determination and ignatian spirituality

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PRESENTATION
In this stage of the path that we have been journeying as a Body, let us continue
deepening on the Determination and the Calls to apostolic action that we received from the
18th General Congregation, from the perspective of the Ignatian spirituality.
We recall that in the final message of the said General Congregation, the Superior
General said, “We believe that this Determination will allow us to renew our lifestyle to be
more open to the Kingdom of God, to be more credible, and to offer a new face to the
charism in the Church and to the world.”
The first part of the work: The Determination and the Ignatian spirituality is addressed
to the Hijas de Jesús. It deals with a proposal of prayerful listening of the Determination,
inspired by the itinerary proposed in the Spiritual Exercises. For this type of listening, we
need moments of silence, of prayer, of reflection and from there, to share with other sisters
our Faith experience. In this sense, what we offer are simple instruments. Every work sheet
has a title taken from the phrases of the numbers of the Determination; it presents some
brief pastoral considerations on the weeks of the Spiritual Exercises. At the end of each
work sheet, there is a suggestion of exercise which compiles some of the means which the
Ignatian spirituality offers us for the growth of our vocation as Hijas de Jesús.
Furthermore, this is the schematic outline:
First block: Introductory Aspects
1- Contemplation of the Incarnation as hermeneutic framework
2- The SPEX, a Christological itinerary: 2.1 Jesus and poverty / 2.2 Jesus in the face of
ambiguity and conflict
Second block: The Determination following the itinerary of the SPEX
Sheet 1: Principle and Foundation
Sheet 2: First Week
Sheet 3: Second Week
Sheet 4: Third Week
Annex: Synthesis of the experience: the Examen
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Also, in the final message of GC XVIII, our Superior General, in making reference to the
document “To go and proclaim”, she said: “in contemplating the world and retaking our
apostolic action, we want to fortify the path that we, Hijas de Jesús and lay together, are
going to achieve more and better according to what the diverse circumstances of times and
places ask of us. In a discerned reading of the world and of the desires expressed in the
petitions we received, we highlight some calls that will orient our apostolic tasks in the next
six years”.
The second part of this work is addressed to the Hijas de Jesús and lay. It is a
material that presents a method and a dynamic to carry out apostolic discernment in
common. The chosen focus comes from the first call: “it is urgent to practice discernment in
common so that our apostolic projects respond to the greater universal good and to the
greatest needs” (4). For this reason, we will not deepen on the content of every call but for
the proposal to direct us to the exercise of apostolic discernment in common, or rather, a
practical exercise of the discernment in common in relation to the rest of the calls. On one
hand, what it intends is to inspire and animate to carry out in every place a concrete
exercise of apostolic discernment in common to choose the more urgent call/s in every
context. At the same time, it offers us points for deepening and reflection on the necessary
conditions and elements to accomplish the said discernment.
This is the schematic framework:
ORIENTATIONS FOR THE APOSTOLIC DISCERNMENT IN COMMON
FIRST BLOCK- Some preliminaries.
2. Persons who intervene.
4. Phases of discernment in common.
SECOND BLOCK- Conditions for discernment in common.
1. Conditions in the person.
2. Criteria for discernment.
THIRD BLOCK- The deceptions in the process of discernment.
FOURTH BLOCK- The discernment in common of the calls.
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1. “Acompañar la tentación” Darío Mollá. Cuaderno Eides.
2. “Discernimiento comunitario apostólico” Josep M. Rambla y Josep M. Lozano. Cuadernos
Eides, nº 89-90.
3. “Discernimiento: concretar el amor”. Darío Mollá. Frontera Hegian, nº 94.
4. “El arte de formarse” JB Libanio. Ediciones Sígueme. Salamanca 2003, pp 115-125.
5. “El discernimiento en común” Revista Manresa Enero-marzo 2018. Volumen 90, nº 354.
6. “El discernimiento espiritual como actitud permanente” Teresa Plaza. Revista Manresa,
2010. Volumen 82.
7. “El discernimiento orante en común” Provincia de Loiola 2005.
8. “El discernimiento: realidad humana, realidad espiritual”. Darío Mollá. Revista Manresa,
2010. Volumen 82.
9. “El discernimiento”. Henri J. M. Nouwen. Editorial Sal Terrae, 2014.
10. Amen todos la pobreza como madre. Aquella tierra fértil de hombres fuertes. José
Margenat. Revista Manresa, vol 85. (2013), pag 157
11. Ayudar y aprovechar a otros muchos. Dar y hacer Ejercicios ignacianos Antonio Guillén,
Pablo Alonso, Darío Mollá Llácer, Ed. Sal Terrae, 2018.
12. Buscar y hallar la voluntad de Dios. Comentario práctico de los EE de San Ignacio de
Loyola. Miguel Ángel Fiorito, ed. Mensajero, 2013
13. Diccionario de espiritualidad ignaciana, pág. 1493 tomo II
14. El discernimiento La novedad del Espíritu y la astucia de la carcoma, Benjamín González
Buelta , Ediciones Loyola 2020
15. La letra pequeña. La cotidianidad infinita. Benjamín Gonzalez Buelta, Ed. Sal Terrae (
2014)
16. La Pascua de los sentidos. Benjamín Gonzalez Buelta, Ediciones Sal Terrae (2013)
17. Las Hijas de Jesús el hoy y los orígenes. Celia Amorós Pérez.
18. Mistérios de Cristo, mistérios do cristão, Carlos Palácio. Ed. Loyola, 2013
19. Pedro Arrupe, carisma de Ignacio, Dario Mollá, Ed Mensajero-Sal Terrae, 2015.
20. Sabiamente ignorante. Mes de EE en clave vocacional. Agustin Rivarola, Ed. UCC,
BLOCK I: Introductory Aspects
The Spiritual Exercises give us access to what is essential in Ignatian spirituality. Having the
SPEX as background, we can say that there are two important movements in order to live
the experience of God explicitated in the SPEX: That God communicates himself and that
the person is himself/herself disposed to welcome it.
1- Contemplation of the Incarnation: Some key points of interpretation.
For Ignatius it was almost impossible to enter into the mystery of God without
discovering that He is a God incarnate, who placed his tent in the midst of the world. This
means that God is committed to our humanity. This is the profound meaning of the
contemplation which is central in the experience of the SPEX. In the exercise on the
Incarnation (SPEX 101-109) we contemplate how the world, every person, our history that
has suffered so much, are made mysteriously part of the life of God. In this manner of God’s
loving the world and of every person, the retreatant at the time of contemplating the
complexity and the death that takes place in this history, also experiences compassion and
tenderness, the infinite gentleness and sweetness of the divinity (SPEX 124,1) with which
the Holy Trinity gazed and sent Jesus to live with and be llike us.
This contemplation of the incarnation constitutes a very important hermeneutical
framework to comprehend what the image of God is which is in the nucleus of Ignatian
spirituality and thus, of the experience of all of us who are called to live: He is a God who
communicates, who desires to give himself (SPEX 234). God is Someone who can be listened
to and experienced. He is a personal being who dialogues with the human being.
The creation is, for the human being, also the concrete manner of experiencing her/his
constitutive relationship with God. Creation says something about the human being and
God. God dwells in creatures (SPEX 235), works for us (SPEX 236) and sustains us from the
core of our being.
This is why life is a constant work of recognizing the gift, this love who is God in the gifts
that come our way, at times wrapped in precarious situations. He is a God who speaks to us
and comes to our encounter through mediations. It does not deal with encountering
ourselves face to face with God, it is precisely to discover his presence in the midst of life, of
the fragilities and sins in one’s personal and social history, and oftentimes also filled with
contradictions and individual interests.
The first and fundamental mediation of the experience of God is Jesus Christ. This gives
meaning to the other mediations.
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2- The SPEX: a Christological itinerary
A concrete mode that the SPEX offer to know Jesus and his manner of living is to learn
to contemplate and discern the “mysteries in the life of Christ our Lord”. This is how St.
Ignatius calls the series of 51 events in the life of Christ suggested in the SPEX (SPEX 261).
The greater part are scenes from the gospels or texts from the NT (SPEX 308), with the
exception of the apparition to Mary (SPEX 299) and to Joseph of Arimathea (SPEX 310). We
recall that these mysteries are proposed in three of the four weeks of the SPEX.
2.1 The following of Jesus poor and humble
The person of Jesus is the center of the whole Ignatian spirituality and here we also
find the keypoint of his concept of poverty. God the Father reveals his love through the
Incarnation of his own Son and does so in weakness and poverty.
In the Gospels love is not something abstract nor disembodied, it is concretized,
made flesh in the face of the other who, coming from the God of Jesus, is to be called a
brother: a glass of water offered to the smallest (Mt 25,35), the visit which is expressed
through forgiveness (Lk 19,1-10), through consolation (Jn 11,1-43), a shared meal (Mt
9,10-13), compassion for one who is suffering (Mk 1,40-42), the recognition of the
human dignity of prostitutes and public sinners (Lk 7,36-49). For Jesus, every encounter
deals with the encounter with a concrete human being. It is a love of service, of self-
emptying, of welcoming the most excruciating human vulnerabilities. God in Jesus is
Love, a love that is kenotic and humble (humus). from this paradox of self-emptying
(Phil 2,7), without loss of his divinity, Jesus manifests that the love and the communion
of the Christian God is given without measure. The kenosis of Jesus is a process of
interior itinerancy and of diminishment which brings him to lose his own life so that “all
may have life”. Jesus enfleshed and opened horizons which are totally new for life in
common: power as service, obedience as listening, abnegation as freedom…
In this sense, St. Ignatius did not develop any theory on poverty, but simply had
before his eyes the life of Jesus poor and humble. He wanted to be poor because Jesus
had been poor. The contemplation in the SPEX actualizes the life of Jesus “as if I found
myself present” (SPEX 114). It is interesting that the encounter with the Lord frequently
happens through his humanity: the Child Jesus can be contemplated (SPEX 114), to see
how Christ was born in extreme poverty to die on the cross (SPEX 116) and also to
consider how the divinity is hidden in humanity (SPEX 196). To contemplate is a
dynamic exercise which, little by little, introduces us to a painful and joyful interior
itinerancy (cf. EURF 37), since contemplating puts us in a dynamism of de-centeredness
of oneself: getting out of one’s own love, like and interest (SPEX 189) in order to
comprehend how Jesus is and how to give ourselves to our neighbors.
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The Exercises make it possible for us to experience Jesus interiorly. For this, we
have to traverse a path: the call of the eternal king (SPEX 95), the two standards (SPEX
136), the election (SPEX 169). Depending on the manner by which we decide to walk we
may or may not arrive at being configured with Jesus Christ. It deals with making a path
to arrive at resembling Jesus “as a daughter resembles her father” (CFI 136). Following
Jesus signifies walking and serving. It does not deal with whatever form of walking, but
to walk like Him. The process of interior knowledge of Jesus ends in the offering which
supposes much availability to go to encounter the other. In this experience, it is
inevitable to go through moments of conflicts; we are subjects to the movements and
obscurities of history.
Jesus acted in a world replete with hatred and division, in a world of sin where he
had to confront the contradiction between the force of love and the destructive force
present in the religious and political structures of his time. This contradiction which
exists in the following of Jesus appears more evident in the exercise of the two
standards: Christ and Lucifer, Jerusalem and Babylon, knowledge of true life and the
deceptions of evil…
2.2 The following of Jesus in conflict and ambiguity
Saint Ignatius is very conscious that the following of Jesus needs much lucidity in
order not to be deceived in the midst of the ambiguity that life presents. In the second
week, after the retreatant has passed through the careful sifting of the first week, she
encounters herself with a demanding “test of clarity and freedom”: the call of the
temporal king and of the eternal king which ends with the oblation of the Kingdom. In
another moment, before contemplating the mysteries of the public life, the so-called
Ignatian day presents itself -- an intense and demanding moment of the experience of
the SPEX which makes possible a greater awareness of what moves us, ensnares us, or
where we can be lost.
In the two standards Ignatius puts as if outside of us, what happens inside our
heart. For him, the heart of the human being is a battleground, we are subjected to
continuous pressures and struggles. The grace of God and the deceptions of the evil
spirit act within us. It is precisely important to constantly discern them and to know
how to distinguish what spirits struggle within us, discern the deep motivations of our
actions and choices, “ to ask that we be received under the standard of Christ” (SPEX
147).
The meditation on the pairs (binarios) is a proof of the sincerity of the deepest
desire of the retreatant. It is necessary to purify the will and verify the most subtle
motivations. We know that the whole option implies a renunciation and therefore
“touches” always on something that affects us. The affect is the place where the
fundamental decisions of discernment happen. In feeling ourselves affected, defense
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mechanisms are unleashed which can seriously condition the life offered for the
Kingdom.
These exercises that end with the three degrees of humility are not ascetic
exercises without sense. They help ask oneself about inner availability, the capacity to
give one’s all including one’s own life for love of Jesus.
We also see that in the SPEX, St. Ignatius describes the content of the conflict
starting from the two structural modes of understanding human life. On one hand, an
existence of riches, honor and pride, from which come all the vices that dehumanize.
On the other hand, an existence which can choose poverty as a lifestyle: poverty,
contempt and humiliations and all the virtues that humanize (SPEX 142-146). Let us not
lose sight that in the SPEX we are presented with a spirituality of following, not of
suffering. Suffering is the consequence of the following (Third week).
Contemplating the mysteries of the life of Christ leads us to a following that
discerns and learns to live in a reality that is not transparent, that is full of
contradictions. Discernment helps in choosing that which brings us closer to Christ. The
concretion of this following and service of love is not in the riches but in poverty, not in
honor but in humility. The ultimate motivation of Christian life and therefore for
religious life, is in the concrete life of Jesus Christ, who passed by doing good and
emptied himself, leaving his divine condition… (cf. Phil 2,5 ff.). the following of Jesus,
chosen with clarity and freedom, makes us human persons and spiritually humble and
strong, and at the same time joyful and intimate.
3- The SPEX as a practice of discernment
- The examen as the main entry
The entrance door for Ignatian discernment is the examen. It is the basic activity if
we want to be persons of discernment. It is this practice, this training of looking at life
attentively that allows us to discover and know what to name the passage, the love and
the call of God (cf. CND 98). in this sense, the SPEX make possible for us a continuous
learning.
To be able to discern, I have to be in contact with my interior world. It is
fundamental to recognize what is the state of my spiritual life, if I am in consolation or
desolation, to describe and to tell the movements that I have: what is happening to me?
How am I? Am I being tempted by the bad spirit, consoled by the good? This are not
trivial questions, they are important ones. We have to acknowledge that many times we
do not have an idea what is the state of our spiritual life, and it is important to be
aware. One of the possible difficulties in religious life is a type of “spiritual
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unawareness” in which we may be living and this does not do us any good nor does it
do good to our neighbors.
Ignatius talks about “in some manner to feel and to know the various motions that
take place in our soul” SPEX 313.
Here is a simple framework:
- The first step is to take into account that something is happening to us (to feel -
to confirm).
- The second step is to know where this movement that I am feeling is coming
from and where it will lead me: to know.
- The third step is the fruit of the feeling and knowing. In other words, we need to
think towards where these inner movements will lead us: if it will bring us to
more life, to try to do good, of if on the contrary what we are living is paralyzing
us. For example, if we spend much time in desolation and do nothing, this ends
in affecting the manner by which we see reality around us: a pessimistic
perspective or at times that of a being a victim-- a state of permanent blame or
the interpretation in which much of what happens to us is the fault of others.
Desolation can also prejudice our way of relating to others: ill humor, gossip, etc.
it is very important to know our interior dynamics. We can attain this
progressive awareness through the practice of the daily Ignatian examen.
To be a person of discernment implies and asks that we take care of our freedom
which impels us to live in gratuity: no one can take our life, we offer it freely (cf. Jn
10,18). Ignatius presents to us in a very lucid manner the deceptions that make our
freedom perilous: the vainglory and the pride (SPEX 142), our fears, negligence,
comfortability… It is true that we are never completely free from these deceptions, but
these threats do have a distinct force in us whether or not we are aware of them or if
we ignore them.
From what has been reflected, the eight-day annual experience of the Ignatian
Spiritual Exercises (CFI 170) and the day of the monthly retreat (DNC 100) also take on
a vital force. These are two privileged spaces to maintain us in this dynamic of
discernment. They are concrete helps and sources of a learning that is always new in
the life in the Spirit (cf. CND 101).
Hence it is very necessary to consider that the practice of the examen is important to
be women of discernment. And the process of being aware of what happens in our
interior world disposes and prepares us to better exercise ourselves in apostolic
discernment. “We believe that the Spirit is always at work, in us and in the reality. The
Spirit works in our institutions and the persons who are in it. Each one of us brings
various perspectives which can be contaminated by sin and egoism, but by virtue of
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sharing with one another we can arrive at a greater freedom and a better sense of what
God would wish in a particular situation” John Dardis, SJ.
Exercise: Take this text as a spiritual reading.
Share resonances.
BLOCK II: The Determination following the itinerary of the SPEX
In the SPEX the question “where am I going and to what” obliges us to know what we
want. St. Ignatius tells us, what do we have to ask: at night before sleeping and, in the
morning, when we wake up, where am I going and to what? That is why in each of the
exercises, in the petition which is usually the first or second preamble, St. Ignatius says “to
ask what I want and what I desire”. it is as if the exercises always had to be needing that the
person who makes them should know where she is going, should know what she wants and
desires. Therefore, it will help us to ask ourselves: What is it that I want and desire in
starting this new phase of the prayer-reflection of the Determination?
The 18th General Congregation gave us a Determination that expresses “the authentic
desires to maintain the Body in its wellbeing and to adapt it to what the actual
circumstances of the world ask of it…” so that we can, with greater clarity, manifest the
kindness of God who makes all brothers to one another.
From the spirit of the Ignatian examen, there is thankfully expressed, the preoccupation
which exists in the whole Body: to make more visible our charismatic identity. At the same
time, the whole Congregation is invited to make a process of greater configuration with
Jesus who chose poverty for himself (Cf. Det 3 & 10).
The Determination tells us with clarity that “our strongest weakness today is not in the
field of work, but in maintaining vitality and making the wellbeing of the Body grow” (Det 3).
From the loving gaze of God the Father (CFI 136), that accompanies us with love and mercy
since the beginnings of the Congregation, “we come to realize that in these last years, the
Determinations of the General Congregations always animated us to live authentic
evangelical poverty”. With the light of the Spirit of Jesus, we humbly recognize that despite
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this, “ needs, demands, individualism, consumerism grow in us, as well as the difficulty of
assuming the proper limits of life. Once more we recognize that the third paragraph of the
Formula is the most forgotten” (Det 6).
Without leaving the contemplation of the Body which we are -- in the process of
diminishment in numbers, with fewer strengths and few vocations, with fragilities and
sinfulness -- we experience on the threshold of celebrating 150 years of history, the strength
of the Spirit which invites us to “the same magis as always,” the magis that makes us refer
to the origins of our foundation. Today, what significance will the words that Fr. Herranz
have, addressed to our first sisters, a group of women “few in number and much less in
quality according to the judgments of the world” and who sees them in the future as “a
congregation of union, of love, of a genuine and fruitful apostolate”? What significance for
us today is the clear preference of Mother Candida for humility and poverty as the attitude
of Jesus and, as attitude, defines our following of Jesus?
The 18th General Congregation invites us to live an embodied spiritual process. It took
note and named what we need to regain because it is weakened. This process is also
present in the SPEX. Thus, having recognized what we perceived as damaged, we are invited
to look at and follow Jesus, but, what Jesus? The SPEX keeps revealing to us the life of Jesus
poor and humble whom, by grace, we chose to follow.
The proposal that we make is a prayerful listening of the Determination, inspired by the
itinerary proposed in the Spiritual Exercises. To listen, we need moments of silence, of
prayer, of reflection and from there to share our faith experience. In this sense, we are
offering work sheets with proposals that we will call “of spiritual exercise”.
Work Sheet 1: Principle and Foundation (PF)
150th ANNIVERSARY: YEARS OF FECUNDITY WHICH INVITE US TO DEEPEN IN OUR IDENTITY
(Det.1)
Brief considerations on the PF
God is not just at the beginning of the life of the human being, for the fact that He is his
creator, but that aside from it in creating him he had been given a finality, a meaning. The
“end”, the “for what” do not define the proper person; these are formulated by the Creator
and Lord who offers them as a lifetime task. And in this sense, the creation of God is
vocational. The PF reminds us of the character of “creaturehood” of man and woman, as
well as their task and mission: to praise, reverence and serve. For this they have been
created. “Vocation” is bound simply to the fact of existing: it is the providential thinking of
the Creator over each creature; it is his project, like a dream in the heart of God, because he
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loves his creature; it is to feel loved by God as someone unique and irreplaceable. The
dynamic of this experience is precisely that which St. Ignatius understands as “indifference”.
In the text of the PF we encounter ourselves with the end, the means, and the difficulty.
We find ourselves in the PF with two affirmations and with two conclusions:
a- The human being is created “to live in plenitude” which we call salvation, entering in
a project of love and creativity that keeps happening in history.
b- And things are created for man and woman to help them in this mission that unites
them to God the Creator.
c- Things are to be used in the measure that they help in pursuing the end for which we
were created, and on the contrary, to rid ourselves of those which do not.
d- In order to live in this manner it is important to grow in faith and freedom, so that
we are not “left paralyzed by the finiteness of life: sickness, poverty, dishonor or
short life (SPEX 23), nor be trapped by the seductions of the present life: health,
riches, honor and long life (SPEX 23)”.
In the PF the retreatant has the experience of feeling the difficulty in using with
indifference the means that God has given us to achieve the end for which we were created
and so that, knowing this, he places himself entirely into His hands. Fr. P. Arrupe affirms
that indifference is the manner typically Ignatian of affirming the Absoluteness of God;
everything else is relative, and concludes, “it is, simply, to believe" (Arrupe 1981, 240).
Work Sheet 2: First Week
RECOVERING THE RADICALITY OF EVANGELICAL POVERTY IS A NECESSITY, AN URGENCY, A
CHARISMATIC HEALING… (Cf. Det 7)
Brief considerations on the first week
In the first week of the SPEX we confront ourselves with evil which we call sin and with all
the disorder and destruction it provokes. “If the plenitude of existence consists in living
Spiritual Exercise
a- Recall your experience of love with the Lord. We suggest to fundamentally bring
to mind your vocational call to this Congregation of the Hijas de Jesús.
b- Recall events, situations, historical moments of the Congregation where you have
seen the love of God sustaining, encouraging, leading the Body.
c- Each community selects and chooses what it likes to share. It is important to take
note of the more significant motions that the community experiences in this
sharing.
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rooted on the basis of life that always originates new principles, new beginnings, sin consists
in cutting off that life and entrusting it to our fragile autonomy that is locked in by its sterile
pride which denies that we are limited and that we can only be ourselves in communion
with God and with others.”
It is not hard to see the effects of the rupture of communion with God. In the tragedies
that our world is living in, listening to the histories of persons and concrete families, we see
with sadness the terrible consequences of sin present in our society and institutions. To
approach personal evil, we remember our own history of sins, those we committed and
those we suffered from others, with wounds that at times continue bleeding throughout
life.
In exiting the experience of the first week of the SPEX, we go back to our heart’s
experience of a revealed truth: sin does not have the last word. It is the forgiveness of God
that renews and restores life as many times as necessary. The principle and foundation of
the life of the creature is the love and grace of God. No reality is ever excluded from the
forgiveness of God. Nobody remains at the margins of his grace. But it is necessary not to
lose consciousness that we are sinful persons, the clarity of the evil we cause and the
forgiveness which is the gratuitous gift of the Father. To truly open ourselves to forgiveness
that restores and does not make us close in on ourselves, we need to ask insistently the gift
of the radicality of evangelical poverty.
From this experience, little by little, will come, forming a new sensibility, to see the world
and others from the perspective of love and compassion. “We do not try to forgive simply
because we have received a precept from God, but because we see Him assuming with his
forgiveness the lives that have been destroyed by sin.”.
This is what Jesus, in his gestures and actions, in his encounters and words, revealed to
whoever felt destroyed by the weight of his wounds, fragilities and sins.
- Exercise: Spiritual conversation
Preambles on the meaning of spiritual conversation:
The terms “to converse” and “conversation”, are used in Ignatian literature very frequently.
To attain depth in communication, Ignatian tradition foresaw a modality of particular
dialogue: spiritual conversation. It does not necessarily consist in a discussion over spiritual
questions.
What conditions are demanded of each of the persons? It asks the person to place
herself in an attitude of profound listening and empathy of the other from whom she
seeks to understand the deepest truth of what is being communicated. Freedom of spirit
(Ignatian indifference) is also necessary and the strength to go out of oneself, of one’s own
interests, and to take into account the good of the entire group.
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It requires cognizance of those previous ideas or prejudices that we have of others, and
that often we act -- even unconsciously -- in our way of judging a reality, and of “defining”
persons.
What is the aim of spiritual conversation? If we communicate based on inner motions
and movements, the aim is to arrive at shedding light on concrete topics, grow in
communion with the Apostolic Body, and know ourselves on a deeper level.
Proposal for the exercise of spiritual conversation
Recall that we have as background the first week of the SPEX. The 18th GC recognizes
with clarity that the weakening of evangelical poverty has made us further away from what
is fundamental; naming some of our fragilities and sins (cf. Det. 6) and listening to the call of
God to recover the radicality of evangelical poverty as an important part of charismatic
healing. To recognize this congregational wound that weakens us is in order to be able to
offer the best of ourselves to the world where we are sent and which suffers from many
needs (cf. Det. 7). Recognizing sin does not lock us up in ourselves, rather, from the Love of
God, it opens us to the second week of the SPEX. Let us not lose sight that we are sent. We
need the life that comes from God to give and offer it to our fellowmen. The evangelical
poverty in Mother Cándida is to go to live and proclaim the Gospel… (Det. 13)
Converse over the numbers 6, 7 and 14 of the Determination.
Do I recognize personally, as community or as Province what are being expressed in these
numbers of our Determination? What paths do they open for us?
Work Sheet 3: Second Week
TRUE EVANGELICAL POVERTY IS MADE POSSIBLE WHEN WE PLACE OUR HOPE ONLY IN
JESUS AND ASSUME HIS WAY OF LIFE (Det. 10)
To contemplate the life of Jesus is to enter into the way of acting of God in our midst.
“God the Father is revealed through the incarnation of his own Son and does so in weakness
and poverty.” (Det 8). We are called to closely follow Jesus Christ who chose poverty for
himself. The core of the second week is to know Jesus who for me became man that I may
love and follow him more (SPEX 104). it does not deal with mere knowledge. The dynamic of
the SPEX leads us to an interior knowledge capable of placing all our affectivity in movement
so as to generate a double response: “so that I may love and follow him more.” That is why
to contemplate Jesus is not only to change the heart to love and follow him, but also to
change our sensibility - and to perceive, in the midst of all that seems inhuman, how God is
present saving and healing life. God is not an impassive God, He sent us his only Son who,
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being rich, became poor to enrich us with his poverty (2 Co 8,9). Jesus becomes a model for
us so we can live in depth the Principle and Foundation and leave sin behind.
The second week of the SPEX not only helps us place our heart in the following of Jesus
but also to see in reality the reign of God such as his most consistent truth and how
everything can open itself to life. This change of sensibility is necessary so that we do not
approach the world only by complaint or condemnation, but to see the world to which we
are sent with the gaze and love of Jesus. This ambivalence asks for help and impels us to be
a response to some of its greatest needs. “ The incarnation of the Son calls us to share with
Him his filial and fraternal spirit, to become daughters in the Son and, assuming his poverty,
to seek with others life in abundance for every living being” (Det 9).
The poverty of Jesus is also revealed to us in his self-effacement, his limitless confidence
in the Father, in the defense of life and in his manner of speaking and announcing God. The
Determination of GC XVIII “calls us to deepen in the following of the poor and humble Jesus
and to participate, in the measure that is possible, in the living condition of the poor”, as we
recall in CFI 144. From this experience “a new way of being and becoming in the world will
be opened for us” (Det 12).
Exercise of contemplation
Having as background music the title of the Determination: Following Jesus Christ closely
who chose for himself poverty”, we propose the contemplation of the Incarnation and the
Birth of Jesus following the points presented in the SPEX.
Contemplation of the Incarnation: SPEX 102 to 109
Contemplation of the Birth: SPEX 110 to 117.
Find a communitarian space to share the experience of “this second week”. In your
communitarian and provincial context, how does the matter that we have been praying and
reflecting in this worksheet resonate? What movements, motions have you perceived in this
exercise? Where does it bring you?
Work Sheet 4: Third Week
THE LIVING OF TRUE EVANGELICAL POVERTY IS A GRACE THAT WE ASK TO BE GIVEN US
(cf. Det. 11)
The third week can only be understood as a consequence of the second. It is the
consequential step to the third degree of love for Jesus, love for neighbors and for the will
of God, which is strong until death. That is why St. Ignatius underlines in his directives that
no one can move to the third week without having made the election and being confirmed.
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We do not follow Jesus to Jerusalem taking up an abstract cross, but a concrete cross of our
election.
“We were led to make a discernment whose subject was to seek a facet of our charism
on which we need to put more effort in order to be a relief, witness and proclamation of
Jesus Christ in our world”. (Det. 5). It is our deliberate determination to follow Jesus Christ
closely who chose poverty for himself (CFI 144). “Poverty, according to Saint Ignatius, is that
fertile land of strong men and women(…). He thus understands that these persons who have
Jesus before their eyes, naked on the cross, accept the effects of poverty”.
The love of poverty must be chosen for a Christological reason, not social nor ideological;
it must be a Christological faith in that God who became poor for us, to enrich us with his
poverty. For Ignatius, it deals with a love “chosen for love of Jesus poor. ”. This election is a
grace in which we ask to be received. “Mother Cándida taught us with her life that the
ultimate reason for the choice of poverty and of the poor is rooted in Jesus Christ (Det 10)
José Margenat says: “the complexity and the crisis of the actual economic situation
demand a profound cultural renewal and obliges us to review our path (…) In this way the
crisis becomes an occasion to discern and project a new mode. Will the crisis be the fertile
land of strong men and women? Will the friendship with the poor be the gift that gives back
the capacity to return to an authentic and new integral humanism?
Everything that has been offered to give continuity to the cause of Jesus will also be met
with conflict from those who feel their interior peace or their interests threatened, and will
experience opposition, be socially disqualified… The challenge for us consists in living the
conflict in a creative manner without allowing ourselves to be disintegrated or paralyzed.
The paschal cross carries within it the seed/germ of the resurrection.
Exercise
A DAY OF COMMUNITARIAN RETREAT. We propose for this day a prayerful reading of the
whole Determination (1-23), asking for the grace of being received in this living of
evangelical poverty.
Be attentive to the movements we may have during the prayerful reading. Note them down.
If you find it convenient, choose one or some numbers in which you feel particularly invited
to reflect.
Each community should find the most adequate mode of sharing the prayer according to its
reality.
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Work Sheet 5: fourth week and the contemplation to attain love
“…IN CONTINUOUS INTERIOR ITINERANCY, GOING OUT OF OURSELVES AND GOING TO
THE MOST NEEDY “ (cf. Det. 13)
Almost at the end of his gospel, St. John tells us: “Jesus performed in the presence of his
disciples many other signs that are not written in this book. These have been written that
you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and so that, believing, you may have
life in his name” (Jn 20,30)
The disciples had the spiritual experience of encountering Jesus once again. “The Risen
One spoke to the heart of his friends in his office of consoler (SPEX 224) with a joy that
healed the wounds of the past and opened a future with a delight capable of launching
again the dream of Jesus.”
The Crucified is the Risen One and sends that gift of his Spirit who arrives in a distinct
manner to the singularity of each disciple, but is the same in all. The Spirit transfigures from
within “the authentic desires” which as persons and institutions, we carry in earthen vessels
(2 Cor 4,7-12). This same Spirit transforms each person and unites everyone to a community
that has visibillity in history so that, with greater clarity, it can manifest the mercy of God
who makes all brothers/sisters (cf. Det 2)
In everything to love and to serve (SPEX 233), this is what we ask in the contemplation to
attain love. Here is concentrated all the processes of the SPEX and opens the doors of
ordinary life. We are sent to the world with the office of consoling and also a transformed
sensibility to encounter God in all things. We wish to share life that “we received with His
Name” in continuous interior itinerary, joyfully assuming the paschal mystery which impels
us to go out of ourselves in order to go to the most needy.
Exercise: Synthesis of the itinerary
From the time that we have traveled the road up to now, personally and as community, we
are proposing to you to reflect and share number 18 of the Determination. The notes we
took down during this process would be of much help.
“The living of true evangelical poverty is a process which requires discernment. The Holy
Spirit will help us to be faithful to the tradition, inspiring us with multiple novelties and
helping us to glimpse:
- Towards what religious life are we going today?
- What presences can better make it obvious that God is in the midst of his
people?
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- What necessary steps must be taken?
ANNEX (This annex can be used in whatever moment of the process. Each community must
see to the manner and the moment.)
“CONTEMPLATION TO HARVEST LOVE” (A PROPOSAL FOR EXAMEN OF THE DAY)
Diego Fares, sj.
I can take some few minutes to do my “Contemplation to harvest love”: the love that I
received in this period and the love that I could give.
The phrase is very motivational. Instead of saying: I am going to do my consciousness
examen” which has its burden of doing and rendering of accounts, the idea of harvesting
love” has a beautiful graced burden like opening a package of gifts…
Nevertheless, no matter how much we change the name of what we called “examen” to
what we now call “contemplation to harvest love”, there is a problem and it is not only
tiredness and the work, but that we are within a more general problem which is “there is no
end to the day”.
This happens in a family with children and teens and in different ways it happens to us
all: there is no end to the day, the work not does end, the “WhatsApp” keeps coming at all
hours, to give an example. That is why, a well-guarded key for spiritual life is to establish a
“spiritual rhythm”.
As each one has “to encounter or create her space in the house to pray” - the “tameion”
of which the gospel speaks (Cfr. Mt 6, 6), where one can enter and close the door so that
the Father can see us only - thus each one has also to “encounter or create her “kairós” -her
special moment of the day wherein no one disturbs her, in order to “harvest love.”
What is important is that it should be a moment in which life gives us a pause and to
which we can give a certain regularity, that is to say, a spiritual rhythm.
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* what would you like to converse with Jesus?
Converse with Jesus, communicate to him the day’s happenings, and open yourself to the
Holy Spirit who makes you feel and understand what Jesus wants to communicate to you.
Contemplate what the Lord has given you and that which you said to the others during the
day. Conversation, says Ignatius, is done like a friend who talks with his friend, or a servant
with his Lord, choosing what was more significant for this sharing.
* GIVING THANKS
Rewinding the day that has passed, give thanks for everything, noting how the Lord
placed concrete signs of his love in your session, more in works than in words, like what
the One who loves you does. Give thanks for all the benefits he has done for you, for all
that you have received from others.
Recall the good things that happened today, concrete and little, like the bread or a
greeting. You do it without so much “enumerating them” - the things that can make you
tired in the long run - but pondering (with much earnest) some great grace of love and
allowing the rest to wait in turn as to a magnet that attracts and concentrates them.
Give thanks for some time until you feel that your memory is overflowing with the
light of thanksgiving, which expands the heart and makes you say, how great! I did not
notice! (like what happened to the disciples of Emmaus).
Giving thanks purifies your memory of the sins -- which are always auto-
referential -- of all the “phrases” that the bad spirit tries to flood you with feelings of
failure, of sin, of negativity: “you wasted so much time”, “you did very little”, “many
things more or less passed or remained unfinished”. Respond to the bad spirit by
telling that your past is in the Mercy of the Father, that He has buried all your sins
and is capable of giving life to all your dead works.
* CONTEMPLATE
Looking at your present, pay attention and note how God “dwells” in the persons
whom you encountered during the day and with those with whom you shared life. He
dwells in them and this may be seen in his “acts of holiness”. This is the point in which
Ignatius says, «look how God ‘works for me - for us - in all things. It deals with an
exercise to recognize the value of what creatures “do for you, ” of all the work that you
give them-- let us call it as such, and that every creature “is” and is valued for itself.
The recognition of the presence and of the work of the Lord in your present will
purify you of all feeling of loneliness and uselessness. With Him you are never alone,
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with him no matter how small your effort is, it is never useless. He accompanies you
and blesses your steps. And if you embrace the cross of the moment, if you embrace
the “nails” which in life make you impotent and insignificant, He is capable of
converting that cross into a source of life for you and for others.
* SEEKING A SMALL DESIRE
Looking forward to the future, you will make an exercise of “humility which exerts
effort on what is concrete”, with a clear recognition of your limits, do not believe
yourself that you are no more, no less, than what you are -- for “everything is possible
for God.” In this mix of “your measured power”, and of the “total and infinite power of
God”, you are again capable of “moving forward”, real and concrete, always in love.
Your hope which lets you feel happy with our own littleness -- finite joy, as one
author describes, and trusting totally in the greatness of God, purifies your vision and
your spirit from being disheartened, from all horizon without meaning. The more you
put your foot firmly on your own littleness and from there you look up to Heaven, your
future becomes clearer and your hope shines.
* Offer your own self
End your contemplation to harvest the love of the day offering your love:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding,
And all my will - all that I have and possess.
You gave it to me: to You, Lord, I return it.
All is yours. Dispose of it according to all your will.