person letting go of feather - photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

I used to be scared of the Suscipe. I would say the prayer, but my inner voice would be saying, “Please don’t ask that of me.” The Suscipe is part of the culmination of the Spiritual Exercises, when one surrenders all to Infinite Love. I now realize it is only possible to get there after a true Third Week experience of suffering. In this Third Week I have been living, I pray the Suscipe several times a day as the deepest desire of my heart.

Take, Lord, and receive. For me it is not so much about asking God to take but finally being in a space where I am prepared, eager, and trusting enough to give. This only comes after a recognition of all that has been given to me in my life, from nature and creatures to my children and husband, to deep friendships, graces I have received to get through hard times, and moments of consolation. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

All my liberty. Free will is the greatest gift we are given, even before we are born. All of my life God has graciously allowed me to discern my direction and welcomed me back when I didn’t make very good decisions. But beyond limited understandings of freedom is a way of freedom in serving God and doing only the loving thing. That’s the freedom I truly seek when I turn over my liberty to God’s will.

My memory. My past. We have one of those digital frames that shuffles thousands of pictures from my wedding through whatever got posted by the family this week. I could stare at it for hours and recall so much joy in the images and memories. And yet, there are thousands of moments of consolation not captured in that frame, many of which I have forgotten, but they still shaped me. Each of those moments made me who I am for this moment, and this moment is the only one that matters. I also recognize that my memory is filled with resentments and regrets that spin in my head and have become a barrier to feeling and sharing the love of God. Please, dear God, I definitely don’t need those anymore.

My understanding. My present. My worldview is limited. I recognize, despite years of education, I know nothing before the Infinite Wisdom of God. The worst is when I insist in my mind that I am right about this moment and withhold my compassion and love for another, because I think my understanding must rule the day. Good Lord, take my understanding when it is not helping me to do your will. What I need is to see the world and others and life with your understanding.

My entire will. My future. I have learned very quickly on this pilgrimage that any sense of control of the future is laughable. Like my understanding, my will is so flawed and limited by my little worldview. Finally, through illness, I see that God’s will for my life will always be superior. Dear God, help me to live in my present, for I know not what the future holds.

All that I have and possess. When we first got married, all our joint possessions fit into a Toyota Tercel, and yet our lives were filled with consolation. We think possessions give us security, but any thing can be lost, broken, or destroyed in an instant, and still we will be who we are. Our true security comes only from recognizing that God possesses us.

You, Lord, have given all that to me. I now give it back to you, O Lord. All of it is yours. Dispose of it according to your will. I give it all freely in total trust that God knows far better than I how to manage it. My only job is to discern how to navigate each moment using all of the gifts given me and not becoming attached to any of them.

Give me only your love and your grace, for that is enough for me. That is the recognition that I am a part of the Infinite Love embodied in Jesus. In that, we are all connected to each other and the sacred world we have been given. And having the grace—the strength, the courage, the wisdom, the compassion, or whatever gift of the Spirit I need—to get through whatever is coming down the road is all any of us truly needs.

In the Spiritual Exercises, one enters the Fourth Week by contemplating the joy of the Resurrection. Sitting in that overwhelming joy, witnessing Jesus’ Easter appearances in my prayerful imagination, even during the most difficult journey I have ever had, leads me to overwhelming gratitude for God’s love and all I have been given in this life. I respond with the Suscipe. Take it all, God. There is nothing of me, even my suffering, bigger than the power of your love.

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash.