“We don’t choose our saints. The saints choose us.”
I had heard this saying years ago and yet I never really understood it. There were, of course, saints whose lives interested me more than others. But I did not know what it meant to know that a saint had chosen me, not until I learned of St. Edith Stein.
The wisdom of St. Edith Stein has had a great impact on my life. One quote of hers, in particular, has given me much food for reflection: “Let go of your plans. The first hour of your morning belongs to God. Tackle the days work that he charges you with, and he will give you the power to accomplish it.”
“Let go of your plans. The first hour of your morning belongs to God. Tackle the days work that he charges you with, and he will give you the power to accomplish it.”
St. Edith Stein
It was that one line – “The first hour of your morning belongs to God…” Something in my heart began to stir at these words. Not a “morning person” by nature, they made me reflect on my own life and the start of my days. If the first hour of my day should belong to God, I felt like I was short-changing Him.
How many times did I hit the snooze button before I actually got out of bed? And then, when I did get out of bed, how often did I grumble begrudgingly at having to get out from under my warm blankets and take the dogs out before the sun had even risen? How much time did I spend distracted, scrolling through my phone and waiting for my coffee before I even thought of God? If I was honest with myself, the majority of my morning was already over before I began to think about offering my day to Him.
St. Edith Stein’s words really began to convict me of the importance of dedicating my day to God, and the Holy Spirit quickly took over from there.
I became more intentional about dedicating my mornings to the Lord- offering Him all my merits and prayers, my joys and sorrows, and uniting them to the merits of Jesus. I started looking for versions of a morning offering that I really liked.
There was the basic version, that I felt covered all my bases for the day:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for the salvation of souls, reparation of sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and in particular for those intentions recommended by our Holy Father for this month.
Later, when I renewed my total consecration to Our Lady, the consecration prayer by St. Maximillian Kolbe really moved me and felt more personal to me. So, I began to use it as my morning offering instead:
O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name here) a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death, and eternity whatever most pleases you. If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and “you alone have destroyed all heresies in the world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed Kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter, you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us through the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Allow me to praise you, O sacred virgin. Give me strength against your enemies.
I was successful in incorporating the morning offering into my daily routine, but as he tends to do, the enemy set to work twisting my good resolutions. After some time, my desire to offer my day to God became nothing more than a habit – another box to check off my list. At best, I didn’t want to miss saying it and waste all those merits I could otherwise gain, or waste any of my sufferings by failing to unite them to those of Jesus. There was very little intentionality or heart in my prayer anymore.
But where the devil was attempting to undermine a good practice, Our Lord was there with an invitation to go even deeper.
He began to place my morning offerings back on my heart. In prayer, I began to feel convicted that He was asking more of me than simply offering my works and merits to Him. I felt a gentle stirring in my soul that He wanted more than the tasks I could give Him.
He was asking me to offer Him myself.
He didn’t just want my merits and works and sufferings in the mornings; He wanted me to share it all with Him, to let Him live my day with me.
As I contemplated this, I heard a doubting, condescending voice. “Could the God of the Universe really care about sharing and living every moment of the day with you?”
That’s when I came across a quote from Jesus to St. Faustina in her Diary. “I am concerned about every beat of your heart.” (1542) The doubting voice could not withstand this and fell silent. I was sure then – Jesus wanted more than what I have. He wanted me to give Him me.
Convicted of this, my morning offering became much more than an invitation to give my spiritual and material goods to God. It became an irresistible invitation to intimacy with Him.
My mornings quickly ceased to be just another routine to complete, but an integral part of my relationship with Jesus. It was no longer just a vocal prayer I was saying out of habit, but a “good-morning” to the One who loves me and cares about my day more than anyone else. My attention shifted from enumerating all the works I had to offer Him, to inviting Him to live each moment with me,
When I began to do this, I started to notice a shift, not only in the order of my day, but also in the order of my heart. No longer was the beeping of the alarm a jarring call to the drudgery of the same work and routine as the previous day, but it was a call to an opportunity to spend the day with my Best Friend. I became less grudging about getting up and going out into the dark and cold hours of the morning with the dogs, because I was no longer going out alone.
I noticed I became increasingly aware of God’s presence throughout the day, far more than when my morning offerings were just a habit. And in those difficult moments, becoming more aware of His presence with me, it was becoming easier to turn to Him and ask for His grace in those struggles. It became more natural to rest in His peace, living my day with Him. And even in those moments where that peace was disturbed, it was easier to return to it, knowing He was right there to support me.
This, then, was what St, Edith Stein had meant all along when she said, “tackle the days work that he charges you with and he will give you the power to accomplish it.” He gives us this power not apart from Him, but by living our days with Him.
When we learn to order our days with Him, whether we are “morning people” or not, we can say confidently with the psalmist, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you, I entrust my life.”
Image courtesy of Unsplash.