The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics (Episode VII) — ‘Spiritual Consolation’ with Fr. Ramon Bautista, SJ



Episode VII of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM’s “The Spiritual Exercises: Themes and Dynamics”, aired last Friday evening, August 20, centering on Spiritual Consolation.

Streamed live via the Ateneo de Manila University campus radio’s Facebook and YouTube pages, Fr. Ramon Bautista’s latest Ignatian Year lecture covered the theme of Consolation, its role within Ignatian Spirituality, its nature and essence, Biblical examples, as well as aspects relating to personal vocation and touchstone experiences.

“For Ignatius, so much a part of doing discernment is the experience of spiritual consolation. In the retreat context, these consolation experiences often come in the form of id quod volo graces. Consolations and desolations are the raw materials of discernment,” began Fr. Bautista, making the connection to his previous online class on the ‘Exercises as a School of Discernment’.

“For Ignatius and the first Jesuits, all their ministries during the foundation of the Society—whether it be teaching, preaching or administering the Sacraments—were all described as ministries of consolation,” he added, highlighting how the Jesuit founder fondly used the term throughout his autobiography and the Spiritual Exercises.

Following David Lonsdale’s definition of Consolation, Fr. Bautista went on to explain that “Consolation can be an overall state of our interiority. As raw materials of discernment, it is these consolation feelings that we examine—seeing how their patterns affect our choices and how they move us closer to the Lord.”

Noting how consolation feelings can feel so palpably real and move us deeply from within, Fr. Bautista underscored that these are faith experiences, where we must be extra mindful of their overall effect in us, and also their basic direction or lead. Moreover, since the source of consolation is God, and its movement is directed toward His Gospel values, Fr. Bautista highlighted how these were what St. Ignatius believed to be “graced experiences where we can sense His nearness—blessing us, inspiring us, healing us.”

After going over Biblical examples of Spiritual Consolation such as King David (2 Sam 7) and Mother Mary (Lk 1:26) in both the Old and New Testaments, Fr. Bautista continued with the core theme’s “Personal Vocation” aspect.

“For Ignatius, our Trinitarian God does not only ‘gift’ or ‘provide’. He also calls, chooses, and consecrates His people. In Christianity, this reality is called personal vocation. Because our personal vocation is our fundamental consolation, it follows that most of our primary consolation experiences would be vocation-related,” emphasized Fr. Bautista, as he presented the examples of Mother Mary’s Immaculate Conception and St. Ignatius’ first companions and friends in the Lord, among others.

Referencing Fr. John English, SJ’s description of “the consolation of one’s unique history”, Fr. Bautista expressed how the countless consolation graces of our lives, ultimately tell a story most peculiar to us. When taken all together and connected—like the pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle—these consolations will, in turn, reveal how the Lord has been loving us—from the very beginning.

Before concluding his hour-long talk with a prayer by “The Imitation of Christ” writer Thomas a Kempis, Fr. Bautista spoke of “Spiritual Touchstones” that deeply enrich our experiences of God—much like St. Ignatius at Montserrat and Manresa.

“These rich experiences create loving memories with the Lord. These precious moments, we can keep, we can hold on to, and utilize to make sense and meaning of our other experiences with the Lord. Touchstone experiences can help us clarify and measure the true quality and significance of other future spiritual experiences, linked to our faith in the Lord,” affirmed the Tertian Master of the Society of Jesus’ Philippine Province.

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

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