Yesterday, we looked at the importance of Recommitment to Jesus Christ and two types of Examinations of Conscience. Each of these enable us to take a confident step forward on our spiritual journey. Today we will see, however, that without the wisdom provided by the S and the O, we will never reach the depths of union to which God beckons us.
The “S” in the acronym R-E-S-O-L-V-E-D stands for Surrender.
For many, the word is repugnant. It smacks at our sense of pride, deflates our self-reliance, and pummels our individualism. It sounds negative and causes us to react negatively. Perhaps it is so because we confuse surrender with defeat. Defeat implies the usurpation of rights and dignity, forced acquiescence, passive submission. Defeat strips us of choice and privilege and is thrust upon us like a cloak of dishonor.
Spiritual surrender, however, has nothing to do with loss. It has everything to do with gain. Spiritual surrender is an active response to an invitation – the invitation of a Lover to His beloved, the Bridegroom to His bride. It is the invitation to be spiritually fecundated and vivified by the Father, through the Son, by way of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual surrender is the sweet surrender to the Lover’s embrace.
In its essence, spiritual surrender is our fiat to the One we love. We say yes and the will of the Father is manifest. We say yes and the Son is conceived in the womb of our heart. We say yes and the breath of the Holy Spirit moves us, lifts us, gives us interior flight. We say yes and “…behold” everything is “made new” (Rev. 21:5). Surrender takes us into the very heart of the Trinitarian Life. But it is not a one time deal.
While it begins with a deliberate and conscious choice for Jesus Christ, we must renew our surrender many times a day and countless numbers of times throughout our life. Each time we avoid the near occasion of sin, it is surrender. Each time we successfully resist temptation, it is surrender. Each time we say “no” to the opportunity to malign our fellow man, it is surrender. Each time we unite to the passion of Jesus a difficult circumstance of life, a tribulation, reversal, contradiction, or sorrow, it is surrender.
And when we are torn and bruised, scarred and marred, ridiculed and mocked for love of God, it is surrender. A surrender joined to the cross of Christ – the place where saints are made. It is a constant looking up to the Light of Love that leads us in the way we should go.
Obedience to God is the way we live out our surrender to Him. By following the Ten Commandments and using Scripture as our moral compass, we make great progress in finding and following the expressed will of God.
St. Francis de Sales tells us: “Christian doctrine clearly proposes unto us the truths which God wills that we should believe, the goods He will have us hope for, the pains He will have us dread, what He will have us love, the commandments He will have us observe and the counsels He desires us to follow. And this is called God’s signified will, because He has signified and made manifest unto us that it is His will and intention that all this should be believed, hoped for, feared, loved, and practiced.”
This requires us, then, to be obedient to God —
- By obeying the commandments of God and the precepts of the Church.
- By conforming to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience in a manner consistent with our state in life.
- By heeding the inspirations of grace, also called the “promptings of the Holy Spirit.”
It is as we work to fulfill these commands of God through obedience that we purge our self-will and our surrender becomes complete. St. Paul tells us: “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the Spirit of your minds” (Eph 4:22).
By following the Ten Commandments, using Scripture as our moral compass, and following the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, we do much to make great spiritual progress and to move forward in the way of surrender and obedience.
Tomorrow: the “L” and the “V” in the acronym R-E-S-O-L-V-E-D.