Bits of Ignatian Wisdom: Sin & God’s Medicine of Mercy

August 21, 2017

Ridding ourselves of disordered attachments and seeking spiritual freedom was our focus last week. This week, we turn to another piece of Ignatian wisdom that comes out of the Spiritual Exercises and serves as a key principle of Ignatian Spirituality.

Bit of Ignatian Wisdom:  Sin and God’s Medicine of Mercy

To unpack this piece of Ignatian wisdom, we have to name a reality of our human lives: our capacity to sin.  This basically means that each of us have the propensity to breakdown our relationship with God and others, to turn away from God, and to fail to love God, others, and ourselves.  While not always an easy thing to admit about ourselves, sin causes problems for us personally, communally, and globally.

In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, we are invited to reflect on our own experience of sin and comprehend sin not with our heads, but with our hearts. We are invited to see sin as God sees it within the context of God’s love.

Assessment of Our lives:

Ignatius invites us to take a hard look at our lives and the realities of sin, but not before we have a full understanding of God’s unconditional love for us.  When I lead someone through the 19th annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, a person spends six weeks praying on God’s love before we delve into the material of the “first week” which is on sin and mercy.

Ignatius is not wanting us to get so overwhelmed with our past choices that it turns to self-hate or despair.  Rather, we remember that God loves us and seeks to free us from anything that blocks our growth in God.

Medicine of Mercy:

Even though we are sinful people, God still loves us and offers us forgiveness.  God seeks to free us from sinful choices, from deep hurts or wounds, from fears, and from brokenness.  God’s gift of mercy means that no matter what is going on in our lives, in our world and in our communities that God is working with us to birth new life and healing into our hearts and our world.

The gift of God’s mercy is available to each of us.  Pope Francis reminds us, “The medicine is there, the healing is there, if only we take a small step toward God or even just desire to take that step.”

Our acknowledgement of our sinfulness helps us understand our need for God, the great liberator of our brokenness.  God’s offer of mercy to each of us frees us so we can more easily follow Jesus.

Go Deeper?

  • Read
  • Pray:
  • Reflect:
    • Last year Pope Francis called for a Year of Mercy.  In honor of the Year of Mercy, I invited several bloggers to join me last year to unpack why “Mercy Matters“, including the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  For those who missed it, check out the archives under the theme “mercy” to revisit some of these reflections.

Cultivating Space for God Together: 

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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