The Suscipe Prayer and Me

Source: The portrait of Ignatiuas by Berenardoppl is published by redbubble.

Being a cradle Catholic, the Suscipe (Latin “receive”) prayer was just another rote prayer among the many that were rattled off. I was made more aware of it, when someone at a conference many years ago, encouraged me to buy Linda Schubert’s Miracle Hour.

So, I began to pray differently. The Suscipe was something I said at the end of the section on Surrender in the book, a rather foreign concept to me. In brackets it read (Prayer of St. Ignatius).

At that time, I was wrestling with the words, “Thy will be done.” My mother was very ill, and I wanted to say those words to God, but they stuck in my throat. What if God took Mom away when she was still young! I was not ready to let her go.

But God was patient with me, because five years later, when Mom was called home, the peace that she radiated surpassed all understanding. She had surrendered to God, and in her quiet suffering taught me to do likewise.

Growing up in India, we were surrounded by the Spanish Jesuits in Bombay, and German Jesuits in Poona. I visited Bom Jesu Church in Goa, and prayed before St. Francis Xavier’s incorrupt body many times. Yet, I knew just a little about St. Ignatius of Loyola being the founder of the Jesuits, and did not go deeper into his life and work.

Somehow the seeds of Ignatian spirituality sown in me, began to bear fruit as I interacted with the Jesuits in Canada. Taking courses at Regis College, and going on retreats at Manresa have taught me a great deal. I have now read and re-read the life story of St. Ignatius’ journey from soldier to saint.

This romantic at heart had his dreams of military exploits shattered when a cannon ball injured his right leg. His was a slow and painful discovery of the art of Christian life as he limped back to health. Touched by God in a special way, Ignatius’ recorded experiences in his Spiritual Exercises have helped others like myself, to find Jesus on a deeper level.

Gradually, the Suscipe, found towards the end of the Spiritual Exercises, became my go to prayer. “Take, Lord, and receive, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given all to me. To you, O Lord, I return it. All is yours. Dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me your love and your grace, that’s enough for me.” Instead of just mouthing the words, I sat with them, and pondered what they really meant.

I say, “gradually,” because one has to grow into the practice of meditation and contemplation. Having an imaginative mind, it is easy for me to use my senses and re-live the Gospel scenes. However, this willing surrender to God can be daunting.

A woman I met on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, asked me to pray for her to have a successful surgery. I did, but what impressed me, was that she had great faith in the Suscipe prayer, and said it repeatedly, even as she was being wheeled into the operating room for complicated spinal surgery. She is fine today, and believes that saying St. Ignatius’ prayer worked the miracle.

Surrender, that’s what it’s all about. At the start of Covid 19, I like many others got side tracked by the unexpected arrival of a pandemic that left us bewildered. I soon realized that I had to step aside, and allow God to work.

That was a defining moment when I walked into a new experience of freedom in the Lord. I was in a way handed the key to unlock the mystery of who I am, and the kind of person I have become.

During this twilight time, along with the Suscipe, I prayed another version of surrendering to God, Fr. Don Dolindo’s Surrender Novena. “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.”

I keep thinking, that if Ignacio Lopez de Loyola, a once self-centered, vain soldier could be transformed into St. Ignatius, a passionate, joyful follower of Christ, helping thousands on their spiritual journey, then perhaps there is hope for me.

It is through struggles that we are transformed in the spiritual life. St. John Paul II said, “The path to holiness involves the acceptance of spiritual combat.”

In life’s struggles, I have also received an abundance of God’s blessings, I often find myself singing John Foley’s hymn “Take, Lord, Receive,” based on the Suscipe. I soulfully repeat the antiphon, “Give me only your love and your grace, that’s enough for me. Your love and your grace, that’s enough for me.”

Viola Athaide, a student of Theology, is actively involved in parish life, leading Bible courses, the Prayer Group, and the Ministry with Maturing Adults.

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19 Comments
  • Stephen
    Posted at 06:47h, 23 August Reply

    The prayer that Jesus taught St Faustina – O blood and water that gushed forth from your heart as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you – resonates the same sentiment of surrender. So is Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 06:57h, 23 August Reply

    Great reflection from real life experience. Thank you!

  • graeme quinlan
    Posted at 07:43h, 23 August Reply

    I surrender all to the Lord. I give of myself entirely to the Lord. I ask nothing of the Lord for myself, but that all I do I do unto Him.

  • Dee Sproule
    Posted at 08:33h, 23 August Reply

    Viola,
    Your every reflection challenges me. This one particularly because I recenty completed the 19th Annotation the summer prior to the start of the pandemic. I, too, try to pray the Suscipe wholeheartedly. Your reflection gives me hope. Please continue to write. You are an inspiration.

  • Sylvia Lee
    Posted at 12:33h, 23 August Reply

    Thank you, Viola for sharing the Suscipe Prayer, the Surrender Novena prayer and your reflection. The prayers are very good inspiration for me to mediate.

    As we surrender, pray and commit “thy will be done”, we trust God wholeheartedly and have faith that He has a good plan for us. We surrender .. and let God lead the dance. May God bless you.

  • Christine Domingo
    Posted at 13:10h, 23 August Reply

    Thank you, Viola, for your inspirational reflections. They always have a message of “trust in the Lord” ….and hope. Surrendering to His Will doesn’t come easy but with it comes a sense of peace and comfort. Perseverance and a complete abandonment to His will are key. Thank you for sharing of your talent and wisdom.

  • suzanne renaud
    Posted at 13:12h, 23 August Reply

    Thank you for sharing your reflection on the Suscipe.

  • Tonis Kilp
    Posted at 14:06h, 23 August Reply

    Hi Viola thank you for sharing it is probably one of the hardest things to do, surrender to God but ultimately we will all need to ask for God’s Grace, many blessings to you and your loved ones.

  • Lorraine Majcen
    Posted at 22:05h, 23 August Reply

    Thank you for sharing your faith journey Viola. It’s very enlightening and inspirational. I too am on a journey of total surrender to God and trust in his will.

  • Lalita Figueredo
    Posted at 23:25h, 23 August Reply

    Thank you for your post on the Suscipe prayer. Frankly, I had not heard of it before. It is probably presumptuous of me but I have always directed my prayers to my Lord and my God always trusting that He knows what is best for each and everyone of us.

  • Linda R Rego
    Posted at 00:04h, 24 August Reply

    Thank you again dear sister in law. Our pastor often reminds us through his homilies to “be “courageous” and “trust in Him.” We all need that courage right now. I love these prayers.

  • Linda Rego
    Posted at 00:05h, 24 August Reply

    Thank you again dear sister in law. Our pastor often reminds us through his homilies to “be “courageous” and “trust in Him.” We all need that courage right now. I love these prayers.

  • rosa scarpino
    Posted at 10:45h, 24 August Reply

    Beautiful reflection Viola, I also pray the St. Ignatius prayer from the Miracle hour, ( I did not know it was called the Suscipe) and Don Dolindo’s prayer. Thank you for sharing with us. God bless, rosa.

  • Lalita Figueredo
    Posted at 12:18h, 24 August Reply

    Dear Viola, thank you for introducing me to the Suscipe prayer which quite frankly I was not familiar with prior to your post. It is probably presumptuous of me, however
    I have always addressed my prayers and supplications and gratitude directly to my Lord and my God.

  • Fay
    Posted at 14:11h, 25 August Reply

    This article has a lot for meditation and reflection, and you have done an excellent reflection of your life as it changed you. While I always knew that surrendering to the Lord got me great comfort, not always easy to do!, I shall reflect on your poem and the surrender myself more deeply. Thank You dear friend.. May the Lord always shower his blessings on you and your family as you make time for others in so many different ways.

  • Lorella D'Cruz
    Posted at 21:16h, 25 August Reply

    Trust and surrender to His will. How well you’ve conveyed this eternal truth, Viola.

  • Teresa.correia
    Posted at 19:03h, 26 August Reply

    Thank you Viola, very beautiful!
    I also feel that surrendering comes from my realization that only God can take care of everything

  • Doreen Pinto
    Posted at 22:45h, 26 August Reply

    Surrender without His grace is impossible, but the joy & peace that goes with it makes all things possible. The attraction to this prayer is the ‘freedom’ it brings to the heart & soul – no more worries, live in His Will, that’s where you will find Him.
    Love the reflection Viola.
    God Bless

  • Mario Coutinho
    Posted at 14:16h, 29 August Reply

    Great faith booster! keep up the good work.
    mario

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