Finding Peace in Surrender to Christ

By Mathieu Dacquay

As I write this article, I am coming out of the Christmas season a bit overwhelmed. During the Christmas & Easter seasons at Madonna House, on top of other festive additions to our daily life, we tend to celebrate with bigger liturgies.

In our singing of the Office of Lauds (morning prayers) & Vespers (evening prayers or evensong) we use special tones and music for the psalms & canticles.

Our Masses, too, tend to become more elaborate, adding candles and incense and sung parts. When this is combined with long festive seasons (like this past Christmas) we might feel a little over stimulated and eager for the simplicity of Ordinary Time.

It was after a particularly festive Mass one day that I mentioned to Fr. Michael, my brother in the community, that I was feeling overwhelmed by the Liturgy, I was also a little sleep deprived and overloaded with sugar. He related that he too could be overwhelmed at times with liturgy, but he then said something that helped shift my perspective. He said that the Mass/Liturgy could “carry us” through if we let ourselves surrender to Christ in that moment.

I am discovering that this could be true not only in liturgical overload (a phenomenon which fewer readers might identify with) but also in other areas of our lives when things become “just too much right now”, such as when one more thing gets added to our growing list of things to do, or when one more person steps into our life right when we are craving “alone time”.

When life seems determined to throw more at us than we can manage (mentally, emotionally or otherwise) we can always try to find our rest in Christ spiritually by surrendering our situation to Him in prayer before taking the concrete steps necessary to address the particulars of our situation.

This act of surrender would hopefully help us to find our life in Christ and avoid futile or even harmful actions that in vain seek to find peace and rest outside of God, like when we go to social media, Youtube or online games to escape, or when we direct our anger & frustration towards another person or thing. The circumstances might be out of our control, but our reactions can be grounded in a peace and strength beyond ourselves.

A prayer I have found helpful in such times is “the Serenity prayer”, originated in the 1930s by Reinhold Niebuhr, a protestant theologian, and that many have found useful in their spiritual journeys:

God, grant me Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference”            

As we begin our journey towards Lent, I hope many of you might be able to find God’s peace in times of overwhelming stress and His rest where all else fails.

Previous Months Letters from Madonna House

October 2023: Ordinary Miracles By Mathieu Dacquay

November 2023: The Saints Are Alive By Jeanne Guillemette

December 2023: Journeying through Advent with Joseph By Carol Ann Gieske

January 2024: Celebrating Epiphany with the Christian east By Fr. Michael Weitl