Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises Lecture 1: Presupposition and Introductory Annotations

Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises Lecture 1: Presupposition and Introductory Annotations


(crowd talking) – We start with what we
call the 20 annotations, and those are 20 introductory reflections that initiate the experience
of the spiritual exercises, and then numbers 21, which
are editorial numbers, those numbers put in
brackets, number 21 and 22, which are a presentation,
and a reflection on the title of spiritual exercises, and then in 22 it’s so called presupposition. What is the environment
in which the exercises will work most effectively? So, the first thing I would
like to point out to you is to give some understanding
of the spiritual exercises which follow, and to enable him who is to give them, or her, and him
who is to receive them, or her, to help themselves. Later on, I’ll say more
about this idea of helping, and how important it is
within the context of Ignatian Spirituality. It’s a rich word, it’s a rich idea, and we’ll try to keep unpacking it as we go through these expositions, but I want to underscore it now. With the spiritual exercises, it’s not a compendium of the spiritual life. It’s his take on one aspect
of the spiritual life, which is the journey towards God, and towards discovering in that journey where God might be
leading me and guiding me. Now in the first of these annotations, Ignatius describes the process in terms of physical exercise, like
strolling, walking, and running, that is it’s progressively more
focused physical activities. The analogy is important. It’s just not throwing down
three physical activities. They’re in a progression. Strolling is just meandering. Walking is a more determined
pace to get somewhere, and running is the
haste that you add to it to get there in a hurry, and if you notice that developmental progress,
it’s not an accident. It really is the eye that
invites us to understand that one of the keys to understanding the spiritual exercises of Ignatius is to look continually for
this sense of progress of a measured advancement of
development, of evolution. It’s in the very nature of the exercises, and so this calling
attention to what can be a throwaway line, saying
physical exercises. I said no, it’s measured
physical exercises, and within that there is
an increase and a change. I want to make an insistence
on this for two reasons. The more obvious one, of course, is it is really is a
developmental reality. Okay, that’s there, but also we don’t understand that if we
hurry through the text, and I think too often people
will read into the text what they want to find
there, and along the way the lose so much richness
that Ignatius has used as a kind of encasement for
what he’s talking about. The language is important. We’re gonna be using a
very literal translation, because it’s closest, I think to the autographed edition of Ignatius. The analogy underscores an overarching characteristic of the exercises. They’re focused movement
towards discovery, and that’s what I want to emphasize there. What’s the discovery physically in strolling, walking, running? It’s the discover of how much
you can sustain in your body. There’s a discovery there, huh? Well, Ignatius is saying
that in these exercises you’re going to discover
how much you can find about God in your life and who you are. There is a reverence that Ignatius has for the primal sacrament in the exercises, which is the individual
woman or man making them. They have been created by God in order to develop within themselves instincts that allow God to become more and more a partner in his or her life,
and that’s developmental, and this is what I mean by
the title of this series, the dynamic of the exercises. What I mean is what
Ignatius will describe as to seek and find the divine will, to look for it, and then to embrace it, to look for it, and then to embrace it. What’s the it? The divine will. Well, let’s, that’s an important question. Let’s hold that off until
we move more and more through the series and
understand how the idea of divine will is a very rich
understanding for Ignatius, not of something that is part of God, but central to the way in which God loves and central to the way God is, and we will see more about that this evening. Now they’re a text. That is a compilation
of experiences that are designed to help the
one giving the exercises to do so with some sense of
being part of a tradition. There is something about
moving into spiritual direction that is inherently of
it’s very nature lonely. You know, there are things people tell you that are confidential,
and you can’t share it with other folks. There are things that you aren’t sure of how to express, and therefore you don’t even know how to frame
the question sometimes, and there’s also just moments in which you really have to say
you are as expectant as is the one making the
retreat of what God is doing. So, it’s hard to formulate the expectation without making it a performance, without programming
what you’re gonna have. That’s very hard. You’re going into a
situation in which you are totally dependent on how
God will lead the person, and totally dependent on how you hear how God is leading the person. Now, that’s, well security comes, I think, in realizing that the
text you have to help you, not to entrap you, and
not to dictate to you, but to help you in this
process is a tradition. It’s a handing on of
wisdom by people who have done the exercises
about ways of doing them more effectively or better,
and it was a text that Ignatius continued to work on
all throughout his life, and in a sense, we who are the inheritors of this spirituality are
contributing to the tradition. Every commentary is
contributing to the tradition. Every time we give the
exercises, or make the exercises, we’re contributing to the tradition. We may not write it
down, but it certainly is recorded in the effective,
collective heart of the faithful people
who are a part of this, and there is a way in
which God passes that wisdom, and understanding, and compassion on to other generations. The exercises are also not only a text, but they’re a pastoral
adaptation of the text to the rich set of
realities that constitute the relationship of the
one making the exercises, and the one who gives
them, and the triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit,
who is the ultimate overseer of the entire enterprise. So, not only do we have a
text, but we have a text of it’s very nature invites
a pastoral response. What is a pastoral response? A way of being present to the text, and to the person moving
through it’s reality in a way that helps the person, and so both the one making the exercises, and the one giving the exercises, and the God of the exercises are really helping one another to
come to an understanding of how the experience
can be contextualized, come to a reality in
who I am, in who I am. That’s helping a person,
allowing the reality to be at home with who I am, and finally the exercises
are a constitutive part of a wider and deeper reality, which we call Ignatian Spirituality. This includes the Jesuit constitutions, the spiritual diary of Ignatius’s letters. In this third set of reflections
I’m gonna move that way. We’re gonna look at the text. Then we’re gonna look
at the pastoral context, and then we’re gonna
look at the wider scope of Ignatian Spirituality, okay? So, let’s look at the text. The introductory
annotations are wide ranging explanatory notes. In effect, they are the
first of the directories, that set of reflections from
people giving the exercises out of their experience
both as being guided, and being especially the guides. What works, what didn’t
work, what to be careful of, what Ignatius might mean by something, they were guides to help
the text become more vitally personalized through people doing the spiritual exercises. Now, of these 20 annotations,
some are intended directly for the exercitant,
exercitant the one making the spiritual exercises. Parenthetically, I will try
to talk most of the time about the one who gives the exercises, and the one who makes the exercises. Ignatius never talks about
director and directee. That’s our leader language,
and there’s something in there, most of all modesty. It’s very important the director’s God, and Ignatius is very
strong on not presuming you are God, even though
people are ready to see to you more authority
sometimes then you deserve in that spiritual direction,
spiritual conversation context. It was Ignatius’s own practice
to give the exercitant annotations one, 20, five, and
four at the very beginning. One just describes what they are, as we’ve just looked at it briefly. 20 talks about in the ideal situation a 30 day experience in solitude is probably a most effective way of doing it. That too would always
yield to where people are, and what they can do and cannot do, but the idea of solitude, the
idea of a certain persistence, the idea of focus, the idea of giving God a priority in time and space, these are very important for Ignatius, and they’re all contained
in that annotation 20. Annotation five is very important, and annotation five talks about one of the major dispositions that allows someone to enter the exercises. The fifth, it is very
helpful to him or her who is receiving the exercises to enter into them with great
courage and generosity toward the creator and Lord, offering Him all his will and liberty,
that His divine majesty might make use of his
person, and of all he has, according to His most holy will. What is that saying? It’s saying that the most important thing you look for at the beginning
of the spiritual exercises is someone really wants to make them, because the person wants to do something with her or his life, okay? The desire to undergo an experience that will widen my ability to respond to the way in which God
might be calling me, even though I do not know what that is. You can’t do anything if
folks don’t want to do it. If they’re there because
Mother Superior has sent them, or the bishop has sent
them, it won’t work. If they’re doing that
because everybody’s doing it, I may as well do it, too, it’s
a kinda spiritual cosmetic. It won’t work, either. You have to see from the very beginning that this is a free act. This is something the woman or man undergoing the exercises
really wants to do. There is a desire for it. They may not always have
spelled out that it was spiritual exercises, but you look at the initial conversations,
either before the exercises, or during them, you look for this sense of I want something more in my life, and I want to take the time to find it, and somehow it involves God. The language may not be precise, but the effectivity that is
communicated is very clear. It’s generosity, and what Ignatius calls a certain generosity and courage. See, strange word. What is courage? Think of the way that both Aquinas, and before him Aristotle,
talked about courage. Every virtue is always a mean. It’s not cowardice in which
you flee from adversity, but it’s not recklessness
in which you assume potentiality that you do need, don’t have. You really shouldn’t be out there playing with the big boy, you know? So, it’s the ability to
look at being courageous with what I am, and who I am, in order to enter into
whatever God might ask. So, the very beginning of the exercises, you’re looking for people
that are not ordinary. It doesn’t talk about intelligence, although that may be part of it, and it doesn’t talk about having lived an especially good life,
although that can be helpful, but it’s talking about
the deepest ambitions of a person’s personality that make that woman or man want to do something that’s answerable to
the absolute of my life, which governs the non-negotiables. This takes a lot of time, and sometimes the preparation for
the exercises, I think, should especially center on this ability to see whether the
person is going to grow, or be in some way burdened by, or both you giving the exercises
and the one making them are gonna cheapen them
by not putting the edge that should be present in
the making of the exercises. So, Ignatius looked from
that from the very beginning. The fourth simply tells
you what the weeks are, and the fact that people are
going to move differently, and therefore, as it
says here, you go through various spiritual movements. So, from the very
beginning, a person entering the spiritual exercises has
a sense of what they are, how they’re constituted, the environment in which they will probably
best come to fruition, to life, mostly where am
I as I enter into this. Where am I? Do I really want to do this? What the text offers,
as I put here, is a wise and adventuresome
reflections often encased in language that sounds
ascetical, rather than personal, and we’ll try to unpack
a little bit of that. So, the one who makes the exercises very compactly what,
should see the importance of words and phrases like every way, okay? In the very first annotation. Every way, you say well, maybe
it doesn’t mean every way. Maybe it means only special ways. Now, from the very beginning you realize as a certain yielding
on the part of Ignatius to a kind of messiness of reality that you’re going to deal with. You are not programming people
to do what Ignatius says, ’cause what Ignatius says is discovery for you who give the retreat as much as the one who makes it. You discover that, okay? So, every way means that
somebody may come to you and say I find God most
contemplatively present to me when I say the rosary. You’d say, oh well no. I don’t want you to do that. Or, someone might say to you I really find God more present to me
when I think of what Ignatius offers, but then
I go, and I allow that to be part of my life as
I walk through the woods, or I find God especially when I walk in places that are crowded and
noisy, but my heart is still, and I allow that reality of the buzzing humanity around me to touch my soul in ways they otherwise
would never be touched. The exercises are very
much like good poetry. Good poetry is not secluded from reality. It’s not secluded from the author, and it’s not secluded
from the circumstances. You can write a poem
about anything, anything. That’s why poetry is
universal, exhaustive. So, at the very beginning
of the exercises, it’s important to understand that Ignatius allows a certain capacious entrance into how you’re going to get into these spiritual exercises as the
one who gives the retreat, and the one who makes
it, begins to measure out what they are like when they
have a focused attention on searching for what God might
be saying to me in my life. Okay, preparing and disposing
the soul to rid itself of all disordered tendencies. Again, here’s where you have to unpack the language a great deal. Preparing means I allow myself to use all of the freedom in
the human reality I have to be focused, to be present. You’re not gonna be a good counselor if you are not really
focused on the people that are talking to you. You aren’t gonna run a good Parish if you aren’t focused at what the real pastoral problems are
that people are bringing. What are the problems that
people keep bringing to me as recurrences in their
struggle to be good Christians? There are patterns that
we are attentive to, huh? Okay, that’s preparing
myself to have patterns of being open to the way I
know God works in my life. It’s little things sometimes. It’s realizing that I’m
not going to really pray significantly if I keep reading my mail. I got to get rid of it. It’s not good for me. It doesn’t help me, and I understand that. It’s not the whole retreat. You’re not saying that being able to abstain from the curiosity
of reading your mail makes you undergo a
good retreat experience. You’re just saying it
creates an environment in which the retreat
experience can happen, can take effect. Disposing, opening the soul,
and I want to be careful here. In the gloss on the constitutions when Ignatius talks about souls, most of the commentators,
George Gantz and others who reflect on the
meaning, he means animus. He means the living
person, the living person, not a disembodied reality that’s floating out here somewhere, but the soul is the animated person,
the person fully alive, the person alive to all
her or his realities, history, possibilities, that person ought to rid itself of
all disordered tendencies. Right from the beginning
I think it’s important for me to say to you
that there’s nothing that has created more difficulty at the beginning of the exercises
than people think the exercises are something you undergo in order to regiment your life, to do the things you know
you should have done, but you haven’t had the
courage to do them, okay? That’s voluntarism. It’s urging yourself
to comply to the norms that you think should
regulate a good life. That’s not the spiritual exercises, but there’s a lot of commentary, especially beginning with many of the German commentators, that for many years had a hold on the exercises
as being voluntaristic of allowing you to be strong enough to do the things you know you ought to do. Why do I insist on that? Because the exercises
are basically revelatory. They’re about what I come to see, not about first what I do. Only when I see what God is asking of me should I try to do it, and that means that there are many false idols along the way, violating the first
commandment, practically, the idols sometimes of
official pronouncements, the idols of parents
who continue to linger in the corridors of my own sensibilities, telling me how to be a
good boy or a good girl, trying to get a good grade
in the spiritual life, the way I lived all my life. We live with young people today who have really been
programmed to perform, and it’s very difficult, and I think it’s one of the reasons they
sometimes distance themselves from religion, is because
it’s one more instance in which what is reinforced
is I have to measure up. It’s not about measuring up. It’s about the discovery
of who God is for me, and who I am before God, and what God is inviting me to see will make me what? A, I don’t want to, I want
to be careful of the word, not a better person, but
a more authentic person, truer to who I am, more open. Later on, Ignatius will suggest that one of the forms of
prayer is to go through The 10 Commandments, and
the example that’s used is to reflect on first
is the first commandment, I will not have false gods before me, and the reason is so often we
do have false gods before us. So, from the very beginning
in these annotations, there’s an exploration being
invited through the text to look at who are the false gods that have tyrannized
the way I come to God, and do I see them as false? Now, I said it’s not regimentation, and therefore the words
disordered tendencies. What do you mean by disorder? Does it mean, for example, I eat too much? I drink too much? That might be true, and
maybe we shouldn’t do that for all kinds of reasons, but you don’t make a retreat to come to know that. You might make a retreat to find out why you eat too much, or
why you drink too much. There might be far more radical reasons of insecurity and fear of loneliness that you gradually
uncover that can happen, whatever God wishes to lead, but the order that Ignatius is talking about
is the order of the virtues. What orders the virtues is charity. Love governs every other virtue. If you are abstaining,
and you are rigorous, but all the while you’re saying nobody else is as good as I am, you’ve already what? Put a canker in your performance. If you say I’m humble, and nobody else seems to know it, because
they’re not as humble, well. (crowd laughing) Somebody’s eroding that
virtue right there. So order is the way in
which you are led to love. So, what Ignatius is saying here. How do you make your
reality get rid of all those things that make you
a not very loving person? A not very loving person. The contemplation of obtaining divine love is not put at the end of the exercises like a thrill of discovery. It’s an evolutionary process that you’ve been what, coming to understand all through the work of the exercises. And then, acts of intellect and reasoning, acts of will that Ignatius talks about. Again, the language
can, act of sounds like I by design think on what this means and I reason about it, or I think of how good God is, and I reason about the fact that I should love Him. It’s not that at all. It’s talking about the movements that I discover in my life. I would put it in this language. More and more show me what
my non-negotiables are. What are the things I really would not give up without feeling my personality has dissolved like an
Alka-Seltzer tablet in water. I’ve lost who I am, and acts of will are, and what are things that I not only value, but I really cherish? I care about them. I am invested in them. I have an affection for them. It’s the uncovering of the authenticity of what is central to
the way I make decisions, what is central to the way in which I embrace those decisions
as being something that matters to me, and Ignatius will say later on that when we
are reasoning about God, we can afford to argue,
and ruminate, explore, but when suddenly we
discover that we love this, cherish the movement of love. Don’t question it. Cherish it. Later on you can examine
where that might lead, but at the moment,
what’s most important is to be able to understand what it is in you to really embrace something as something you love and care about. Well, we all love our children. We love our nieces. We love our nephews,
but sometimes it’s only at the moment when we might lose them that we understand how
much we have loved them, how much they have
become a non-negotiable, something that I really will work for and give up in order to be able to have that reality a part of my life. What Ignatius looks for,
then, is someone capable of being consistent and generous so that the dynamics of grace can operate
in the mind and the heart. That’s how I would summarize it. That’s what you’re looking for. The one who gives the exercises ought to present these as preludes to prayer. These are the various exercises that we’ll look at more closely as we go through the various weeks, but important, they’re not lectures. You’re not giving people
theological insight so that they can feel they
haven’t wasted their time. They’re coming out of this experience knowing how to talk better
about God than they did before. That’s not what the exercises are. So, a good director will let a lot of dumb stuff float by theologically, because it could interfere with a person grasping what God is saying. There’ll be time at a more appropriate way to gently point out that you might want to look at this later on, later on, okay? They’re not homilies. You don’t give the exercises with inspiring little talks to people about how much they should love Jesus. Let Jesus do that, okay? Now that’s hard, because
we are all do-gooders. We want to get in there, and we want to make sure people think
right, and love right, and really are moved by what we’re saying. It means so much to us, and
they’re not lesson plans. It’s not a program that people go through in order that they might
have a mastery of the text. Sometimes people say
well, I really want to know more about the spiritual exercise and Ignatian Spirituality. That’s why I’m doing the exercises. I’d say well, why don’t we wait until you really want
to make them for you, and not to perform. That gets in the way, gets in the way. Paying at, now all these numbers I have refer to the annotations
so that it’s a paraphrase, but I’m hoping you’ll
see how this constitutes the qualities you want in somebody who is giving the exercises. Paying attention to the
movements, three and 17. Movements, affective attractions,
affective reminiscences. It’s the affection that
is so important here. Facilitating the gradual assimilation, taking into oneself, the
one making the retreat, of the discernment of
spirits, gradually seeing I am doing discernment of spirits. Ignatius is very careful to say you don’t start explaining the rules for discernment of spirits until people have been discerning
the spirit practically. Then you use what’s helpful. Some of these people say well, we really didn’t go through all the rules of discernment of spirits. I don’t know whether
I had a good director. You probably had an excellent director. The rules are for the director
to help you as needed. It’s not a lesson plan, okay? And to facilitate this accomplishment through prudent adaptation of the text to the human and spiritual personality of the one making the exercises. That’s what the guide does. He presents. He offers some reflections as needed about the discernment of spirits, or she, and then always adapts this
to where the person is, okay? Finally, as a process,
the exercises culminate in a relationship between
creator and creature, which Ignatius characterizes,
and I don’t mention there, it’s annotation 15, bracket 15, characterizes as an affective
communication with effective. Affective, felt, effective,
a drive to do something, an orientation, a movement to the future. It is more fitting and much better that the creator and Lord Himself should communicate Himself
to His devout soul, inflaming it with His love and praise, affective communication,
and disposing it for the way in which it will be better able
to serve Him in the future, effective, the decisions
that move you to the future, a drive, an attraction towards
what do I do about this? Where do I go with this, okay? This orientation to the future is tricky, and it’s here that the
one giving the retreat must help the one making the retreat towards what I call
transparency before God, and that’s what’s
mentioned in annotation 16. You want to be open before God. Good deeds should be done,
but not every good deed should be done by me. Not every good deed is
good for me to do, okay? So that’s what annotation 16 underscores. So this is what the exercises are about, choosing within the mystery of God the better service I
can give to God, okay? Now that’s the text. All through these exercises,
I’m gonna continue to unpack the text, ’cause
that’s your working tool. What I have here opens up
these first 20 annotations in terms of a text. I keep telling people you can never exhaust the richness
of what the text says. You can find more and more meaning in it, and that meaning will help
you become a better director. If you don’t understand
something then look it up. Work through it. Live with it. See what this can possible
mean, like disorder, you know? Well, it means organizing your life so you do the things you
know you should have done. No it doesn’t, but can you see how that can really misfocus the whole exercises in being, what, a kind of,
you’re gonna come out of this being a stronger person. You may not. You may come out of it
being a much weaker person, because you are accepting
where you are before God, and you no longer have
to be the bulldozer in the life of your family,
or where you work, or how you deal with people. You learn how to lose a few battles in order to be somebody a
little bit more amiable, and a little bit more
reflective of the tenderness and the availability of God. Weakness, if we’ve been listening to our Scriptures this past
week in Corinthians, weakness is a wonderful gift God gives us. Saul had vility that the mystery of God is ultimately the fragility of God’s love. It’s not forced. It’s offered, and it never
takes away our free will. Alright, now the pastoral adaptation certainly is applied in the
correct reading of the text, fitting the exercises to the person, but it is more sophisticatedly embedded in the presupposition. That presupposition simply says when you enter into the exercises, it’s very important on both parts that the one giving and the
one making the exercises trust one another, and give each one the benefit of the doubt. I can’t stress that enough. I think we’re probably
gonna come back to it again and again, and we might want to do more in discussion, but all Ignatian pastoral activity is mutual. The helper is helped, or otherwise the helper is not a helper. It’s a little bit like if the doctor doesn’t listen to the patient, the doctor’s not gonna be a good doctor. The patient helps the diagnosis. So, one of the constants in St. Ignatius is this idea of mutuality that when you come as one make the retreat to me, the one giving the
retreat, we are mutually helping one another. So, how I listen, what
I hear, the questions I ask to make it clearer for me that I really am listening
and understanding what you’re saying are very
important, are very important. For Ignatius, God is a helping God. In the autobiography The Journey of a Soul what Ignatius talks about is his core experience at Manresa was that he discovered God was a helping God, that all the kind of ascetical gymnastics that he had undergone
didn’t bring him God. God brought him God, and
God gradually taught him take care of your health. Take care of your mental stability. Other people are not the enemy. They’re people from whom you can learn, and gradually Ignatius saw
if God is a helping God, then the most important
sign of God’s presence is helping God, a helping
God is consolation. The early ministries of the judges were called ministries of consolation, because they were doing
the work of the helping God among people, forgiving, teaching, clarifying, embracing, reconciling. They were the hands of God. Therefore, these were
ministries of consolation. The helping God. That was his great
discovery as I said and on. For the pastoral reality of the exercise is both the giver and the receiver have to trust that God is
working within the relationship. You may not like all the things that you discover about the one
giving you the retreat. There might be a little idiosyncrasies and things that annoy you. That’s not always bad. That’s a good way if you can get beyond it to begin to understand, but
the most important thing is within the relationship
of the guide’s hearing, and the advice the guide gives me, do I gradually see how God is working? And therefore can I begin to see God who is behind what I present
and how that is accepted, or heard, or understood? This cluster of spirituality,
God is a helping God. God communicates within relationships, as well as within solitude. There is no relationship
without mutual trust. All these reveal the
fundamental consolation as one begins the spiritual exercises. That is that God’s
providence is individual and operationally constant,
and I want to stress that. What is said in the presupposition is you’ve got to believe that God has chosen, for whatever reason, we can examine it, we can discuss it, we can analyze it, but ultimately we do not understand that the mystery of God is that the omnipotence of God comes through the fragility, and the weakness, and the vacilation, and the limitness of what it is to be human. Adam and Eve strove to be like gods, and they lost their humanity. Jesus, Paul tells us in
two Philippians one to 11, Jesus threw aside all of
the trappings that people give to God in order to embrace all of the reality of
what it is to be human, and therefore, as Ronner would say, there’s no Christology
that’s not an Anthropology. There’s no understanding of Jesus that is not an understanding of what it really is to be human, and in John when Pilate points to the stripped, and beaten, and humiliated, and totally ostracized
Jesus, and says exerchomai. This is the man. He’s saying this is
what it is to be human. It’s to love when every reason for love has been taken away from you, but they do not capture your soul. What is it to be human? What is loving you, and the loving deed? Now, God’s providence
working that way is what? For Ignatius, there is a recognition that God’s providence is the overall governance of the universe. That’s true, but he’s
far more concerned with the way you discover God in the immediacy of your own human
context, and in the limits of your own human reality. The so-called experimenta,
those experiences that Ignatius put his
young novices through, all of them have one touchstone. They discovered how God works
in each one of our lives in different circumstances. In the hospitals with dying people, on the pilgrimage, not knowing
what I’m gonna get next, in the work I do that’s
lowly in the house, in the teaching of catechism and so on to little kids who have nothing to give me but their ignorance, God gradually is teaching me how God works in these concrete, specific realities of life. Christ ripped the moment of the holy away from the synagogue and the temple, and put it into the marketplace that we might understand that’s where God can be found. Did never denied that there
is an intensity of worship in the temple and in the synagogue, but it was not exclusively the place for God and that people. So, finding God in all things is finding the providence, the way
God works for good in life to bring people to an understanding that they are loved,
and capable of loving. That is God’s providence. So, basically in these
first 20 reflections, and then in 21 and 22,
it’s orienting the person to understand that as you and I go through this experience together,
we trust one another, because that is the way in
which God will work best. If something comes up we don’t understand, of course we should question one another, but not to argue, but to
discover what’s really meant, where are we moving, something
is troublesome to me, and maybe in that kind of exchange that we will have there’ll be moments in which the one giving the retreat will say if this bothers you what I said, don’t worry about it right now. Forget about it. Don’t let it become an
issue, and you will find that again and again, with the erosion of the evil spirit, whatever that means, however the evil spirit works, the erosion of that evil spirit is always to distrust the process. It’s too boring. It’s too slow. I really don’t understood by this person. I was giving a retreat not too long ago to a Tertian who at the
secondary retreat said I don’t know what I’m going to do, ’cause how could I give, how could I make a good retreat with a retreat director that I don’t think likes me? And I said you shouldn’t even worry about whether I like
you or don’t like you. You should worry about God
likes you, and you like God. I said if this drives you more and more to believe God is guiding your retreat, that’s the greatest gift I could give you. It’s not, you and I are not in, we’re not trying to foment
a personal relationship. If God wants it, that will develop, but maybe God is asking you and me both to abnegate immediate satisfaction to find the way you could become more and more radically dependent on God leading your
retreat, and I promise you that’s what I will try to do. If you feel I’m interfering
with God, you let me know. We’ll talk about it, but we’re not gonna get into discussion
about our relationship, which is a hook, you know? Let’s talk about us, oh. (crowd laughing) Ho hum (laughing). And you can get into that. The exchange invites that
kinda phony intimacy. They’d say well if people don’t like you then won’t it be harder
for them to like God? Maybe, but maybe you could hope that they would get beyond
that, and work beyond that, but I would never fixate on it. So, the wisdom in this
text is immediate, alright. Now I’m gonna talk about
Ignatian Spirituality, and I’m going to paraphrase
the things I have here. What I want to point to here is the text can give you the words,
the language, the movement. Pastoral reflection can
give you how this fits to where people are, and
what you’re looking for, but now, what nudges
you to an understanding that both enriches the exercises, because it’s part of a
wider spiritual tradition, and how it contributes to this
wider spiritual tradition. It gives you a sense of horizon that we eventually will
call Ignatian Spirituality. There are many things here, but the ones that I have centered on are three, the pilgrimage in the
life of works of Ignatius, the role of conversation
during that pilgrimage, and eventually leading out of this a revelation is
effectively embraced truth. Something is revealed to
me when it is effectively embraced by me. It’s a truth that I’ve embraced. When Ignatius went to Manresa, he began to think of himself, maybe antecedent to that at Montserrat, but I think of myself as the pilgrim, one who was on a journey in order to find through
visiting the sacred, a way in which God was speaking to him. For Ignatius, that became
the journey to Jerusalem, but gradually God led him to understand that the whole process of
his living was a pilgrimage. It was a seeking for the way that God, even before I was born, was bidding me, leading me, guiding me,
revealing God’s self to me, and so today people talk frequently about the spiritual journal. If you look at the new
dictionary of Christian, of Catholic spirituality,
it’s a very generous entry within that
compendium, and the point that it makes out, and
I think is very true of Ignatius is to understand
that in the exercise you’re going through a pilgrimage. Notice how often, even in 20 annotations, Ignatius will talk about the way, the way. People say well that just means a method. The repetition is very reminiscent of what he talks about, Ignatius talks about, in describing the society of Jesus. (speaking in Latin) It’s a kind of a journey or a way to God. So what Ignatius is
saying, not only are you learning a technique, a
way of doing your prayer, but you are learning
part of the pilgrimage through prayer of finding where God is. That was very strong in Ignatius. The pilgrimage, not just as something Ignatius did once, but
as a constant evolution in his life of what it meant to journey towards God and find God. I don’t want to distract too much, but the missionary activity of the early Jesuits was not simply the urge to save souls, to bring
the Gospel message. It also was to continue the pilgrimage of discovering God where God
has not yet been discovered, and so when the early Jesuit missionaries went to Japan and China,
and The Middle East, Latin America, Africa, they
kept sending things back to Europe and saying
we found new ways that God is present in these cultures and these societies,
and we did not know it. So, they were not sending back artifacts. They were sending back testimonials of the discovery of God in people that Europe didn’t even know anything about, and so scholars today will say why did these Jesuits who went over to be missionaries do
all these other things? And the answer is because
they were testimonials of how God is present. Now, the glue that holds
the pilgrimage together is conversation, not just
talking to one another, but the mutual self
disclosure about what is important in my life, the non-negotiables, and about my effective
cherishing of these, my love, and out of that would
come this realization that is a journey through life, and I understand the beauty and importance of self-disclosure as a window
to another person’s soul. God has wanted from
all eternity to give me that window of
self-disclosure that is God, and how do I know it? I know it when I am effectively engaged by a truth as being true for me. Okay. So, any observation, question, inquiry? John? – Okay, these false gods
that I have to deal with that have maybe tyrannized
my relationship to God. Well, what if a person has a really screwy notion of God, maybe a
deistic understanding of God, or a terribly intimate, you know, God talks to me all the time. In other words, what do you do, how do you deal with the, I’ll call it the a priori about God that the person entering the retreat
takes into the retreat? What do you do about that? – It’s an excellent question. In the example you give, if it’s something that verges on a pathology,
like someone really believes that she or he
has a direct communication constantly with God, and they don’t really have to answer to anybody
for their total life, because God is always
telling them what to do, and what to be, or they
have that assurance, I would want to make
sure that the exercises are going to be good for that person, or at least that I would
be good for that person going through this, or that I could handle the kind of obsessive certitude that I had this kinda communication with God. I think that’s scary in a way, and it’s hard to, you cannot use the retreat situation as a kind
of remedy for the pathology, and you try to find a way that’s humane, and Christ-like to help the person see that maybe they’re not ready right now for the experience of the exercises, because you have to surrender a little bit of your sureness in order
to have a little bit more of doubt in order for God to enter into your life in new ways. If God cannot bring you revelation, but only total confirmation of everything you already have believed,
and there’s nothing new, it’s gonna be hard for
you to make the exercises, but I do think that the,
I just read a book on, it’s on leadership. It’s an excellent,
excellent, excellent book, and the author talks about the fact that he had worked very hard to get tenure at the Wharton School of Business, but the most important part of his life was when he and his wife
were able to get pregnant, and when he held his
new child in his arms, and this was a change for him. He said I want to make a world that I can be happy to
give to my new child. So he came into the first class that he was teaching at
Wharton, and talked about the experience of birthing,
and how transformative it was of his life, and he
said half the students said we didn’t pay big bucks to
hear you go on about your kid. Get back to the text,
and the other half said finally somebody was bringing our life into our profession. Then out of that he began to talk about what is it to be a good leader, and what he comes back to,
and I find more and more people talking about is the moments that are non-negotiable because they have really demanded from me an allegiance, and a fidelity, a loyalty, a foundation that I can’t give up without
giving up who I really am, and I feel about this,
and this guy talks about I felt strong enough about it that it recreated the way in
which I go about teaching what it is to be a leader,
and how important it is to find in your human
experience these moments. Then, equally important,
how are these tested out in the arena of other opinions? Do people understand what I’m saying? Is it challenging? Is it confirming, and can
I hold in that discussion these non-negotiables that I have? I already believe it. I think that in getting
the non-negotiables, to let them emerge in a person’s life, and to see them, and to
see that some of these non-negotiables are not
healthy, like success, and you say you’re not
always gonna have it, and the first time you really face not being successful it’s gonna be very important how you handle it, how you go to God and say I’m still loved and lovable, even though I haven’t been the person I thought I
ought to be, and opening that. I don’t think you can program it, and I think a lot of this,
and sometimes it takes time as you move through the retreat. At least for me it’s giving a more, more healthy insight into why
humiliations are so important, why poverty is so important,
’cause it brings you to the issue of who am I when everything I think I am, or I’ve
shielded myself with, or I’ve allowed other
people to think I am, is taken away? Can I still say I think I am
a authentic person before God? You know, that’s what I
think Ignatius brings you to. So, you’re question is good. I think, suppose you need more cases of how you would do that, but
I, the extreme would be you can’t let a pathology
continue in the exercises. It would be disastrous for the person, and also for the way the
person would talk about it, but at the same time all
of us have false gods. You know, God is constantly, like health. You think your health is good, and you’re going along okay, and suddenly something is taken away from your health, and you realize a lot of what I translated as being energy and zeal
was just restlessness because I was healthy. When I’m not healthy, I
don’t want to be nice. I don’t want to answer the phone. I don’t feel like talking
to people all the time, and I realized that it’s
not untruthful exactly, but hidden behind physical assertiveness is also the realization that
other people die, but I don’t, and suddenly you face that,
and you’d say well, I die. That’s strong, and there is something about thinking yourself
immortal that is a false god, even though people would laugh and say oh I didn’t really think that, but I did, and when you face the situation where you realize your not immortal,
there’s a kind of renegotiation with
authenticity that has to go on. That’s why I think death
is hard, sickness is hard. Does anybody have a cheery
question to ask (laughing)? (crowd laughing) – It’s about the
expectations on the part of people who are making the exercises. The experience that I had with it was here at Holy Trinity, and it’s very different. It was a whole group of people, as many as 12, 15 people
going through months of it, meeting every other week, and
then doing the daily prayer. What about the, what
do you do, how do you, should you get into the expectations of those people that are going through it, in terms of, you know,
the overall arching one is the seek and find the divine. – [Man Speaker] Divine will. – Yes, that’s the ultimate one, but it is so broad, you know, and it can mean so many things for so many different people. How much should the expectations of those going through it be
addressed at the beginning? – That’s an excellent question. You know, even maybe five
years ago I would have said how important it is to have a conversation in which you and the
one making the retreat talk about the person’s expectations, what they’re looking for, and so on. I don’t feel that way anymore. I feel more confidence
of saying they’ll emerge. As we go through the
retreat, I’ll begin to see what patterns of
conversation this person has about consolation and desolation, about the way this person
approaches our Lord when you get to the second week, and in the evolution
what is very important is noticing how the expectation of Jesus in the Gospel narratives
constantly challenges or confirms, but it certainly encounters the expectations of the
one making the retreat, like me give you an
example, a trivial one, but not trivial, I think it’s a great one, but Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, and you say to someone what,
as you approach the Lord and His tears, ask for an insight into what He’s saying to you,
and then you’ll listen and say well, I wanted
to comfort the Lord. Then you realize all through this retreat, this person who’s a good person, generous, but the whole person’s idea of service is to be the comforter, to help
people not have bad days, and therefore the underside of this that you also can hear is,
and therefore I back away from saying anything
that would hurt people. I don’t want people anyway not to like me, because then I couldn’t help them. I couldn’t be a helper,
and gradually you wait to see if these two come together where the expectation of Jesus is simply that he will tell the truth and reveal who God really is, and
then we have Luke 15, the prodigal son. Is this really God, a God
who would run in public, and embrace, crazy God
that would reinstate this nitwit son back again
in charge of everything? Is that really what God is like? Is that what really God like, and then now, and is this
really what God is like? Yet only through somehow
the son laying down his life does God feel He can reveal, or she, can reveal the immensity
of what that love is, and the person will have trouble saying I have trouble with the mystery of God, but that can be the moment of great grace where you say I have so much yet to learn about the paradox of who God is, but I’m willing to learn
it, and it so challenges the way I look at what I
think is really important, the way I pray, and where I am. My experience has been that
this gradually evolves, and like you don’t settle everything in the spiritual exercises,
but what you give is a person of a window to walk through into the immensity of the
treasure house of grace that God has. It can come in so many different ways, and the person walks away and says what I got out of this retreat was I can never look at
life the same way I did. It’s a constant learning experience, and I guess I want to be very
cautious about absolutes. Now for me that means
a lot, ’cause I woke up one day and said the only
absolute really is God. Everything else is relative,
relative to who God is, and therefore when people
tell me they’re really sure, and they know, I said I’m not that sure. I think I have the duty
to walk authentically with the assuredness I
possess, but I have to have the humility to
know that can be changed. I can get new data, can see new things. So, I think the question you have is that it’s almost patiently
walking we’ll see how that evolves through the retreat, but you being very conscious that there
is a certain ambiguity here in the person’s life. Best, John and I both had a wonderful spiritual director in
Tertianship, Paul Kennedy, and he told me once about a very talented British Tertian, last
year Jesuit training, and the man was always
very guarded with him, and then at the final eight day retreat, about the third day the guy came in and he started telling
Kennedy all the stuff that was really going on
that he never talked about, and Kennedy started giving good advice, telling him what to do, what to look for, and at the end of the eight day retreat, the man was supposed to leave Tertianship, he said to Kennedy did you know
all this was going on in me? He said I suspected it. Well, why didn’t you say something? And Kennedy said you weren’t ready. And then the guy said what if I’d left Tertianship without having
you telling me this? Then I would have to believe that God would have someone else tell you. That’s so powerful to me. Here was this great master telling me that you don’t have to pretend
that all these things have to be done now by you
in the exercises, you know? So that’s where I am on it. – My name is Ernesto. I’m from CFC, for those who know CFC. I would like to know, Father, how you deal with this problem,
and the problem is this. That is it’s not easy to guide or to give exercise to somebody
you know very well, or somebody you have a
personal relationship with. How do you deal with that kind of problem? – That’s really a good question, because so often people will ask you to give them a retreat
because they like you, and they see you around a community and think you’d be a
good person to talk to, or they hear you, and you get to know ’em, and you hit it off with a person. It depends, if you could see that that human personality really has a desire, growing desire to find
what God wants me to be, and to be truthful and
authentic before us, to be real before this, you can say well, you don’t even have to mention it if you feel that’s a good thing to do, appropriately to say now, I don’t want our relationship to
get in the way of this. I want to have your permission from the very beginning to challenge you where I think you need to be challenged, and by that I don’t mean
telling you what you should do. I mean facing what you tell
me is going on in your life, and what I feel sometimes
are blurred sections that are inconsistent, and don’t. Are you okay with that? I would clarify it along the way gently. If it is something where you say I know this person so
well, and this person knows me so well, that they’re going to find me comfortable because I don’t live everything I’m expecting them to do and to pray about. Then I’d say let ’em go to somebody else. Yeah, it’s a judgment call. Cases are always good,
because they bring out the practical, existential dilemma, but what’s hard about answering them is because they allow a
lot of different answers. So, with one relationship that really is one of friendship, and
people can be together, and talk, and share,
and it doesn’t interfere with your guidance, you’re
comfortable with that, and you know it can go that way. With others you’d say I don’t think, I think that it may be
a retreat where either I would begin to back away from asking you to look again at
something, because I don’t want you to feel you’re
not performing well, and therefore I think it’d be better for you to go to somebody
else, and be able to say that. It’s a judgment call. John. – Could you talk a little bit about how you process or review a section with a retreatant when the sections over? – Excellent question. You know, in the rhythm of the exercises, Ignatius has this period
where he talks about, the one making the exercises reflects, and I said once you get over the few days at the beginning where you say what didn’t I do too well? Should I have prayed better? It really is an opportunity to see and to explore things you
didn’t notice during prayer, but they’re recurring attractions that you’re beginning to notice. They’re new ways of looking at things you hadn’t thought about. There’s an area that’s challenging you, and you’re not comfortable with it, and you realize that as you look back you are systemically not sharing with me, who’s giving you the retreat, things that might be very important about the retreat, and it might be good to look at that. So to for the director,
I think you’ll look back and say what, I always have to get a little bit of break. Go get a cup of tea or
coffee or something. Then go back and say where, how do I feel when I’m with this person? Am I basically comfortable,
and I’m really listening? Or for me I would say do I find that half way through I think
I’ve heard this before, and I’m supplying the answers before I really hear the question? What has been the authenticity of my own response to this person? Have I really heard the person? And sometimes it’s good
for me to take a note of what I think the person said, and even when they’re talking to me I might make a, I said do you mind if I, I want to jot something down, and I look back on that
and say this is important. I don’t know why, but I’m drawn to it. I’m attracted to it. I want to think about that a little bit, and then I might begin to notice along the way that three or four or five times in a row this person has emphasized something like fear, and even using the word
fear, or I feel inadequate, or I’m hoping Christ
will give me the strength to do the things I don’t think I could do, and you begin to notice
that there is a pattern here of fear, and it’s diffuse,
but it’s in the personality, and it’s creating a barrier between the kind of openness you’d
like to have as a person. You know, I’m afraid of what I’m gonna do, or what I’m gonna say. So, I would find that the review of your own affective response, why you have that affective response, and whether there’s any pattern
for you to verify that. Those are the three
things I think helpful. Affective response, why do I have that, and is there a pattern here? Is there something that’s
recurring again and again, and I might not even
say anything about it, but I might notice it
and more and more find it important to hear, and see how it’s challenged and changed. Just a little example,
but this is a novice, and the novice had been in a
diocesan seminary and left. Then some years later joined the Jesuits, but he had a great
suspicion about friendships, and people getting to know him too well, and the reason, eventually which came, and I mentioned to him, I said now, do you feel at home with our Lord knowing you as you are, and loving you? I just said something like that. I said now do you feel like that? He said no, I don’t. I think if Christ really knew who I was, He’d walk away from me, too. Oh, I said, well I said,
now you have to know I don’t talk like this, but I said to him I want you to go to our
Lord under the cross, and let Him invite you
into the wound on His side, and tell me what you
find, and that young man came the next day and I
said now Gene did you find? Oh yes, the Lord invited
me into His heart, and I found there was all kinds of room, and he said to me don’t you think there’s room for you here? Well the kid, you know, later
on was telling everybody Howard Reed’s soul (laughing),
anything like that, but I did notice the reticence. I was trying to think
of something that was, I didn’t why is he going in the cross, and ask to go into his? Why would I do that? I had no idea, but it was a
breakthrough in the retreat. He began to realize
that he may always have the liability of being slow
to trust that he was lovable, but he goes back to that
there was an er experience where that lovableness was confirmed, not by me, but by God. I couldn’t give him that. So, that might be a good thing for us to think about more and more, of how we can be more
attuned after the experience of a conversation, but
even I was thinking that, there are people I like,
but I notice sometimes I go away, and I’d say we
kidded about other people, we gossiped about other people, and while it’s funny I
go away feeling empty. I don’t like that. I don’t like me being part of it, and kind of really suddenly
say this is not good for me. It brings in all the things I don’t like about being smart-assed, and being clever, pseudo clever, and I don’t
want to be like that, and then so I look back
on those in my life, those circumstances and say I
know that’s not good for me, or you’ll look back at
circumstance and say I like a drink, but I
don’t like the way we, in this certain group,
maybe, we drink too much, and whenever I’m there
I always drink too much. I don’t want to do that anymore. You look back on it, and
you notice how you feel, why do you feel this way, and the pattern that you say every time
I leave I don’t feel like I’ve been enjoying myself. I’ve been pretending I do, you know? I’d like to ask all of
you if, how many of you have gone to parties
that some people throw, and you don’t really want
to be there, but you go. It’s socially, and you go and you’d say why do I go to a party that I don’t like and I don’t feel really
rejuvenated when I leave it? This is, it’s not really
a party, you know, for me, and to have the courage to say I don’t want to go to those parties anymore, that I can read a book, I can pray, I can go to a symphony,
I can do a lot of things I’d rather do, I’m just
not going to perform for other people that way I don’t, I’m not gonna be nasty about it, or mean. I’m just gonna say no,
I don’t want to do that. It’s not enjoyable to me. I mean, I think we do that in life, and I think that’s what we
do in this circumstance. Okay, thank you very much. (crowd clapping)

7 thoughts on “Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises Lecture 1: Presupposition and Introductory Annotations

  1. Wonderful vid! A really good explanation. Though this is a recording of a lecture, the lecturer is so good that I was never bored. Please do more, Fr Gray!

  2. In my opinion, Ignacio's Spiritual Exercises were given to all. But, somehow this thing of establishing classes for instruction, a lecture and re-interpretation of what Ignacio stated and wished to give the people before the Lord Our God is self evident here by this explanation. What if this is exactly what he did not want? Also it seems to me that much is forgotten! Better just to give the outline of his principles in short sentences. Ignacio was a journalist of the Lord and more importantly set himself before the Lord our God everyday with this awareness of every act and deed as an example and reflected through his record of writings (Mt 1:1-7).  For those following his path and devotion it was the purpose of the Society of Jesus, an extended hand of the Pope but the exercises are quite different. This explanation as I am perceiving it can be quite misleading, is unspecific and lacks in direction. This explanation makes it sound like the process is difficult and drive a person to "drinking" so to say. Indeed, a track record or keeping a private journal daily and addressing such questions as:who I am, what I am, where did I came from, what am I doing, what do I really believe, how do I know I have a soul, how did I come to be here before the Lord, among other tie ins to the Lord, etc.,etc. Indeed, the examination of conscious in this way starts the unfolding and revelation process of one's soul to reconciliation with the Lord! As St. Teresa one begins to know their inner Mansion. But first and more importantly we all have an end and in that end we will meet the Lord for our accountability before him. Even if a nonbeliever reflects on this question, of what I did with my life one will benefit greatly! Indeed, I found very little useful in this presentation.

  3. This is a great lecture series for those training to be Spiritual Directors and Directees. I thank the uploader . Blessings and gratitude 

  4. this guy operates on a higher intellectual plane than most. But he's unpretentiously articulate about it.

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