When you think about it,
it was our bad choices,
our sins–our first parents’ and our own–
that got us into this mess.
it was also sin that got our Lord Jesus involved.
Perhaps it is only proper
that we spend some time
during thisHoly Thursday retreat
contemplating the ugly face of sin.
Too often today
people reduce morality to psychology,
dismissing sin as the unfortunate result
of a psychological disorder
that we have no choice about.
While it is true that our psychological condition
can lead us to make wrong choices,
it would be unrealistic to blame our past
as an excuse for our decisions today.
As a friend once quipped: “There’s an expiry date
to blaming the past!”
It was from sin that our Lord saved us.
Unless we are truly horrified–or saddened–
by our sins, we will never be able
to appreciate what our Lord Jesus has done for us.
In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola
invites the retreatant to pray
for remorse and sorrow over one’s sins.
It’s what Pope Francis refers to
as “the grace of shame.”
Let us spend the rest of this day
doing something quite unfashionable:
Let us recall our sinfulness,
asking for this grace of shame–
the times we have hurt others or ourselves,
our weaknesses, but also our wickedness,
and beg for the mercy of the Lord.
Play this instrumental piece and spend a while
doing an examination of conscience.
What do I consider the worst sins
that I have committed–
those that have hurt others deeply
or damaged myself?
What have been my “favorite” sins–
the sins that I tend to commit repeatedly?
Ask not only for the grace of remorse,
but also for the grace of wisdom
to understand yourself better.
Resist the temptation to skip
or fast forward this understandably unpleasant reflection.
Here is a song that you might want to use
to close our retreat today.
It is a contemplation on one’s sinfulness,
when one steals from God
and lives one’s life in the most self-entitled way,
only to realize that such a life ultimately brings no joy.
It began with Adam and Eve,
and it continues today in our own lives.