Notes: We continue considering the presence of evil in life, but now we look at the evil in our own lives. We try to become aware of our own faults. Ignatius advises us to keep a “gloomy day”, as an aid to discovering the sin in our lives and experiencing its reality. So we maintain that “sad mood” for meditation, to help us get better into this consideration of evil.
Grace: Having become aware of the purpose for which I was created and of the vocation to which God invites me, I beg Him for a deeply felt understanding of the sin in me and of the disordered tendencies in my life, so that I may feel shame and confusion, and turn to Him for healing and forgiveness.
Reflections: Yesterday we prayed for the grace of a deeper understanding of the reality of a sinful world. Today we take on another uncomfortable, awkward reality: My own sin. That we are sinners is true not only of reprobate criminals, but as my charming first grade teacher used to say: each of us is a sinner, starting with the Pope down to whatever disgraced reprobate occupies this morning’s news. Each of us has habitual patterns of rebellion against God’s plan: what are mine? One psalm declares, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” What about me? Are there ways in which I have habitually not listened to “those in need” who have crossed my path: the poor, elderly, unpopular, marginalized, etc.? Have there been ways in which I have used or abused other persons in order to satisfy my own need for attention, money, sex, approval, comfort?
Today we seek the grace of understanding our own sinfulness. Too often, our culture “anesthetizes” us from taking responsibility for our own false way of thinking and our wrongdoing. Aristotle once declared that the “unexamined life is not worth living.” We need to scrutinize our shortcomings and habitual failings: the pockets of darkness in our lives, the habits which have become “normal”. The ones which drag us down and hold us back from living in proper relationship with God, others and God’s world. We might pray to God for the courage to discover our blind spots, to confront ourselves and our sinfulness, in order to abhor it.
Be sure to talk to God and Jesus. To feel abandoned in our sin is exactly the opposite of the grace we seek for this day. Our sinfulness should not leave us wallowing in self-pity or depressed; rather, we pray for exactly the opposite grace—a sense of wonder and gratitude that I am a “sinner who is loved,” so loved by God that He gave His only begotten Son for me, so loved that, although He knows fully the extent of my sins, His love remains undimmed and His desire for partnership and friendship with me is utterly unchanged. Ignatius invites me to experience genuine shame for my sinfulness, coupled with great wonder that I am still here and alive: the wonder that I am a sinner but also loved and redeemed. I seek an inner healing, knowing that I am a sinner who is loved.
Luke 15:1-7. Jesus receives sinners and eats with them.
Luke 5:1-11. I say to Jesus: Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner!
2Cor 12:8-10. When I am weak, then I am strong.
Final Colloquy: «Imagining Christ our Lord before me, hanging on a cross, speak to Him, asking Him how the Creator became man for me, and came from eternal life to temporal death, and so died for my sins. Likewise, looking at myself, ask what I have done for Christ, what I am doing for Christ, what I should do for Christ; and so, seeing Him like this, hanging on the cross, discuss what occurs to me. The dialogue is held as one friend speaks to another, or a servant to his Master; sometimes asking for some grace, sometimes blaming myself for some wrong, sometimes discussing my affairs and asking advice about them. Conclude by saying an Our Father. »