A tumor. Ebbene, very well, let God’s will be done. But don’t worry about me because my bags are packed. I’m ready to go. — Pope St. John XXIII upon being told that he had inoperable cancer, Nov 1962
Possessions, reputation, expectations, honor, power, pleasure, influence, control, success, failure, accolades, relationships, the past and future, life itself — everything — in the end must be released, surrendered, let go of, offered up, entrusted and given back to the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
By turning all we are and have toward our neighbor’s welfare, for the sake of a God whose glory is man fully alive (Mt. 25:34-40).
By pardoning the offender.
By feeding the hungry.
By blessing the cursing.
By lifting up the weak.
By striving for justice.
By accepting our frailty and brokenness, for the sake of a God whose power abides in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
By seeking pardon from those we have failed.
By confessing our places of powerlessness.
By letting ourselves be carried when we are paralyzed.
By consenting to silence.
By saying in every breath, “Thy will be done.”
By grieving in hope, for the sake of a God who hears our every cry and stores our every tear in His flask (Ps. 56:8).
By weeping with those who weep.
By mourning failure and loss.
By praying from the depths of anger and pain.
By burying the dead in hope.
By letting go of what could have been.
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I once led a three-day retreat, and on the second afternoon of the weekend I was utterly exhausted, totally spent. Giving retreats is like bloodletting for me. Anyway, I wanted to sneak out that afternoon and go away to hide in a solitary place where no one could find me.
Thank God, I didn’t.
That evening, I was supposed to give another talk. But I had nothing to give, and the well-crafted outline of words in my binder seemed entirely meaningless. As the session began, I sat in a chair looking at the people and said to God internally, “This is yours to give, now. I’m done. This is your retreat, take it.”
And I actually meant it.
So I said to the people, “We are going to invite Jesus now to come and offer, not a talk, but whatever it is He wants to give.” And I began to pray the Cardinal Mercier prayer to the Holy Spirit, which is all I could think of at the moment. Then silence.
Rarely have I ever felt a space so thick with divinity as that room was in those silent moments that followed. After about 15 minutes, I said, “Amen.” And everyone left the room in total silence. The next morning, one man said, “What was that?”
I wrote in my journal later, “What was that? Well, for me I know what it was. It was that I didn’t run, which would have made it all about me seizing control. No, I finally opened my hands up and gave my poverty to Him. And just as Mary discovered, God finds poverty absolutely irresistible.”