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Dear God, I Give You All, Willingly

by Dr. Tom NealOctober 26, 20171 Comments

“Dear God, I give you all, willingly. But I don’t know how to give, I just let them take. The best is to remain quiet. Because though I may not know how to give, you know how to take. Yet I would have wished to be once, just once, magnificently generous to you!” — The Curé d’Ambricourt, referring to his parishioners (“The Diary of a Country Priest”)

Back in 1992, I suffered severe anxiety attacks that landed me in the hospital. I remember one day in particular, after I was released from the hospital and was recuperating at home in Massachusetts, I was experiencing that terrifying sense of total inner fragmentation that accompanies extreme cases of anxiety. The edge of madness. Those who have suffered this know exactly what I am saying. I had been unable to pray for days because I was paralyzed inside, but at a certain point in the day I was able to release some pressure from the inner volcano and melted down in tears. I was finally able to pray in that space of a moment, and distinctly recall saying to God, “If you want me to surrender myself to you, I need a self to surrender! I can give nothing to you now, I have nothing to give, so I ask you: just take this away!” I settled into a peace after a minute or so, and heard a distinct phrase spring to mind with a crisp clarity, “No, take me in.”

I immediately thought, book of Revelation. So I looked up the passage this inner voice had brought to mind. Jesus says in 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” So I invited Him into my storm-battered, wind-swept tent. The winds stilled, the storm calmed. For a time. And though the storms would return again and again, I had received then and there a new insight that remained. A new grace.

He was with me in the storm, the One who, in the Garden of Agony, had suffered a cosmic panic attack in the face of death’s annihilation. He was with me. With me. Such throwaway words. Yet when unshakable Love is with you, you cease to drift haplessly and hopelessly. He was with me as the One who said, “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). He who has conquered the storm, who reigns over the panic as Prince of Peace, wished to enter me. And when He entered, this King of Glory, He gathered all the fragments within, praying to His Father for me, “That they may be one as we are one” (John 17:21).

Suddenly, St. Paul’s words in Galatians 2:19-20 made all new sense to me: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”

And the words of consecration flashed with new light, “Take, eat my Body; take, drink my Blood.” In the holy Eucharist, I consume Christ, “in whom all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).

Yes, Lord, do not take this away. Come, enter as my guest and make all things new. Amen.

About the Author

Dr. Tom Neal

Dr. Tom Neal

Dr. Tom Neal presently serves as Academic Dean and Professor of Spiritual Theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans...

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