The hazy, perfumed air circled around me as I leaned forward to rest my forehead on the pew in front of me.
My God, I put my life entirely in Your Hands.
I took a breath and closed my eyes. My world was falling apart. There was nothing I could do but watch as pieces of what I struggled to build came crashing down around me.
I give up.
I exhaled and sat up straight again. I thought about whether or not I was going to will myself to keep trying. I knew that I absolutely was not.
With that understanding came a feeling of warmth that spread throughout my chest and put me entirely at peace. The complete devastation I brought with me that night vanished into the incense that drifted above me, and I was so overcome with happiness that I gasped as tears came to my eyes.
I will do only what You say.
Without knowing what I was doing, I gave my life to God and abandoned my self to His Will. I vowed that I would simply be still amid the chaos and listen only to what He said.
Accidentally, I became a contemplative. O Salutaris Hostia.
Surrender to God’s Will
In The Practice of Christian & Religious Perfection (I), Fr. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., illustrates the difference between outward activity driven by human respect and the interior movement of devotion:
There is this difference between things put in motion by an extrinsic principle, and things which move of themselves, that, in the former, the motion weakens, the nearer they approach their term, as happens when a stone is thrown upwards; whereas in the latter, as when the same stone falls to its centre, the nearer they approach their term, the more rapid the motion becomes.
Throughout my life, I believed that I could “achieve” happiness if I continued to propel myself upward in work, my personal life and spirituality. Then, like Fr. Rodriguez’s stone, I reached my term and began to fall backwards. Everything I tried to do to change my course failed and I was falling faster and faster toward inevitable destruction.
So much of life in the world revolves around personal happiness. People seem to spend lots of time and money seeking ways to ultimately reach it in some sort of absolute, permanent state of being. And yet, the world has only been a place of death and misery, even for the people who seem to have been able to squeeze every desirable good out of the earth, while erasing every characteristic they possess that challenges their “sense of self.”
As I continued my descent, I stopped listening to the world as it tried to tell me what to do to save myself. Instead, I surrendered myself, knowing that the only one who could save me was God Himself. I gave up the outward activity of my life and let the interior, true movement of devotion draw me to my center.
My center was not anything that was of my self, but when I discovered it, I understood the design God assigned to my conception, and I submitted my will to His Plan.
Balance In Submission
Women, there is freedom in submission. The world tells you to resist authority, but the world is from the enemy (1 John 5:19). When I describe my life to people I might encounter outside of the Church, they act as if I’m trapped in a prison from which they are obliged to release me. Others tell me that the Church has no place for women and that women in the Church have “no voice.”
Many people have told me that I would only encounter systemic sexism, marginalization and oppression from the “Patriarchy”. How could I surrender myself to this “Patriarchy” without expecting to be enslaved? More and more these conversations come to me when I go out in the world. I believe that it’s a grace given to me to know that, while I may be enslaved to the Truth, everyone seeking to free me from that perfection is a slave to the world, which ends in death.
When I think of these women and some men that I’ve met in the world, I think that perhaps this much is true: if your sense of self relies upon how many people hear the words you speak out loud, the Church might try to silence that inclination within you. And that’s not because you’re a woman, it’s because the Church values the Word of God, the traditions of the Apostles and the thoughts of the saints. If you are none of these, the Church values your humility. If you are merely a woman—or even a mere man—you’re expected to simply listen and learn, and follow the rules so that the order might remain in the midst of the present chaos.
There is nothing wrong, as a woman, to be submissive. There is nothing wrong, if you are a man, to love. This is the balance we are commanded to keep, not a law we should try to change. If you truly consider the obligations we have to each other in this law, you will see that it is complete balance.
Is it counter to reason to submit to the one who loves you? Is it unreasonable to think you won’t love the one who offers you no resistance? This is the relationship we, as women, should have with God first.
The first step to complete surrender is to follow the rules. While following the rules may present a struggle because you can’t simply do whatever you want, you will always know exactly what it is that you are to do, whether you consider it a burden or a blessing. As Catholics, in all things, we suffer for the Lord, whatever He shall appoint.
As my mother told me when I was a child, “Yours is not to question why: Yours is but to do and die.” And it is really that simple.