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By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.

“I give up, Lord. You take care of it.” Sometimes life gets out of control. No matter how hard we try to obviate freefall or to figure ourselves out, life’s circumstances seem to get the better of us.

It is at these moments that I recommend the above prayer, which I have put to great use throughout my life. I recall my discovery of this prayer in Rome back in 1980. I had been sent to the Gregorian University to take all of my theology classes in Italian. I went to Italy two months early without any background in Italian to attain “fluency”.

I was reasonably confident after studying the language in Perugia for two months that I would be able to understand my classes. My first class on the first day was an exegesis class on the Gospel of Matthew taught by a Spanish professor who spoke Italian faster than the Italians (with a Spanish accent!)

I was not able to understand 25 percent of what he was saying and began to panic. I kept thinking to myself (in my unqualified ignorance) that I was going to “go down”. What would I say to my Provincial? To my classmates? “Here I am, back in the United States. I couldn’t understand anything and I flunked out.” Needless to say, I began to feel considerable discomfort.

Realizing that circumstances were quite out of my control, I muttered, “I give up, Lord. You take care of it!” When I said this it seemed like steam came out of my ears. A pressure was relieved by simply giving it over to the Lord, Who could providentially bring some good out of my predicament.

As a matter of fact, He did. The moment this prayer enabled me to calm down, I became content with understanding partial sentences and concepts. I could then begin to make sense out of the general line of thought which, in turn, built my confidence and thus enabled me to understand more.

As the semester progressed, I began to understand far more of what the professor was saying and eventually made it to the final exam where the professor gave two or three choices of questions for various passages of Scripture. I was able to choose questions that pertained to the last parts of the course, thereby hiding my inadequate understanding of the first part. In the end, I did quite well. (Thank You, Lord!)

Evidently, much of that success is attributable to my natural gradual appropriation of the Italian language and exegetical method, but much of it, in my opinion, was due to the composure and openness to the content induced by my trust in the Lord of love. That trust was galvanized through the above simple prayer “I give up, Lord. You take care of it.”

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