At the start of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius provides a series of Annotations—instructions for the director and retreatant on how to give and make this retreat. In his Fifth Annotation, St. Ignatius advises the retreatant “to enter into [the Exercises] with great courage and generosity.” At the end of this week, the reason for the spirit of courage becomes all too clear. We have reflected upon some very uncomfortable truths about ourselves. But, like the soldier in the midst of oncoming fire, we know that we must press on.
We have reflected on our sins, and on where they emanate from. We know that what we do is not only because of the negative influence of those around us but also because of our own wayward wants and desires. Moreover, our sins do not simply arise out of a malice to be eradicated, but worse, from a lukewarmness to be heated. The excuses we have made about our actions no longer hold. We must press on.
We press on not solely as a means of “self-help,” but because of the outstretched hand of Jesus. We want to be the sort of person who can take Jesus’s hand and grasp it totally and worthily. We see the wounds of His hands, and contrast them with the uncalloused hands we have kept so safe from the world. With grace, we see where we have failed in love. With courage, we accept this failure and press on. With love, we desire to make our hands like Christ’s.
Looking back over some of the reflections from this week, ask: how have I failed to love? In what ways am I afraid of love? How have I kept my hands safe? What do I need to ask for in order to venture faithfully and courageously forward with the Lord’s help?