Last week, in one of my weekday homilies, I mentioned the Surrender Novena by Fr Dolindo Ruotolo. There’s a phrase in that novena that is repeated on each day the novena is prayed: O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!
In my view, to live out the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”, one needs to be able to say a prayer like this, and really mean it when you say it!
I don’t know about you, but I am getting the sense that people are really stressed out these days, and understandably so! When the normal activities of everyday life are a cause for fear, where do we turn, what do we do? We need to feel safe and protected. The place where this starts is having confidence in God’s love for us and knowing for sure that He will never abandon us. Remember the words of Christ: “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust”.
With this in mind I think it would be helpful to hear the reflection for Day 2 of Fr Ruotolo’s Novena: (It is written as if Jesus were speaking directly to you. So hear these words as if Jesus were speaking directly to you at this moment in time.)
Surrender to Me does not mean to fret, to be upset, or to lose hope, nor does it mean offering to Me a worried prayer asking Me to follow you and change your worry into prayer. It is against this surrender, deeply against it, to worry, to be nervous and to desire to think about the consequences of anything. It is like the confusion that children feel when they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then try to take care of those needs for themselves so that their childlike efforts get in their mother’s way. Surrender means to placidly close the eyes of the soul, to turn away from thoughts of tribulation and to put yourself in My care, so that only I act: saying, “You take care of it.”
So, we can see that this Novena can be comforting but at the same time risky—risky in the sense that we are really willing to let go, or will we just turn this into one more “worried prayer”. There really is the need to let go! To realize that everything we have is a gift from God.
Sometimes we have a terrible fear of giving ourselves completely to God because we don’t know where that will lead us, and we would prefer to remain masters of our destiny, to be sure that everything goes according to our desires.
But consider this: Everything in our life that was NOT given by God will sooner or later become a source of worry. We are then left to manage it by ourselves, with our own resources, our own light, and in the end, it could create a lot of anxiety for us.
On the contrary, if we have given everything to God, we are freed from this burden of having to resolve everything by ourselves. It’s the Lord who will take care of it, and he’ll do it better than we can.
So, in these days of stress and anxiety, check out the surrender novena, or at least say that littler prayer several times throughout the course of the day, especially when you feel your blood pressure rising:
O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything!