The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a* mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6)
If we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we would see miracles. Imagine! What can this mean for us who, like the man in Mark 9:24, can only pray, “Lord I believe! Help my unbelief!”
I often tell people, “Pray, ‘Jesus I trust in you.’ Pray it till you mean it!” What I have discovered is that trust in God is more than a prayer, it is a many-faceted virtue forged in the fire of trials. In my experience, the facets of trust include detachment, humility, surrender, and probably many more, but these are the three I want to expand on in this article.
I had a dream recently. I don’t remember much about the dream, but a phrase from the dream has remained with me ever since: “the power of detachment”. I have pondered that phrase a lot in the past few weeks. I had never thought of detachment as giving one power, but it is so true. Detachment liberates us from things we cannot change. It does not mean we love others less, but that we trust God more. Pope Emeritus Benedict once said: “We will know God to the extent that we are set free from ourselves.” We can’t grasp God with both hands if we are clinging to something less worthy—and everything else is less worthy.
The power of detachment is about refusing to let other people or things get on our bus and tell us how to drive! It is about not getting on someone else’s bus and telling them how to drive. It is the wisdom of knowing what is ours to change and what is not. Not letting ourselves be blown about by all that assails us, not worrying about the future, but focusing on what God gives us to do each day. In other words, living in the Divine Will. Archbishop Sheen says it this way:
“Have you noticed that when you realize you were made for Perfect Happiness, how much less disappointing the pleasures of earth become? You cease expecting to get silk purses out of sows’ ears. Once you realize that God is your end, you are not disappointed, for you put no more hope in things than they can bear. You cease looking for first-rate joys where there are only tenth-rate pleasures.”
I was speaking to a friend once, and I told her that when things get really bad, I picture myself flinging my arms around Jesus’ chest and just clinging. She replied, “Don’t you think that when you do that, he’s got your back?” Wow! I realized that I had been concentrating on my action, but had been totally oblivious to our Lord’s response! Yes, he does indeed have my back. No one who relies totally on Jesus is left unaided. No one. We CAN trust Jesus. If we had faith the size of mustard seed, we certainly would trust Him!
One of the most beautiful ways I have found to live detachment and trust more deeply is to pray Fr. Donlindo Ruotolo’s beautiful “Novena of Surrender to the Will of God”. Although it is a novena prayer, I have taken to praying it morning and night perpetually. In the novena, there is a brief but beautiful meditation and then one prays 10 times: “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.” Ahh….it fills one with the peace of an infant asleep in its mothers arms. The baby has no care for the future, only knows that right now all is well. That is a valuable attitude to cultivate. Even in the midst of affliction we can ask ourselves, “Am I ok right now?” Very often the answer will be yes. If we remain in the sacrament of the present moment, where God is, we will discover that, yes, we are ok right now. God is, and he is as near to us as our own breath.
Of course it takes humility to live a life of detachment and surrender. I have heard it said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. I would add, “and thinking of God more.” If we are praying the Novena of Surrender, we cannot help but recognize how small and powerless we are, and how many things we have no control over. There are so many things we would like to change, but in reality, we cannot even manage to change the one thing we do have control over—ourselves. If we can muster enough humility to make the changes we need to make in ourselves, we will find that peace that Jesus spoke about in the Gospel. We will realize that the weight of the world is not actually on our shoulders, but on God’s. His alone are big enough to handle it all.
You may be familiar with the Litany of Humility. It is a wonderful way to help us detach from our desires and fears, those things that keep us from living a life of serenity.
Friends, if the Lord has given us trials it is an opportunity to grow in trust. We may indeed pray to be delivered from trials, but while we have them, let us use them to purify and solidify our trust in Jesus. I have taken to praying this compilation prayer three times whenever I feel my peace leaving me:
“Jesus, I surrender myself to you take care of everything. Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners, spread the effect of grace of thy Flame of Love over ____ and over all of humanity. St. Joseph, terror of demons, intervene on our behalf. Amen.”
Father, may your kingdom come, and come quickly. Save souls! Amen.