Interiority as a process of “looking-in”, where we ask questions such as “What has been affecting and moving me much lately?”. Meanwhile, Discernment of Meaning involves “looking-out” and being attuned to the ‘signs of times’, for a more contextualized, truthful, and prudent discernment.

In discerning God’s will for our lives, Fr. Bautista advised audiences to adopt a ‘middle view’, where we must realize God has no specific preference on our simple, day-to-day decisions, but rather on our lives’ more essential matters—areers, vocations, and special projects.

“Given these major questions, the Lord as a God of relationships, would have desires present and operative within Him. Clearly this ‘middle position’ is consistent with what we see in the Bible, regarding how God personally involves Himself in the lives of people, how He intervenes, chooses and invites them,” noted Fr. Bautista, before finally concluding with a prayer from St. Anselm of Canterbury.

“O Lord, my God, teach my heart where and how to seek You. Teach my heart where and how to find You.”

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

For announcements and the latest episodes of the 10-part lecture series, follow Radyo Katipunan via facebook.com/radyokatipunan

Watch Episode VI on YouTube (youtube.com/c/RadyoKatipunanFM) via the link below: 

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