The “First Week”: Week Nine/Session One.
Theme: The Causes and Consequences of Sin.
Our reading for today: Psalm 51.
A David Psalm, After He Was Confronted by Nathan About the Affair with Bathsheba.
Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in Your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.
You’re the One I’ve violated, and You’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before You; whatever You decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with You for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What You’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life. (Psalm 51: 1-6 MsgB)
Ignatius of Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, took his time processing the depths of his own sin and the deeper mercies of God. As we enter now, the ninth week of the exercises, there’s part of me that says, “Come on Iggy, let’s move beyond this sin thing and get on with it!” But as I read more in Kevin O’Brien’s The Ignatian Adventure, I find that there are many good reasons to camp out here at this little corner of my world for another week or two. One of the suggestions O’Brien makes to those of us on this Ignatian adventure is to take full advantage of the use of what Ignatius called the colloquy with the Divine.
An Ignatian Adventure colloquy is an intimate conversation between the person in the midst of the Spiritual Exercises (such as you or me) and with God the Father, or with Jesus, or with the Holy Spirit. Now granted, in Ignatius’ day and in his Catholic tradition, he also included intimate conversations with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, but don’t let that practice be a stumbling block, keeping you from experiencing the joys of developing the art of colloquy with God.
As O’Brien states, “in the colloquy, we speak and listen as the Spirit moves us: expressing ourselves, for example, as a friend speaks to a friend, or as a person speaks to one whom he or she has offended, or as a child speaks to a parent or mentor, or as a lover speaks to his or her beloved.” O’Brien goes on to suggest to us, “Whatever the context, be ‘real,’ speaking from the heart. As in any meaningful conversation, make sure to leave times of silence for listening.”
Here in our ninth week of the Exercises, it would be easy for me to set aside my focus on my personal sin and choose other subjects for my “colloquy with Jesus.” But Ignatius suggested that I place myself, in my imagination, at site of the cross, considering in the presence of my Savior, three questions:
What have I done for Christ?
What am I doing for Christ?
What ought I do for Christ?
Maybe as we end our session today, you might want to join me in a short colloquy with the Master, here at the foot of the cross.
(Marty) Master, here I am. I confess I’d rather be somewhere else today rather than looking at my sin. But Jesus, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I linger here to be with You in this moment.
(Jesus) I’m glad you are here, son.
(Marty, after looking at the broken, bloodied body of Jesus) Master, I don’t like what I see. I don’t like seeing You this way. You don’t deserve this.
(Jesus) I’m doing this for you, Marty.
(Marty) For me?
(Jesus) It’s the only way.
(Marty) Way for what, Jesus?
(Jesus) The way for you to be with me forever.
(Marty) But Lord, You and I have been together now for nearly sixty years. I’ve been following You as best I can for most of my life.
(Jesus) But son, you’ve never done it perfectly, have you?
(Marty) No. You’re right. Never perfectly.
(Jesus) So this is necessary. It’s this act of mine that’s making up the difference between your good intentions and your inability to follow Me as you’ve always wanted to. Don’t you see it?
(Marty) Yes, Lord. I see the many times I’ve fallen so short of being the godly man You’ve always wanted me to be.
(Jesus) So, in my great love for you, and my deep desire that you be with Me forever, I’m paying the price here for you today so that you can be free to follow me for eternity. The price is being paid, here and now. It’s my blood and my sacrifice here on this cross that’s making our relationship last forever. Don’t you see?
My prayer: I do see, Master…and I do receive it. Thank You, Jesus, for this great act of kindness on my behalf. I’m humbled. I’m blessed. I’m so sorry. I’m forgiven. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How can the use of the colloquy become an important tool for me, drawing me into intimate conversations with the Divine, especially when my flesh wants to move away from those things Jesus might want to address with me? How can I become more proactive with the use of the colloquy, allowing the Spirit to draw me into these intimate conversations that can truly change me from the inside out?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.