The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics (Episode 10) — ‘Ignatian Election: Doing Discernment the Ignatian Way’ with Fr. Ramon Bautista, SJ



Episode 10 of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM’s “The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics”, aired last Friday evening, September 10, taking on the theme of Ignatian Election, or the ‘How’ of Ignatian Discernment.

Streamed live via the Ateneo de Manila University campus radio’s Facebook and YouTube pages, the final installment of Fr. Ramon Bautista’s Ignatian Year lecture series centered on three main parts namely, the Three Prayer Exercises, Three Crucial Items in Discernment and the Actual Method of Discernment.

Prayer exercises within the Second Week assist retreatants in disposing and preparing themselves for election, while being exposed to the values of Christ Himself. Flowing from the ‘Call of the King’ are the Two Standards—a more explicit ‘yes’ to Our Lord’ top values, ideals, and way of proceeding.

“These standards are set in contrast to the world’s or Satan’s standards—poverty as opposed to riches, insults as opposed to esteem, humility as opposed to hubris. Ignatius very explicitly lays out the actual cost of discipleship. Central here is saying ‘yes’ to Our Lord’ standards, and there can be no middle ground,” emphasized Fr. Bautista about this “test of the quality of one’s inner freedom”.

In the Three Classes of Person, Ignatius utilizes a simple parable of good-natured people, all wanting to offer themselves to God and obtain salvation. However, it is in the core grace of choosing what will ultimately serve and praise God more, that we are given great insight into the magis of Ignatian Spirituality.

Under the Three Degrees of Humility or Loving, Ignatius invites the exercitant to go beyond being impartial, detached, and indifferent. When faced with two options that equally render praise and glory to God, one must choose the more demanding and challenging route—mirroring the way of Christ, desiring to be as poor as He is, all to serve Him more.

Reflecting on our authentic desires, our sense of compassion and experiences of consolation, Fr. Bautista explained how “bringing these elements into our discernment process can facilitate and simplify our way of choosing, serving as explicit indicators to where God is leading us, drawing us, and challenging us in our lives.”

“Our more authentic desires, our more holy desires, reveal to us our uniqueness and giftedness
Ignatian spirituality says we must pay attention to our true desires, as they reveal much about our interiority, and where our core self is most engaged,” he continued.

“Our personal pains, afflictions, brokenness can be signs of God’s will for us. We can see this often with committed people who go out of their way to reach out and serve others. When making choices and searching for the Spirit’s lead, Ignatius used not just his intellect, but also his heart, interiority and affectivity, to seek and confirm where the Lord was leading him.”

Outlining the concrete steps of Ignatian Discernment, Fr. Bautista first underscored the importance of formulating a specific question, on top of taking the issues at hand and gathering data. The retreatant then places all his options before the Lord, and does the ‘pros and cons’ prayer exercise—weighing and carefully considering the value of each. After utilizing one’s analytic and rational thinking, Ignatius encourages the use of one’s imagination to attain a more comprehensive view of the situation—a very powerful faculty in terms of discernment.

From here, the exercitant takes his imagination further, envisioning himself living out his options, “considering the best and worst scenarios, testing one’s desires,” advised Fr. Bautista. When ready to compare and contrast the consolations felt and drawn, the discerner thoroughly asks himself which option gives more joy, more peace, more spiritual consolation—repeating this several times to seek confirmation.

“This is the best time to pray that payer of Ignatius: ‘Father, confirm me! Son, confirm me! Spirit, confirm me!’ Speak to me now. Move me now. Communicate your will to me now. For Ignatius, Our God is not a silent God. He will speak. He will make known His will,” affirmed Fr. Bautista.

“Many times we ask, ‘Lord, what is your will for me?’ The more important question is, ‘Am I humble enough, generous enough, courageous enough?’ So much so, that when the Lord speaks, I can listen to Him. Remember the point of Ignatius, ‘Where our true consolations are, there God and His will for us cannot be far.’

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

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