December 12, 2021 – Third Sunday of Advent

My Dear Parishioners:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  Let us pray.

I abandon myself into your hands, do with me whatever you will.

Whatever you do, I thank you: I am ready for all; I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me.

I wish no more than this.

Without reserve, Boundless confidence.  Amen.

This is the Prayer of Abandonment. I keep it before me almost always. I have to say there are many, many times in my life when I have not PRAYED this prayer,  only READ it. This prayer makes me know what a spiritual infant I really am.

I cannot think of a prayer that is more “counter-cultural” than “The Prayer of Abandonment.” In our world, giving up control is for the weak and the lost. It certainly is not for people who know what they want in life. 

I mean, really, what kind of a person gives up his/her own ambitions so that someone else, even God, can call the shots? What if he wants me to live as a homeless person? What if he wants me to give all of my possessions away?  – – What if he takes away my livelihood?  – – What if he wants ME to live an unnoticed, boring, and mundane life?

I am often ashamed to admit that I want to be popular and well-liked. So what if that gets in the way of my spiritual development.  – – What if I pray this prayer and he takes away my health and I am called to suffer and die young – – and I’ve told him this was okay? What if he took away the people that I hold dear? My parents, my siblings, my friends?  What if he asks me to stop watching television?  – – What if he asked me to dig ditches or clean out pigpens or change diapers at a nursing home for the rest of my life, all and only for his glory?  – – What if he asked me to be a rejected prophet? Do I really love him that much?  – – What if, what if, what if?  And to do it with boundless confidence, and without reserve and to THANK HIM?

I can’t pray this prayer! It is too scary! Sometimes all I can do is to pray for a desire to accept abandonment.

When you really think about spiritual abandonment, the passive acceptance of trials and sufferings that are aimed at drawing us closer to God, it is not for the faint of heart.  You have to be rock solid in your faith.  You have to be gutsy.  I have seen some pretty gutsy people of faith in my life that walked away from all kinds of worldly successes to do the will of God in a spirit of abandonment.  They are amazing people and amazing things happen because of them.

The Blessed Virgin Mary was that kind of person.  Let it be done Angel, as you say.  I’ll have this baby.  Do we realize what kind of strength of spirit that had to be in her?  Can you imagine the fears and questions that could have stopped the Blessed Mother from fulfilling her true destiny?  What will people think?  What will Joseph think? – – Will people believe me?  Will they think I am crazy or demon possessed?  – – Will they think that I am a “lose” woman trying to get out of a pinch and stone me? – – What will happen to my child?  – – Will I live a normal life with the Son of God as my child?  Will I be happy?  Will he be happy?  Will he be loved?  – – Will people treat him fairly?  – – What if, What if, What if?

But Mary said “yes.” And of course, it was just a few month later that Simeon turned to her in the temple as Mary and Joseph presented the child Jesus to God and said, You realize, that because of him your heart will be broken – – your heart will be pierced through. She still didn’t run. She didn’t hide. She accepted, with ‘gratitude, boundless confidence, and without reserve.”

During the Sundays of Advent, we are called to consider the MESSAGE of the angel and the EXAMPLE of Mary. When we see her total commitment and abandonment to the will of God, we realize the crisis of our modern day – – the refusal to be open to the will of God because He just might ask us to step out of our comfort zone.  He just might ask us to release control.

The question always has been and always will be – “What if?”  – – What if the rug is pulled out from under us?  Will we still be able to rejoice in God?  What if God speaks to us – – and I believe he does – – and asks us to do radical things for Him?  Have we spiritually prepared ourselves to accept not only the blessings but also the crosses for what He will teach us and others through our lives and our example?

As we draw closer to the great day of Christmas, let us pray for the desire to abandon ourselves to God, not searching out pain, suffering and misfortune, but being open to accepting anything to further the Kingdom as Mary did.  Let us pray for the strength to give ourselves totally to Him, so that He can work through us in whatever way He chooses.

I abandon myself into your hands. Do with me whatever you will.

Blessings, Fr. John