Following the Winding Path:
The Surrender Novena
No, not the winding path! Instead give me the straight path. I want the simplicity of a quick and easy answer – and I want it now. Isn’t that what we want. Anything else seems just too difficult.
Oh, how we humans cling to this in many aspects of our lives! We are comfortable in our own little niche of the world and we like it that way. No muss, no fuss – that is how we define comfort and security. Yet how many times is that desire to keep things the same – to avoid the discomfort of change – detrimental to our growth?
Yet, change = growth. It has been said that nothing stays the same – things either get better or worse. However, if the truth be told, we would prefer the option to stagnate in our self-defined comfort zone. In addition, we also want the quick answers, prayers received, wishes granted.
O Lord, give me patience and I want it right now!
What Does That Say About Faith?
What does that say about our faith, though? If we fear change, of flying without a net into the unknown, are we not a lot like Peter? He sought to follow Jesus as He was walking on water but faltered in faith to the point of sinking. As much as we would like to take the shortest path – a straight line – our lives will always be dependent on following a winding path – the Narrow Road. And the answers come slowly. Sometimes they seem to not come at all.
Our prayer lives reflect this train of thought. We often desire the low demand option. A quick Ave or Lord’s Prayer and then we are off to the business (busyness) of life. Yet, we feel neglected when God takes His time to answer. We want results. Now.
Our eternal goal, however, is to seek sainthood; to become holy. To becoming perfect as God is perfect. For mere human beings, becoming holy takes time. It takes patience and trust. So, in the messy, day to day struggles we often let go of that goal – because life can be just too much. Our frustration with our demands and timing grows.
It does not have to be that way.
Lately, the ‘little ways’ of Saint Therese have been cropping up into my conscious and subconscious mind. While we bitterly complain about the state of affairs – in our family, in the world, and in the Church – we deflect any semblance of responsibility. After all, our thoughts go, we not responsible for this mess. Why are we tasked with fixing it? Words of a deacon friend of mine resonate.
Never present and complain about a problem, unless you also have a suggestion for a solution.
Even with this in mind, the winding path of waiting for an answer seems unbearable. If we are fortunate, in time we will see evidence answers in our past. Prayers answered, not quickly but lovingly, in His time, for our best outcome.
Little Efforts, Big Results
In the search for eternal life, we are tasked with preparing ourselves and our families for heaven. The responsibility does not end there, however. As true soldiers for Christ we are called to be a Light. We are our brother’s keeper, in the sense that we must ‘go out and proclaim the Gospel’. As daunting as that task may appear, there are many small ways to take the first steps. Little by little, in time we are more than capable of making a ripple in our own small pond.
Prayer is one concrete way to make this happen. It must not take hours to accomplish, yet, we can find ourselves with more time than at first thought. This, however, calls for priorities. Skip that extra television show and take a few minutes to pray. The Rosary takes twenty minutes, the Divine Mercy Chaplet ten. Instead of trolling Facebook, read a chapter of the Bible or other spiritually nourishing book – and then meditate for five minutes. Be consistent. Those little prayers add up and before long, great things are accomplished.
The Surrender Novena
Lately I am feeling the call to work on this concept more vigilantly. There is so much need – in our family, our nation, and our Church. Thanks to Devin Rose and his Pray: the Catholic Novena App, I find myself more apt to branch out in my forays into the world of Novenas. As Catholic Pop exclaims, this is a ‘game changer’. The easy to use format helps me stay on track. No more forgotten Novenas. The app not only provides a numeric reminder, it also allows me to add my prayers to my iCloud calendar. Have no fear, there is also an Android version. These little, daily prayers add up. The Holy Spirit will begin to whisper responses onto your heart.
The Surrender Novena is one that is new to me. Its simple, yet in-depth goal of complete surrender to Jesus’ Will is a difficult path to pursue – a winding path of success and failure. Yet, this Novena takes mere minutes to complete each day. After an introduction and our particular petition, we repeat the phrase:
O Jesus, I surrendered myself to you, take care of everything!
In an inspired dialogue, unique to each of the nine days, Jesus then comforts and provides care for all of our woes. In repeating the supplication and reading the comforting words, we are momentarily transported to simply being children under the care of a loving God. As the brief prayer ends, we are left with a sense that this, this is that for which we strive. No net, no cares, just Jesus.
The Winding Path
Complete surrender is difficult – even for a little while. That is why repetition, from day to day, is a must. The comfort I find in praying the Surrender Novena is so great at this time in my life, that I am repeating it for a third time in a row. A friend told me that she has prayed it every day – and has done so for years. I think I will give that a go. Sometimes the simple, ‘little ways’ are the best.
As we traverse our way toward Eternal Life, let our faith in God help us to trust the unknown directions He presents to us as life’s challenges. We are His beloved children. He alone knows the proper time for everything under the sun. After all, to do otherwise would be to deny His trustworthy, unconditional love!
Let it not be said of us, “O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?” ~Matthew 14:22-34