Septermber 2010 Recollection Guide

A Spirituality of “Spiritual Freedom”
Prayer Exercises
 Take time to quiet down before the Lord.
Behold him beholding you with much love.
When ready, beg repeatedly for The Grace I Desire and
The Grace I Desire and Seek
I beg for a heart that is free and detached, so that I can let
go of all my disordered affections and order my life well
and live for the Lord alone.
 Prayerfully read the Background and Basic Meaning of
“Spiritual Freedom.”
Apostolic spirituality always has insisted that integral to
Christian discipleship is going out of our way to seek, find
and do “God’s will” in our lives (Lk 22:42; Mt 7:21).
The first annotation of the Spiritual Exercises brings up
this point of God’s will. And it does so in the context of the
very purpose of the Exercises. Primarily, the purpose of the
Exercises is to prepare and dispose “the soul to rid itself of all
inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking
and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for
the salvation of our souls” (SE no.1).
For Ignatius, the ridding of our disordered attachments
is most indispensable. This is so because we simply cannot
seek, find, and do God’s will in our lives if we are not free
enough from our disordered tendencies. With much
“unfreedom” in us we will never be able to do serious
discernment and we will just continue to be at the mercy of
our attachments.
The Spiritual Exercises uses various terms to refer to this
reality of “unfreedom” in us. Examples of these terms are:
disordered affections; (my) sins; defect (SE no. 24); ignorance;
weakness; iniquity; wickedness (SE no. 59); sensuality (SE no.
87); carnal and worldly love (SE no. 97) and others.
Clearly, Ignatius himself was no stranger to his own
disordered affections and the power they had over him
which often led him to sin. As he himself admitted, when he
was young, “he was a man given to worldly vanities …
having a vain and overpowering desire to gain renown”
(Auto. no. 1). Once he even told Juan Polanco his secretary
that he was “particularly careless about gambling, affairs with
women, and the use of arms.” Through God’s grace
however, Ignatius slowly was schooled by the Spirit “to
conquer (himself) and regulate (his) life without determining
(himself) through any tendency that is disordered” (SE no.
This self-conquest which enables a person through grace
to regulate his or her life and be adequately free from
exaggerated attachments has been called “spiritual freedom”
by some current authors. David Fleming in his work
Contemporary Reading of the Spiritual Exercises explains:
The structure of these Exercises has the
purpose of leading a person to a true spiritual
freedom. We grow into this freedom by gradually
bringing an order of values into our lives so that we
find that at the moment of choice or decision we are
not swayed by any disordered love (SE no. 21).
“Spiritual freedom exists (when) I am grasped so
completely by the love of Christ that all the desires of my
heart and the actions, affects, thoughts and decisions that
flow from these desires are oriented to God and his service
and praise.”
From this definition, we see that spiritual freedom is
not just about being able “to do what we want to do” (like
having a real fancy for expensive cars and being able to buy
almost any car we want). Spiritual freedom is more about
being seized much by the love of our Lord such that our lives
become more and more oriented radically towards God and
his service.
To be seized more by Christ and his grace, we should
learn to order our lives well. This means that we put God at
the center of everything. With our lives genuinely revolving
around our Lord then the grace of being grasped much by his
love which eventually entails learning to love as Christ loves
becomes all the more real for us.
So much part of putting order in our lives is not
confusing our “means” with our “ends.” When we confuse
our “means” with our “ends,” then we end up making our
relative values, absolute and absolute values, relative.
Money, material riches, power, career, worldly honors
– all these are just relative values. As relative values they are
only secondary values, simply means to our one true end.
Our one true end is God himself, not excluding our loving
relationship with him. Now when we put such relative values
at the center of our lives, treating them as ends in themselves,
we displace God who should be our primary absolute value.
In the process of displacing God, we create “idols” for
When this happens, “unfreedom” then begins to
dominate, making it most difficult for us to seek truthfully
God’s will in our lives since our very manner of choosing
already has become too biased in favor of these “idols” we
have created for ourselves. On this account, like the Rich
Young Man (Mk 10:17-22), we could never learn to discern
well since discerning well presupposes adequate detachment
from our disordered affections.
Connected closely with spiritual freedom are the
Ignatian ideals of indifference (SE nos. 23, 157, 179) and agere
contra (SE nos. 16, 325, 350, 351).
Indifference means that we hold ourselves open to
whatever God may ask of us, explicitly putting aside our
personal preferences, including our attachments, and be as
balanced and docile to God’s will as possible when doing
Complementing indifference is agere contra which
literally means “to act against.” Here we “act against” those
inclinations and attachments which may hinder us from
making the more truthful choice given our discernment
situation. Thus, if we are too partial to a particular option,
for example too partial to working abroad, as opposed to
working locally, then agere contra is asking explicitly for the
grace to free ourselves from this exaggerated partiality to
working abroad and even beg for the opposite (here working
locally) if needed it is God’s will.
For Ignatius, both indifference and agere contra are
excellent ways to test the quality of our spiritual freedom,
taming any disordered tendency in us that may hinder our
more truthful choosing for God.
What points draw your attention?
What points do you find significant and inspiring?
Take and ponder them in prayer.
 Below is Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation (SE no. 23) as
paraphrased by David Fleming. The Ignatian ideals of
“spiritual freedom,” “indifference,’ and “detachment” can be
seen here. Read it and prayerfully reflect on it.
The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God,
who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love
allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.
All things in this world are gifts of God, presented to
us so that we can know God more easily and make a
return of love more readily. As a result, we
appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as
they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of
these gifts become the center of our lives, they
displace God and so hinder our growth toward our
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in
balance before all of these created gifts insofar as
we have a choice and are not bound by some
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or
short one. For everything has the potential of
calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in
Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I
want and I choose what better lead to God’s
deepening his life in me.
 One name Ignatius uses to describe his God is True Life
(Letter to Gaspar Berse, February, 1554).
Pray over Ps 16.
Here the psalmist insists that “other gods” are worthless (v.
3). In the end, he prays that the Lord shows him “the path to
life” (v. 11).
Like Ignatius and the psalmist, how has the Lord been
showing you the path to true life? What have been the most
significant experiences of your own spiritual journey?
Take time to clarify these in prayer.
 When our disordered attachments dominate us, often
exaggerations emerge. When exaggerations emerge, often we
begin to “overdo” things. We overwork, overworry,
overfret, overreact.
Right now, what do you consider to be your greatest
disordered attachments?
What exaggerations have come up in your life because of
these disordered attachments?
 What exaggerations do you see in our world today?
How have these exaggerations in our world today affected
you and your relationship with your God?
Take time to clarify these in prayer.
 The case of Fr. Noel Chabanel (1613-49) is one fine example
of how agere contra can be lived out.
Chabanel was a Jesuit missionary to New France (Canada).
As a missionary, he found it extremely difficult to learn the
Huron language. Also, he found the customs and practices of
the Indians so different and even repulsive. It did not take
long for Chabanel to develop a loathing for this mission and
for the Indians themselves whom he was supposed to serve.
His superiors saw his struggles and they were willing to send
him back to France.
Chabanel refused adamantly to go back. In fact, at one point
he even made a private vow. This vow was a vow of
perpetual stability, promising to remain in the Huron mission
no matter what. In the end, this vow was his daring act of
agere contra – i.e., to go against his biased inclination to
return to France. Convinced deeply that God actually wanted
him to stay, he remained in the missions and eventually even
died there as a martyr.
Reflect on Fr. Noel Chabanel and his experience of agere
How has our Jesuit story on Chabanel helped you
understand and appreciate more this Ignatian ideal of
“spiritual freedom”?
Right now, what disordered inclinations do you feel you
need to tame and even explicitly “act against” so that you
can gain greater freedom and equilibrium when doing
Take time to clarify these in prayer.
 Do a contemplation on the healing story of the Centurion’s
slave (Lk 7:1-10).
Imagine Capernaum and enter prayerfully into the Gospel
scene, beholding the place with the elders and the crowd
What do you see? hear? smell? touch? taste?
Spend time going into the details of this healing story.
Slowly, in the end, focus on the Lord and gaze lovingly at his
 Here in Lk 7:1-10 we see our Lord truly amazed at the deep
faith of the centurion which leads him to say, “I tell you, not
even in Israel have I found such faith.”
What amazes you about your God?
Why these in particular?
Take time to clarify these in prayer.
 Below is a prayer well-known to Jesuits. It has been called “A
Prayer for Spiritual Freedom.” Take it and pray it with much
O Spirit of God,
we ask you
to help orient all our actions by your holy inspirations
and carry them on by your gracious assistance,
that every prayer, word, and work of ours
may always begin from you
and through you be happily ended.
This we say through Christ our Lord,
 Take time to dialogue with the Lord on our points above.
End by thanking our Lord and resting in him.
Reprinted with permission from the book:
Schooled by the Spirit
by Fr. Ramon Maria Luza Bautista, SJ