I recently read an article in America by Roger Bergman (director of justice and peace studies at Creighton) about Oscar Romero. In the course of describing Romero’s influence on him, Bergman talks about the effort to distinguish between the grace St. Igntaius instructs us to pray for in the first week of the Spiritual Exercises – shame for one’s complicity in sin – and the dark voice of the enemy spirit that discourages us from attempting to participate in God’s plan. The former involves honest self-assessment; the latter (the voice that “insinuates ‘Fraud'” when we fail to live up to our ideals) is debilitating. Distinguishing the Week One grace from the work of the enemy spirit (to use St. Ignatius’ terminology) is sometimes not easy.
As a way to deal with that difficulty, Bergman composed his own short prayer, which he shared in the article. It is an adaptation of the serenity prayer and is something I suspect many of us will find a useful addition to our own prayer.
God, grant me the grace to accept, with gratitude, shame and confusion when they come from you, courage to resist them when they come from the Enemy, and the wisdom to discern the one from the other.