11. Living-out the Fifth Week
Hedwig Lewis SJ
During the Fourth Week of the Exercises the focus is on Jesus as the Risen Lord. He goes about comforting, strengthening, and consoling his disciples. The retreatant, too, experience the presence and power of Jesus in his life. Before his Ascension, Jesus entrusts his disciples with the task of carrying on his mission. St Ignatius asks the retreatants to make Christ’s mission their lifelong commitment, in continuation of the graces received during the Retreat. So, the rest of our lives that follow the retreat is generally referred to as the “Fifth Week” of the Exercises.
St Ignatius and his first companions spent the Fifth Week, after the example of the Risen Christ, in “the ministry of consolation.” They brought strength, peace and solace to the peoples throughout
through preaching, lecturing, spiritual conversation, and the sacraments of
Penance and Eucharist.
When we consider our lives as the Fifth Week of our Retreat, we will experience Jesus’ Presence whenever we gather in his Name, respond to his Word, and in the Eucharistic Breaking of Bread; but especially when we practice “the ministry of consolation” and re-live the charism of our founding fathers.