We are now entering into what is called the “second week” of the Spiritual Exercises. During the first week, we focus our attention upon how the dynamics of creation, fall, and redemption apply to our own lives. We experience how the love of Christ can overcome our human rebellion. True repentance and contrition awakens in our heart as we come to know Jesus, wounded for our sins. Contrary to our customary way of thinking, Jesus does not hold our sin against us, but forgives us, heals us, and even calls us into service at his side. The Call of Christ the King sounds in our ears and demands a response.
Who is this person calling to us? Have you experienced a desire to know Jesus at a deeper level? The purpose of the second week of the Spiritual Exercises is to answer this desire. Yesterday’s reflection upon the Incarnation set forward the grace which will direct us during the second week: an intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely. Knowledge, love, discipleship: these are the graces we seek. Our eyes are turned toward Jesus, not toward self, in order that in knowing Him, we might be inwardly transformed.
During the second week, we will pray directly with the stories of the Gospels. In one sense, these stories seem very familiar to us. We have heard some of them too many times to count. But it is one thing to hear these stories and quite another to stop and inwardly savor them, contemplating them and allowing them to shine forth with greater brilliance.
St. Ignatius recommends that we supplement our prayer of the second week by reading the Gospels. The experience of reading an entire Gospel from beginning to end can be exhilarating. We are used to hearing the story in short pieces spaced throughout the liturgical year. In doing this, we might miss the force of Jesus person and His mission. We might fail to grasp what made him such an attractive figure. The Exercises are a means of reconnecting to the newness of Christ which is available in every age for those who love Him. Now is the time to discover Jesus again.
There is plenty of time remaining in Lent. Pick up a Gospel and start reading from the beginning. In reading, ask for the grace to know Christ more intimately. Open your heart to Him, and you will discover His heart open for you.