Caitrin Bennett reflects on how the Surrender Novena can help us fulfill our first marriage vow: to love our husbands freely.
After we finally got our kids to bed last night, my husband, Chris, and I sat down to enjoy a cup of tea and chat about our days. He started telling me about some new duties he has taken on at work. Or maybe he was describing a tough assignment he has been working on for a class. To be honest, I wasn’t giving him the attention he deserved. My thoughts were too consumed with my own to-do list to focus.
I have a grocery pick-up scheduled tomorrow: I better log on and add bananas before I forget. I still need to get to an ATM to get some cash for homeschool co-op fees. Is everything ready for my son’s birthday party this weekend? I think we still need drinks. Oh, man, I forgot to get that bill in the mail today.
I got myself worked up into a state of anxiety thinking this way, without actually getting anything checked off my list. Meanwhile, I was also neglecting my husband.
At our wedding, Chris and I vowed to love one another freely. But when I am consumed with worries, I am not truly free to love him. My thoughts, my heart, and my time are enslaved by my anxiety.
Surrender Novena to the rescue!
The Surrender Novena has been a great tool to help me break these chains of anxiety and worry. If you aren’t familiar with this novena, I highly recommend checking it out at PadrePioMinistry.org. It is quick and easy to pray, with a short but convicting reflection on surrendering to God each day for nine days. Each day’s prayer ends with a line that I pray all the time now: “Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to You. Take care of everything!”
This novena encourages us to be like young children who rely entirely on their parents to meet their needs. My four-, three-, and one-year-olds don’t get worked up worrying about who will provide them with dinner tomorrow, who will help them get their coats and shoes on to go outside, or who will take care of them if they get sick. They have complete trust that Mama and Daddy will take care of everything. How much more will our Father in Heaven take care of everything, if only we let Him?
When I surrender my worries, cares and to-do lists to God, I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders. Each time I tell God I want to trust Him more, I find I actually do trust Him just a little more than before. I leave my time of prayer feeling free again. I can live in the moment and be present to my husband. I can give him my full attention; I can love him freely. God’s got the rest under control.
What about the other marriage vows?
Loving freely is just the first of eight beautiful Catholic marital vows. This list is truly a gift from Mother Church to married couples, but I find it is often an untapped resource. Learning these vows and finding ways to live them out better in my own marriage has been so fruitful for Chris and me! In the coming months, I would like to continue sharing some simple, concrete ways to live out all eight marriage vows.
This month, I hope you will join me in praying the Surrender Novena to free up our hearts and thoughts. The less our hearts are attached to anxiety (not to mention sin, jealousy, materialism, lust, and so on) the more they are free to love!
Copyright 2022 Caitrin Bennett
Images: Canva Pro
About the Author
Caitrin Bennett is a military wife and homeschooling mama of three young children. Her blog at HolierMatrimony.com combines two of her passions: sharing the Church’s beautiful teachings on marriage, and creative writing. Caitrin hopes to one day publish her own book on married saints and Catholic marriage.