The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics (Episode IX) — ‘The Overall Structure of the 30-day Exercises’ with Fr. Ramon Bautista, SJ

Episode IX of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM’s “The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics”, aired last Friday evening, September 3, reviewing the overall structure of the 30-day retreat.

Streamed live via the Ateneo de Manila University campus radio’s Facebook and YouTube pages,
the penultimate broadcast of Fr. Ramon Bautista’s Ignatian Year lecture series focused on key prayer exercises, id quod volo graces and appropriate ‘fruits’ sought, under each week of the full Spiritual Exercises.

“We would see how these items all flow, coordinate and build on one another to affect
greater conversion and change of heart in the exercitant. It is these fruits, that will indicate to us whether there is any real progress and development in our prayer exercise in the first place, or not.
Hopefully, we can see that the entire Exercises are structured more in terms of these ‘what I want and desire graces’ and their fruits,” presented Fr. Bautista at the beginning of his online class.

Highlighting the First Week’s key prayer matter of the First Principle and Foundation (SE #23), Fr. Bautista explained how this central truth was essentially St. Ignatius’ view of what human life and existence was all about. With this vantage point, we thus see how God must be at the center of our lives and organize our values accordingly. Fundamental precepts such as our lives’ true purpose, Ignatian Tantum Quantum, and Ignatian Indifference or Detachment, also reveal how to truthfully order and arrange our priorities, given our faith and loving relationship with God.

As retreatants display better clarity of life’s true end and means, indicating their readiness to shift to the challenging matter of sin, Fr. Bautista encouraged the seeking of the fruits of contrition, humility and reconciliation—culminating the First Week with the grace of general confession (SE #44).

 In the bridge between the first and second weeks, Fr. Bautista introduced the new foundation known as the ‘Call of the King’, and its core grace of becoming prompt and diligent to accomplish the Lord’s most Holy Will. Here, St. Ignatius introduces a new perspective of God as a God of relationship and friendship, who reaches out by calling in a most personal way—a welcome invitation to the extraordinary gift of vocation.

In the Second Week, exercitants ponder on the mysteries of Christ’s life, from the Incarnation to Palm Sunday, while asking for the core grace of intimate knowledge of the Lord—to love and follow Him more closely. The basic prayer method of contemplation and repetition, then leads to familiarity, intimacy and ultimately the special grace of Sensus Christi, where the retreatant is ‘Christified’ by the Spirit.

Shifting to the Third Week where prayer centers on Christ’s Passion and Death, retreatants beg for the core grace of sorrow, because the Lord “is going to His suffering for my sins” (SE #193) and to be “in anguish with Christ in anguish, because of the great affliction He endures for me” (SE #203).

“It is crucial that the retreatant sees Christ’s passion, not so much in terms of atonement or expiation. The mission of the Son from the Father was ‘Go and Love’. Thus, the Primacy of Radical Loving is most essential when making the Third Week,” explained Fr. Bautista of St. Ignatius’ image of a God who ‘hides’ his mighty power, and instead chooses to love and be open to vulnerability.

In the Fourth and Final Week of the Exercises, the prayer material of the Gospel Easter apparitions of Christ leading to His Ascension, portray a God who openly reveals his power via the Resurrection. St. Ignatius also addresses the Lord as the ‘God of Consolation’, as seen in the contemplation of the Risen Christ appearing to His Blessed Mother (SE #219; 299).

Here, retreatants beg for the grace to rejoice intensely because of the great joy that the Resurrection event brought to the Lord’s Sacred Heart; as well as take delight in Christ’s glory constantly—thus making a real difference in one’s life attitude and outlook.

Before concluding his talk, Fr. Bautista summarized the Contemplatio, or the ‘Contemplation to Attain Love’—the very last exercise of the entire 30-day retreat.

“What happens in the Contemplatio is the meeting of two desires, the fusion of two yearnings and longings—God’s desire and longing to offer Himself to the retreatant, on the one hand, and the retreatant’s desire and longing to offer and entrust oneself to God, on the other. In the Contemplatio these two desires meet and fuse, with the retreatant making a generous offering of oneself via the famous Suscipe prayer, ‘Take Lord and Receive’.”

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

Subscribe to RadyoKatipunanFM on YouTube, and watch Episode IX via the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwbnYl29LDQ

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