by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

"Hands up!" or "Surrender!"

Our Lady doesn't carry a gun. She doesn't even have someone else put a gun to our ribs and say: "Hands up!" But she has frequently invited us... to surrender. What does that mean?

By way of a little background... on one of my several trips to Medjugorje, I heard Ivan, one of the visionaries, say that Our Lady asks us to surrender to God. I raised my hand. I wanted to ask a question. My question was: "What does she mean by that?" Ivan looked at me with one eyebrow raised as if to silently question: "You are a Religious and you don't know what that means?" He didn't actually say that, it was just the way he looked at me!

I could have explained what I think Our Lady means, but I wanted to see if there was a special explanation or ask if Our Lady had given a particular suggestion as to how to carry that out.

Needless to say, I was a bit embarrassed to be the object of Ivan's raised eyebrow, and the stares of a couple hundred people. Part of me wanted to defend myself, but I kept silent in lieu of the fact that I had already succeeded in opening mouth and inserting foot.

The incident, however, moved me to ponder and meditate on the idea of surrendering. What does it mean and, in particular, what does it mean with regard to the spiritual life?

I thought of a bank robber who asks a bank teller to turn over or hand over the money in the bank drawer. When the bank teller does so, he/she is capitulating, submitting, relinquishing, renouncing, abdicating, foregoing, giving up his/her will to do that of the robber.

A crook who decides to give himself up, resigns, abandons, and waives the idea that to continue the struggle against the police may place him in a situation in which he may lose his life. "Surrendering" is the wisest decision to preserve his life.

There's the answer! When Our Lady asks us to surrender to God, she is asking us to do something that will preserve our lives, our spiritual lives. To surrender to God will guarantee our eternal happiness.

To surrender to God means to give up that part of us that fights against God and His Holy Will. It means to give up and let go of any attitude, thought, word or deed that is unlike Christ's and contrary to His Will. It is a call to conversion, to a change of our lives in any way that is less than Christ-like.

To know the Ten Commandments is to know the Will of God in its very basic form. "Do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not take God's Name in vain, do not be impure, honor your mother and father, etc." When a person keeps the Ten Commandments by avoiding all mortal sin, they have "surrendered" their will to do the Will of God. But one can become even better. To keep the Ten Commandments by avoiding all deliberate venial sin is surrendering even further and more perfectly. That is doing the Will of God even better.

To try to please God in everything, to avoid any imperfection, to do our daily duties well, with love from our hearts for God is to "surrender" even more virtuously. To do things the way Our Lady would or the way Jesus would is the ideal surrender. Remember Our Lord said: "Behold, I have come to do your Will." Our Lady said: "Be it done unto me according to your word!"

Surrendering always leads eventually to the cross. Thereon Jesus completed His Life of perfect fulfillment of the Father's Will.

If you are a frequent reader of my articles, you have noted several times that I have pointed out that the secret of holiness is to seek the Will of God in all things and do it... or accept it. That's the "surrendering" to which Our Lady invited us. She knows the path we must walk to secure our salvation. She knows the way to heaven... to eternal life. A good mother wants the best for her children. We have the best Mother ever born! She encourages us to do the Will of God which is not always OUR will.

You know, from the time of Adam and Eve, people think that what will make them happy is not doing what God wants, but what they want. Satan never makes a bad thing look bad. He always makes a bad thing look good and right. That's why we give in to his promptings.

Well, folks! There is a hell! And Our Lady, our good Mother wants to save us from it. On our own, we will get there in a hurry! Accepting the Will of God, however, converting, aligning our will with the Will of God, will put our feet on the right path.

I leave you with Our Lady's own words... her January 2, 1986 message: "Dear children: I invite you to decide completely for God. I beg you, dear children, to surrender yourselves completely and you will be able to live everything I say to you. It will not be difficult for you to surrender yourselves completely to God. Thank you for responding to my call."