Abandonment to Jesus
Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso: through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus.
“Without me, you can do nothing.”
“With You, Jesus, I can do all things.”
Renew these thoughts which bind you to Him and which plunge you into the abyss of love which is His Heart. The logical and necessary consequence of the complete confidence which I have preached to you until now is total abandonment.
Since it is through Jesus that everything must be accomplished, the more I let Him do, the more the work of grace will be beautiful and perfect.
What is this work of grace? The transformation of our souls into Jesus through love. St. Thomas shows us, after St. Augustine, that the Eucharist transforms our souls into Jesus through love. It is there that I find the definition of sanctity, the final word, if I may put it that way, of our divine predestination.
Jesus transforms us into Himself. Our intelligence is no longer our intelligence, but His: we see things as He sees them. Our will is no longer our will but His: we will what He wills, and we reject what He rejects. Our heart is no longer our heart, but the Heart of Jesus: we love what He loves, and we detest what He detests.
“And I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.” Mihi vivere Christus est: “For me, to live is Christ.”
Perhaps you will say to me, “You claim that we are continually transformed more and more into Him, but I do not notice it; I cannot put my finger on it. And even, some days, seeing myself so miserable, I am tempted to believe the contrary.”
Yet, do you not see things more than ever as He does? Of course, you do. Do you not want what He wants, more every day? Of course, you do. I am sure that today, more than ever, you want to love Him and make Him loved, with a will even more sincere, even more profound, with a desire even more sure than ever, although perhaps not felt. You would not say, “I have less desire to love Him and make Him loved than yesterday.”
What trips us up is that we mistake sensible fervor for sanctity. But it is not. Sanctity is a disposition of soul, animated by grace, which is the life of the soul, under the action of infused virtues and under the influence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; a disposition to belong to Jesus more than ever, to accomplish His will, to know Him and make Him known, to love Him and make Him loved more.
He looks much more at what we are than at what we do; and we are, in His eyes, what we sincerely want to be for Him.
We understand now why so many Communions — those Communions which transform us into Him — do not bring us all the supernatural fruits they could. We open our arms to Him, yet we close the doors of our intelligence, of our will, of our heart, by not living in this abandonment. We bid Him come, but we do not permit Him to enter. But if, in receiving Him, we grant Him, by perfect abandonment, all the controls, all the keys to the house, that He may be Master in us with full liberty to act, then, oh! what marvels will His omnipotence not accomplish in our souls in the service of His love!
Abandonment, rightly understood, includes everything. It requires a great humility, since it is submission of ourselves to creatures and events, seeing Jesus Himself in them. It requires an immense faith, confidence every moment, to tear open the veil of secondary causes, to break through the screen of creatures which too often prevents us from seeing Jesus behind them, who governs everything, since nothing — nothing — happens without His having willed or permitted it.
Abandonment is nothing but obedience pushed to its extreme, since it consists of submission to everything within the limits of the possible and the reasonable, in order to obey God, who has foreseen and willed it all.
Finally, it is in abandonment that our great desires find their perfect fulfillment. I spoke to you of the splendid passage from little Thérèse where she says that she would have liked to “enlighten souls as did the prophets and doctors, to encircle the earth and announce the Gospel unto the remotest islands, to have been a missionary since the creation of the world and to be one until the consummation of the world, to have suffered all martyrdoms.”
She finds the means to realize all that by being the love in the heart of the Church, her Mother. And how was she the love in the heart of the holy Church? By living in complete conformity with the will of God, who is nothing but Love.
To live with abandonment is to rediscover a perfect harmony in God; for, after all, it is God, it is Jesus, who writes all the lines, all the words, and all the letters of our lives. It is striking to see how the sanctity of all the saints is consummated in total abandonment. All their efforts, all their prayers, all the lights which they have received from Heaven, have led them to this.
When our Lord makes some reproach to the saints, to St. Gertrude, to St. Margaret Mary, for example, it is most often their lack of abandonment which He laments.
St. Margaret Mary, shortly before her death, wrote that she had finally understood what He expected of her when He said to her, “Let me do it.” “His Sacred Heart,” she wrote, “will do everything for me if I let Him. He shall will, He shall love, He shall desire for me and make up for all my faults.”
Like St. Margaret Mary, you may hear Jesus a hundred times a day, saying to you, “Let me do it.” In your difficulties, in your problems, in all those things in your daily life which are sometimes so difficult, so distressing, when you ask yourself, “What shall I do? How shall I do it?” listen to Him saying to you, “Let me do it.” And then answer Him, “O Jesus, I thank You for all things.” And it will be the most beautiful dialogue of love between a soul and the all-powerful and all-loving God!
Little Thérèse came in this way to the point of no longer having any other desire than to love Jesus to the point of “foolishness”:
I desire neither suffering nor death, yet I love both; but it is love alone which attracts me. Now it is abandonment alone which guides me. I have no other compass.
My heart is full of the will of Jesus. Ah, if my soul were not already filled with His will, if it had to be filled by the feelings of joy and sadness which follow each other so quickly, it would be a tide of very bitter sorrow. But these alternatives do nothing but brush across my soul. I always remain in a profound peace which nothing can trouble. If the Lord offered me the choice, I would not choose anything: I want nothing but what He wants. It is what He does that I love. I acknowledge that it took me a long time to bring myself to this degree of abandonment. Now I have reached it, for the Lord took me and put me there.
Yes, I ask the Lord to take you, also, and to put you there, in the depths of His Heart!
This simple abandonment is the peak of holiness, the peak of love. When St. Teresa of Avila, in the Interior Castle, speaks of the spiritual marriage, the culminating point of the mystical life, she depicts it as a union of likeness in charity. “Such is the ineffable ardor with which the souls desire that the will of God be accomplished in them that they are equally satisfied with anything which it pleases the Divine Spouse to command.”
This article is from a chapter in I Believe in Love by Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbée which is available from Sophia Institute Press.
Art for this post on Abandonment to Jesus: Cover of I Believe in Love used with permission. Photograph of St. Thérèse: Detail of Gravure de “Sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus, Histoire d’une âme écrite par elle-même, Lisieux, Office central de Lisieux (Calvados), & Bar-le-Duc, Imprimerie Saint-Paul, 1937, édition 1940”, PD-US author’s life plus 70 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.