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Surrendering Our Will To God Is Our Greatest Expression of Love - A Reflection For Holy Week Latest

Surrendering Our Will To God Is Our Greatest Expression of Love - A Reflection For Holy Week

Apr 11, 2022 by

A condition of complete simplicity

(Costing not less than everything)...

-“Four Quartets” T.S. Eliot

I recently accompanied my mom to the funeral of a friend of hers, an elderly man I did not know. Perhaps because I wasn’t emotionally tied to the family, I was able to pay more attention to the beauty and power of the prayers of the funeral Mass.

Just a few days prior, my daughter had asked me to help her make some last minute edits to her college thesis project which was on T.S. Eliot’s poem “Four Quartets.” Doing so prompted me to re-read the long poem which I hadn’t read since my college days as an English major.

While it is full of literary and theological references (some of which are beyond my understanding), it is also full of Lenten themes such as death, humility, and conversion, so it was an appropriate time to be reading it.

Typical of Eliot’s poignant and succinct style, the last stanza of the poem contains profound lines:

A condition of complete simplicity

(Costing not less than everything)...

This sublime verse struck me and resurfaced in my mind while I was at the funeral with my mom. I thought about the journey that we are all on as Christians. On this pilgrimage of life we are searching for that condition of total, childlike simplicity—which only happens when we surrender ourselves to God’s will.

In some ways, this process of surrender takes place throughout our whole life; sometimes we surrender willingly, and other times we’re kicking and screaming—not so much because we lack the desire to surrender but because we are broken, fallen creatures in need of a Savior.

Truthfully, it can seem impossibly hard at times to surrender our will. And yet our stubbornness is not a match for Our Lord's goodness.

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In fact it is not possible for God to will anything other than the ultimate good for His creatures. As the Psalmist declares, “O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8)

While God will never force our will (He is the supreme gentleman) He does respond to even the tiniest effort on our part.

This should bring us tremendous hope while we are still journeying this side of paradise. Our weaknesses and even our sins can be obstacles to surrender, but they can also be a means by which we abandon ourselves to God.

God alone turns all things to good.

Not only will His goodness triumph in every circumstance, but we cannot achieve a higher good for ourselves than He already wills for us, more perfectly than we can possibly imagine.—Thy Will Be Done

As I watched the family who had gathered for this man’s funeral, it brought home to me that, ultimately, there will be a surrendering of our lives on this earth. But we don’t have to wait until our death to unite ourselves to God’s will.

Because we each possess our own free will, surrendering it to God is the greatest expression of love that we can offer to Him.

“He who gives his will to God,” says St. Alphonsus Liguori, “gives him everything.”

Jesus Christ is our model here and we call this to mind in the following Eucharistic prayer which is prayed during Lent: “Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.”

As we prepare to finish our Lenten journey, and with an eye towards Holy Week, let us remember what it is that the whole of Lent is oriented towards: what Our Savior did for us through His Passion and Death on the Cross.

After all, we know that He purchased for us the rewards of eternal life—and that doing so cost Him nothing less than everything.

Lent is the perfect time to ask ourselves some questions about submitting our will to God: 

What are some of the obstacles that keep me from surrendering my will to God?

Have I prayed about what and why I am holding back? Am I afraid of what it might cost me?

Have I reflected on God’s goodness and how He wills my ultimate good?

Does it frighten me to contemplate my own death?

This article was a part of our Holy Lent series for Good Catholic. You can find all of our series from Good Catholic here.

A Holy Lent Digital Content Series by Good Catholic