Question: how can I completely give/surrender myself to Him; I insist on “completely”, that is, to accept His will with pleasure & with a heart at peace.
Answer: Maybe you didn’t expect how important this question is and how it needs a long explanation! It is the basic question for us Christians, and we need to understand clearly a very basic element of our life, which is at the heart of the Gospel. I have divided my explanation into 7 parts. They are all linked together, and they are all equal in their importance and need to be understood carefully, in order to see the whole picture!
As a starting point I would like to recall the deep meaning of Marriage according to the western theological Tradition: “it is the mutual gift of a man and a woman!” He gives himself to her, and she gives herself to him. This is the very essence of marriage for the western Church! So, as you see, it is a mutual gift of themselves.
Let us now understand in a deep and truthful way what Jesus is for us! The Son of God, came from heaven, became a man, and gave himself to each of us on the Cross! He gave Himself totally on the Cross, to you, to me, to every human being! This is very important! This is why He is called the Groom, the Spouse! Because He gave everything to you! He would like you to be his Bride, so He invites you… He calls you, deep deep in your heart! So, your reply to Him, your response to His amazing Love, is to give yourself to Him, totally!
Do you understand the context of your question?! You are asking me to explain how you can answer fully to His Divine Love, in order to give yourself totally to Him! So the context is His Love to you, His call to you, deep in your heart! He is seducing you, He has lit a spark of his love in your heart! So your immediate reaction, once you became aware of His love and his call, is to reply to Him, to give Him the maximum: everything totally, in order to follow Him, to love Him, totally, and equally!
When you were young, your Godparents presented you in the Church to Jesus, and they immersed your being, totally, in Him. They did it for you, because they thought this is a good thing to give you: God himself. This very moment of Baptism, is in fact the Seed of the realisation of this Divine Marriage between you and Jesus! In fact, Baptism is an immersion in Jesus, in his Being. It is the gift of yourself to Him. So in fact your real Divine Marriage actually happened a few years ago!
But it is in a form of a Divine seed in you. The spark of this Seed has been revived in you recently, and in fact you want to realise this Seed in its fullness: you want to deepen what happened during your baptism: receiving Jesus fully, and giving yourself totally to Him! A Divine exchange!
2- Renewal of Baptism
Once we meet Jesus as adults, once we hear his call in our heart, once we understand that He wants us totally for himself, we feel the urge to give Him everything! We do not succeed in that immediately! We might start first to be “intellectually” convinced that this is the right thing to do, but we find that we are unable, by our will, to do it! The mind knows this is the right thing but the will is still too weak, the slave of many things, and dependant on them!
So, now, we begin more determinedly to keep contact with Jesus, by reading his words in the Gospel and putting them into practice! We feel then that our will is altogether strengthened and freed from the slavery of the world and of the flesh. Then after weeks/months we reach a point where we feel that we can freely leave everything and follow Him. This doesn’t mean at all that we really have to leave physically our actual state to enter another state (become a nun or something like that) not at all! It is just through the will, that interiorly we feel freer to follow Jesus, to do what He wants from us! We can very well remain in the world, without changing a great deal in what we do, but, interiorly, we feel already different, and willing to follow Him. This step is very important in our life, and in way, it is the renewal of our Baptism, but as adults!
You can consider this step as a gift of yourself, and truly it is! But, it is just the beginning of a long journey that will lead us to much greater things: the mutual gift where all our being is transformed in Jesus! The spiritual marriage, or union with God, on earth! Ok?
3- To give yourself totally
In order to understand the dynamism of the gift of yourself to Him and its realisation I would like to use an image/symbol: the log and the fire! The log as you know is a piece of wood we put in the fireplace! We are the log and Jesus is the Fire! Ok?
a) To give myself
To give myself in fact is to put the log into contact with the Fire, to repeat this operation, and to try to remain in contact as long as possible with the Fire. So here, as you see, it is an act, and it depends on us. This will allow the Fire to burn the log more and more and transform it into fire! Ok?
b) To give myself totally
To give myself totally now means to reach the state or the step/stage where the log is totally transformed into the fire. So, as you see, this is the result of a). It is the result of the repeated (daily) gift of myself. It is the result of a repeated act (a). Ok? In a), everyday I give myself to God, I renew the gift of myself, using my freedom. This daily gift doesn’t transform me immediately, but it helps me take one step! This step is important! You remember the ball of wool. If Jesus holds one end of the wool, He will pull all of it totally towards himself. I just need to put into His hands, daily, the end of the string! Renewing, everyday the gift of myself (an act I can perform) helps me to keep the log in contact with the Fire. So, one day, the whole log will be transformed into the Fire: the gift of myself will be total in this case!! Even if the daily gift of myself to Him is also total, “total” here is different from total there! What I can give today, is all myself, but what He can transform is a small part (one step). It is total on my part, but my growth is step by step!
So I don’t have to be disappointed if I give today or one day, everything, but I don’t find myself completely transformed! The new creature in me grows, day after day! Not in one shot!
As I also said, we need to remember that while climbing the Divine Mountain (Jesus) we don’t have to be disappointed if we have to climb only one step each day (“being faithful to the little” as the Gospel says)! We need to remember that by giving ourselves totally today, we climb one step, but in a way, the whole mountain is contained in this small step! We never have to underestimate the total importance of today’s step!
Keeping the contact between the Fire and the log, keeps the contact between Jesus and us, so He renews us, everyday, and transforms us into Him. Step by step.
4- How can we start this journey, how can we reach the goal: total gift of ourselves?
The main way to realise the daily gift of myself to Jesus (a gift that lets me grow and be transformed in Him) is to renew daily the desire to put Him in the first place. In fact I need to use my freedom every day in order to choose Him. Remember that all the Creation belongs to Him, heaven and earth, but only one thing doesn’t belong to Him: your freedom of choice, your will, your desire! He will never step into them, they are yours! In fact nobody can touch them! You are the only owner of them, and God never touches them! But if you love Him, if you want to give yourself to Him, you need to use this treasure that belongs to you. He gave you the freedom, and will never take it back. This is your treasure, it is yours! You need to use it, and use it abundantly, in order to grow! But every time you use it, you still own it for the following time! So remember that everyday you are a free person in the eyes of God, and that in order to love Him really, you need to make use of this freedom. You are the paradise of God, as the Bride is the Paradise of the Divine Spouse! But in this Paradise, there is a tree God swore to himself not to touch: your freedom! So remember the power of seduction God put into you: the use of your freedom, to choose Him, to put Him in first place!
In order to put him in first place by an act (this is the good use of your freedom), you are invited to a) listen to Him, and to b) immerse yourself in Him, everyday! To listen is an act, and to immerse yourself in Him is also another type of act! They depend on you! God gives you always his grace in order to perform them!
a) To listen to Him is a act that I described when I explained the Lectio Divina. In fact in order to listen to Him one needs to offer all his being, and be ready to listen to whatever He wants to say. We need to put all our being under His light, so He can shed his light on a place in our soul that He wants to change! As you see, the Lectio Divina is the first and highest way to choose God, to give ourselves daily to Him! An efficient Lectio Divina is where his word received today, is put into practice with His grace today!
b) To immerse ourselves! This is the second highest act of gift of ourselves we can realise! In fact, as I taught you, in order to immerse ourselves in Jesus, our Divine Ocean of Love, the Divine Oven of Fire, we need to give ourselves to Mary, to put all of ourselves, all of our life into her hands, like a little child (“in order to enter the kingdom of God we need to become like children,” if not, we can’t enter! Mary is the mother of these children because She is the mother of each one of us, the mould of the Divine Jesus, and of our Divine new being!). Being immersed in God, helps our roots to be transformed into the Fire of God. Because the log I was speaking about earlier, is in fact a whole tree. The visible part of the tree is transformed by the Fire of the Word of God in Lectio Divina! While the deep roots of the tree (the heart) can only be transformed in God, by this type of prayer, where all our being is immersed in God (especially our roots).
In the Mass we have two types of “goods”/foods, and Lectio and the Prayer of the Heart are just an extension of these 2 types of food, so that we become transformed in God!
Remember that a) opens the gate to b).
Remember too the beautiful definition of love by Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus: to love is to give everything [to God] and to give ourselves [to Him]. So if I say to God: I love you (First commandment: “you shall love God with all your heart, all your energy, all your intelligence…”) this implies that I am invited to give flesh to this love, to realise it!
Of course, in this journey, we can feel the difficulty of repeating the gift of ourselves to God, we can find also that it is not easy to do listen to Jesus and do his will. Why? Because the old creature in us (the “old man”) is still alive! The log is not yet totally transformed into the Fire! And the old creature in us doesn’t like the Light of God! The “muscles” of our new being too are not well used to do the will of God, so we can feel that it seems difficult to walk with Jesus! In order to help this situation, it is important to remember that we don’t have to look at the whole log, and despair! We need to concentrate only on the act to do today, and be very happy that we did it! This is the biggest grace God gives us every day! It is sometimes tiring to look at the top of the mountain, and see how far we might be! But this is not good! We need to concentrate on each step to do it correctly, and when we look to the mountain we need to feel the energy of God invading our being and encouraging us to continue to climb!
We need to remember always that it is a progressive journey and that God is very happy to see us do today’s act! One act a day, makes Him happy (one new act each day, and we don’t loose the other acts we have already done). We need to accept humbly not to arrive at the top of the mountain in one day. We need to accept humbly to bear this “burden”. We need to bear the “old creature” in us. In fact they are both, the new and the old creature in us, like in a battle! We are like a pregnant woman with twins in her womb. We need to be patient and accept to grow step by step! Jesus said that our new being grows like a tree! And a tree needs weeks, months and years to grow properly, and to be deeply rooted! We need to remember that we please God immensely if we concentrate on today’s step, by doing it!
The presence of the “old man” in us, still alive, his heaviness, his laziness, inconsistency don’t have to push us into despair, but to patience! Our old heart is an old heavy stone, and God is removing it, slowly! Patience! Courage, perseverance!
We need to see that Jesus is growing in us!
We need to look at what we have achieved by his grace, and thank God for it.
We don’t have to look back…
We don’t have to look at the old man in us! He will die by himself! We don’t have to bother to look at him of fight against him!
Humility: the Gospel reminds us that we need to come down (in fact “climbing” is in fact a “digging”, a “coming down”), to make ourselves small, like a little child.
Mary, as I said, is the Mould of the new man in us. We need to give her every burden every worry, to put ourselves in her Arms. Even our desire to love Jesus, to give ourselves totally to Him, we need to put them into her hands, so She can keep our desire in a safe place, and help it grow and persevere! We can lose the graces we receive! Our heart leaks! But if we give Her everything, if we give Her our spiritual life, the graces we receive, She can keep them safe! Her Heart keeps everything, and never loses any grace received! She does that also for us! In fact we can become very easily the “owners” of our spiritual life, of our growth. So, it is good to remember real divine humility, and give everything to the real mother of the Humble, the Humble Mary! God looked to her humility, like a divine valley; She is able to keep all the water the grace in her Heart and let it fructify.
It is good to renew our purpose to give ourselves to Jesus in the hands of Mary. She keeps our promises safe! She immerses us in Him.
6- The stages of the realisation of the gift of ourselves
Before continuing on to the new step of the explanation I would like to remind you of the first point I mentioned! The framework of all that we are saying is that: the love of Jesus for you is total, unique, exclusive, jealous (divine jealousy). This is always the starting point! He is looking for you! He gave himself to you, totally, on the Cross! This is the essence of Baptism, the essence of our being as Christians! This is the deepest meaning of the Cross. The Cross is the place where the Divine Spouse gave himself totally to the Bride! So giving yourself to Him totally will be a spiritual marriage with Him – on earth!
Spiritual marriage is the realisation of the Divine Seed of the Baptism! The full mutual gift of you and Jesus!
Now, let us look at this new point: the stages of the gift of ourselves to Jesus! In fact, as I said, it is a journey. There are many steps that mark our growth in Jesus! The more the log is taken/transformed by the Fire, the more it goes through different stages/steps. We can mention 7 steps at least:
1- In the beginning we have a divine attraction to Jesus. We are seduced by him!
But we are very weak and not constant. We need to strengthen our inner being, our will in God, we need to be regular and to persevere. We choose Jesus every time , and put Him in the first place. It is like a battle/war… and persevering will give us a first Victory.
2- After having persevered in listening to God every day, and being constant, and practising this immersion in Jesus, we reach what we call the union of wills! Our will is united to the will of God (not all our being, but a central part of it). We take the first big step towards Peace! We experience it like a first big victory, like coming out of Egypt (the Exodus)! We are more attached to Jesus, in a stronger way, and our will is better rooted in Him.
3- Then after this step we seem to make a new start, in order to reach a total purification of the soul (emotions, feelings etc..) and of the spirit (the ego). The Love of Jesus, takes now very seriously the gift of ourselves and performs a thorough purification /transformation of our being into His!
4- After this radical step, we reach finally a much greater peace, that reaches the bottom of our heart. From now starts what we call the spiritual “engagement” between Jesus and us! We have been able to say a first “yes” with all our being purified! It may seem strange to say that, because until we reach this step we have already given ourselves to Him hundreds of times and said “yes” to Him hundreds of times! But here, in fact it is different, the whole being, (including the roots) can say “yes”, in a pure/total way! The Fiancée now is prepared by the Holy Spirit for the Marriage! Her dress (spiritual dress) is decorated/adorned by the Holy Spirit with many graces and precious stones, so to speak, so she can be ready for the wedding! It is a joyful preparation time.
5- Now comes the delicate, most beautiful moment where the Son of God receives His Bride in His Room where they exchange their “yes” with each other!!!!!! Secret of the king! Here the real total gift of herself is realised in fullness! The log is totally transformed into Fire, and participates fully in the operations of the Fire. She is his and He is hers! Full possession of each other! She belongs to Him and He belongs to her, totally and truly! She can give God to God! Secret of the king!
6- A new step starts where the Bride starts to bring children to the Divine Spouse! Because it is not enough to be united to Him, in one, she needs to have children! The log, totally on Fire, starts to Sparkle Divine sparkles, she starts to give God to many children!!! Another Secret of the king!! A long period of service starts and is full of gifts from her to Him!! In fact, each child is a gift from her (transformed into the Fire and moved by it) to HIM. She gives Him supreme joy! This 6th step in fact can be divided into many different steps, but it is not our purpose today to discuss them!
7- The moment of Death, is in fact one more act of love from her, where the Holy Spirit pulls the Precious Stone of her soul and spirit and plunges her into the immense ocean of the Divinity. This is the Christian death: a full immersion in God, fuller even than that of the spiritual marriage, even if there are no, basically, other stages! This is a fuller possession of God.
You can very easily imagine a drawing where you have a log and a fire. You can easily imagine 5 steps at least of the evolution (growth) of the fire, transforming more and more the log into its very nature!
To conclude my answer we need to remember that the main way to give yourself to Jesus totally is to look to meeting Him everyday, to Listen to Him daily, and to be immersed in Him also everyday! This is the food that nourishes the growth of the gift!
Renewing daily the gift of ourselves, putting all our life in his hands, makes us take a step per day, and a greater part of our being is given to Him in fact (is transformed into Him).
May Our Lady keep your generosity in her safe hands and help you persevere everyday.
Question: How can I know that God wants this priest to be my Spiritual Guide starting from now? Are there any signs He can give? If yes, like what?
Answer: The real Spiritual guide and Father, and Spiritual Master, is the Holy Spirit. He speaks to you and want always to guide you and to speak to you. He likes to speak to you through human beings! I like to say always: God became flesh in order to talk to us through the flesh. Even if Jesus is on the right hand of the Father, He still likes to speak to us through the flesh! His flesh is Nature, His flesh is the Bible, his flesh can be any human being! He guides you, in order for you to grow. Don’t put yourself in the hands of a human being! Put yourself in the Hands of the Holy Spirit and He will guide you. When you listen to a man/woman don’t listen to the human part of him/her, listen to God, to your real Master, and pray to Him!
We don’t find the best Spiritual Director, but we find the right one for now! “For now” because we may need another priest after a while! Because very rarely can one priest lead you to achieve the whole journey! What I described above it not really known by the priests! They don’t learn it (it is not their fault) when they do theology! So be careful into whose hands you put yourself, and you need to put the priest under trial! God warns us saying: that you will become the image of your Spiritual Father! Because you receive from his spirit! And God says, you can hardly find one in one thousand! It is the Bible that says this!
This is why it is a bit difficult to answer to you!
You need to distinguish between confession (the sacrament of the forgiveness) and spiritual direction! It is not the same thing at all! Any priest can confess you and give you the forgiveness of your sins, but not any priest or monk can lead you to Union with God!
Pray, pray and pray!! This is the only way, and be attached only to God, even if you seek confirmation “through the flesh” as I say! Both are necessary: being attached totally to God (not to the man), and seeking confirmation “through the flesh”! iI your intention is right, you will always find the right person, the right advice along your way! And pray a lot for the priests!