"Let it be done to me according to thy will" (Luke 1:38). I have always struggled with this surrender. When I think of Mary's complete trust and then later Christ's trust in the Garden of Gethsemane, I am always left feeling amazed, humbled and frankly saddened and embarrassed that I cannot echo their prayer in my own. I realize that God's will is what is best for me and his master plan, but I must admit that I have a hard time trusting it. Does he really know all the details? Maybe not, so I should remind him in prayer constantly of what I need. Wow! This is the opposite of faith, but I still want to tell God what to do! What if his will is not mine? Then what? I want certainty and security, but wait, God never promised certainty and security. This is my immature, under developed thought process. Then I must recall what Christ has promised, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
I mention this, because several weeks ago when I was in Adoration, as I quietly settled in and closed my eyes, I decided that I was not going to "ask" God for anything, I was trying to slowly rest with the fact that he does know what I need before I even ask. As I quietly sat, I heard a thought say, for Lent ask only for HIS WILL, just try it, just for a few weeks and see. So, I thought alright then, fine, you win God, I will try for the remainder of Lent to ask let it be done unto me according to thy will. I must admit this has been the most difficult prayer and I have stumbled and had to shut myself up and recite this sentence and renew my commitment often. What I started to say at the beginning of each day is, "Dear Lord, let your holy and most perfect will be done in my life this day." I must admit, over the last several weeks since I have been saying this, my days have been a little unpredictable and sometimes things I do not want to be pulled into are attracting their force/attention my way, but I do feel a little more led by the Holy Spirit and in certain situations where I usually am not calm, I have been. Surrendering is still very hard and I will probably struggle with it my entire life, but this is my "little way," again in the words of St. Therese of Lisieux to break my will. In a beautiful Lenten reflection book I have on St. Therese, one of the prayers quotes her as saying,
"I made a resolution to give myself up more than ever to a serious and mortified life. When I say mortified, this is not to give the impression that I performed acts of penance. Alas, I never made any...My mortifications consisted in breaking my will, always so ready to impose itself on others, in holding back a reply, in rendering little services without any recognition, in not leaning my back against a support when seated, etc, etc. It was the practice of these nothings that prepared myself to become the fiancee of Jesus."
When I read these words in Adoration about a week after my commitment to only pray for God's will the rest of Lent, I was awe struck and move to tears, especially when re-reading the line, "My mortifications consisted in breaking my will, always so ready to impose itself on others, in holding back a reply..." because I felt like God was speaking in that moment directly to me through this thought of St. Therese. It also touched me, because it served as confirmation and reminder of the previous inner voice I heard and moved me that the Saints also struggled with dying to God's will too! I felt a sense of communion in that moment and humility. And finally, because the Saints, such as St. Therese, "The little flower" loved Jesus so much that she was willing to surrender everything to his divine purpose, even if it meant through daily on-going sacrifices. What fidelity to Christ!
Thus, I will continue my "little" quest, "Dear Lord, let your holy and most perfect will be done in my life this day." Despite the fact that this is probably the hardest sentence this control freak has ever said! So even when I struggle, I will recall this reflection of St. Therese and call upon her intercession. I am so thankful I became reacquainted with this "little flower," a Doctor of the Church, in a more intimate way this Lenten Season.
With this, I leave you with a beautiful prayer of self-abandonment I came across and have started to carry with me:
Fr. Gary Caster. (2010). The Little Way of Lent: Mediating in the Spirit of St. Thereses of Lisieux. St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, Ohio.
Prayer of Abandonment. EWTN The Global Catholic Network. Retrieved Saturday, April 2, 2011 from: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/Abandonment.htm