Suscipe is the Latin word for ‘receive.’ While the term is often mistakenly identified as having its origins as the title of a prayer written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, in the early sixteenth century incorporated into the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, the Suscipe actually has a prior origin going back to monastic profession, in reciting Psalm 118; Ignatius relies on this prior tradition. This article in its present state focuses mainly on Ignatius' Suscipe prayer.
It also has a special significance for those of the Roman Catholic faith, as the name and incipit of a prayer in the Latin Mass. (This is common; for instance the first word of the Introit of the Mass for the Dead is "Requiem", and the entire mass is commonly known as The Requiem.)
In the Mass
The term ‘suscipe’ has its roots in the Offertory of a Mass, the rite by which the bread and wine are presented (offered) to God before they are consecrated. The Offertory includes a series of prayers and chants as well, such as the “Suscipe sancte Pater.” This prayer, translated into English as “Receive, Holy Father,” first appeared in Charles the Bald’s (875-877) prayer book. Presently, the prayer is spoken during the Offertory in high mass by the celebrant while holding up the paten and bread. The Offertory is concluded with the prayer, “Suscipe sancta Trinitas” (“Receive, Holy Trinity”). In this, the priest asks the Holy Trinity to receive and take up the offering of bread and wine which is offered in memory of the passion of Jesus Christ so that it may ascend as a pleasing sacrifice “in Your sight and effect my eternal salvation and that of all.”
The Latin word ‘suscipio’ is used instead of ‘accipio’ or ‘recipio,’ which in English means ‘receive.’ This is because ‘suscipe’ includes the idea of both receiving and taking up. Christ offered Himself to the Father on the cross and His offering was not only received by the Father, but was also ‘taken up’ by the Father, as indicated by Christ’s resurrection.
Ignatius wrote that the ‘spiritual exercises’ is the name given to every way of preparing and disposing one’s soul to rid oneself of all disordered attachments, so that once rid of them one might seek and find the divine will in regard to the disposition of one’s life for the good of the soul. The Exercises are a set of meditations, prayers, and mental exercises to be carried out over a four-week time period, most appropriately on a secluded retreat.
The Suscipe is not found in any of the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises, but rather was included by Ignatius as additional material in regards to the “contemplation for attaining love” at the end of the Exercises. In this section, Ignatius speaks of the immeasurable love of God that is bestowed upon all of creation, and then asks what he might offer to such a loving God:
First Point. This is to recall to mind the blessings of creation and redemption, and the special favors I have received.
I will ponder with great affection how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much He has given me of what He possesses, and finally, how much, as far as He can, the same Lord desires to give Himself to me according to His divine decrees.
Then I will reflect upon myself, and consider, according to all reason and justice, what I ought to offer the Divine Majesty, that is, all I possess and myself with it. Thus, as one would who is moved by great feeling, I will make this offering of myself:
'Receive, O Lord, all my liberty. Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me; I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.' (Spiritual Exercises, #234)
Suscipe, Domine, universam meam libertatem. Accipe memoriam, intellectum, atque voluntatem omnem. Quidquid habeo vel possideo mihi largitus es; id tibi totum restituo, ac tuae prorsus voluntati trado gubernandum. Amorem tui solum cum gratia tua mihi dones, et dives sum satis, nec aliud quidquam ultra posco.
Receive, O Lord, all my liberty. Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatsoever I have or possess Thou hast bestowed upon me; I give it all back to Thee and surrender it wholly to be governed by Thy Will. Give me love for Thee alone along with Thy grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All I have and call my own, You have given to me; to you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.
吾主天主，納我自由， 能力意志，懇請受收； 我身我靈，承恩隆厚， 報本思源，虔心奉求。
盡我所有，由汝支配， 聖意唯從，力行不悖； 期望我主，寵愛榮惠， 我心永潔，更無稀匱。'
Act of Resignation
The Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley, an Irish nun who founded the Sisters of Mercy in 1831, is also credited with a 'suscipe' prayer. This prayer, also known as the Act of Resignation, is one of many that she wrote but is considered to be her best known prayer.
'My God, I am yours for time and eternity. Teach me to cast myself entirely into the arms of your loving Providence with a lively, unlimited confidence in your compassionate, tender pity. Grant, O most merciful Redeemer, that whatever you ordain or permit may be acceptable to me. Take from my heart all painful anxiety; let nothing sadden me but sin, nothing delight me but the hope of coming to the possession of You my God and my all, in your everlasting kingdom. Amen.'
A new setting of the Ignatian Suscipe by the British composer Howard Goodall, was given its first performance in the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, in November 2009, by the choir, orchestra and gamelan of St Aloysius' College, Glasgow, conducted by Liam Devlin, to whom the work is dedicated, as part of the Jesuit college's 150th anniversary celebrations.
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- The Spiritual Exercises Online
- Ignatian Spirituality
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- "These Alone Are Enough"
- Ignatian Wiki
- Joseph A. Munitiz and Philip Endean, Saint Ignatius of Loyola Personal Writings. New York: Penguin Books, 2004.
- Creighton University: Collaborative Ministry.
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- Sisters of Mercy of the Americas: Catherine McAuley.
- Fr. Paul Hinnebusch, OP, STM. Meaning of Suscipe Fiat (PDF).