Thursday, February 28, 2013

Postcards from the Exercises: Reconciliation Redux

I'm retracing the Spiritual Exercises in an adapted form (though I think you could argue that the Exercises are always adapted) using the materials posted at The Ignatian Prayer Adventure and writing weekly reflections on my experience for's DotMagis blog. I joked with the editor of that series that I felt like I was sending her weekly postcards from my trip with Ignatius. Since I have more to say than fit on those virtual postcards.... 

As the First Week of the Exercises draws to a close, Ignatius suggests you might feel moved to make a general confession, to take even those sins already confessed and absolved to the sacrament of reconciliation.  Last weekend, when I pulled the copy of the Exercises I'd taken along on the 30-day retreat, I found the slip of paper on which I written a note to one of the Jesuits in residence at Eastern Point, asking if he would hear my general confession (and his response, written frugally on the same sheet), repurposed as a book mark.

As the third week of my Ignatian Adventure wound down, with its contemplations of brokeness — the world's and my own — I recognized a desire to sacramentally deepen the graces of this time.  General confessions, though, are not to be undertaken lightly, or frequently (and as practical matter, never without an appointment!)  In the spirit of this 8-week adaptation and Ignatius' notion of repetition as a tool to sharpen our focus, I decided to use an evening walk as a time to prepare, and take one single thread of brokenness to confession.

The experience knitted some of the "crushed bones," leaving me ready to welcome a steadfast spirit and walk on the journey of the Second Week.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have crushed may revive. From my sins turn away your face and blot out all my guilt. A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. — Psalm 51:10-12


  1. For me this is very timely indeed. I cherish the sacrament of reconciliation and like you, I generally find a thread or root cause of the things that are troubling me. As I prepare for the sacrament, I learn so much about my inner self and then the sacrament itself is so healing.

  2. We have had many discussions lately about a General Confession, since this is something one has to do before Ordination. Your post on it gives a wonderful, heartfelt perspective that is (sadly) missing in the formation explanation and process. So thank you for sharing it!

  3. I love reconciliation - even if I loathe going to it. This is how life is, right? Not always what it seems. Sometimes someone will say to me, "I don't go anymore! It's not like I have killed somebody!" I always think, true enough, but is it just a transactional matter for the worst sins?

    Which is sort of how we were taught, at least as I was growing up. Sadly.

    As Cindy notes, your post gives us so much more than we were taught, and more than many are taught now.

    Thank you!