- Paperback: 110 pages
- Publisher: Ignatius Press; 53897th edition (February 17, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1586174770
- ISBN-13: 978-1586174774
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 77 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#51,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #942 in Christian Inspirational
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Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us Paperback – February 17, 2011
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About the Author
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen was born in Antwerp, Belgium, where he entered the Carmelite Order in 1944. He was sent to Sweden in 1967 to co-found a small contemplative community. His many books on the spiritual life have been translated into multiple languages. Among his works available in English are Into Your Hands, Father; Nourished by the Word Reading the Bible Contemplatively; and The Gift of Spiritual Direction.
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I have recommended the book during a number of my homilies, and to people I meet with. It has become a staple that I give to people I work with when helping them work through the Annulment process (they are finding comfort in reading the book). A dear friend of mine (a priest who recently celebrated his 60th year of ordination), had me send him 12 copies so he could hand them out to friends and family.
The book is only 105 pages, and written for the understanding of the layman, but the truths presented are very deep.
I think one thing to remember when reading it, is that we have a loving Father who desires us to abandon our wills to him, and so will help us to do that, if we only ask. God Bless you when you read this- Deacon Jim
THE PASSIVE DIMENSION OF SURRENDER
The passive dimension of surrender seeks to accept and consent to God’s will as it is revealed in the circumstances of life. Fr. Stinissen deals extensively with the need to accept the reality of suffering as part of God’s loving Providence. Christ crucified reveals two things very clearly: suffering does not indicate a lack of love on the part of the Father nor is suffering ever in vain. It is important to believe that all things are a part of God’s Providence and no evil is permitted except for the sake of some greater good.
We do not need to seek God and His will in some ethereal reality. Rather, God is present and active in the everyday reality in which we live. “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” With the eyes of faith, we can see afresh ourselves and our circumstances and begin to see God in everything that happens. God speaks through events, and every event is a message to us from God which we receive and integrate into our lives.
A deep contentment, peace, and joy pervade the life of one who is surrendered to God’s will as it manifests itself in the events and circumstances of life. They are no longer troubled by “obstacles” or difficulties. They realize that such things are privileged moments of being formed by God, and they readily surrender to them. Furthermore, they are no longer troubled by their own inner poverty. God can use all of a person - even their shortcomings and faults - in his loving plan of Providence. Truly, one can hold God’s hand as a Father and experience the security that lies in complete confidence in someone who is absolutely trustworthy. He can be trusted since He has a complete overview of the journey He is leading us on. We only have a partial and inadequate vision.
Having accepted the present and peacefully welcoming the future, it is necessary to accept our past as part of God’s will for us. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can revisit our past and come to an acceptance of it in the bigger picture of God’s Providence. Next, we can bring our wounds to Jesus for healing and transformation into blessings. The individual moments of our past are renewed and healed. Finally, our whole memory becomes transformed by participating in God’s memory. We receive a new past, the past as God sees it. Now when we look back on our life, we see God coming to meet us and His work in our life.
THE ACTIVE DIMENSION OF SURRENDER
It is insufficient to only accept God’s will as it reveals itself in the circumstances of life. If we are truly to be Christlike, we must also actively seek to do God’s will - that which He asks of us - at every moment. This adherence to God’s will as it reveals itself to us externally or internally is obedience.
How do we discern God’s will? Foremost, we hear God’s voice through external sources such as Scripture and the Church. Obedience to God is a perpetual disposition or attitude which demands that God’s will be followed as it reveals itself through the Church’s teaching, moral law, etc. Among other external mediators of God’s will are circumstances and obvious daily duties (e.g. going to work).
Nevertheless, God’s will is not always evident. There are certain actions which have no obvious prescription put forward by Scripture, the Church, or circumstances. Examples include vocations, large purchases, etc. Here, one must listen to the promptings, inspirations, or impulses of the Spirit dwelling in our hearts. This is where the virtue of obedience (I think Stinissen mistook this virtue for a faculty) is critical. Thomas Hardon attempts to define obedience as "The moral virtue that inclines the will to comply with the will of another who has the right to command.” When God moves a person towards something, this movement is accompanied by an inner attraction, an instinct, or an intuition. It is necessary to learn to discern the promptings of God from oneself or other sources. Stinissen maintains that an increase of peace is the indicator of whether one has followed God’s inspirations.
Perceiving to the Lord’s promptings presupposes an attitude of readiness, openness, and detachment. One must choose obedience - and nothing more - and place oneself, without reserve, at the disposal of the Lord’s will, which is often unknown. This radical attachment to the Lord’s will (hence, detachment to all else) makes one open to whatever He may ask - even the apparently impossible - and ready to obediently follow. However, the Lord does not ask for a robotic obedience. People find fulfillment in performing God’s will and it becomes something meaningful and dear to them. Truly, our food is to do the will of Him that sent us, and to accomplish His work.
A life of obedience sees the present moment in a sacramental context. It is only in the present moment that I can encounter God in His eternity (the eternal now) and perform His will. “In the state of abandonment, the only rule is the duty of the present moment.” Living in the present moment and performing the ordinary work each moment demands can appear monotonous or boring from the outside. However, for a person living in God’s will, these little tasks (think of the Little Way) truly bring fulfillment and greatness. All these little things become sources of life communicating Life Itself.
Obedience to God does not negate freedom, but fulfills it. Freedom is perfected in obedience to the truth/Truth. Thus, a person finds through obedience the fulfillment of their deepest desires: God and His Goodness.
ACTIVE PASSIVITY: BECOMING GOD’S INSTRUMENT
The first two stages of surrender - accepting God’s will as it manifests itself in the circumstances of life and acting according to God’s will as it is revealed externally and internally - lead to a deeper third stage: becoming God’s instrument. In this stage, God moves the soul and its faculties according to His will. It is no longer I who do God’s will, but God who does His will in me. In this stage, the soul is brought into union with God. He becomes its life and principle agent in acting. Love of God is directly connected to this surrendering of oneself to God. It is out of love (spousal love is analogous to this love) that the soul receives the Gift of God and gives itself totally in return. This is a very Eucharistic moment between God and the soul.
While the first two stages were passive and active, this stage can be described as an active passivity. One actively opens up and receives the movements of God. In the Son, the person becomes an instrument of the Father activated by the Holy Spirit. God’s movement of the soul is manifested in two ways. Either he moves our faculties to perform certain actions or He simply works them in us Himself. Peace of soul is critical for being open to the action of God. Calm, peace, and relaxation create a greater openness to God.
The nucleus of this instrumentality and union with God is prayer. One ought to pray in such a way that this radical surrender to God radiates throughout one’s whole life. The prayer of surrender is a loving and peaceful awareness of God allowing for a secret, peaceful and loving inflow of God. In this prayer, it is not I who prays; I let God pray in me. One surrenders oneself totally to God and lets Him move the faculties in prayer. This type of prayer is practice for how the rest of life ought to be: a peaceful awareness of God and docility to His will.
Three quotes from the book so that it can speak for itself:
Saint Therese of Lisieux: "True love inevitably leads to total surrender... To love is to give everything and to give oneself... That is why surrender is not optional. It is as binding as love. 'Love the Lord your God with all your strength' means: 'Surrender yourself totally.' Those who do not want the latter do not want the former."
The Author: "The infinity of God comes to us through a funnel. It becomes so little and so narrow that it is difficult for us to recognize it. It comes only drop by drop through the small opening. The funnel is the present moment. When I put my mouth to the funnel, I am nourished by infinity."
The Author: "There is a tremendous flexibility and mobility in those who increasingly strive to live in the present moment. They are completely synchronized with God. We ordinarily get stuck in what was once God's will but is no longer, or we already live in what will probably be God's will but often does not come to be. Experience shows that we are always making wrong prognoses. We often live in the past and the future at the same time, which gives us a feeling of inner division and is perhaps the main cause of our weariness. We have not surrendered our past with its guilt and painful wounds. We carry it with us like a heavy burden. Nor do we dare to surrender our future to God. We are afraid that he will take advantage of our trust."