The last and most important step on the road to holiness is the total abandonment of ourselves to God. What does God want from us? Everything. We instinctively fear that we will have nothing left. This is the greatest mystery of all -- the more we give, the more we receive.

God is a giver. He never ceases pouring Himself out. That constant gift of self generates the Son. The Son in turn gives himself back again, and so generates the Holy Spirit. But God wanted to give even more. So he created the world and populated it with billions of people, each capable of making a gift of self. We spend most of our lives looking for another human being who will receive our gift of self and give back again. However, we miss the deeper point: we were made for union with God. We were made to give a total and complete gift of self to God. And what will God do when we have given ourselves completely to Him? He will give us Himself back again!

Abandonment is no longer saying, "Just show me what you want and I'll do it." Nor is it saying, "OK God, I give up -- you do it for me." It is instead simply saying, just like Mary did, "Be it done unto me according to Your will." We see in the life of Mary how incredibly fruitful it can be to say Yes to God without any reservations. To totally give ourselves to God is to be in a relationship of love with Him. It is to receive His joy and His love in our hearts. It is to put no barriers up between us and God, but to allow His love to fully penetrate our lives. Total abandonment.

Several years ago I picked up the simple prayer of St. Francis. Now I pray it every day. I know of nothing that sums up the Christian mystery quite so well as this prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.