Posts Tagged ‘unconditional’

The Perfect Joy of Surrender

April 19, 2014

black-and-white-surrender-to-godThis well-known story from The Little Flowers of St. Francis often elicits the reaction, “Whoa. Harsh!” Indeed, at first blush this narrative may seem counterintuitive and even nonsensical. But after some thought, profound insights often emerge.

St. Francis may be focused on Christ in this story, but I take a broader view that transcends any particular religious path or figure. I see it as an extreme but powerful lesson in the value of surrender. In the peace and beauty of unconditional surrender, suffering ceases to be suffering and instead becomes a gateway to transcendence.

Surrender is like an onion; you can keep peeling away layer after layer even when you think you have reached your goal. It is only when everything has been taken from you—materially, physically, mentally, emotionally—that you truly find out the depth of your surrender to God. If, as in St. Francis’ story, when there is nothing left for you to surrender except your final breath, yet you are able to hold on to the ever-new joy of Divine communion and genuinely express gratitude for whatever God is giving you (or taking away), then will you truly know the ultimate power and purity of surrender.


THE PERFECT JOY OF ST. FRANCIS

"The Stigmata of St. Francis." a painting by Italian artist Giotto di Bondone, painted around 1295-1300 and housed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris

“The Stigmata of St. Francis.” a painting by Italian artist Giotto di Bondone, painted around 1295-1300 and housed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.


One winter day St. Francis was coming to St. Mary of the Angels from Perugia with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suffer keenly. St. Francis called to Brother Leo, who was walking a bit ahead of him, and he said: “Brother Leo, even if the Friars Minor in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”

And when he had walked on a bit, St. Francis called him again, saying: “Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor gives sight to the blind, heals the paralyzed, drives out devils, gives hearing back to (more…)