Posted On April 1, 2020

Servant of God Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo, Apostle of Surrender

I walked outside to get some fresh air after having turned off the evening news which was filled with updates of the coronavirus spreading throughout the world. With all the worries that flooded my heart, I thought it would be a good time to pray Day 3 of the Surrender Novena:

How many things I do when the soul, in so much spiritual and material need turns to me, looks at me and says to me, “You take care of it,” then closes its eyes and rests. In pain you pray for me to act, but that I act in the way you want. You do not turn to me, instead, you want me to adapt to your ideas. You are not sick people who ask the doctor to cure you, but rather sick people who tell the doctor how to.

So do not act this way, but pray as I taught you in the Our Father: “Hallowed be thy Name”, that is, be glorified in my need. “Thy kingdom come,” that is, let all that is in us and in the world be in accord with your kingdom. “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,” that is, in our need, decide as you see fit for our temporal and eternal life. If you say to me truly: “Thy will be done” which is the same as saying: “You take care of it” I will intervene with all my omnipotence, and I will resolve the most difficult situations.

The novena then invited me to repeat 10 times slowly, “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!” Jesus’ words, captured in this novena and spoken to Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo, a humble priest of Naples, Italy, reassured me once again. It is exactly this invitation to trust and surrender that we need most in this time. In this uncertainty, I want to pray this novena over and over like I used to play my Shania Twain CD as a young girl!

Fr. Dolindo (1882-1970) was a contemporary of St. Padre Pio. When pilgrims came from Naples to visit Padre Pio, Padre Pio would ask them, “Why do you come here, if you have Fr. Dolindo in Naples? Go to him, he’s a saint!” While Fr. Dolindo strove to live a holy life, he simply called himself, “Mary’s little old man.” This tender description of himself along with his prayer of surrender can help us enter into the heart of a man whose cause of canonization has been underway in the Church.

His life began and ended with the reality of the cross. His family struggled financially and his own health was rather weak, but this did not stop him from following a call to the priesthood. Early on in his priesthood, he was accused of being heretical in his teachings and spent years waiting to be cleared of these accusations. A life of making acts of surrender to the will of God was forming him into a humble priest.

“I am totally poor, a poor nothing. My strength is my prayer; my leader is the will of God which I let Him take me by the hand. My security over the uneven path is the heavenly mother Mary.”

He was a priest who was close to the people and was known to have a keen understanding of the human soul, which might be why he was unceasingly sought out by souls for guidance. Most often he was comforting those who were suffering. His birth name Dolindo even means suffering. He chose to suffer for others through penance and accepted to suffer whatever God permitted. Patience in suffering was his heroic virtue and it blossomed in the fruit of a joyful nature despite his body being crippled by arthritis. After a serious stroke, his body was paralyzed for the last 10 years of his life. And just as the crosses in Fr. Dolindo’s life formed him, so too can the crosses we are bearing now form us, if we accept them as he did.

In going through his own experience of bodily suffering, Fr. Dolindo counseled his “patients” on how to live their illnesses. He wrote them a “doctor’s prescription”, which included seeing the illnesses as opportunities of trusting the love of God and Mary:
“Divine remedy: divine obedience to the Will of God mixed with daily drops of the Hail Mary.”

I wonder if Fr. Dolindo would give us this “prescription” for our current situation of the coronavirus and its nagging uncertainty of what will happen to our grandparents, our hospital system, our jobs, our schoolwork, our economy, and the list goes on. Imagine yourself sharing all these fears with Fr. Dolindo. Let him encourage you to continue to trust, to be confident in God, and to ultimately surrender to Him all the worries that threaten to invade your heart. Allow God to transform the anxiety into an act of confidence and surrender by putting your faith in Him as the true and only security. So, as each worry pulls at your heart, turn to God.

Will my loved ones be okay? Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.
Will I be able to make ends meet if this gets worse? Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.
Will health insurance provide if I should need it? Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.
Will those important events be rescheduled? Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.
Will I have enough patience to continue staying at home all the time? Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.
When will we be able to go to Mass again? Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.
Will the coronavirus ever go away? Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.
Handing it over to God helps us return to the reality that “we are not the Creator; we are creatures. We cannot control the universe, but we can choose how we respond to the universe and to the God who holds the universe in His hands.”[1]

Concrete Resolutions: 

  • Pray the Surrender Novena for the next 9 days. You can download a printable version here. This version is adapted for children.
  • With the fears about the economy looming, prayerfully consider making an act of trust by donating to a charitable organization in need of support during this time. Sharing with others when we feel the lack of financial security is a powerful way to combat fear and the selfishness that can be born of anxiety.

Sr. Tatum

[1]  Sisters of Life publication Imprint, Fall 2019 issue featuring an article on peace and anxiety.

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