Trouble with the Suscipe

hands folded in prayer

Zoe Romanowsky, lifestyle editor and video content curator for Aleteia, admits not being able to pray with sincerity the Suscipe, or “Take, Lord, Receive” prayer of St. Ignatius. She goes through the lines of the prayer with a running commentary of the thoughts the prayer evokes, beginning with:

Take, Lord, receive all my liberty,

All of it, Lord? How about just a little? I mean, it’s my liberty, which sort of means my freedom, and frankly, I don’t think I can give you all of that, at least not right now. What does that even mean, by the way? Sorry, too scary. Maybe when I’m really old? But moving on …

Have you had trouble with the Suscipe in your prayer life? What has been your experience praying the “Take, Lord, Receive”?

14 Comments on Trouble with the Suscipe

  1. I don’t think the Lord wants our freedom. He gave us our freedom. He is not a dictator. He wants us to be co-creators and to assist him in his work. Which means giving our input and making our own choices.

  2. I was scheduled for laser surgery for glaucoma. One of the risks is loss of
    vision.I prayed,”Take Lord even my vision.” Then I thought,”Do you really mean that?”That really bothered me.I had the surgery yesterday and everything is going well,but the question still bothers me.

  3. Giving Jesus your whole life is certainly hard. We can say, “Lord, everything I have and everything I am, you have given me, and I give it back to you to be used according to your will,” but nothing drives home what that really means like this prayer, the Suscipe. In the end, learning to sincerely pray this prayer of offering your whole seld (memory, freedom, understanding, will), is a journey of learning to trust.

  4. I have the same trouble with this prayer although I recite it everyday.
    I am also reminded of a Jesuit priest I once knew..well he was very old, tied to his bed and was only able to move around in his motorized chair. He asked his doctor, in a meeting with other Jesuits in attendance, the point of being taken cared of medically, when his condition of being old and sick could be the answer to the SUSCIPE. And the doctor could not answer. That’s why this prayer frightens me.

  5. Well said Stephan! I could not agree more. I have always believed that God wants happy volunteers…not terrified hostages!

  6. I view elements of the Suscipe through the eyes of someone whose had way too much therapy coupled with an undergrad in Psych. Placed at the end of the exercises, they are set up to be a culminating prayer to that work. This past Lent, I prayed them throughout the entire season and everytime I felt anxious (translated to numerous times every day): Memorized it, separated it into short phrases, used yogic breathing designed to trigger the body’s relaxation response, added pauses between each phrase. I even led my small group with it this way as well praying it both in the singular and plural for corporate prayer. Ignatius method of “Spiritual Conversation” corresponds to modern day Rogerian Methodology. Indeed the elements of liberty, memory, understanding, and will when viewed through a psych lens coupled with metaphor, it pretty much capsulizes therapy. Liberty conjures also it’s opposite captivity or bondage. Memory calls forth forgetfulness. Understanding enlightens mis-understanding. And will relates to willingness, willfulness, unwillingness. All these are held on a continuum and any of us might find ourselves anywhere betwixt and between at any given moment. A client comes to therapy because they feel stuck ( captivity —- liberty. They discuss details of when it occurred ( memory—-forget). They don’t know what to do/are confused ( understanding—misunderstanding). They hope to find the agency to change ( willingness—-unwillingness). Used as an example of Apophatic ( emptying) spirituality I see the Suscipe as the ultimate Lenten prayer: letting go and letting God. Ignatius apparently understood the psyche long before Freud. I found that with such regular practice the prayer interrupted my tendencies toward anxiety. Additionally, it brought deep encouragement to just be messed up me before God and not some made up me. It helped me find the love and grace are truly enough. It helped me understand better the correlation between the vow of poverty and the enough of letting go-letting God-letting love and grace take precedent.

  7. The post said the author went through the Suspice line by line. Could you publish the rest of it? I don’t pray the Suspice because I am not Ignatius and I also do not think God wants our freedom. As I have a “senior moment” from time to time, I especially do not want to offer my memory. Jesus’ prayer was I do not want to drink this cup, but will. I am able to pray that. Ann

  8. I am a senior. When I pray the Suspice, I think I mean it. The problem I guess is that I really don’t know how to live it. I’m willing to give Him my freedom, meaning that MY will becomes His. But I don’t know how to do that in my every day life. Ignatian discernment certainly doesn’t guarantee that He whispers in my ear!

  9. Almost everything I have read regarding this issue is that God does want our freedom (as we see it) and that we are to pray to do His will, not our own. It is to me very obvious that we want to be in control and that this is why most people have trouble with this prayer. But because God loves us, why should we think that He would not want the very best for us? This concern may be only that of young Americans who have had way too much “freedom” and “doing it their way” growing up. It really needs to be thought about seriously: Do we truly know more than God? Can we see further down the years than He can? Just a couple of the big questions we should be asking before we decide that we can’t pray this wonderful, heartfelt prayer of St. Ignatius.

  10. I wonder if people are missing the whole point of the prayer, which is, “Lord, make me your instrument.”
    Consider the following statements in NABRE.
    Title of Judith, section 3 (8:1-10:10) “Judith, Instrument of the Lord”
    Acts9:15, God, to Ananias, referring to Paul: “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites,…”
    Acts 13:47, Peter & Barnabas, referring to their charter: “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

  11. I’m having my own “issues” with the Suscipe since some weeks. I have a mental illness, I understand this in such a way that God has actually taken some of my memory and understanding. It’s painfully real – when I’m in crisis I dissociate, which for me entails that I am unable to remember what I did do/say in some period of time. And I also realize very much, that, while I can understand things coginitvely easily (that has not been taken away from me), on some subject I just cannot act according to what I coginitively know is true – my messed-up brain just forces me in another direction.
    And the trouble is: I have no clue how this could be good for God. I mean, if this is good for something I can take it. But all I can see is that it’s only a hindrance, a problem, something that should better not be there. A psychiatric diagnosis easily leads to stigmatization and exclusion, also within the church. I don’t see how something good can come out of this…

  12. @joan ~ Yours is a question with no easy answer.
    I’m not pretending to have an answer, but I can commiserate, having many similar symptoms. (Tho, I confess, mine are not degenerative — they’re just the package I got issued.)
    Consider that your situation may not be for your good or for God’s good, but for some other good, which you may or may not be privileged to recognize.
    Again, I don’t pretend to have answers. I do, however, prefer to encourage you rather than let you wallow in your (justified) distress.
    I will pray for you.

  13. At my age when I am losing so much of what I call MYSELF, I too have trouble with this prayer. I say Anima Christi . That suits me better now. When I have hopefully completed the tasks I need to do I hope to move on to the SUSCIPE. A.M.D.G.

  14. I too believe that God wants us to be free to choose His way. And it’s very hard as humans to trust in the unknown. I certainly get very stuck in anxiety and fear of being asked to do something I don’t think I want. But I do find a peace beyond understanding when I intentionally surrender my heart and will.
    I sympathise with the memory problems also. But I wonder, maybe when they happen, what if we can pause like the rest beats in musical compositions, or even an extended punctuation mark in words, might the gaps even start to add meaning to everything round them and allow time for a metaphorical deep breath? Could they become even healing and restorative, like a pause between the contractions of a woman in labour? Perhaps we will not know in this life, but will be shown the complete picture by the Author of all in the next.
    I am comforted and heartened when I remember that through the power of His spirit Jesus prays within me ‘Thy will be done’ Isn’t that amazing!

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