Intro to the Spiritual Exercises: The First Week

The First Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius can be intense. We are reminded that we are sinners…but this is to remind us of the great love and mercy of God. Join Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, as we continue to explore the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

It can be tempting to put a filter on our lives and make them seem a little prettier than they actually are. But the truth is our lives might not be as nice as we’d like to think that they are. 

The world is broken. So many live in poverty. The environment is on the brink of collapse. There is discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and other identities. Violence fills the pages of newspapers and the airtime segments of major news networks. Evil and sin are real.

This brokenness enters into our personal lives, too. Though God has loved us with the greatest love, we do not respond as we should. We avoid prayer. We are not grateful. 

Our words and deeds, our inaction and indifference also hurt others. We can be selfish with our time and money. We do not give to those in need. We do not work for political and economic justice. We harm our common home. 

In the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to reflect on the fact that we are sinners in a fallen world. He has us first look at our personal history and then human history to meditate on our brokenness. 

Then we ask ourselves the questions, “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?” We inevitably see that we have fallen short of fulfilling our holy desires for love. Christ has given us so much, but we have not made a sufficient return. We express our sorrow to God, sharing our sins and the sins of the world with him before a cross.

What we find, however, is that God’s love for us remains even though we have sinned. When we share our faults with God, God forgives us. Though our love for God may waver, God’s love for us never changes. That’s part of the reason why God sent Jesus to the world: to show us that he wants to be close to us even though we are weak and sinful. We see that we are loved sinners, that God wants to be with us no matter what. 

Join us next time as we enter into Jesus’ life and ministry

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