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Lord, I offer You everything … Except X

October 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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The Way of Perfection (Week 9 of 10)

If you have truly abandoned yourself to God’s will, you will not be anxious about the bread of the body. In these hours of prayer you are dealing with more important matters. There will be enough time to work and earn your daily bread. Try not to let your thoughts dwell on this. Work with your body, for you must support yourselves. But let your soul be at rest. – The Way of Perfection (Chapter 34, Paragraph 5)

Lord, I offer You Everything Except X

Have you ever said some form of the following prayer?

Lord, I offer You everything that I am
and everything that I have.
I love You more than anything and
I abandon myself completely to You…
But please, just GIVE me X. (or, But please do NOT take X.)

I must admit, I have been known to include an X in my prayers.

The problem is, whether it be a little X (Lord, please just give me one hour of sleep before the baby wakes and needs to be fed…), or a big X (Lord, please don't let my husband lose his job), this X represents something very important.

A lack of abandonment.

You'd think it would help that we have Christ's perfect example of abandonment, displayed in the Garden of Gesthemane:

Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done. – Luke 22:42

For as long as I can remember, my mother has advised me to include this intention in my thoughts and prayers. Not my will, but Thine be done…

Unfortunately, even that doesn’t quite do the trick if I’m being honest with myself. Sure I can say the words. And sometimes I mean them. Except when it comes to that ONE thing.  Even then, in an effort to force myself into submission, I've been known to express those words with a passion that exudes from the very depths of my being.  But who am I kidding?  No matter the emphasis, in my heart, I know that God knows that I don’t really mean them.

So what to do?

First, I remember that no matter how hard I try, I may not be able to will myself to abandon everything to God. To be frustrated with my efforts when I can't is to commit the sin of pride.  Instead, I must turn to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to fill me with the grace necessary to trust in His divine providence.

At that point, I do my best to prepare the soil of my heart so that when the Holy Spirit does will to fertilize those seeds of faith, He will find good soil where they are free to sprout and grow without choking on thorns of fear and skepticism.

Specifically, I take the following steps:

1. Participate in the Sacraments.  There is something very unsettling about sin that causes stress and uneasiness to run amuck. Confession rids me of that uneasiness and offers a peace that is almost palpable. With that peace comes an openness to trust and surrender (A joyful “Lord, you can take me now,” has been expressed in our car on more than one occasion after a family trip to Confession.). Further, uniting myself to Christ in the Eucharist as often as I can is an act of faith that allows the Lord to affect my soul in a very special way.

2. Turn to scripture.  The Word of God is overflowing with reminders of His caring love and compassion. Here are just two passages that help to calm my fears – I'm sure you could add hundreds more:

Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
– Matthew 6:25-26

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28

3. Pull out a copy of Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure and Saint Claude de la Colombière.  This is my favorite and most well-worn spiritual guide.  The pages of my copy are all falling out, and must be held together with a rubber band because I've read this book so many times.  Here is just a smidgeon of the wisdom found in this beautiful little work:

Trustful Surrender

“We ought then” says St. Basil, “to ponder well on this thought, that we are the work of a good Workman, and that He dispenses and distributes to us all things great and small with the wisest providence, so that there is nothing bad, nothing that could even be conceived better.” – p. 27

To remain indifferent to good fortune or to adversity by accepting it all from the hand of God without questioning, not to ask for things to be done as we would like them but as God wishes, to make the intention of all our prayers that God’s will should be perfectly accomplished in ourselves and in all creatures is to find the secret of happiness and content. – p. 39

If we could see all He sees we would unhesitatingly wish all He wishes. We would beg Him on bended knees for those afflictions we now ask Him to spare us. – p. 100

And even regarding the inability to abandon everything:

We should desire virtue itself and the degrees of grace only in so far as God wishes to give them, and not desire more. Our whole ambition should be to attain the degree of perfection that has been appointed for us, since it has not been given to everybody to reach the same height. –  p. 85

4.  Speak with a spiritual director.  I'll admit, it took me quite a while to break down and finally meet with a spiritual director regularly.  But once I did, I wondered why I hadn't done it years ago.  I've found that he has a wonderful way of gently guiding me around barriers that I'd never even realized I created.


5.  Pray.  Specifically, I ask our Lord that He either grant the intention I seek, or rid me of the desire to have it. In other words, I ask Him for the grace to let go. And then I trust that He will provide that grace in His time and in His way.

 

Reading Assignment:

Chapters 37-End of Book

NOTE: Two weeks until we begin our next book!  If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the foundation for all Christian virtue, be sure to join us for The Four Cardinal Virtues by Josef Pieper.  We’ll begin reading on November 11, so plan ahead!!!

 

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you have an X in your prayer life?  What steps do you take to help you let go?

2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week.

 

Read More: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/topics/book-club

For More Information on the Book Club:  http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/csd-book-club

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the SpiritualDirection.com book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at pelicansbreast.com

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