Unleashing the Power of the Spiritual Exercises

Discernment in Action!

Learning by Doing Discernment in Common and Apostolic Planning.

From the origins of the Society of Jesus, decisions were made through discernment in common. A group of fifty Jesuits and co-workers met at the end of September in Monte Cucco near Rome to experience Promoting Discernment in Common and Apostolic Planning (DiCAP) in the European Conference“Releasing the Power of the Spiritual Exercises”. This process aims to rediscover the experience of the first Jesuits who gained clarity and unity about their mission through spiritual conversation. During this week the group learnt through different practical and theoretical inputs. The target was to foster in our European Conference communal discernment and apostolic planning. The group was assisted by the president of the European Conference of Provincials and an international team of facilitators.

Father General has distinguished the Religious Body of the Society of Jesus (composed of the vowed Jesuits) and the Apostolic Body (composed of the vowed Jesuits and all those who work with them). By discerning together, the participants perceived the deeper principles and relationships which hold the Apostolic Body together. Just as muscles and bones unite in a human body, our shared identity, values and practices are what hold us together as one. The exercise of discernment the process which coordinates and strengthens the Apostolic body in the service of the Gospel, aligning it with the body of Christ.

Through individual prayer, spiritual conversation, planning tools and plenary discussion, the participants were able to develop the strategic goals and objectives that will help to implement the DiCAP process in communities, works and provinces. One of the participants said, “I like that DiCAP takes seriously that God is already at work in the world and we are called to listen to what God is doing and to cooperate with that.”

Many participants were surprised by the profound level of spiritual conversation attained within the groups over just a short period of time. Another participant articulated this experience by saying that “A spiritual conversation is a sharing of what is most essential to me, a sharing of my life with another and listening, and in that way deepening our shared life.” These conversations gave new life and new energy to the group and can give the same to the whole Apostolic Body of the Society of Jesus as it moves toward a stronger and more collaborative future.

Philip Harrison SJ