By Irudaya Jothi
Shenbaganur, May 8, 2019: A group of Jesuits underwent intense five-week training on Ignatian sources to help those interested in discernment and experience of Christ in daily life.
“There has been an increased enquiry on Jesuit spirituality after a Jesuit became a Pope. People want to know the speciality that makes a Jesuit different and the guiding principle and practice that make them and their institutions successful,” says Father Jossie D’Mello, a resource person for the April 3-May 9 training.
The Jesuit superior general with the approval of Pope Francis in February declared a 10-year Universal Apostolic Plan (UAP) for more than 16,000 of his men spread across the world.
Discernment and Spiritual Exercises is the first of the four preferences, explained Father D’Mello, an expert in Spiritual Exercises and secretary for Ignatian Spirituality for South Asian Jesuit conference.
The training at the Sacred Heart College in Shenbaganur was attended by 16 members of nine South Asian Jesuit provinces.
The South Asian Jesuits started the training called, ‘Roots and Wings,’ ten years ago, much before their general launched UAP.
The course helps the participants “row deeper” into all the Ignatian sources such as Autobiography, Spiritual Exercises, Spiritual Diary, the Letters of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuit Constitutions and some General Congregations.
“Every reading of the Ignatian sources is a new revelation and interpretation,” said Father William Sequeira of Karnataka province and a tertian instructor who took classes on the autobiography of Saint Ignatius.
Sudhir Chettiar from Gujarat, a retreat preacher, said the spiritual exercises became alive to him as a tool for transformation of self and others. “It will help me greatly in my retreat ministry in the days to come besides my ministry with the youth of other religions,” he told Matters India.
Ranchi Jesuit Father Igantius Tete, who expounded the Spiritual Diary of Saint Ignatius of Loyola unfolded a man deeply in love with God.
Father Raymond Cherubim of Patna province said, “I’m overwhelmed and filled with joy by the ‘Roots and Wings’ which has synthesized my 37 years of Jesuit life.”
The participants found Barefoot Jesuit Father Jerry Rosario’s session on ‘Mission Today’, in the light of the ‘Constitutions on Mission and the recent General Congregations synthesizing the courses covered as well as an update on the relevant Church documents.
“In his inimitable style and personal anecdotes, Jerry inspired us to approach our mission with a clear vision and passion, based on the values of the Reign of God,” said Darjeeling Jesuit Father Joseph Victor.
Another Darjeeling Jesuit Father Edward Arockiaraj said the “Ignatian immersion program” has energized his personal life. “I shall be doing the same ministry that was doing so far with new vigor and creativity.”
Patna Jesuit Father Gyanprakash John said he will give time to understand people as they are without challenging them but “eventually come out helping them understand their worth.”
The program included an eight-day Ignatian retreat guided by Gujarat Jesuit Father I. Irudaya Raj. The retreat’s two fold purpose was to assimilate the entire ‘Roots’ of the Society of Jesus to give stronger and energized ‘wings’ to enter known and unknown territories with new vision and vigor.
The Sacred Heart College, Shenbaganu, sits on the Tamil Nadu side of the Western Ghats at 7,200 feet above sea level. Its maximum temperature at peak summer time is 25 degree Celsius.
Father D’Mello said the Igantian Spirituality and discernment has a universal appeal and meant for all.
Ignatian Spiritual Exercises helps an individual find meaning in life. “It helps one to differentiate between the ‘Core’ identities from ‘Role’ identity and guides one to build on the core identity to be authentic,” he further explained.
Life, he said, is full of choices and making decision is part of growing up for every individual.
Generally many find it difficult to make important decision as some decisions once made are difficult to undo such as higher studies, marriage, and choice of carrier.
Discernment is the method Saint Ignatius of Loyola gives for making right decisions.
Discernment is made not between good and bad; we always expected to choose good. Rather discernment is needed to choose between two good, Father D’Mello said.
Good communitarian discernment should always lead to the preferences of the most disadvantaged in society.
“We screen with heart what we have discovered with head,” summed up Gujarat Jesuit Father Irudaya Raj, Scripture scholar and Ignatian expert.
Saint Ignatius introduces the Examination of Conscience twice daily with a simple method of following the movements of the sprit.
Today some corporate houses use the methods to check their daily progress, Father D’Mello said.