Last night, our community was blessed with the gentle guidance of Phileena Heuertz as we continued our journey through the themes of Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. This week, we entered into a reflection on our sinfulness. While most of us would rather not engage our personal sin, it is an incredibly important part of our journey. If we are not in touch with the depth of our personal sinfulness, we will not be able to grasp the great depth of God’s personal love for us.
Phileena’s wise teaching helped us move beyond a shame-based view of sin into a vulnerability-based model. God does not require us to be cleaned up in order to be loved. We are loved us just as we are, and God demonstrated love in an extravagant gesture of self-giving, self-emptying love on the cross. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
If we are going to be formed into the people God created us to be, we must move beyond sin as bad things we do and begin to identify the desires behind the activity. Phileena shared the Ignatian perspective of sin as disordered desires, and she incorporated the teaching of Thomas Keating and Henri Nouwen as a helpful way to identify our disordered desires. (You’ll want to listen to the podcast to get the full teaching.)
We were then led in a new practice for our community, welcoming prayer. Welcoming prayer is a practice that invites God’s healing presence into the ordinary activity of daily life. Phileena helped us practice this discipline as a way of growing in our ability to identify the disordered desires that lead to sin and welcoming God’s loving, healing presence into our disordered desires.
Phileena beautifully shared that love is the foundation of our whole journey. So let’s continue to practice the “be-loved” breath prayer at least 15 minutes a day.
In addition to the breath prayer, let’s also be intentional about noticing this week.
Let’s notice when we find ourselves emotionally triggered, and in our noticing, let’s be curious about what is behind the emotion. Is there a disordered desire at the root of the emotion, and if so, will you pause and practice the welcoming prayer Phileena shared with us?