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Posted February 3, 2010

Book: Radical Surrender: Letters to Seminarians
Author: Father Michael J. Najim
The Institute for Priestly Formation. Omaha, Nebraska. 2009. Pp. 144

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

How to use this book:

In his book Called to Communion, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote, "The essential foundation of priestly ministry is a deep and person bond to Jesus Christ. Everything hinges on this bond, and the heart of all preparation for priesthood. . .must be an introduction to it. While writing this book, I had one simple goal: to inspire the seminarian to enter deeply into this personal bond with Jesus Christ so that Christ can interiorly transform him. Seminary formation, in order to "work," must be interiorly appropriated; in other words, formation will be fruitful only if the seminarian allows Christ to transform his heart. Considering this transformation of the heart, I would like to propose how to receive the most from this book. My desire is that this book will be an experience of prayer for you, a companion on your journey, not simply another book to read and then shelve.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Cross

My Dear Brother,

will you be surprised if you experience trials that cause interior turmoil in your heart? Tell me, since you are on the path to priesthood, to be another Christ, do you honestly think you will not encounter the cross? Did you think it will be a smooth road? As you strive to grow daily in union with Christ, do you expect Him to lead you to walk with Him everywhere except to Calvary? If we seek union with Jesus, then we must know that He will unite us with every mystery of His life ó not just the joyful, glorious, and luminous mysteries, but the sorrowful as well. He wants to live His holy mysteries in and through us.

What you must do here is exactly what Our Lord did. He embraced the cross with love; He did not do it grudgingly. Do you not believe that Jesus knows what you are experiencing? Do you not believe that He knew, from all eternity, that you would be experiencing these interior struggles? Do you not believe that, in a mysterious way, He is allowing this struggle for your sanctification and the sanctification of those whom you will soon serve? You must do exactly what He did: cry out to Him in weakness as He cried out to the Father so that you can receive the strength that He received from the Father.

I recall a time when I was going through a difficult time in the seminary. My experience was dark and confusing; my mind was filled with vocational doubts, and I could not understand why the Lord was allowing such thoughts. Because it was a time of desolation, the temptation to doubt and question the Lord was always present. But that challenging experience drove me to my knees more than any other time in seminary. I remember how sincerely I sought the Lord in prayer and how open I was with my spiritual director. Each time I prayed the Way of the Cross, I experienced a nearness to Christ that eased the weight of my burden. Those experiences were not coincidental. I prayerfully related my sorrow to His sorrow, and I received what He received: consolation from the Father.

I still do not completely understand why the Lord allowed me to go through that trial, but I do know the valuable spiritual lesson He taught me. Experiencing the cross in our lives is an invitation to unite ourselves with Christ in His suffering. Being in the midst of trial is an invitation from the Lord to grow in friendship with Him. It requires a change of thinking on our part: That you are suffering means Jesus knows you are ready to enter into His life in a deeper way; that you are suffering means Jesus loves you so much that He wants you to share in His cross and experience the depth of His love for you. Suffering ultimately, is a profound and life-transforming grace.

Table of Contents

How to use this book

The place of encounter


Radical surrender

The lordship of Christ

Humility and openness


Honesty and spiritual direction

The Eucharist

True devotion to Mary

The Fatherís love

The cross

Spiritual warfare

Chaste celibacy

Chaste celibacy: how to live it

Joyful obedience

Simplicity of life

Spiritual fatherhood


Back to the place of encounter