This weekend I gave an Ignatian retreat for UST undergraduate students. For many of the students (quite a number of whom were freshman or sophomores), this was their first silent retreat and their first exposure to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Igantius. I was impressed with their diligence in keeping the silence and engaging seriously in the prayer exercises, and absolutely thrilled at the depth of many of their prayer experiences. For all of us involved, it was a grace-filled weekend.
One of the talks I gave focused on Week 1 of the Exercises, during which we seek for God to reveal to us our sinfulness. It is when God reveals my sinfulness that I can let God begin the process of healing in my hearts.
The grace of Week 1 of the Exercises is not a laundry list of our sins, but rather a sense of our sinfulness and a greater understanding of our patterns of sinfulness. For the students the movement from simply looking at sinful actions to trying to get underneath the acts themselves to the underlying ways in which we are broken, the underlying causes of our sinful acts was a very significant one. So too was the movement from thinking of sin merely in terms of breaking a rule or law to understanding it as a rupturing of the proper relationship between myself and God, and between myself and those whom God has given me to love and to move from thinking about punishment to an awareness of our need for healing.
You can access a recording of the talk I gave here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 35:31 and addresses both the subject of sin and the basic exercises that are part of Week 1 prayer.
Note: I also recorded my talk on Week 2 of the Spiritual Exercises, which you can access here. That podcast runs for 39:53.)