I love the Spiritual Exercises. They are great for Lent and Advent. I first attempted them four years ago, at Lent/Christmas. I didn’t get very far, but what little I did helped me tremendously. I’ve come back a couple times since then, never getting past the first week or two.
I’m gonna try again this Lent.
But the first few days just totally shake the ground of what we’re told most places these days, even by the Jesuits themselves.
These days, the sin of presumption abounds. “Joel Osteen Catholicism”: “God loves everybody! Why would a loving God send people to Hell?”
We are to take for granted that everyone’s going to Heaven. Many modern forms of “spirituality” in the Church encourage this thought. Certainly many pastors do in their preaching.
Yet St. Ignatius (and most other saints) would call us to a quite different thought, the warning that Jesus gave repeatedly to the Jews:
Don’t think that, just because you’re a member of the “right group,” you’re getting a free ride to Heaven. Of those to whom much has been given, much will be expected.
The angels were given *one* chance to sin. ONE. And that wasn’t even sometihng we’d consider a “big” sin. It wasn’t like they were allowed to go around in Heaven till one of them decided to commit murder or theft or adultery.
No. The one sin that it took for the Angels to go straight to Hell was intellectual. Angels are pure spirits, and thinking *ONE* thought against God resulted in their expulsion from Heaven. ONE. *Think* about that.
I know I entertain sinful thoughts many times each day. I know I question God’s judgement at least once a day. If I were an angel, that would get me sent straight to Hell for all eternity. And yet I barely even think to mention such thoughts when I go to Confession.
God gives us so many chances, so many opportunities to change.
We complain that He hides Himself from Us. The angels had that one chance because they also had full knowledge. God hides Himself from us so we have the excuse of ignorance when we are judged. But those of us who know Him–or claim to–have less of an excuse.
He gives us the chances so we’ll actually change. Why don’t we?