What does it mean to abandon one's self completely to God and His will? What seems like an impossible feat, is as simple as becoming like a child. Certainly this demands much and is a profound commitment of self-emptying and self-sacrifice. However, the good news is that God is our loving Father, and he desires to draw near to us even more than we desire Him. God is not an impersonal being that makes demands, He is our Dad who has so much to offer us.
In our latest chat installment, explore what it means to spend time with (and abandon to) God. See whether this looks different depending on one’s state in life. And humbly remember that often what God expects of might be small, but it all prepares us for the big task of becoming saints—becoming children who inherit God’s kingdom.
If you like the chat below, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday! We read a passage or letter from St. Francis de Sales and gather great insights and sharing!
Spending Time with God
Visitation Sister: We can start with the first discussion question: What does it mean to spend time with God? Obviously in a Monastery we spend a lot of time in prayer with God, but the question goes deeper than that, I think.
Ines: Spending time with God… relaxing all the filters and worries of the day. Inviting Him to take those so that we can be together more fully. Surrender.
Visitation Sister: Being with, with one’s whole being. Loving Him, letting Him love us.
Ines: Yes. Not holding anything back. I have to consciously let go of the worries that I would otherwise keep (as if I can do anything about them). Yes — letting Him love us! Sometimes that’s hard. I don’t know why.
Visitation Sister: Sometimes we feel unlovable.
Ines: Um, yeah, that’s for sure.
Visitation Sister: Knowing by faith He loves us and then trying to be conscious of the ways He shows it, sometimes simplifies things.
Bethany: Ask the Divine Mercy of Jesus to help you to know him love him and serve him just like those saints and read more Bible, go to mass, and read more saints books so you will know how to love the Lord and serve the Lord in your life.
Visitation Sister: God is in silence, and we can feel Him within, in the silence, sometimes.
Ines: Cultivating silence in the midst of busy days and work… I feel like this is the hardest part of being a laywoman. I don’t have family, but I teach full time at an independent Catholic school (St. John Bosco Schools) and it’s 50-55 hours a week for many weeks. I have a hard time “shutting off” work stuff.
Visitation Sister: We never waste our time when spent with Jesus.
Ines: This notion is a wonderful relief — just sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament with oatmeal for brains, haha.
Visitation Sister: That is a real challenge, Ines, but when you get home maybe reviewing your day with Him is one way to incorporate all that won’t immediately leave your mind.
Ines: I like that. Thank you for the suggestion!
Visitation Sister: You got it!
Ines: I don’t know anyone here. I’m “n00bz,” haha.
Visitation Sister: St Francis de Sales says every 15 min or so think of God, it helps to keep Him in your present moment.
Abandon to God
Visitation Sister: Next question: What does it mean to utterly abandon ourselves to God? So, we go from spending time with God to utter abandonment to Him.
Ines: To hold nothing back; to accept all He gives us, especially when things don’t seem to be going in the “right” direction.
Carey: To accept also what He doesn’t give us.
Visitation Sister: Living His Will completely, not ours.
Bethany: Go to church and pray the rosary and receive the Blessed Sacrament, adoration, and listen and pray more, the most important is listen to the gospel faith and study the Bible and put Jesus as ruler of your life. Jesus tells us: I’m the way to guide you to the truth, walk with me and you will receive my Holy Spirit and see the vision and goodness of God.
Rebecca: Yes, Ines. I agree. But living it! That takes a lot of practice.
Bethany: Ask the lord to help you, he is the guider.
Visitation Sister: He gives us those opportunities. The word that gets me in the question is “utterly,” not just to abandon but to utterly abandon.
Bethany: One of my church sisters love to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, these words are also from Jesus, no one can write and create the divine mercy, only divine Jesus and his vision words and teaching.
Visitation Sister: That must be great to have company from afar.
Carey: Interesting choice of words… absolutely abandon feels different than to utterly abandoned.
Ines: Yes, lots of practice! Utterly. Yes. Completely empty of ego. It’s a bit scary to me, honestly.
Visitation Sister: Yes, I agree but can’t define the difference, in what it consists of, absolutely vs utterly.
Ines: Maybe “absolutely” has an automatic positive connotation that “utterly” lacks. We use it as a positive response, as a “yes” in casual conversation.
Carey: One definition says, “extreme degree”.
Rebecca: Completely, entirely, with every ounce of one’s being.
Carey: I like that: “every ounce.”
Visitation Sister: What a goal - not there yet.
Rebecca: Yes, “absolutely” has lost its clout in casual conversation.
Carey: Kind of like: If you fill a jar with sand, it’s absolutely full. Then you pour in some water, and it’s utterly filled.
Visitation Sister: Meaning no more can get in?
Rebecca: Carey, good example. Absolute zero is the temperature at which molecules have NO motion.
Caroline: The jar was full before you added water. What was full is now even more full.
Guest: Yes. To be peaceful no matter what is happening because God is in control. And to be comfortable with His decisions.
Rebecca: And we need to do — somehow — the opposite, EMPTY ourselves completely, so that HE can fill us. Hmmm.
Ines: I must decrease; He must increase.
Caroline: There’s a little hole in the bottom where the sand drains out.
Visitation Sister: Very interesting. Only He can do this emptying in us, completely, I think.
Rebecca: Haha! That’s an hourglass you describe, Caroline.
Ines: Don’t know about any of you, but I cling to problems and worries too much. I *try* to give them to the Lord, but you know… I always try to take them back. He’s always on with me about “I’ve got you!” And I’m like, “Yes… but…” And He’s like, “Trust Me.”
Caroline: Me too, Ines. Well, the hourglass stays full too. It’s an illusion that he isn’t already in us. He has already filled us. We are so delusional we think we have power….
Ines: Exactly, Caroline! Feeling alone or abandoned, or that we somehow have to “do it” is an illusion. Get behind me, Satan!
Virtue and Vocation
Visitation Sister: Question 3: How can people in different vocations have different virtues?
Rebecca: Sometimes I think that God has allowed me to live this long, because I am a slow learner, and He knows I want to get it right before I die: To love, to communicate the LOVE that He is, living in me.
Carey: I think nuns and priests can focus in and pray better because they aren’t troubled by so many worldly things.
Ines: I agree with Carey to a point. I know priests who may not have “worldly” thing to trouble them, but there is a lot of other stuff for them to get sidetracked from prayer.
Visitation Sister: In some respects, maybe but then all the little things get in the way! What kind of virtues should the layperson have?
Carey: Whereas maybe a mom has a virtue of hard work because she has to get things done for her children.
Caroline: I think we must practice all of them, but certain ones will be needed more. Like Moms and patience.
Visitation Sister: We can all try to live in the present moment, but for me it might be in silence and for a mom or worker at the office, in conversation and interaction.
Carey: Yes, by practicing all you get better at all (hopefully). And being better at one helps you get better at others.
Rebecca: Even living alone, I have to learn patience — especially with myself, since I’ve become so clumsy . . .
Visitation Sister: Or gentleness, my opportunities will be in community and others in family, work, or school.
Carey: It is sooooo difficult for me to stay in the present moment. My mind pulls me back to the past, and tortures me with old stuff that can’t be changed.
Visitation Sister: Yes, St Francis often speaks about being patient with ourselves.
Caroline: We each have a different station and calling, yet at the base of it, we must all do the same thing.
Ines: It’s hard for me to work where I do when all I’ve wanted is to live in silence. Chaos and noise are very hard – almost painful – to be around.
Caroline: I find it that way too.
Visitation Sister: Hand the old stuff over to God during the present moment and then you are living the present moment.
Ines: But I can see the Lord is helping me grow in patience and having to “dig deeper” to find that well where He is already.
Rebecca: Funny, I never saw, in a list of virtues, “efficiency” but in America, that is almost an idol.
Ines: Rebecca! You’re so right. Get it done yesterday and get it done perfectly. I put that pressure on myself.
Caroline: That and the ability to do twelve things at once, truly present to none.
Visitation Sister: That is also interesting Rebecca, efficiency: doing the best one can and being who you are and being that well, is that close?
Ines: Wow… I’m horrible with multitasking. It’s wasteful and makes my head spin.
Lucy: But as a single mother, multi-tasking is often what is required.
Ines: I thought Rebecca meant that our culture idolizes “efficiency” to the detriment of being in the moment, doing it well, being ourselves, etc.
Caroline: Yes, the grace is in each moment.
Lucy: Not necessarily many things at once, but the ability to switch from one thing to another in an instant, and not lose track of the things not yet finished.
Ines: I am amazed at single parent families.
Lucy: There is a pressure on oneself though to accomplish the impossible and my studies in the Salesian spirituality have been a lifesaver to my peace of mind and ability to keep God in the center.
Rebecca: Lucy, scientists say that that is all that anyone who thinks he’s multitasking is actually doing: Switching back and forth between tasks, missing bits and pieces of each.
Visitation Sister: That is the beauty of the Salesian spirit, Lu Ann. So glad it helps! We can all benefit as we grow in it.
Ines: Lucy, Here-here! Yes, to what Rebecca said. The problem with what appears to be “multi-tasking” is that things get dropped. I do it constantly; I’m not built for such activity.
Caroline: We are all expected to do the jobs of three people. I wish we would relearn that work is for people, not people for work.
Ines: Here, here, Caroline!
Lucy: But when reading to one child and another is into mischief, finishing the book is not an option before correction, gathering the stray child and continuing the book. In many ways, I often see myself as the child and God as my parent and realize the immense love He must have for me when I know the depths of my imperfect love for my children.
Visitation Sister: I wonder though how St Francis would have advised re multi-tasking.
Caroline: St Francis would likely tell us to stop it.
Lucy: One thing at a time, one after another.
Ines: I mean, sometimes it’s inevitable, like when you’re cooking, or when parenting. But ideally, yes… one thing done well and then move on to the next thing.
Rebecca: Lucy, are you a teacher, too, or a parent?
Ines: I call that “going down the rabbit hole” Carey. It’s so hard sometimes, not to get suckered in. I have a couple people I reach out to as prayer warriors when I feel myself slipping in. It really helps.
Visitation Sister: Yes, cutting it short; one of our Sisters Sr Mary de Sales Chapuuis said that.
Lucy: A parent, trained in social work, but currently working at McDonald’s with my children grown and out of the house.
Visitation Sister: Almost like being single but not quite?
Carey: Ines – I think your lack of ability to multitask is actually a blessing. I go in circles all over the place, and don’t really get anything done. Whereas a friend is able to focus in… and actually get things done, one after the next. While my things stay partially completed for decades.
Lucy: Part of my difficulty right now is not knowing what my duties of state even are.
Rebecca: Thank you. Reminds me that living in the moment does not mean forgetting the past.
Ines: Carey — I teach middle schoolers at a school with many issues; I’m teaching 5 classes plus holding administrator duties. I can’t even see straight at the end of the day. My inability to get things done and switch gears every 7 seconds has definitely impacted my mental health (this was my first year at the school).
Caroline: Oh Ines, I will pray for you!
Carey: No. Not forgetting. Just detaching from it.
Ines: I have discerned at a couple of monasteries… I have felt that calling… but I have student loan debt that keeps me working and spinning like a whirling dervish. I love the school and the kids, and the fact that we have a Salesian spirit, but OH MAN… Thank you, Caroline!
Caroline: Sister, is the foundation that helps postulants pay off debts still out there.
Ines: Speaking of single, Sister, what is the “vocation” to single life? The Church doesn’t talk about that much other than consecrated virgin.
Rebecca: Carey, I have to chuckle. You describe my situation to a T. I am trying to make room in my house for an organ I purchased/gave a donation for years ago; the church and rectory and community room, the whole property has been sold. So, I won’t be able to go over there to practice any more. Well, the stuff I am attempting to move: It is like an archaeological excavation!
Ines: Oh — trust me — i’ve been through all of that. Those organizations won’t help me because of the size of my debt. Thank you… not looking for problem solving so much as being able to live in the present that God has given me.
Lucy: I pray that I am modelling peace and joy and obedience to the mostly younger group I am working with and have seen some impact over the course of the past 6 weeks working there. For now, this is where I am….
Carey: Maybe if you reframe what you are doing… you are patiently dealing with what is in front of you… what is in front of you changes. But you are not really changing….
Visitation Sister: Yes, Mater Ecclesiae and the other fund is still out there can’t think of the name at present.
Ines: Thank you, Carey. I’ll mull that over.
Visitation Sister: Laboure society, that is it.
Ines: Laboure Society. I’ve looked into both.
Visitation Sister: Some talk of the single vocation but as to whether much theology has been written I do not know but it is considered a legitimate state of life.
Caroline: It is getting so hard to seek monastic life. I felt like I would never measure up to even ask.
Visitation Sister: Consecrated virgins etc. Are more towards religious state, I think.
Ines: I know there are some consecrated diocesan hermits out there. But most bishops don’t want to deal with it.
Caroline: Yes, and then there is the domestic expression of www.littleportion.org.
Ines: Thank you, Sister. Sometimes the “single life” seems like the null state of not-married and not-a-nun.
Visitation Sister: That is a very possible avenue.
Ines: I will check them out, thank you, Caroline.
Caroline: You’re welcome. I am very happy and in the temporary professed stage. I will be happy to answer questions if you need.
The Little Way
Visitation Sister: Question: Why is it so important to train in little virtues before practicing the heroic virtues?
Carey: Little virtues tend to be around us all the time. Whereas the heroic ones might just happen once in a lifetime.
Ines: Also, little virtues train us to respond when those heroic virtues are needed. Like lifting small weights before we’re ready for heavy weights.
Visitation Sister: Good example too.
Carey: Seems he liked simple / little things…it’s many little things that have the biggest impact. Catching my brain before it goes backwards into a deep hole… making it stop at the edge of the hole instead of diving in… that would help.
Rebecca: Through this cancer experience I feel I have actually GROWN in peace — despite all that is so disagreeable. I am grateful to God, and to a good oncologist at this end. And everything was so rushed, that I did not have time or energy to inform myself.
Visitation Sister: All the traveling you had to do and all the treatments- and here you are, after being locked out- you are filled with peace!
Ines: God bless you, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Thank you, I will pray for you, too. And can certainly “use” your prayers.
Carey: I sometimes feel too scattered to pray.
Rebecca: Carey, bring Him you are feeling scattered. It is fascinating what prayer can be: Just offering yourself right where you are — even if it is a “piece” here and a “piece” there.
Carey: I like that idea. Even just part of a prayer. I was trying to say a novena, but it was too stressful. So, I told God I was just going to do it in a different way, but it was a way that worked for me. God understands. I can’t even imagine going through cancer treatments. That must have been so tough.
Question: How can we be more like children in our walk of faith?
Carey: Sometimes children simply trust their parents – to provide food / shelter / whatever….
If you liked the chat above, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday!