Have you ever denied Jesus?

Making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola as a Jesuit novice I asked to feel sorrow, regret, and confusion when contemplating Jesus’ passion and death, but none was evident. I began to wonder why?

When my contemplation turned toward Peter’s denial, I felt moved to ask whether I had ever denied Jesus? The tears, the sorrow, the regret, and the confusion flowed immediately, because I realized through God’s grace that up to that time – I was 37 then – I had assumed that Jesus never really suffered, only pretended.

In denying Jesus’ suffering I unwittingly had cast doubt on the genuineness and depth of his love as well, because as Ignatius points out in the Exercises, “Love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words.” Have you ever denied Jesus? How?

—Fr. Chris Manahan, SJ, is director of the Jesuit Retreat House on Lake Winnebago, near Oshkosh, WI.