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Work deadlines, sticky relationships, doctor’s test results, a looming exam … daily stresses so often stoke the hum of uncertainty, self-doubt, and inadequacy deep within us. The plague of anxiety seems to affect us all in different ways.

Anxiety: what’s the cause?

Restless striving.

Anxiety occurs when restless striving (even subconsciously) to earn our worth, to prove that we are loveable, to be “the best,” hits up against the painful awareness of our deficiencies – that what we have will never be enough.

What’s the remedy?

It’s all about handing it over.

Another name for it is surrender. In the Christian life, surrender is the ultimate victory. Surrender does not mean we passively permit injustice, or relinquish all our dreams and accept a mediocre existence. Rather, it is embracing the truth of our being. We are not the Creator; we are creatures. We cannot control the universe, but we can choose how we respond to the universe and to the God who holds the universe in His hands. We can be perpetually discouraged by our own deficiencies, forever wishing we were someone else, or we can receive ourselves as God does — weaknesses and all — and ask the limitless God to fill us with Himself.

Calling on Mary’s help

Our Lady is the expert in surrender. She knew herself to be little, poor, and humble — a simple Galilean maid. She certainly didn’t understand the whole plan of the Incarnation. But she trusted God. With her free consent to God’s proposal, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to Your word.” (Lk 1:38), she allowed God to make her His Mother, the Queen of the Universe, the Mother of the Church, and the one who crushes the head of the serpent. We can ask her for help in giving God permission in our lives.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, we fly to you, O Virgin of Virgins, our Mother; to you do we come, before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer us. Amen.

Servant of God Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970)

Servant of God Dolindo Ruotolo embodied a spirit of surrender and became God’s instrument of healing and rebirth within the Church. Besides writing copious volumes of theology, this “scribe of the Holy Spirit” taught the world how to embrace the Cross. Fr. Dolindo was known for kissing the sores of the beggar, prescribing prayers as remedies to the sick (many of whom were miraculously cured), and receiving the wounds of Christ in the stigmata. He said, “I am totally poor. My strength is my prayer. My leader is the will of God, which I let take me by the hand. My security over the uneven path is the heavenly Mother Mary.”

Meditation of Fr. Dolindo:

Jesus to the soul:

Why are you upset and agitated?

Leave your cares to Me, and all will be fine….

Abandonment means to shut the eyes of your soul in peace, moving your thoughts away from your troubles, and, instead of thinking about your worries and pain, let Me take over your troubles. Simply say: “Jesus, You take over.”… A thousand prayers do not equal only one act of abandonment; don’t ever forget it. There is no better novena than this: O Jesus, I abandon myself to You! Jesus, You take over.

Prayer: O Jesus, I abandon myself to You! Jesus, You take over.

St. Thérèse of Liseux (1873-1897)

St. Thérèse of Liseux spoke often about being little before God and confidently casting ourselves into His merciful love, as a child would throw himself trustingly into the arms of a tender and merciful father. A simple French Carmelite nun who has been heralded as “the greatest saint of modern times” (Pope St. Pius X), St. Thérèse astonished the world with her Little Way of Spiritual Childhood — a way of trust, love, and entire self-surrender.

Thoughts of St. Thérèse:

“I am not always faithful, but I am never discouraged; I leave myself wholly in the arms of our Divine Lord. He teaches me to draw profit from all — both good and ill that He finds in me (cf. St. John of the Cross). He teaches me to speculate in the Bank of Love, or rather it is He who acts for me without telling me how He goes to work — that is His affair and not mine. My part is complete surrender, reserving nothing to myself, not even the gratification of knowing how my credit stands with the Bank.”

Originally printed in IMPRINT Magazine Fall 2019.