How the Surrender Novena taught me to trust

My husband and I grow anxious whenever we watch the news and learn about everything that’s going on in the world. We tell ourselves that we need to keep up-to-date, but it’s not working for us. Everywhere we turn, the news blasts out at us, and we automatically absorb the bad vibes. We start to get angry, frustrated and even depressed despite the good in our own lives.

On top of that, anything that our sons or grandchildren are going through increases our anxiety. We wanted to have a positive outlook, to find hope in the future, so we decided we had to figure out a way to do that.

First, we quit watching the news and have limited where we find online articles. TV and radio channels and online news sites feel that their reports have to be negative in order to be newsworthy. Instead, we’re trying to spend more time in spiritual reading and learning more about our faith.

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We also try to bring up positive things when talking to our sons. After all, they’re much younger and will have to deal with our God-less society longer than we will. We realized we needed more in order to find joy in each day. The answer came when my husband found a pamphlet in the back of the church about the Surrender Novena.

Jesus Christ himself revealed the novena to a diocesan priest, Father Dolindo Ruotolo, who was born in the 19th century. Father Ruotolo called himself “the Madonna’s little old man,” as he was devoted to Our Lady and the Rosary. He also received the stigmata and was praised by Padre Pio as a saint.

Throughout the novena, Jesus talks to us in a straightforward manner, urging us to “leave everything to Him.” After each daily reading, we recite “Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything” 10 times.

Simple, right? It should be, but we’re so used to telling God how and when we want things done when we pray. We already have it figured out in our minds how the plan should go. This is a difficult habit to break. The word “surrender” means to submit to another authority. Could we do it?

The only thing we had to lose was the daily battle against depression over abortion, scandals in the Church, rampant murders, corrupt politicians, etc. There’s much to be anxious about these days, but Jesus doesn’t want us to live this way. Anxiety distracts us from our goal of spiritual growth.

We both prayed the novena during Lent. It was so comforting that we decided to continue with the novena, but we also incorporated the prayer during stressful times. If our minds become crowded with negative thoughts, we pray, “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.” If one of us sees the other becoming overly anxious about something over which we have no control, we’ll simply say, “Surrender,” as a reminder.

The other day, our granddaughter asked us to give her a ride to her “friend’s” house. We dropped her off but had an uneasy feeling. A neighbor was outside, and my husband asked, “Is that a girl house or a boy house?” The neighbor said, “Boy.” My husband immediately called our son who was at work. He’d already talked to the family and they were on board with chaperoning. Too many thoughts went through both of our minds about the challenges and temptations she’d face, and our anxiety went haywire. I realized we had a way to calm down. I prayed, “O Jesus, I surrender Janie to you; take care of everything.” He loves her even more than we do and is willing to help.

We realized that this novena prayer is relevant in every area of our lives as Satan tries to distract us from our spiritual goals by encouraging us to worry about anything and everything.

There was a disagreement with a former daughter-in-law about when we could see our grandchildren. Then came a stack of bills, and every single one had gone up, beyond our means. Another time, a careless accident caused an injury that was painful and inconvenient. You know how the list goes on and on — a friend who is ill, or a child who is unhappy. The burdens weigh upon us, and our faith becomes dim.

We started saying, “Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything,” each time our stress alarm went off. And each time, a calm settled over us, as we felt Our Lord’s healing hand on our shoulders. He isn’t kidding. Jesus really wants to take care of all our doubts, troubles, disappointments and failures. He stands ready to handle it all.

We aren’t perfect at this devotion. We’re still human, and we love complaining. But Jesus loves us so much, and this is yet another example of how he tries to help us. He’ll never give up on us. He promises to “take care of everything,” if only we trust him. Think how remarkable this promise is, and open your heart in surrender.

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