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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Views and News from the Center for Ignatian Spirituality Philippines

Once again, the Center for Ignatian Spirituality Philippines is happy to present the latest issue of Center news and reflections pertinent to Ignatian Spirituality. This issue highlights the Retreat in Daily Life (RDL) Program which the Center has been successfully offering for the past five years. Included here are the reflections of some retreatants about how they have been transformed in their retreat and prayer experience.

It is our hope that this issue will not just become a piece of literary art but more as a window of communicating real life experience of being touched by the Lord.

At Peace But Not Without Pain

by Eva K. Galvey, April of 2005
(Former CIS Executive Director)

On May 15, 2005 Fr. Arnie Bugtas, SJ starts his term as the new Executive Director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality (CIS) and I move on with a sense of accomplished mission.

Director of CIS for Four Years

Four years ago I was asked to be interim head of CIS. Three Jesuits then staffed CIS. At that point the most senior of the three fell ill and the 2 younger ones were due for further studies. Because of my informal though regular connection with CIS since 1994 (I was already doing the Spiritual Direction Circle with some Jesuit scholastics) I seemed to be the most logical if not the best choice to run the Center until one of the younger Jesuits returns from special studies on Spirituality. The 2-3 years term of office became four. And now I move on at peace.

I leave with modest accomplishments. I leave confident that basic programs are in place and with a good number of people aware of the existence of CIS and its programs, most of them content with their experience with the Center. I leave behind a group of people not just familiar with the operations of the Center but with sufficient experience to keep it going as well.

I Move On Not Without Pain

But I move on not without pain, as there are many good things and experiences I will leave behind. I will miss the simple, elegant and comfortable office that has been home to me for the past four years. I will miss the state of the art equipment that makes our work more efficient. I will miss the opportunity of meeting interesting, intelligent and spiritually inclined laypersons. I will miss the company of pleasant, positive and joyful people—men and women of goodwill. I will miss Marie’s well-crafted letters and prompt execution of my requests. I will miss Joy’s uncomplaining company (it is very rare nowadays to find people who do not watch the time). I will miss Jojo’s patience in the never-ending rearrangement of CIS furniture. I will miss Mang Ernie’s (the unofficial CIS driver) interesting driving ways. I will miss the company of people who are not propelled by ego needs (such as recognition, success, popularity and power) but who are brought together by deep personal conversion—fruit of their experience of the Spiritual Exercises, and fired by a common desire to make the same experience available to all others seeking profound spiritual transformation.

I will go grateful for the ready support I received from Jesuits who in spite of the workload in their own ministries made themselves available to CIS as retreat givers, lecturers, or recollection masters. I will take with me the cordial treatment I always received from the old Jesuits, the warm friendship of the young Jesuits and the fun-filled camaraderie of the much younger Jesuits. And I will never forget the trust and confidence that the Jesuits in leadership bestowed on me.

A Chance to be Part of a Bigger Enterprise

It was a great privilege to be given the opportunity to be responsible for a ministry of the Society. It was a chance to be part of a bigger enterprise, to participate in its many works and to appreciate its many concerns. It taught me not just availability but also disponibility—the readiness to go where there is greater and more urgent need for one’s service. Indeed, the Ignatian magis is ever alive among the members of the Society and is infectious.

Lastly, I wish to thank the laywomen and Jesuit priests and scholastics I worked with closely at CIS, for believing in me, for standing by me at a time of crisis, and for bearing with my weaknesses and blunders. Jordan, Tina and Mannie—your administrative skills and passion for efficiency and excellent service brought CIS to where it is now. Arnie and Tina—you have better public relations skills and classier taste so CIS clients can look forward to more pleasant relationships and surroundings. CIS can look forward to better days ahead. May God’s blessings and St. Ignatius’ intercession always be with you.

Eva K. Galvey is now the Executive Director of EMMAUS Center Foundation Inc. of which she is also a co-founder. She assumed office last May, 2005.

St. Paul In Prison: A Retreat Patron

A Jesuit Provincial’s reflection on the transforming power of prayer

Homily during the launching of

Retreat in Daily Life
September 4, 2004
Sacred Heart Novitiate

I would like you to imagine a scene in prison in 30 of the first century; and there is a man on the later stage of middle age toward old age. And in prison, in the dim light of the prison, he is writing a very difficult letter to his friend whom we shall name A. It’s a difficult letter because he is writing it to A on behalf of B. B has hurt A very much and this man is writing the letter to convince A to forgive B. He is doing it by saying, “I am your friend and if you love me you have to take my friend B along with me, forgive him, be reconciled to him.”

The scene I have said is really the second reading of today's mass [Phlm 9-10. 12-17]. It’s the shortest part of the New Testament. The letter to Philemon has only one chapter. Paul wrote it when he was in prison in Ephesus to a friend of his in Colossus named Philemon. And Philemon has a slave named Onesimus—a name that literally means “useful.” And Paul is writing the letter to Philemon because Philemon’s slave Onesimus ran away. Somehow he ended up in prison with Paul and in prison Paul converted him, brought him to the Lord and now Paul is sending Onesimus back to Philemon and him telling Philemon, “Accept this runaway slave, accept him because I love him. If you love me accept him and accept him as your brother.”

You know, if all the new testament were lost, if we lost all the Gospel, if we lost all the letters of Paul, if we lost the Book of Revelations and everything were lost and we only had that one sheet of paper—because the letter to Philemon can fill one sheet of paper, we would know that something had happened to transform the way human beings look at life and reality in Jesus.

Three dramatic ways or changes of the way we look at things:

1. The way human beings look at pain and suffering

There is a way by which suffering contracts us into ourselves. I’m lonely; my relationship is not working; I feel no one loves me; no one really cares for me; whatever is happening in the Philippines—the fiscal crisis—who cares, I’m lonely. We lose track of everything except our suffering. But you look at Paul, Paul is in prison. He has done nothing wrong and yet when you read his letter you do not see a bad twist. Here is a man who can take suffering with a certain amount of resignation, a certain amount of acceptance, even joy. He goes out, sees someone worse off than him, reaches out to him and brings him to the Gospel. Suffering has not contracted him into self-absorption and he accepted and made a reason for compassion.

2. A different attitude toward injury, toward offense

The normal attitude toward offense and injury is revenge or cutting of relations. Pag nasaktan ka either you get back or you cut off and that's what Philemon has done. I think you can try to imagine the situation if you have a very trusted household helper na ang tagal-tagal nang kasama ninyo, na itinuring 'nyo na kapamilyang-kapamilya ninyo then all of a sudden they run off and not only did they run off but kinuha pa ‘yong mga kubyiertos ninyo. How will you feel? But look at what Paul is doing, he is writing a letter to this man saying, “Whatever Onesimus has done to you, whatever trust he has destroyed in your relationship, take him back.” Injury is not responded to with revenge or with cutting of a relationship but with forgiveness.

3. The way we classify people or things

We do look at human beings by measuring each other usually without even thinking—by credentials, by position, by social class and so forth. Alam kong gumuwapo ako noong naging Provincial ako. I have received more respect than I have received in the past. All of a sudden Wow! Provincial! I still look the same but suddenly there seems to be an aura. Maybe it’s just the power that emanates but the moment people see that they treat you differently. Look at the way we classify people or things. You’ll be kind to a maid but you do not want to be considered a maid. Paul says to Philemon, “Here is your slave”—a slave in the ancient world is not just a maid but is worst than a maid. A slave is somebody who owes, scarcely human. Paul says, “Accept him no longer as a slave but as more than a slave. Accept him as a beloved lover. However you looked at him before you must look at him in a different way. You cannot see him as someone who is beneath you. You cannot see him or judge him by his educational attainment or his social class. You see him simply as a human being beloved of God; see him as one like you, your equal, your brother.” It is interesting because we do not have a letter of Philemon to Paul after this. I wonder how Philemon responded to Paul but, as I have said, if you only have this letter and we lost all the Gospel you will see in this one letter the difference Jesus has made. All made possible because Paul accepted Jesus and met him.

Paul was transformed in prayer

Paul in a certain sense is a Patron Saint of this retreat—18th and 19th annotation retreat. Paul was transformed completely but he never met Jesus personally like the other Apostles. Peter was transformed but Peter lived with Jesus for three years. Peter heard the voice of Jesus; he saw his face and Jesus even washed his feet. Paul never met Jesus that way. How did Paul meet Jesus in a transforming way? If he did not meet Jesus physically as we meet each other, then Paul can only meet Him in prayer. Paul was transformed because he met the living Christ. He met Him in a so powerful way that the way he looked at pain, at offense, at people changed. He met Jesus not by a physical contact but by a contact that, if you wish, was mystical, spiritual. It involves somehow meeting Jesus and experiencing Him, feeling His presence, feeling His absence, feeling His words and yet not feeling anything as well. In other words, this is the experience that we experience when we pray. He is there and He is not there. He is close and yet does not respond. We hear and we don’t hear and yet somehow, in the being there, something touches our heart and we are transformed.

I do not know why you have chosen to come to this program. I do not know what you are seeking. I do not know what has moved you to say I will try in 35 weeks to pray one hour a day and to meet with a retreat director every week. I do know that whatever your reason is, it is an invitation from the Lord that is hidden in that search and you would not be here if it was not He who was inviting you. Secondly, whatever your reason is, if it is He who invites you to this deeper encounter with Him in the joy and dryness of prayer then it is because He wants to meet you in His love, which will transform you in some way. The point of the retreat is not to ask really how He is going to transform you. That's up to Him. The point of the prayer is not to come to prayer and say, “What must I do?” The point is just to be there, to meet Him, to allow Him to enter into your life in the way that He chooses, in the intensity that He chooses, with the consolation He wants to give or with the desolation that He wants you to experience. I know that, somehow, by simply meeting you in that mix of presence and absence—which is our prayer, you will emerge transformed. You will be touched in a manner that will give you a new way of looking at your life, a new way of living your life.

We pray for the grace of the Gospel, the grace of commitment to continue what we have began, to endure the boredom at times, the drudgery at times, to accept both the high moments and the low moments, to keep on believing that the one who has invited us has the gift of surprising love for each one of us.

Rev. Fr. Daniel Patrick L. Huang, SJ was installed as new Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus, Philippine Province last June 12, 2004 at Loyola House of Studies.

A Report on the Retreat in Daily Life Program

by Tina Mossessgeld

The Retreat in Daily Life Program for the cycle 2004 – 2005 was launched on September 4, 2004 with the first of two prayer workshops at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City.

Out of the 81 applicants accepted into the program, 79 were able to start their retreat. The women outnumbered the men retreatants 3 to 1. Their diverse backgrounds – young professionals, members of charismatic renewal communities and communities inspired by St. Ignatius, Ateneo alumni, senior executives (both retired and active) – and the wide age range (22 years old to 71 years old) proved to be a challenge in matching the 51 retreat directors guiding the retreatants.

The RDL Directors

20 Jesuit scholastics, 9 Jesuit priests, 16 lay persons, 3 religious sisters, 2 religious brothers and 1 seminarian (later ordained as deacon)

Retreatants’ feedback as of October 2, 2004

The majority of the 58 participants found the RDL to be generally life-giving, enriching, inspiring and encouraging. Many experienced God’s deep love for them in prayer, found their prayer more affective, and experienced themselves moving to a listening stance in prayer. A good number also said that they experienced peace, comfort, and gratitude in prayer.

Difficulties and Distractions

The most frequently named difficulties are finding the time to pray and being faithful to it; distractions such as one’s daily activities, concerns and workload, and attaining and maintaining focus in prayer. Some of the retreatants also mentioned physical stress or tiredness, not knowing how to pray with Sacred Scriptures and persevering in prayer. These difficulties are not surprising from people who are beginning their retreat.

Retreatant’s feedback as of November 2004

The frequently given responses to how they are finding the RDL at this point are: illuminating / enlightening/ revealing; readings are very helpful, good, enriching, fruitful, freeing and increased desire for prayer, for God. The majority (64%) was pleased with their retreat guides and said that meeting with the retreat guides was most helpful. The retreat guides were able to help them become aware of significant movements in their prayer and relationship with God that they were initially unaware of. What was least helpful was the inability to keep regular prayer time due to busy work schedule.

Problems with retreat guides

Mostly, the problems arise from the difficulty in finding a common time to meet.

Update as of February 13, 2005

28 have completed the 18th annotation retreat while 31 are continuing their 18th or 19th annotation retreat. 10 have discontinued the retreat while the status of 10 retreatants is unclear or not yet reported.

Some retreatants wrote us to share the fruits of their RDL experience. CIS also requested a couple of retreatants to write about their experience. The excerpts of their sharing below bear witness to the transforming power of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.

Wake-up Call

Rose Lo-Garcia: Rose is a pre-school teacher and runs her own school. She decided to join the 19th annotation to discern God’s plan for her.

At first, I knew that teaching was where God wanted me to be. But God decided to give me a surprise–unexpected, totally overwhelming and not exactly “according to my plan” surprise. God decided to pass on the ownership of a reputable, established preschool in my hands. Really, it was okay except that IT WAS NOT MY DREAM. I wanted something else… something better for me and for my family. Naghinanakit ako sa Diyos. Bakit ito? Hindi naman ito akin. At this season in my life, my prayer life was not ready to deal with the new “baggages.” Then I realized that what God presented to me was not new after all. It was my wake-up call from Him.

RDL helped me respond to that wake-up call. It was a painful journey to be presented with realities about myself which I would rather not face. It was a journey to POVERTY and to die to this “SELF” that I have made of myself. I was reminded that even my dreams, my pride, my abilities, my skills, everything is naught, except when I fulfill my desire to love God. As I look back now, having been given the school, I know it is God’s way of telling me, “This is it, Rose. You have grown so tall and strong, so proud and independent. This is the time of pruning so that you may bear fruit for MY GREATER GLORY.”

It continues to be a difficult journey though, but less painful and more BLESSED each day. God has not stopped giving me more “surprises.” Besides, I have re-discovered the essence of prayer, that is–listening and seeing God’s ways with the heart more clearly, feeling overwhelmed by His love and becoming more free each day to respond to His love and to His many surprises.

Consolations and Desolations

Rowena Maquiling: Weng has been with the LST for 28 years, involved in the academic programs and formation of priests, religious and lay. She joined the 18th annotation to explore and uncover means of quieting her very busy mind in the context of prayer.

I took the risk…
I struggled because I still had to get out of my comfort zones. At some point I got confused. But slowly I was schooled and awakened to the value of trying other ways to enhance and make my prayer more effective and fruitful. I cried because in my way of bringing to prayer my hurts, I had to relive painful episodes of my life.

But my RDL was not all sobs. I, of course, laughed, and laughed aloud filled with joy in my heart. It would have been more difficult if there was no one to share my joy with. In between the “ups” and “downs” of my retreat were moments of stillness and waiting, forgiveness and hope. The risking was faith. The choice to go through the struggle was faith. The persistent search for meaning so I would not get stuck in confusion was faith.

My guide served as a compass who kept me focused to my North Star: the UNMOVED and the CONSTANT. I had no doubt too that Mary accompanied me in my RDL journey, inasmuch as she accompanied Jesus till the end of His journey. It was that loving relationship that held Mother and Child closely together. So I pray that I continue to keep my awareness focused on that same loving relationship and to become a witness and a blessing from God who has loved me first.

Thanks for introducing me to various types of prayer. RDL provided me tools of uncovering my great potentials to quiet my very busy mind. It expanded my awareness that brought me to some in-sighting adventures. The experience was very moving . . . very faith-enhancing, very captivating . . . Indeed, the RDL is a path for those who desire to have another taste of what I claim as religious experience.

Overwhelmed by the Great Lover

A retreatant’s e-mail…sends news about the Great Lover who uses our current obsessions only to reach out to us, meeting us in our own terms.

Thank you for your reminder re: the Feb 13 RDL Lenten Recollection, which had completely skipped my mind. When my sessions with my retreat guide were completed before Christmas, I assumed that all retreat requirements for the 18th Annotation had been completed as well. Also my wife and I had to leave for the U.S. last Jan 3 to be with my eldest daughter who was expecting her first baby.

We are scheduled to be back in Manila on Feb 12 which should enable me to attend the recollection the following day. Your note also reminded me that I had asked my retreat director in our last session if it was possible to continue my retreat and complete the 19th Annotation despite the break occasioned by my U.S. trip. She said this was possible and suggested that I write you a note formalizing my request which I am hereby belatedly doing. I hope you can accommodate my request and that my retreat guide’s travel plans have changed to enable her to continue directing my retreat.

Even though I was so engrossed with my new “apo” and was not even thinking of the RDL, the Lord has a way of using our current obsessions to reach out to us, in this case with an unexpected insight. As I carried this tiny and so helpless little baby in my arms just a couple of weeks after Christmas, I was overwhelmed by the thought of this all powerful God whose love for us is so great that He allowed Himself to become as vulnerable as this infant. This thought is every bit as remarkable as His allowing Himself to be tortured and put to death on the cross. And the blessed Mother, what great consolations she must have experienced watching at the foot of the cross as her Son slowly died an agonizing death. The joy of Christmas and the brutal Passion and Death are then just two sides of the same Great Love. To know more about this Great Lover is reason enough to continue and complete the RDL 19th Annotation.



The Ignatian Spiritual Direction and Retreat Giving Course opened last August 14 and ended last December 11, 2004. The sessions were held every other Saturday of the month, starts at 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It was held at the 2nd floor of CLC Center, Ateneo Campus, Quezon City.

There were 33 enrollees. 6 laymen, 18 laywomen, 7 religious sisters and 2 priests. Those who completed all the sessions were: 2 laymen, 5 laywomen, and a religious sister. Those who were not able to attend all the sessions will be allowed to complete by attending the session/s corresponding to what they missed, in Module 2 of the summer program.

Resource persons:

Fr. Victor Baltazar, SJ, Fr. Roy Cosca, SJ, Fr. Arnie Bugtas, SJ, Fr. Ramon Bautista, SJ, Fr. Michael Mohally, MSC, Eva Galvey, Oyet Bustamante, Teresa Nietes and Mr. Monchito Mossessgeld.

Course Content:

Nature of Spiritual Direction, Ignatius on Spiritual Direction, Basic Helper Skills, Ethical Considerations in the Ministry, and Supervision of Spiritual Directors.


Last October 16-22, the Ateneo Christian Life Community had their annual retreat at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches. There were around 70 Ateneo students who participated in the retreat. Jesuit scholastics, lay volunteers and a religious sister directed the young students. Fr. Victor Baltazar, SJ and Ms. Daisy Santos accompanied the scholastics through supervision. Ms. Mila Santillan and Rev. Rodel Paulino, both CIS volunteer spiritual guides also generously accompanied the retreatants.


Ms. Eva Galvey and Ms. Daisy Santos gave a 5-day retreat to 10 participants from Batangas City from October 4 to 8, 2004 at Sacred Heart Novitiate. They are teachers of Catechism to grade school and high school students. It was the first time that this group of teachers had a directed annual retreat and, initially, found it difficult to maintain silence that is proper to individually guided retreats. In the end, they were very grateful for the new experience.


Last October 18-22, 2004, 21 simple professed OFM Conventuals underwent a 5-day individually guided Ignatian Retreat. It was the first time that the congregation ventured into a different form of retreat for its Juniors. The retreat was held at the Queen of Peace Benedictine Priory of the Benedictine Sisters of the Eucharistic King in Damortis, Rosario, La Union. Jesuit scholastics Jomari Manzano, Michael Porcia, and Irmo Valeza served as directors and facilitators. The friars who usually undergo a preached type of retreat said that the new experience proved very enriching and memorable in their formation. Prior to the retreat Sch. Jomari Manzano, SJ gave a short orientation to the Spiritual Exercises at their seminary in Paranaque.


Ignatian Study Circle has been a program of CIS for nine years now. The activity started last July 17, 2004 and ended on March 6, 2005. This year’s group of retreat directors consisted of Jesuit priests, religious and lay. They met regularly to discuss recently published materials about Ignatian spiritual direction and retreat giving. They studied the book Finding God in All Things by William Barry, SJ.


CIS Phil as a resource center and an active partner in the spiritual formation gave a series of talks on Ignatian Spirituality for students of East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI). The pool of resource speakers included Frs. Joe Quilong-quilong, SJ, Roy Cosca, SJ, Vic Baltazar, SJ, and Ms. Eva Galvey. The program was designed to be a part of the animation program for students enrolled in the institute. The series ran during the first semester of school year 2004-2005. Every other Monday, a CIS resource person gives a 45 minute talk and reflection points to the participants. The other alternating Mondays of the semester were set aside for the purpose of group sharing.