June 3, 2019
I was leaving adoration and a lady come up to me with a paper in her hand… “I just had a sense that you should have this and that you are struggling. I have been praying this and have found it very helpful.” Thoughts and emotions immediately started to circulate. Anger… yep that was present. Annoyance… yep present too. Arrogance… present. I took the paper, begrudgingly, with an internal eye roll and placed it on the seat. There was that anxiousness in the pit of my stomach flipping around like an old-school clothes dryer. As I felt the thoughts and feelings fly inside of me, some themes started to become clear: vanity (I am missionary and I have to have my stuff together or at least “fake it unit you make it”) and humility (yep I am struggling).
I got home later that night and decided that I should at least attempt to pray this prayer… but only after researching the orthodoxy of the priest that wrote it. I had to make sure this guy was legit. Yep, Father Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970) is being examined for Sainthood. He was a mystic. He was a contemporary of Padre Pio… And Padre Pio, while addressing a group of pilgrims from Naples, Italy said “Why do you come here, if you have Don Dolindo in Naples? Go to him, he’s a saint!” Alright, fears assuaged I started the Novena (a series of prayers said daily for a total of nine days).
Each day has a specific invitation to surrender more to God and concludes with repeating the following line 10 times;
“O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!”
I found this line both finitely challenging and infinitely consoling. This year has had quite a few trials for me personally. As a family we experienced the loss of close loved ones. I had some health problems that will be ongoing. Additionally, we had some challenges financially. It was a tough year. One of those times in life when it feels like you are getting “it” from all directions. In the midst of the struggles, prayer became more distant because I was not ready or willing to tell the Lord the truth about how I was really felling. Psychology 101: my reaction was flight and to distract myself. I still showed up to prayer everyday and Mass five times a week, but there was healing that I was needing, but was not quite ready to receive. So, when the Lord pierced the veil of my “persona” by the nice old lady outside the chapel I was stung.
After repeating the line 10 times, I started to go through a litany of areas of my life and heart that needed Jesus healing touch, additional surrender, and personal conversion. I surrendered the souls that passed this year, my financial burdens, my fear of the future, my family members and strained relationships, my anger, my self-sufficiency, my perfectionism, my children, my marriage, my vanity, my health, my time, and lastly the lack of honesty with myself and Jesus. I was flooded by grace, peace, and consolation. Weeks later, I find myself repeating this prayer multiple times a day when I feel stressed, tired, anxious, angry or overwhelmed. I am sure that there are still areas of my heart that I will, with God’s grace, keep turning over to Lord (conversion is ongoing and requires daily surrender). I am planning on making this prayer an everyday part of my conversation with God. I have felt the fruit of peace in surrender and His gentle touch in continuing to heal tender parts in the heart of my soul.
I invite you to join me in making this a summer to surrender.
Here is a link to the Novena of Surrender: Words of Jesus to Father Dolindo Ruotolo
Alex Pandolfo | FOCUS Team Director