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.