SURRENDER

I Give You Everything

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Our Lord loves you and wishes to see you advance with great speed in the way of His love, however crucifying to nature. Therefore, do not bargain with Him, but give Him all, and you will find all in His divine Heart.   ~   St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

          Thanks to a fellow blogger, I think I’ve fallen in love with Switzerland, Mürren especially. It’s a car free Alpine village and it’s gorgeous. I think that with the need to walk (since we don’t have cars there), the sheer loveliness around and quietness of the place, I’d be thin in no time.

          And it would be easier to be good!

          There are times when we need all the help we can get just to be good and kind. Beautiful flowers everywhere, crisp, clean air, decent people around you – can do wonders for me. But God’s not going to create a Mürren for me so that making sacrifices comes easily, or that prayer just springs from the heart instead of having to go and dig for it, and then to lash my will to it.

          God is not going to make me a Mürren to make anger management easier either. Life doesn’t work that way, at least not for me. So, so often, I ask myself, Where has my young heart gone to?

Where is the spirit that used to quicken at the pink and orange blush of the dying evening skies?

Where is the girl who used to awaken at nights just to enjoy the sound of the winds singing among darkened boughs?

          And there is no answer save that of, She is gone.

          For years now, I’ve looked high and low for her, this person whose spirit is primed to settle into the deeps of the smallest cups of loveliness. Sometimes, I think I have glimpsed her, but when I reach deep within to hold on to her, to stop her from running away again, I come up against emptiness, as if she was never there.

          I feel the bite of tears for the girl I once was, rising quickly in hope and light after every fall and push, but to cry is to hold on to what has gone – for that young one is no longer there. I am no longer that girl, I’ve grown old; but my soul is likely still young – immature, petty, unsteady. In a perpetual wobble. Never learning well enough the many lessons God has taught me over and over, I flounder in the breech between the past and the present.

          I am tired. Tired of this life, so very, very tired. Unlike many, I have so much to live for, yet, today, I can barely see each gift. It is not for want of trying though;

My eyes are dimmed with sorrow,

worn out because of all my foes   ~   Psalm 6:8

Today, as the hot evening motherwinds try with all their might to sing me their strength, nothing slips past the door of my spirit.

          Our Lord loves you and wishes to see you advance with great speed in the way of His love, however crucifying to nature. Therefore, do not bargain with Him, but give Him all, and you will find all in His divine Heart.

          This was God’s word to me yesterday. I see the word, crucifying, and I flail against it. Oh, how right my priest was when he looked deep into my eyes and read my soul right, Patience, you need patience. But soul loved by God himself, the priest did not leave me bereft of hope. The miracle you seek will come, he has assured me gently. It will come, but not in the violent wind, not in the fire, nor in the earthquake. It will come in a quiet and gentle unfolding.

          The tears come then, and this time, I do not dam the stream, pretending a fortitude I do not possess. I have given my all today. There’s nothing left in me. No hope, no excitement even for the future. It is as if all has died. Nothing left to be of use to God, my cup of offering is dry.

          Patience, you need patience

          Then, give me Yours, Lord, I pray in deep weariness, for I have none left in me.

…do not bargain with Him, but give Him all…

          How can I give what is no longer there?

…do not bargain with Him, but give Him all…

          I give you everything, Lord. What is there and not there. What is seen and unseen. I give you everything, Lord.

          I am moving on empty now. Somehow, I clean the house, teach the younger ones their lessons.

 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

 

 

 

 

Not Something You Do Alone

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Let us charge into the good fight with joy and love without being afraid of our enemies. Though unseen themselves, they can look at the face of our soul, and if they see it altered by fear, they take up arms against us all the more fiercely. For the cunning creatures have observed that we are scared. So let us take up arms against them courageously. No one will fight with a resolute fighter.  ~   St. John Climacus

 

          Given what has been happening at work as well as its spillover effects, I have reason to fear and worry. Yet, today, seeing St. John Climacus’ words, I wonder if my fear has showed. And if it has fed bully-hearts, emboldened them to further abuse. Because this is not fear as we know it.

          My fear is my floundering faith.

          I think of the two envoys sent to me for these 40 days: St. Pio and St. Michael. Saints associated, particularly, with courage. Courage fed and nourished by the humility of total dependence on God.

          A friend close to my heart gave me these words of advice last night for the 40:

Remember too that when you offer this you are uniting it to Christ.  It is not something you do alone, He lifts you up, so rely on Him and not yourself and He will guide you through it.

 

It is not something you do alone.

          This is exactly how the old hours were lived. I took on a huge burden of reparation yesterday. I invoked His aid. But then, I let go of His hand and went it alone, into steaming red hours. And they swamped and battered me.

          Today, on the Feast of the Assumption, I begin anew. I bind my heart to Jesus and Mary. If before I failed in humility of absolute dependence on God, I renew my efforts once more. Exactly how I am to accomplish this surrender, I don’t know. But I have St. Pio and St. Michael. I will let them lead.

          Because this is not something you do alone.

 

 

 

 

 

You Can Have It All

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Act of Hope
from the Augustinian Manual

Since You have promised to come and dwell within me, O my Redeemer, what may I not expect from Your bounty? I therefore present myself before You with that lively confidence which Your infinite goodness inspires. You not only know all my wants, but You are also willing and able to relieve them. You have not only invited me, but also promised me Your gracious assistance: “Come to me, all you that labour and are heavily burdened, and I will refresh you.” Behold, then, O Lord, I accept Your gracious invitation: I lay before You all my wants, my misery, and my blindness, and confidently hope, without the fear of being disappointed, that You will enlighten my understanding, inflame my will, comfort me in the midst of the crosses or afflictions  that You have willed that I should suffer, strengthen me in all temptations and trials, and with the powerful assistance of Your grace, change me into a new creature; for are You not, O God, the master of my heart?

And when shall my heart be more absolutely possessed by You than when You have entered into it?

 

          The week ended with a wounding and a struggle to forgive. When I sought my Jesus, He told me to pray for His blessings upon the two people who hurt me. It was a struggle for me to pray for them, much less intercede that they be blessed. And honestly, I didn’t want them blessed; I wanted the space of two continents put between me and them.

          But there was something about the words of Jesus when He directed them to my churning heart. His words imprisoned me, held me in a vice.

          And so began a new struggle – to pray for God’s blessings upon those who can only live if they hurt me. I wish I could say I fought my heart valiantly in order to fulfill the Divine Will; I did no such thing. I prayed alright, as often as I remembered, but I prayed for God’s blessings upon my enemies with all the sullenness of a spoilt child denied her wish.

          I prayed with a heart calloused by blows. And God saw my struggle. He knew I needed help to soften my heart. He offered that help through a worship song by Brian Johnson, Have It All.

 

          I played the song over and over and over, threading each line like a vine through my sadness and pain. Slowly, I could feel my heart softening. I could feel the hardness give way, the gates and walls crumble. I began to feel as if my heart had found its resting place, the wounds it hid within it bathed in a tender, gentle Love that Saw, that Knew.

That Mourned with me.

          It was then I realized I was loved.

          In a gentle awakening, I suddenly knew that my struggles were not hidden from Him, that He had not turned His face away from my ugliness.

I saw that I was not alone.

          I felt my God was holding me, holding me close, His arms around me, His hands over each one of my wounds.

          From that Love flowed a strength that flooded my will, levelling mountains and hills in its path. Lifted to the quiet skies sweetened by the breath of God in the green~gold breezes, I finally escaped the fetters that sought to imprison me to the will of the earth.

          I turned back towards the prayer He had asked of me,

Ask Me to Bless them.

           Freed by the miracle of surrender, I prayed unrestrained,

Jesus, give them Your Blessing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 10 ~ The Only Son

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….you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.  ~   Genesis 22:12

 

          I was not Abraham two days ago. While I had not withheld my son from the trial he faced because that was simply beyond my power, my response to what had unfolded certainly constituted a withholding.

          Willful and calculated.

          Today, I come to the First Reading and God tells me, Long before you were faced with the faith-response to offer up your child, Abraham was, and he chose to break his own heart if it meant choosing to love his God.

          Abraham didn’t try to strike a win-win deal with God. Neither did he marshal an array of arguments to his favour. In simple obedience, Abraham chose to love God – despite what it would ask of him.

          Faced with an Abraham moment – of a far smaller scale – despite all my resolutions, I had chosen to love myself. I wish I could say that I was ashamed or sad or angry with myself, but I wasn’t. I knew I had sinned but even now, I wasn’t sure I would choose Abraham’s Way the next time.

          Then, came the clincher:

He who did not spare His own Son
but handed Him over for us all..     ~   Romans 8:32

          There will be another race today. My child faces yet another test. And so do I. In some ways, today’s race will be harder. I fear for my son. I fear the crushing. I fear the tears. I fear myself.

          He who did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all.

          Then, in a strange fluid easiness, I surrender my child to God. I give Him the race and all that would follow. I feel sick to my stomach but I ask for the strength to suffer that small cross. No bargains, no wheedling. I don’t feel heroic, neither am I pretending to be Abraham.

          It just feels like the thing that has to be done.

          I will not withhold my son from God.

 

 

 

 

Lent 6 ~ Dedication

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There is a very real sense in which the prayer of adoration is a loss of one’s life. It is a kind of falling into the ground to die. Remember this when you come to adore Me. When you adore Me, forgetting yourself and forsaking all things for Me, you imitate Me, for adoration is a kind of death. It is a passing out of everything that solicits the senses and a cleaving to Me alone in the bright darkness of faith. ~ Anonymous, In Sinu Jesu

         

          Adoration is a kind of death. It has been two days since I read that and it has followed me silently in all the weave of hours since. As the sun~warmed morning breathes elfin breezes through the trees this day, Adoration is a kind of death returns yet again.

          In these two days, the veil has thinned twice. Both times, the prayer nook I stop by daily for random prayers gave me Surrender Prayers. I don’t remember this happening before – similar prayers over consecutive days. The second prayer today gave me pause:

Prayer of Self Dedication
from the Sacramentary

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom,
my memory, my understanding, and my will.
All that I have and cherish
you have given me.
I surrender it all to be guided by Your will.
Your grace and Your love
are enough for me.
Give me these, Lord Jesus,
and I ask for nothing more.

          This prayer of Self Dedication I received today is the hand that has stayed my busy gallop. Because in days past, my gaze has often gone and remained upon my February calendar picture: The Presentation of the Child in the Temple. We’ve always had a calendar up. Lots of February pictures. But never of The Presentation. And every time I see it, Someone holds me back for a bit.

          More than once, I’ve wondered why.

          Today, reading the second surrender prayer, the clarity of its call pierces deeper.

          The adoration I now offer the Lord is the beginning of the  journey to what He truly means by adoration. I must not remain rooted in my present form of adoration. Because it must evolve into what is decreed by the Divine Will.

          To set this into motion, I must first dedicate myself to the Heart I seek. This complete surrender will protect me from resisting, choosing to return to roosts of comfort.

          Because the Heart of Jesus is to be found far removed from where I am now. I need to leave myself if I am to find Him.

 

 

Lent 1 ~ The First Place

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          I look within me and around me, and almost everywhere my gaze falls, I see something that I cannot bring before the eyes of heaven, because it is not right, because it is not pure. So much of it is old, sores from the past that fester on into the present. The cleaning and  cleansing that I need…. it is much work indeed, that I’m tempted to bow in defeat even before I begin.

The doing must be Mine. ~ Anonymous, In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart – The Journal of a Priest at Prayer.

          I see those words and I wonder, Am I treading where I should not? Am I attempting what I am not called to?

          Indeed I am. But I struggle to let go and let God. Some days I can. Some days I just cannot. Partly because of pride, because I somehow think I can do God’s job for Him. But mainly because I cannot accept that good meant for me need not always be earned the hard way – my way.

          Nonetheless, God has been clear: Let Go and Let God. I need to bring every rock and pebble before God’s Eyes, and rest each and all within His Heart. I need to learn this hymn of surrender.

          Immediately, I sense plans and ideas clamour at my heart.

          But only one is needed.

Give the first place to the adoration that I have asked of you, and still ask of you, and you will see wonders. ~  Anonymous, In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart – The Journal of a Priest at Prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

Let Go and Let God

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          In another stew yet again. I had, some weeks back, heard about Reparation Mondays – one Monday a month for 9 months – where the sufferings for that day were offered for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For some reason, I felt drawn towards it – although I have a great fear of suffering. And knowing just how bad my memory is getting, I figured why wait for a Monday every 9 months. Why not just offer every Monday up for reparation and get the 9 over with. And if God wants more than 9, well, ….well, I will try to obey.

          So, timidly, I offered up my first Monday. It turned out to be a rather rough day but I got through it without maiming anyone. After that was the next Monday – a rather tame affair.

          Then, came the next. A hit when I least expected it. And ensuing almighty stew of emotions.

          I struggled and struggled with myself over the bitter sting of unfairness. I tried to pray but my anger over what I had received was so great. Yet, cognizant of my sin, I kept returning to heaven’s door – anger in tow. Every time it surged, I buried it clumsily into the Holy Hearts.

          After several hours, Someone gently nudged Our Lady of Guadalupe towards me.

Listen and let it penetrate your heart…do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.  Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under My shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”       Our Lady’s words to Her servant Juan Diego in the 1531 Guadalupe, Mexico,  apparitions

 

          Are you not under My shadow and protection? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? 

          Still in the binds of anger, I beseeched Mother Mary, Take me under the folds of Your mantle. Bind my heart in Your mantle.

          And then, as an afterthought, knowing how intent I was on avenging the wrong done to me, I tacked on, Bind my tongue with Your mantle too.

          Much later, busy with dinner preparations, I slowly sensed the firestorm within abate. Not trusting myself, I continued speaking to God. I told him of my anger, my disappointment with the person who had hurt me. But I also told God I wanted to do His will. Or at least, a small part of me did.

          In the midst of cooking, I suddenly saw the words, Reparation Monday. It had slipped my mind completely. So, this was why it was so bad, I acknowledged. My suffering was needed someplace.

          What do You want me to do? I asked God again. I had a couple of plans lined up.

          I heard the softest whisper,

Let Go and Let God.

          I felt the fight go out of me.

 

 

 

 

LENT 5 ~ When Surrender Is Faith

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          When you’ve been hurt by those who give up when the terrain gets rough,  then, there’s a great chance you’d try to bend the other way in your subsequent journeys so the pain you faced is relegated to history where it cannot knife others. You don’t see the sense in making others face what you had to, because you intimately know the pain of being left to struggle and make sense of life alone.         

          When the lash of pain has torn you more often than you can count or even remember, you might go forth into life with a grim determination to make it all about sunshine, breezes and blossoms for others – because you think that’s why you had to go through hurt in the first place: to suffer so others don’t have to.

          But as we heave and push to keep pain at bay, sometimes, we glance up from the struggle, and we’re seared to realize we are the only ones in the tangle; it’s just us in the fight to give life and love, but this life and love matters little to the ones we’re trying to save. It hurts to see that the ones we sought to protect from pain aren’t quite as committed to undo the knots in their own gnarled lives.

         When we are left with the hollow feeling that we have been fooled into caring, a bitter caution slithers into our hearts, dimming charity in us and casting suspicion on every need which requires the antidote of merciful love. Jaundiced, we are unable to minister where mercy is most needed.

          As my little sting sank deep, I was faced with a choice. To withdraw into a corner and wither my love as a self-preservation. Or to bury the hurt deep in Jesus’ Holy Wounds, and surrender to His Will.

          The former tugged stronger, and for a couple of days, I stewed in a pot of my own stirring.            

          Then, I saw the words,

I have waited, waited for the Lord, and He stooped toward me and heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; He set my feet upon a crag; He made firm my steps, and He put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God. Many shall look on in awe, and trust in the Lord ~ (Psalm 40:2-4)

          I leaned on the words to learn anew:   He took me from pain. Not just anyone but my Lord did. And He placed me on solid ground, held me till I got back my confidence. He wiped my tears, gave me hope that pain is passing, and tenderly taught me that sorrow precedes joy.

          It was then that my gaze came to rest on the final verse:

Many shall look on in awe, and trust in the Lord.

          Many will trust in the Lord.

          In the gentlest of breezes, the Spirit silvered in my soul a truth my frustration had mottled over ~ that no pain for God is ever wasted; no effort comes to naught in the vineyard of the Lord.

          Many will trust in the Lord. Everything will be made perfect in His time and in His way. All I needed to do was to lean completely against my Saviour, surrender as an act of faith, and move on to the next pasture of need.

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