Sin is the subject about which Paul speaks to the Romans in the first reading today. Sin and evil are subjects I tend to downplay in my own thinking and prayer. Confession is a sacrament I do not take advantage of frequently. Paul’s comments make me think about two references to sin which cause me to reconsider how little attention I pay to sin and evil.
The first is new and very refreshing. When asked who Jorge Mario Bergoglio is, Pope Francis responded “I am a sinner.” He went on to say “I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” I know several other very holy Jesuits who would respond in the same way as our new Pope. I am certain they have a far deeper appreciation of sin,; an appreciation from which I would greatly benefit.
The second is almost five hundred years old. It comes from the first week of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola. The grace of the first week of the Exercises is to know oneself as a sinner and to know with absolute certainty that God loves me, continues to create me, and invites me into more intimate union despite my sinfulness. It sounds to me like the Lord has given Pope Francis that grace of the first week of the Exercises in great abundance.
So, I resolve to more earnestly consider what sin and evil are in my life. I ask the Lord to bless me with the grace of the first week of the Spiritual Exercises.
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits