March 15, 2014

As we mentioned last Saturday, weekends are a time devoted to the repetition of meditations from the week that is ending. Go back to whichever topic you feel drawn to and spend some time with it to see if there are deeper graces the Lord wants to give you through it. The topic this week has been sinfulness—no easy matter. Praying through the topic of sinfulness, many faults arise within our consciousness—areas large or small where we are not living up to the person we know we should be. Growing up as Catholics, our first reflex is to confess our sin and try to do better. This, while a laudable impulse, slightly misses the dynamic of the Exercises.

At the heart of the Exercises is the encounter with Christ. Where does Christ meet us during the “First Week” of the Exercises? Precisely in our sinfulness. He comes to meet us in order, first, to convict us of our sin, and second to forgive and heal us. That is why Jesus is both a just and a merciful judge. In the face of our sinfulness, our temptation might be quickly to confess our sins and then turn to Jesus for His love. But St. Paul says that while we were sinners Christ loved us. He comes to us and loves us, even in the midst of our own rebelliousness. To experience Christ’s love in this state is truly a transformative experience.

By saying that Jesus loves us even in the midst of our sinfulness, are we trying to downplay the gravity of sin? Absolutely not. As said above, Jesus is still the one who convicts us of sin. But that conviction is charged with love. So the important question to ask during the First Week is “where is Christ convicting me of sin,” not “where am I convicting myself of sin.” The more we make overcoming sin our personal program, the more our Christian discipleship will become a self-regarding project, and thus vain.

So the project of our prayer is to turn our eyes to Christ in order that we might see His Face. There we will receive the truth about ourselves and find grace that will truly transform us and make us free.

  • Monday: Out of Step With God
    • Lord, you created Adam and Eve for perfect happiness, that they might live in union with you in paradise. Through my own faults, I have either damaged or destroyed this union with you. Help me to realize how close you desire to come to me in the dark valley of my sinfulness, that I too might regain the paradise I was made for.
  • Tuesday: The Snares of the Enemy: Venial Sin
    • Lord, I often fall into the trap that the Enemy of my human nature lays for me; I live my life as if the small sins that I commit every day are of no real consequence. I consider mortal sins as abhorrent and avoid them, but venial sins are so frequently a part of my life that they sometimes seem inevitable. Help me to see how even venial sins pave the road to my own unhappiness, that I might change my ways and root out even small sins from my life, with your help.
  • Wednesday: Tepidity: Losing the Fire Within
    • Lord, I have often gone through the motions in my relationship with you, allowing the weight of my own indifference to prevent me from becoming inflamed with love for you. Help me to grow in my desire for something better than the status quo, that I might grow more fully into the perfect Christian you will help me become.
  • Thursday: Our Own Sins: The Sense of Our Own Sinfulness
    • Lord, you give us a sense of our own sinfulness—a sense of guilt, not shame—in order for us to know how much we depend on you for all good gifts. Apart from you, we lack not only a sense of meaning and a model of Love; we also lack even an awareness of what stands in the way of our relationship with you. Help us to see our own sins more clearly, that we might then see you more clearly as well.
  • Friday: Life Is Short: Strive for Holiness and Joy
    • Lord, you give me this day to grow closer to you, and you may choose to bring me to yourself tomorrow. Help me to see this day as a gift, that I might use it as you intend and prepare myself for whatever you might send my way tomorrow.