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Book Club – Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

August 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

Book Club INTERNAL IMAGE (internal to post) 600x214

A doctor…orders leeches to be applied. While these small creatures are drawing blood from the patient their only aim is to gorge themselves and suck up as much of it as they can. The doctor’s only intention is to have the impure blood drawn from the patient and to cure him in this manner. There is therefore no relation between the insatiable greed of the leeches and the intelligent purpose of the doctor in using them. The patient himself does not protest at their use. He does not regard the leeches as evildoers. Rather he tries to overcome the repugnance the sight of their ugliness causes and help them in their action, in the knowledge that the doctor has judged it useful for his health.

God makes use of men as the doctor does of leeches. Neither should we then stop to consider the evilness of those to whom God gives power to act on us or be grieved at their wicked intentions, and we should keep ourselves from feelings of aversion towards them. Whatever their particular views may be, in regard to us they are only instruments of well-being, guided by the hand of an all-good, all-wise, all-powerful God, who will allow them to act on us only in so far as is of use to us. It is in our interest to welcome instead of trying to repel their assaults, as in very truth they come from God. And it is the same with all creatures of whatever kind. Not one of them could act upon us unless the power were given it from above. – Trustful Surrender of Divine Providence, pg. 22-23 (TAN)

I’ve always had what many call a “Type A” personality. Particularly in my younger years. If something needed to be done, I did it. If I had a goal, I laid steps out on paper and proceeded to accomplish it. I believed I could do anything I set my mind to.  I never believed that I was indestructible like many of the boys I knew, but I did feel safe and ultimately in control of my life.

And then, one crisp friday Nebraska evening in November of 1991, my feelings of security and control were torn from my grasp.

It was only 6:45 as I drove home from work in below freezing temperatures, but it was dark; and, with wind chill the temperature was ten degrees below zero. Upon reaching my apartment complex, I hustled out of my car, keys in hand and headed toward the door, feeling the wind bite into my skin. Coming up behind me was a young man with a bandana over his mouth – it was that cold, so I had no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary. I actually held the door open for him.

As soon as we were inside, he seized me violently, placed a large butcher knife to my throat and proceeded to drag me toward the door. Just as he started pulling me, I grabbed onto the stair railing, holding on for dear life. I yelled over and over again, “I can’t see your face, I can’t see your face, I can’t see your face…” For some crazy reason, I thought that if he knew I couldn’t turn him in, he’d let me go. In the end, my resistance won out. There was only one door to my apartment complex, and to stand there much longer risked someone else walking in or exiting an apartment. So he left, leaving me without a scratch, but taking my purse and all my confidence with him, right out into the night.

I heard later from detectives that the perpetrator  was a serial rapist and that my hanging on to that railing probably saved my life, or my purity. Yes, I thanked God that I was safe. And yes, there was a bit of “Whew!” when all was said and done. But not much. There was much more of “What if…?” What if I had not held on? What if he had forced me outside? What if he’d waited until I unlocked the door to my empty apartment? What if he’d sliced my throat? What if…what if….what if…?

Needless to say, from that moment on, I was fearful. For the first time in my life, I realized that I was NOT in control. That I was vulnerable.  I could pretend to be in control, but the reality was that I could never tell what would be around the next corner.

For years, I did not get on elevators with an individual I didn’t know. I was afraid to be alone outside at night. I refused to take the trash out by myself. I heard things when I was alone in our house, and I was very nervous when my husband travelled.

It’s not that I lacked faith. I believed that God would take care of me. Sort of. But when it came to violence, I believed in the doctrine of free will. In my mind, if someone committed a violent act, well, the God of the universe would stand idly by and let him (or her – not trying to be sexist here) commit the sin. Not that He lacked compassion.  But that was just part of the deal. If we could just stop sinning, we wouldn’t have all the suffering and tragedy caused by free will. But as it stood, they were still here, and therefore, just because there was a God didn’t mean I would always be safe. Hence, my fear.

Well, there was a key component missing in my understanding, which this book introduced. God was not standing idly by. He was right there. He was the doctor that I needed. If in his Passive will, he allowed evil to happen to me, I could rest in the knowledge that it was for my own good. He ONLY willed my Good. Once I recognized that, I knew that even if something bad happened, it would be OK. I could be thankful even for evil that was hoisted upon me, because the Eternal Doctor felt I needed something special at that moment in my life.

This was a HUGE realization for me. I first read this book 10 years ago, and since then, I kid you not – I have not been afraid. That’s not to say that I’ve been reckless. I recognize my responsibility to care for this temple of the Holy Spirit with which I’ve been blessed. But I no longer fear taking out the trash. I no longer fear being home alone.

Every time I’m tempted to fear, this book comes to mind right away. And I’m able to calm myself – and actually feel secure. This applies not only in my personal life, but when I consider natural disasters and political turmoil. All these things have ceased to threaten my peace.

I’ve read this book several times, now – whenever I need a reminder – and I can honestly say that this quote has taught me to trust God with my life. It has had more of an impact on my sense of peace than any other book I’ve ever read. As I’ve said before, reading this book has made me feel safe – I finally understand and even feel warm when I hear the song He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.

 

Discussion Questions:

I’ve met a few people who found this quote very difficult to grasp. How did it effect you?

We often refer to God as the Doctor of Souls or the Master Physician, especially when it comes to the Sacrament of Penance. Does this passage change your view of that role, or does it reinforce it? In what way?

 

Schedule (TAN version):

Week 1 (Aug. 7) pg. 11-52

Week 2 (Aug. 14) pg. 53-97

Week 3 (Aug. 21) pg. 97-139

Happy Reading!

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

For More Information on the Book Club:  http://spiritualdirection.com/csd-book-club

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the SpiritualDirection.com book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at pelicansbreast.com

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  • Robert Kraus

    Wow, what a powerful testimony to your faith in God’s providence. As to the book quote, I admit my intellect was initially more focused on leeches and how “medieval” a medical practice they were, and had to actually force myself to get around that to the spiritual meanings being laid out.
    It’s difficult to get oneself to admit that God’s hand is behind everything that happens to you in life, whether by his will or by his permission, good and bad. I remember reading “God Alone Suffices” by Slawomir Biela, and this same kind of radical trust and dependence in God was, I admit, so foreign to me. I am trying, but boy do I feel spiritually immature sometimes reading these great works. I can intellectualize them and say rationally, “yes, that makes sense, God is behind everything”, but to internalize what the means? Something to work on.
    I am enjoying the book, however. It’s probably easier for me to grap and take in than Spiritual Combat so far.

  • Stephen Mc Elligott

    I don’t think God uses people to challenge us. God does not will evil. But he does ”allow” it to happen to us for our spiritual growth. some trials are ants and some are giants. He gives only what we can handle I guess. Powerful story and very frightening too. You did well to hold on to those railings and remain in the public eye.

    Prayers from Ireland
    Stephen

  • Marian

    This little book is really packing a punch! A few years ago I had come to this conclusion that God is indeed author of all, whether good or bad. This book is laying this truth out clearly and so I’m thankful to be reading this. I do believe this truth. But where I’m having trouble is coinciding this with the comment ” I could be thankful even for evil that was hoisted upon me, because the
    Eternal Doctor felt I needed something special at that moment in my
    life.” How does one agree with that when it comes to violent acts done against children? I volunteer in 3 prisons in my state, and 95% of inmates have endured violence against them as children. Many of them want to trust in God’s love for them, but their “stop” is the question how could God allow such things as was done to them? Some inmates say that evil exists since the fall of man and God permits free will, and so evil things happen. But for those who can’t process that…how do I explain the truth of what this book is teaching?

    Read more: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/2012/08/14/csd-book-club-trustful-surrender-to-divine-providence#ixzz23WIMx6UV

    • Vicki

      Marian – My mom and I have had this discussion often. When I first talked to her about this book, years ago, she, too, asked me about violent acts against children. I cannot answer that one. All I can say is that I don’t understand, but I accept the teaching in this book, and it has brought me peace. The author describes God as having both an Active and Passive will. He can actively cause something to happen or prevent it. By not preventing evil, he is permitting it by His “passive” will. Regardless, God is in control of all things, good and evil. Accepting this was is the only way I’ve been able to deal with evil, even if I don’t understand why He would allow it to happen. I’ve just told myself He is infinitely good and infinitely wise, and that I cannot know all, but I can trust that He does.

      This, by the way, does not mean that I think we sit idly by and allow evil to happen – of course, we prevent what we can, we comfort victims, we serve in times of trial – all this God wants from us too. Please don’t think I’m recommending that we watch evil around us and just think “Well, God has it all figured out – they must deserve this or that.” That is not at all what I was implying – only that this book has allowed me to live without fear. Many blessings to you for serving those most scorned and in our society – I can only imagine how deep wounds must be that allow people to inflict pain on others.

      • Marian

        Thank you, Vicki, for this response. All that you’ve said is so true. It brought me that “knowing’ inside that yes, this is the only answer there is. It’s not my job to “explain” God, is it? One of your comments here really sums it up so perfectly: ” He is infinitely good and infinitely wise, and that I cannot know all, but I can trust that He does.” And I say a hearty AMEN! The peace you’ve found after such a scare that you shared with us is real and tangible and can only be attributed to God. Thank you.

  • Lu

    Yes, I find this a difficult quote to grasp. It feels like we are struggeling to reconcile the awful things that happen to us and to the world with the idea of an all-loving God. In some ways, to me, it feels contrived. I am reminded of the quote from Mother Theresa when she is telling someone that there cancer is God kissing them and they say “tell God to stop kissing me”. It is very confouning but I will continue to mull it over and pray about it .

  • Kathy Wabick

    I was graced to have been given this knowledge five years ago when our seven week old grandson Jude, lay dying in a hospital. I would spend a few moments with my son and his wife, a few moments praying at the bedside of Baby Jude, then I would go off to a distant corner and converse with God, Who is full of Mercy and Love. And this is what I would say, “My Lord Jesus, you have two of my babies in Heaven (I had two miscarriages) and now it looks like you are taking another. Blessed be Your Name. This is not my will….but seems to be Your will. Blessed be Your Name. Please give all of us the strength to accept Your will, that of which we do not yet understand, but will accept to the best of our ability. Blessed be Your Name, Lord. We know You are here with us because we feel Your presence. This is enough grace for us for the moment…the feeling of Your presence during this very difficult time. Blessed be Your Name.” I would say this over and over for a period of about three hours. Jude survived and is now a healthy five year old beginning school this year! My point here is even in our most difficult moments, God is there! We truly were accepting of His will for Baby Jude and through all this, He granted us a miracle! Trust is the key here. Trust is not a feeling, it is an attitude. We were fearful…but we remained strong in our trust that God was present among us, especially in our most difficult moments. In the end, we must be willing to accept His will. I really am enjoying this book. Thank you for the above article. It touched my heart.

    • Becky Ward

      Beautiful Testimony!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeanie.h.lewis.5 Jeanie Huff Lewis

      I love this!: “Trust is not a feeling, it is an attitude.”
      We can have faith and trust in God even when we “feel” like Mother Angelica points out, “Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.”

  • Mike

    It’s a dense passage. But when I think about it, I realize that once I surrender, I don’t need to worry about _why_ people do the things they do that affect me — their roles or motivations aren’t necessarily any of my business. That sounds harsh, but if I’ve surrendered without reservation and put God in charge, it’s a blessed relief not to have other people’s motivations and roles to worry about.

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Very well said. You have really captured the secret of abandonment.

    • Vicki

      Mike – I agree wholeheartedly. This is another significant point I took from this book – seen in this light, anger and hatred cease to exist. One doesn’t need to look to another individual for recourse at all, only to God for understanding.

  • Sandy

    This is the third time that I have read this book and it continues to inspire me to surrender everything to God. I also have one of those type “A” personalities and grew up feeling very self-sufficient and was quite successful. I was married, had three children, was a stay at home mom, had a nice house in a good neighborhood, and went back to school to become a teacher. I went to church faithfully and prayed whenever I needed something, but was not happy. The problem was that I was totally dependent on my husband to provide for me and the children. When he lost his partner position at his workplace his income dropped considerably and he became very depressed. I was teaching at this time and the extra money was put to good use. Then I was told that I was no longer needed at the school where I taught and I was devastated. The security that I had grown used to was taken away from me. I asked God why did this happen to me, to us. After reading Surrender to Divine Will, I realized that my life revolved around me. I wanted that total trust in Divine Providence. I started going to Spiritual Direction and realized how self-centered I had been all of my life. I am learning to put God in the first place and to turn to Him for all of my needs. Life has become much more simple and peace abounds. It’s okay if I we fail. What matters is that God is the center of my life. I am still married to the same wonderful husband and we work together to build a Christ-centered relationship. Our children are happily married and we have eight grandchildren. I no longer teach in a classroom, but I use my teacher skills by volunteering at the school where I taught and by counselling young women at a local Pregnancy Resource Center. I am the Pro-Life Coordinator at my parish and I train the altar servers and am the Sacristan at my church. I have found true happiness by surrendering my will to God, putting Him in the first place of my life, and giving myself to others. God is good, all the time!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeanie.h.lewis.5 Jeanie Huff Lewis

      Who would think there was truth in such a statement. “I have found true happiness by surrendering by will to God…”
      Beautiful!

  • Dom C

    Like Robert, I can cognitively recognize the principle at work here–I know that God is always present and that I should trust in Him, but I find in actual practice that it’s much more difficult to grasp this notion that when evil happens to you, it’s God’s will.

    Now, it does take some of the edge off of it when you consider that it’s man’s free will that allows any of us to do or say things we shouldn’t, and therefore we shouldn’t blame God for evil things that happen to us. But–it’s difficult to internalize the thought that our misfortune is the work of God whose actions are guided by His wisdom for holy purposes. I always thought that God wanted us to be happy, so the thought of some perp creating a crime against one as being part of God’s plan for our salvation is a bit foreign.

    It’s still early here, and I haven’t had my first cup of tea, but I guess as it relates to the Sacrament of Penance, that we could say that God is acting as the doctor who’s removing our sinful blood so we can be purified, metaphorically speaking.

  • $1650412

    This is a very powerful story. Thank you!

  • Kat-L

    After my foster/adopt son died in an accident at home (he was 2 years old), I never lost my faith in God-but I did lose my innocence about life. I no longer felt “safe”. I know bad things DO happen. Our faith doesn’t guarantee our safety. It doesn’t guarantee that our children will grow up. It doesn’t keep us from facing horrific events. And it was hard to trust that God would be there for me. I kept waiting the other shoe to drop. What’s going to happen next? Because I no longer felt that life would be good. It’s been three years and it took me this long to start feeling positive again. There are still times when I have to remind myself “You’ll be okay”. But after a traumatic event, it’s hard to be “okay”.

    • Becky Ward

      I can’t imagine anything more difficult than losing a child. The grief process is different for each of us, and it seems like you are working your way through it nicely – keeping your faith in God, even in difficult circumstances.
      We never forget, but with time and trust, we can adjust. “Okay” might be closer some days than others. 🙂 And that’s ‘okay’!
      I’m praying for you Kat!

  • http://www.marythedefender.wordpress.com MariaGo

    This is a difficult lesson to learn and I’m still struggling with it. But God has graciously taught me this recently.
    Last school year, I had a prof who arbitrarilly gave failing marks to most of the students in my class. It was enough to get many of us, myself included, kicked out of law school.
    My first reaction was indignant. We were all angry for the injustice. What more in a law school that supposed to teach us to uphold justice!
    But then the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He told me that sometimes, God allows people to treat us poorly so that we will pray for those who offended us. For if that never happened we might never have prayed for them. He allows it so we know the people who are in need of our prayers. Whom He wants to help and bestow His graces upon.

    I had difficulty accepting my failure and allowing God to take control of my life. For so long I had goals in my life which I worked hard for. Suddenly, I had no idea what was going to happen to me! I prayed to God for the grace to deal with it in a manner which would please Him. And He mercifully granted me that grace. He reminded of how St. Faustina loved His will more than her own life. And made me realize that this experience was a step closer to that. Surprisingly, I felt joyful for that!
    After that valuable lesson, God gave me a second chance at law school! 🙂

    • Sanctus 3

      Thank you, Mary. You gave me a good lesson on God nudging us to pray for people we would not have thought to pray for. He loves them as much as He loves us, which makes Him soooo God!

  • Sanctus 3

    Your story, and those in the other comments, are very affecting. I can add my own, too.

    I wonder, if it is not too far afield, if anyone here has had any experience with prayer for the healing of memories?

    It is only now, decades after I received my own trials, that I am looking back and at least faintly seeing the Hand of God in all of it. My spiritual director calls it “emotional robbery”– losing something that probably cannot be retrieved.

    But that is the nature of each of our crosses: they are tailor-made to fit ME precisely. There are no other crosses just like it.

    Sometimes, all you MUST do is pray for trust.

    • LizEst

      …and sometimes all we can do is pray, just like our Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross, who hurt so much for her only son, a hurt that wounded her very, very deeply, more than any of us can know.

  • Tan

    I must say I’m in shock, I think I can have the answer I’ve been waiting for 8 years, but I still don’t see it, or maybe I just don’t want to see it.
    8 years ago my family and I were robbed in our house, 2 guys enterd my house, they had guns, and they also got in my house when I was parking the car, we were about 4 hours in “their” hands, they ordered us to sit, to stand up, to lay in the floor, and I just remember my mother praying, my father with an unreal expression of fear, my brother so angry and me dealing with this 2 guys.
    They took everything they could, and when we thought everything was over, one of them went out to let another guy in, he was going to be the driver (they took my car) and the one that stayed at home to watch us, he decided to lock my parents and my brother in a small room, I knew what has going to happen and the only thing I can remember is that in my mind I kept thinking it is up to you, if you do this silently your family won’t be hurt, and so I did, he raped me and I just stayed quietly.

    As you said I do believe in God and all His mercy and love, but I still don’t understand why, to be more specific, what was the lesson we as family needed to learn, and what was my personal lesson.
    If my lesson was to show me that I’m not in control, wasn’t it a tough way?? I dont know I’m confused

    • Fr. Pablo

      Dear Tan, It is so hard to hear istories like yours… I can’t give you an answer to the experience you had but I’m going to pray for you. I know it happened a long time ago, but I would like to be besides you with my prayer.
      I know the Lord will give you the answer sooner or even later, maybe upto Heaven…

      Please, Tan, don’t loose your trust in God. He has shown you how evil could a person be if he goes far from Divine will, but I’m shure He will also show you how much love cuould a person give if he goes in God’s paths.

      If you keep loving God, even though what happened to you, you are that one who shows to the world Love is stronger than death, you are showing it is possible overcome evil with good as St. Paul says to us.

      May God bless you, Tan! you will be in my prayers for a long time.

      • Tan

        Thank you so much, I’m deeply touched, and yes I do love my Lord more than I can even express, but the memory of this event come and go. I’m still afraid and I want that to stop, I feel a little bit hypocrit when I say to my kid, dont be afraid He is with you always, when I still have this fear.

        • Cecilia

          Dear Tan, my heart breaks for you. However, I do sense your great strength & deep faith. Your intercession as a victim for your family’s safety was very brave of you. You will be in our prayers for the healing of your memories and your heart wound.

          • Tan

            Thank you so much Ceci, really thank you

        • Vicki

          Tan, I was so saddened by your testimony. You are the person I’ve thought of for years as I prayed for all those girls/women whose situations didn’t end as benignly as mine. You are NOT a hypocrite! You have seen the face of evil and you know it is real. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be for you – I had a difficult time for years and I walked away without a scratch – for me the fear was “what if,” which sounds slight in the face of “why?” Regardless, I’m so thankful that you are walking through this knowing that the Lord of the universe is with you, even if you don’t understand what that means and even if it doesn’t relieve your fear at this point in your life. I’m so glad you’re reading with us, and I’ll be praying for your comfort and peace.

          • Tan

            Thank you so much Vickim, my prayers with you too.

        • LizEst

          Tan – You are not a hypocrite. You are very brave to go on as you do and to teach your child to trust in the Lord. You said you love the Lord more than you can even express. With that comes trust. What you feel is a natural and normal reaction to what you’ve been through. It’s natural to be more fearful, more careful about things once a person has faced a difficult situation…even after a long time. It cannot be controlled by a shear act of your will.

          We teach children not to cross the street without looking first, not to go with strangers. This is a healthy fear. It’s wisdom. And, it’s the same for you. You are probably more careful than most people now because you know there are very dangerous situations in the world. I once got on an elevator with my mother. There were a couple of men there. One was carrying a concealed weapon. My mother pointed it out to me. I was completely oblivious and had no clue. She said–we always have to look out for things like that. I have no idea how she learned to recognize that. She never told me. She was also a woman of great faith, someone who passed that on to us. Remember, Jesus said, “be shrewd [wise] as serpents and simple [innocent] as doves.” So we are to be wise to the ways and the trickery of the world but simple as a dove in our total trust in the Lord. There is no contradiction in being cautious about the world and trusting God. The fear and anxiety that comes upon you is a natural outcome of the horrific experience you had. Remember you said that God was totally with you. He is still with you and will see you through this.

          Some soldiers have similar reactions when faced with the horrors of war. It’s called post-traumatic stress syndrome and it can happen that, suddenly, they relive the experience even though they were not thinking of it. This happened to me after seeing someone get hit by car. It took me a long time before my mind stopped showing me the accident. It was horrible. I lived with it all the time…it disturbed my sleep. Finally, after a long time, things were much improved. I thought it was gone. Many years later, I saw something very similar on television, which made me relive the whole experience again. I couldn’t control my mind’s reaction and it had nothing to do with trusting or not-trusting the Lord. God loves you even more than you love Him because He IS love and He loves with a love that is infinite and eternal. He will not abandon you. You can rely on that.

          God bless you Tan. I am praying for you.

          • Tan

            God bless you too, and thanks a lot for your words, time and prayers.

          • LizEst

            You’re welcome, Tan. All glory to the Lord. I prayed for you at Mass this morning.

    • Becky Ward

      Oh Sweet Sister, I am so sorry to hear your story, and yet it provides the perfect opportunity for me to share the quote that stands out the most for me from this reading.

      “The sin harms only the person who is guilty of it.”

      I knew right away what the author meant, but it was hard for me to look back at my own experiences and believe that I was not harmed. I am just learning of, and dealing with some of them 40 years later. The examples in the book were lacking the perspective I needed in order to understand this, but in praying about it the Lord gave me another.

      Imagine a child playing quietly on the floor when another comes over and shoves him/her out of the way or takes the toys. As a parent I have seen this happen many times, yet I never gave much thought to my own feelings about the first child in the scenario. I would pick them up and/or comfort them – while at the same time teach the second child that this was not okay.

      In our difficulties – especially when there is abuse – God sees us as the first child!! We may not know it, but He is there to comfort and help us through.
      What I have learned is that when we allow Him to, God can heal us, and our memories. This process transforms something evil and ugly into something beautiful….because we are then able to help others who have suffered in the same way.
      Jesus was the most innocent of all…….and God did not spare Him from pain and suffering. And because of this, He truly understands our suffering, and wants to heal us.
      St. John of the Cross says in his Cautions Against the Flesh,
      “All those who come into our lives are artisans. They are there to shape, fashion, form, and test us.”
      Same concept – different words.

      I am praying for you.

      • Tan

        Thank you so much Becky, your words are a big part in this puzzle. Blessings!!!

      • lacatholicmom

        “Sin harms only the person who is guilty of it.”

        I must respectfully but strongly disagree. This is not Catholic teaching and is contrary to what we know rationally to be true. Sin is an offense against God and neighbor. Sin wounds the Body of Christ; it is not something private that harms only us. When we go to the sacrament of confession, our relationship with Christ AND the Church must be restored.

        Perhaps the greatest harm done to an individual who is sinned against is when the sin scandalizes them so much that they turn away from God and the Church – the abuse of young children by the clergy, for example. I can’t imagine a greater harm than causing a person to turn away from God! How is it rational to think that a young child who is abused wasn’t harmed, or to think that God allowed it because the abuse was going to benefit the child? No, God weeps along with us when one of his children is caused to suffer so by the sins of another.

        Yes, God can and does bring greater good out of evil (Romans 8:28) – but this is NOT the same thing as saying that sin only harms the one who commits it.

        • Becky Ward

          I understand what you are saying.
          I’ve been there.
          Would you kindly provide the source that says this is not Catholic teaching so I can better understand your frame of reference?
          Are you reading the book with us? Maybe you are seeing this out of context. Perhaps it would help to read my comment again.
          It is from a spiritual perspective that sin does not harm the victim. Having been a victim of abuse, and spending many years carrying a distorted self-image because of it, this quote set me free because the devil tells us that we are somehow to blame – but we aren’t.
          This does not mean that we won’t have issues to deal with because of the abuse…….but only that we are not soiled, or dirty, in the eyes of God because of it.
          In God’s eyes it is the one who commits a sin that is guilty, and therefore harmed spiritually because of it.
          Does this help?
          His peace to you.

          • lacatholicmom

            Thank you, Becky. What I am trying to say is that sin CAN harm the victim from a spiritual perspective. The concept is called giving scandal, covered in the CCC 2284-2287.

            The evil that one does to a victim can lead that victim to despair,to become self-destructive, to deny the existence of God, and even to lead that person into his own sin or spiritual death. “Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: ‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned'” (CCC 2285). One example would be that there is evidence that sometimes when young children are abused, and don’t receive proper therapy or healing, they grow up to become abusers themselves. This is certainly an example of a perpetrator’s sin causing spiritual harm to his victim. It is not that the sin caused the victim to be “damaged goods” or anything like that, but that the sin committed against them led them into their own sin.

            Another example, if an underage teenager goes out with friends and becomes inebriated, he can cause harm to his friends in two ways: he exposes them to physical danger if he gets behind the wheel of a car, and he might influence his friends to also drink to excess (thus inflicting spiritual harm by tempting the friend to committing his own sin).

            Am I making any sense?

          • LizEst

            lacatholicmom and Becky – “Sin is an offense against reason, truth and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.” (CCC 1849)

            Sin damages our relationship to God and each other. You are right lacatholicmom. To say that sin only damages the person who is guilty of it is not correct Catholic thinking. Perhaps, this English version is a poor translation of what the author intended; because, it is absolutely NOT in line with Catholic thought and teaching and the Magesterium. I suspect the author really wanted to say, “only the person committing the sin is GUILTY of it.” That would have been 100% correct.

            When we sin, we offend God and wound the Body of Christ. “If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27). This is why there is no private sin…even though there are people who think some sin, such as masturbation, is private or not even a sin at all because they think it doesn’t affect anyone. Every sin affects us. Every sin injures humanity and offends God. Thanks be to God that the sacrament of Penance heals those breaks in the communion of the Body of Christ that mortal sin causes. Thanks be to Christ for instituting this beautiful sacrament.

          • Becky Ward

            Yes! You are making sense. I totally ‘get’ what you are saying.
            However, what the author is doing is trying to stretch us in our minds and hearts.
            You use the word CAN in your examples, and you are absolutely correct, sin CAN harm the victim……..but I do not believe that it MUST. We can choose to not be offended…the friends of the teenager can choose to say NO…..and we can choose to pray for our neighbors instead of being scandalized.
            There, but for the grace of God go I…….if I was born into another’s “shoes”, and lived their experiences and was taught what they were taught, I would be capable of terrible crimes……….how can I be scandalized at the actions of someone who has not received God’s grace as I have?
            The most powerful examples of this that I know of are ones like what the Amish people did when someone came in and killed some of their community members….even children….they went immediately to the family of the shooter(s) to tell them they forgave them.
            Easy concept to grasp? NO! But this is the example that Jesus modeled for us. In our humanity we simply have great difficulty seeing what is possible.

          • LizEst

            Becky & lacatholicmom – Every sin offends God and harms humanity. The author’s statement that, “Sin harms only the person who is guilty of it” is not correct Catholic thought nor is it in keeping with what the Magesterium of the Church teaches. So, I’m thinking that perhaps (or probably) this is a poor translation of what the author meant to say. Perhaps (or probably) he meant to say that only the person who sins is guilty of that sin. That would be 100% correct.

            The Catechism states, “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law” (CCC 1849). Furthermore, “Sin creates a proclivity to sin…it tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself” (CCC1865).

            As the apostle says, “If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27). So, sin harms all of us, not just the person who is guilty of it. And, we are all affected by both our own sins and those of others today. The world is saturated with it. Although “sin is a personal act” (CCC 1868), no sin is private, unlike what some people believe about sins like masturbation, which some don’t even think is a sin. The sacrament of Penance repairs the breach that sin causes in our world. Blessed be God that Jesus instituted this wonderful sacrament which restores us to communion!

          • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            I would caution all – this text is not a moral theological treatise. If you read it as such, you will miss what the author is saying. This is lived spiritual reality, not juridical taxonomy. When we read texts like this, it is easy to fall into this trap. The same thing happens with deeper mystical treatments because often what the author is seeking to communicate lies beyond the limitations of common expression. Pray, step back, and move beyond the juridical deconstruction and see the bigger picture. You will find the read much more satisfying and helpful.

          • LizEst

            Agreed! Thanks Dan.

          • lacatholicmom

            Dan, shouldn’t the mystical expression of a lived spiritual reality be compatible with what you call juridical taxonomy, and not at odds with it? Whenever I read a mystical piece, I always keep close in my mind the teaching of the Church. This is the only way I know to keep me grounded in the truth. I don’t think this obscures my understanding of the mystical writing, but illuminates it. Thank you.

          • LizEst

            My sense is that Dan doesn’t want folks to pick apart the writing on technicalities, to single something out. l saw that line and let it go and believe we can rest assured that writing such as this would not be used here if it is truly against what the Church teaches. It is, after all, a classic piece of Catholic writing, beloved and recommended for many years. But, when someone has questions or contrary understandings about something, it is important to clarify so that truth is not hidden under a bushel basket but shines forth for all to see. God bless you, lacatholicmom!

          • lacatholicmom

            Thank you, LizEst. Yes, thanks be to our God for the great gift of the sacrament of reconciliation.

            I agree that perhaps something got lost in the translation, and your suggestion sounds reasonable.

          • Becky Ward

            Additional thought.
            CCC 2843 – “…It is there, in fact, “in the depths of the heart,” that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession.”

          • lacatholicmom

            Oh Becky, thank you for this beautiful quote from the Catchism. This really gets to the heart of the matter (pun intended). If we are harmed by the evil of another’s sin, if we have the docility of heart to turn our hurt over to the Holy Spirit, the harm can be transformed into something beautiful.

          • LizEst

            Yes, “Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

          • Becky Ward

            AMEN!! 🙂
            Also, it came to me last night to check and see if the book carries a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. It does. For any who may not be familiar with these terms:

            Nihil obstat (Latin for “nothing hinders” or
            “nothing stands in the way”) is a declaration of no objection to an
            initiative or an appointment.

            ………..confirms “that it contains nothing contrary
            to faith or morals.”
            The final approval is given through the imprimatur
            (“let it be printed”) of the author’s bishop or of the bishop of the
            place of publication.

          • LizEst

            Good show! Thanks Becky. That should help put people’s minds at ease. God bless you.

        • LizEst

          Reposting below!

    • LizEst

      Tan – What a terrible experience for you and for your family. It is a type of death. And, I truly don’t know how people adjust to something so wicked, except for the grace of God. The fact that you believe in God and His mercy and love is testimony that God’s grace is active in you.

      The question of why evil happens is called “theodicy,” and it has puzzled mankind for ages. I like your attitude of trying to understand what lesson there is in all of this. But, we don’t have all the answers, God does. At times, God allows us to know a little bit of why he permits these things to happen. On other occasions, try as we might, we have a hard time drawing a lesson from something so horrible or understanding why the “lesson” had to be permitted in such a tough way. Christ didn’t have to learn a lesson…and still he was crucified.

      So, what then? God permitted Jesus’ Paschal Mystery to benefit us, saving us from sin and opening the Kingdom of heaven to us. Likewise, when we unite our sufferings to Christ, God can mystically use our crosses and sufferings to benefit others. St. Paul tell us, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body which is the church…” (1 Colossians 1:24). There was nothing lacking in Christ’s suffering. Paul was mystically applying the benefits of his afflictions to the Body of Christ. This, then, is the communion of the saints. Once we have died in this world, we can no longer do anything to accrue any more merit for ourselves or help ourselves out of purgatory if that’s where we find ourselves. There is a great need for us to join our sufferings to Christ and applying our crosses for the benefit of the Holy Souls in Purgatory and for those in this world that are in particular need of these graces and would not otherwise receive them. It’s called redemptive suffering. Even if you can’t understand why you and your family went through what happened to all of you, or why the “lesson” had to be so “tough”, if you unite your sufferings to Jesus, those sufferings will never be in vain.

      God bless you and your family, Tan. You’ve been through great suffering and continue to carry that cross. May the Lord grant you some measure of peace in this.

      • Tan

        Thank you so much Liz, I constantly offer this suffering as you said, but I just think I’m not doing it correctly since I still have this fear to be alone in the street, or in the night… I know that in the middle of this situation He was totally with me, because in that moment I wasn’t feeling anything, it was just like if my body was there but my soul was somewhere else, and all I can remember after this is that my heart was aching for this guys, but only because I know that if they do not convert to our Lord the won’t be participating in the eternal life, that was my worry.

        • LizEst

          Tan – Yes, you are doing it correctly if you are joining your offering to Jesus. Your fear of being alone in the street, or in the night, is not a reflection of your spirituality but a perfectly reasonable psychological and emotional reaction to what you went through. Even though it has been eight years, it generally takes a long time for this to be reduced. I don’t know that it ever goes away completely. Yes, the Lord could choose to lift it from you but, so far, he has not done so. Your concern, for those guys, is true love of neighbor, following the example of Jesus who, on the cross said, “Lord, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” Yes, the Lord is with you through all of this. Trust him, pray and pray some more.
          ps. If you haven’t had a good talk with Jesus, lately, find a private place to do so. Talk to Him out loud. Speak to Him as you would a friend, not with formal prayers, but with words from your heart. You can use strong language with Him. But, you must NOT curse God or revile Him. Otherwise, you can just be free in what you say to Him. You want these fears to be lifted from you. Ask Him to do so. Don’t be afraid to be frank. He already knows what is in your heart…sometimes friends just need to “clear the air.”

          • Abandon56

            Thank you, Liz, for your insight and sensibility. This whole discussion has been reassuring to me. First, that there is wise counsel and TRUTH to be found in Christ and His Church. (I know this but past experiences and memories still leave me somewhat shaken at times…like a kind of spiritual PTSD). Secondly, that I don’t have to try to “fix” everything. This passage from Magnificat’s morning prayer may bring consolation. It reminds me that ultimately it is Christ Jesus in His own Person, who cares for us in everything.
            Is. 42:16 I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight. These things I do for them, and I will not forsake them…

          • LizEst

            Love your quote from Isaiah. Thank you for that…and you’re welcome. All glory to the Lord.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jeanie.h.lewis.5 Jeanie Huff Lewis

          Tan, my experience is different from yours, but has certainly affected me for a long period of my life. Abuse from my father when I was a child followed by his death when I was 16 yo, left me confused, and so many other feelings that I cannot still name them all. Almost 3 years after my dad died I was receiving counseling for this issue and the counselor asked me to imagine my father sitting in the room with me, in order that I might tell him how I feel. He had been dead for three years, and I didn’t even want to pretend he was sitting in the same room with me! How do you get to peace and forgiveness from there. It has been a long road.
          My father has now been dead for 30 years. I am now able to pretend he is sitting in the chair in the room with me, but I still don’t want to look at him or talk to him. I have accepted that this was something God allowed in my life according to His good will. I know I would not be the person I am today if that had not happened. In fact, the experience of my childhood has shaped my life in many ways to make me a better person in the eyes of God. This is the good that comes from the evil.
          Thirty years later, I am at peace, but I still have a long way to go. I am comforted again by St. Paul, who when he prayed for God to remove the thorn from his side, God told him, ‘My grace is sufficient.” We are where God wills us to be on the journey. We should not want to be further along the path than we are.

          • LizEst

            My sympathies and prayers for you, and for courage in your journey, Jeanie. Crimes against children leave very deep scars. If you are unable to pray for him, I hope God will give you the grace to do so some day.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jeanie.h.lewis.5 Jeanie Huff Lewis

            It’s funny Liz, I am actually able to pray for him, and to a certain extent I have forgiven him, but I still don’t want to see or talk to him. Thank you for your prayers. I know God will bring me through it in the end because He has already granted the grace to come this far.

          • Tan

            Jeanie, thank you so much for sharing this with me, I Praise the Lord for people like you, thank you for giving Him the chance to sculpt you.
            I can’t imagine how much you’ve been through but from my heart I’m with you as well as my prayers.
            And once more, I thank the Lord for everything we’ve lived.

    • Bengemo

      I don’t know why God allowed this to happen to you..but I do know your still believing in God gives me faith and I’m sure all of us. Just think of how your testimony could bring so many to Christ who have no faith because they had a similar situation. Praise be and thanks be to God for YOU

      • Tan

        Thank you so much, my prayers with you.

  • Diane

    Wow, after reading the article and comments, I will not be reading this book. I do not understand the whole premises of God permitting evil for our own good and spiritual growth. I believe that free will is key as to why evil things happen. Two family members whom I love were raped in the not so distant past and another young family member died in a car accident. All three incidents happened in 2 years, all young beautiful girls. To say that God allowed these things to happen to them and that we should welcome this for our own good, would imply that He is a mean God. It would have me running in the opposite direction. Which, until I understood His infinite love for me and for everyone, I did run away from Him for quite some time. He has revealed Himself to me in many ways since then and in every instant He heals and loves. Never hurts or wounds. I do enjoy this site, it has helped me greatly. This way of thinking though stings and stirs up why I struggled so much to try and understand God and His love for us. Thankfully He is a great healer.

    • LizEst

      Viv – There is no changing the fact that rape is a vile evil. It’s violence, control, degradation, humiliation, enslavement, torture, terror, annihilation and much more, all rolled into one. My heart aches for you and for your family. The young death from a car accident compounds these losses.

      God, who is love, does not and cannot cause evil. It is against His nature because evil is the absence of love. He does not always allow us to understand why He permits things to happen, whether they be bad or good. The question of why evil happens is called “theodicy” and it is one of humanity’s biggest conundrums. When terrible tragedy strikes, it is very, very difficult to get past all the hurt and pain and injustice. The writing you reject from this book was written by people very experienced in God’s ways, one of whom is a canonized saint. It gives us insight into extraordinary virtue, an extraordinary acceptance of God’s permissive will and it is meant to teach people things they might not otherwise know or understand. These are hard sayings and not everyone is given the grace to understand them or accept them. That’s OK. We are all different and God deals with us according to our needs, giving us different gifts which build up the Body of Christ. God is helping you and consoling you in a beautiful way because it benefits you the most for you to receive this consolation. For others, a different way is of more benefit to their eternal happiness. If you can’t read the book, then don’t. We are not trying to make you suffer more. But, please continue to engage with us in conversation in the future. As part of this community, your insights and experiences are valuable to all. Thank you Viv…and God bless you.

  • hazcompat

    Can you take another step? Bring yourself into Our Father’s presence through Jesus in the Spirit. Plead to be crucified for the sins of your enemy (this He will not allow). Then ask that all the merit of your treasure in heaven be applied to the one who has harmed you the most. Empty yourself completely in His presence.

    peace

    • Becky Ward

      Wow! What a challenging concept. May God be pleased to grant us the grace to do so!

    • LizEst

      Excellent! May that treasure be even more multiplied so that God may apply it to that many more souls!

  • LizEst

    To the modern mind the concept of leeches itself is difficult to accept even though medicine has rediscovered this. Perhaps, if we substituted something like a root canal at the dentist, open heart surgery or an operation for appendicitis, this quote might be easier to grasp. That said, I don’t have any difficulty with it. God Himself tells us He is the divine physician, “I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). This passage simply reinforces that.

    His ways are not our ways and we cannot even begin to understand all He does. In this sense, He makes it simple for us. He asks us to have faith in Him, to trust the Lord with all our hearts and not to lean on our own understanding. He would have us become like little children, like His Son, our Lord and brother Jesus Christ, the little Lamb of God, who put His trust and His life in the Father’s hands.

    God, who is love, does not and cannot will evil, which is the absence of love. Instead, He desires our eternal happiness with Him. God didn’t will Jesus’ death. But, He used it for us and for our salvation. Likewise, He does not will evil for us. Neither does He violate the divine gift of free will He has given mankind. Rather, He uses what comes of that free will, good or bad, to mold, shape and polish us until we reflect the Potter’s divine light and find our everlasting joy in Him.

    We are charged to make Christ, and the good news of God’s kingdom, known in season and out of season, in our actions and words, no matter what vocation we’ve been called to. And, although we are not to cooperate directly with evil and we’re not to do evil so that good may come of it, we’re not unlike Him in making use of all kinds of things and outcomes. It is the wise person who learns from our divine Teacher’s instruction. Tragic and heartbreaking situations often give rise to new ministries and services: When a job is lost, at times a new career is forged. When natural disasters occur, wherein creation obeys laws that God set forth, there may be more cooperation among people and more compassion, better housing and new industries built, more jobs. When someone goes to prison unjustly, when a child dies tragically or not, sometimes a new ministry or new outreach is born. When someone goes to prison justly, they may turn back to the Lord with all their heart…and blessedly others may learn to forgive wrongs. God knows what He is about. He makes all things new and brings good even out of evil. Blessed be the Lord!

  • Bernadette

    When I read this book right through just recently due to the Book Club, I was happy and reassured at the end of it. The words contained within it truly reinforced to me that God is in Control!!! It reminded me of Jesus’ prayer, The Our Father, where he said, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy WILL be done on earth as it is in Heaven…” When I pray this now, I really am consoled when I recite the…Thy WILL be done…because God is in Control! This is not just a wish…it is reality. Jesus is stating that the Will of our Father WILL happen! When Angel Gabriel greeted Mary at the Annunciation he said: “You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.” Look at all those words like must and will…they are like commands. I don’t think that God was holding his breath awaiting for Mary’s yes…He knew that His Will would be done by Mary and thank God for it! I am truly enjoying these wonderful insights revealed in this book. Thank you!

  • Cecilia

    The story of the leeches–something alien to one’s life or
    physical being or those who prey upon others–being used as instruments by Our Lord to bring one’s life back on His
    track. I suppose that I, too, struggle with an A-Type personality. Even though I was busy, busy & very tired, I was doing all this work in the
    church so, of course this was God’s Will, right? Then on Monday, March 20, 2006, I suffered a very minor stroke. With one stroke of the fine brush, the Father repainted my future using a small clot, no bigger than the head of a pin. The following October, my husband lost his job due to a buy out by another company. He was two years from retirement age and we were left w/no medical benefits & loss of salary. We suffered from anger, fear, frustration, loss and all the emotions in between. We decided not to worry until after Christmas so we could enjoy the season w/family and friends. By the first week into the New Year we were emotionally struggling trying to figure out our options when we decided to go into prayer & ask Our Lord what we were to do. His answer: “Trust me & I will take care of you.” So started our journey into trustful surrender. I can’t even begin to tell you the enormous blessings & miracles that have occurred these past 6 years in our lives. When you find a pearl of great worth……

    • LizEst

      Thank you for your beautiful testimony, Cecelia. It’s hard to take those steps of trust…but trust we must, for we are not God.

  • bltpm

    My heart is torn after reading the post and comments.When I think of all the evil that goes on I find comfort in St. Faustina’s words from her diary.
    There are two paths to heaven. One full of suffering and tears. It is narrow, difficult and full of thorns. The other is full of laughter and “happy” people. This path was wide. The wide path ended in a precipice, and the “happy” people were falling into – to Hell. Those going through the thorny and narrow path at the end were taken into a most beautiful garden, and all the sorrows were wiped away and they completely forgot their pain and suffering.

    There is an end to this exile life. Praise God! So for a little while we walk by faith. Trusting God with all our life – through thick and thin. At then end, after walking this path of sorrow – may God bring us to the most refreshing and beautiful and ETERNAL paradise! Where we’ll forget all the sorrow and sufferings we have ever endured.

    As a mom I try to teach my kids this lesson. My son the other day was suffering (from a wound on his arm). I told him “how wonderful! You get to offer it up to Mary!”… he said to me “Mom, I know I’ll be happy in heaven for suffering this, but right now I don’t like it.” He’s 9 years old, and I beamed with joy! 🙂

    • LizEst

      So too, did Jesus not like the cross he suffered for us. Yes, he did embrace it joyfully, knowing what it would bring…but, it sure wasn’t something he liked at the time! Otherwise, what glory, what merit, would there have been in that?

    • Bengemo

      Page 32. Conformity to God’s will makes us happy in this life…so the road will not always be so narrow that we can not enjoy this life.

    • Becky Ward

      I love the imagery of the two paths!! Thank you!

  • Alexandra Campbell

    After reading everyone’s comments I had a thought: I think that sometimes God permits evil to be done to us, and even to children, to allow the victims the chance to forgive the wrongdoer and become HOLY. If nothing bad happened to us we would not ever have the chance to REACT to evils as Christ did, to turn the other cheek and to forgive. The treasures that pile up in the souls that are able to receive and respond to evils done to them or to those they love with love and forgiveness are immeasurable. Just think of how the Father must have felt when the totally undeserved evil was done to His Only Son in the crucifixion. Not everyone is ready right at the point of injury to be like Christ or the Father, but with time the lesson may be learned. We do not become holy without crosses….but they are they really the only path to holiness.

    • Kathy

      This is so true Alexandra!

  • murrell007

    This is a tough read for me. I tried to use the Holocaust of the Jews during WWII as an example and had trouble relating to it. If however I just think in my own personal terms I can better come to grips or understanding with this read as it is my personal response to a situation and my placing my trust in God’s will.

    • LizEst

      The Holocaust of the Jews and the Holocaust of the Unborn are vile and horrible mysteries. God, who is love, does not create evil, which is the absence of love, and neither does He violate our free will. In permitting such things to happen, it seems, at times, that God is giving away the store. But, His ways are so far above our ways. So, I choose to trust that God knows what He is about.

      “Though the fig tree blossom not nor fruit be on the vines, Though the yield of the olive fail and the terraces produce no nourishment, Though the flocks disappear from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God. God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

  • CFS

    It’s odd that I can accept this for myself, that all things come from God. Or that He has permitted it and can bring good out of it for me. But when I consider the holocaust, whole families brutally killed, wiped out… Well, I know God was there with them but I can’t believe that He willed this evil or that it was more than His permissive will that it happened to each and every one of those men, women, and children. I was once asked by a Jewish teenager why, if God existed, how He could have allowed this to happen. I could not have said that He willed each of them to suffer and die in the ways they did and that He arranged Hitler coming to power so that this could happen. I will have to read further in this book.

  • AnnieB

    Reading the comments, what strikes me is those who have been tested so much, have come to understand that we can trust God completely. I know I have.
    It is the hardest thing, but whenever something comes along to really challenge me, I start by thanking God for it and giving him praise and it does make it easier.
    One thing I have learnt is that going to reconciliation and being as honest as I can be has brought comfort and graces.
    None of this is easy, but we are not supposed to do it with our own strength and on our own.

    • LizEst

      That’s the key AnnieB! Not only are we not supposed to do it on our own, we can’t. God bless you, Annie. Life in this world is challenging.

  • LucyMM

    This first section of the book has been a roller-coaster to me. Very deep and a lot of revelations in every sentence. I have to accept that although I have had many times of trial in my life, through perseverance in prayer and trust in Jesus, I have come to understand his merciful love in my life and my family. But there has been many times when I do not understand why so many evil, tragedy and losses affect the security and peace of mind of my country, families and friends, and then I can see all the miracles of conversion, trust in Jesus and abandonment to His Merciful Love and Divine Providence when I realize that He truly is Magnificent and Almighty and He can turn everything bad into good when we are open to His Will.

    • LizEst

      Beautiful testimony Lucy. May God bless you always.

    • Becky Ward

      Yes! We must allow Him to lift us up out of the mire of our limited human understanding, rather than pulling Him down to our level.

    • LucyMM

      Today at my Spiritual Direction, talking about the struggle of finding God’s goodness in the “bad moments” of life or in others’ tragedy, and how to strengthened the vision of a good and merciful God, my Spiritual Guide suggested as an daily habit, to write in a journal a few lines where during the day I see God’s loving hand. I guess it is kind of the same as the section 1 in chapter 3 where we need to practice conformity in natural incidents of our daily lives, but practicing seeing also God’s Divine Providence in the little moments of our daily lives.

      • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

        Great suggestion

  • FriendOfARapeVictim

    Being raped takes away a lot of things, but purity is not one of them.

    • Becky Ward

      Amen!! God bless you!

    • LizEst

      …and, it’s so good of you to be a friend. Those who have been raped must learn to trust all over again. It’s people like you who help them heal, by the mercy of God.
      God bless you for standing by your friend.

  • Victoria Campbell

    First let me say that I am new to the book club but felt compelled somehow by the title of this book to join in and read. I feel that there is immense opportunity for some spiritual growth through the reading of this book. Allowing myself to accept that good and bad comes from the direct design of God is a challenge. Accepting that we humans have free will and attributing those most heinous of acts such as the Colorado theater shooting to someone acting contrary to God’s will is easier for me to accept than trying to process and come to terms with God authorizing and permitting such evil so clearly I am in an infancy stage with this whole concept.

    Yet as I have pondered this concept, the image of the cross and Jesus comes front and center. Certainly Jesus suffered greatly and in light of the glory of the resurrection God’s ultimate love and purpose for saving us and the hope of eternal life there can be an understanding for why this evil was allowed in God’s ultimate providence. I can even better rationalize and come to some understanding of some situations in my own life.. one right now that is ongoing with a part of my husband’s family who has let us down in a big way and seeing that there can be ultimately some good that will come even though others have hurt and wronged you. Instead of allowing myself in this current family situation to slide into anger and resentment, I have prayed for them that they might come to know and accept God into their lives and further that they might come to raise their children, my niece and nephew, with the knowledge of God and his ways.

    This book is challenging me to try to understand that God’s will may not always look attractive or provide instances for joy and celebration by earthly standards. It is challenging me to put aside my own will and to try to accept whatever happens in terms of God’s ways knowing that I am incapable of understanding them but working to surrender to his divine purpose.

    Receiving the Sacrament of Penance with more regularity and allowing God’s healing through this sacrament is a definite opportunity for my spiritual growth. My determination to receive and the appreciation for this sacrament has been fostered by making a cursillo 2 years ago but I have not followed through with the action part of this by receiving this sacrament with greater frequency. So perhaps question 2 is intended to rouse me to action by ceasing to put off receipt of this sacrament and by growing in my understanding of God’s ability to act as a master physician and doctor of my soul.

    • LizEst

      Welcome Victoria! We are so happy to have you join us and look forward to your participation here. You have summarized this reading so wonderfully. I will pray for you and your family situation. It’s generally much more challenging to bring Christ to those closest to us. We have to die to self if that love and mercy is to shine through. God bless you, Victoria! You are well on the way!

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      These are profound reflections Victoria. I have not doubt that the Lord is leading you down this path to deeper holiness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeanie.h.lewis.5 Jeanie Huff Lewis

    “Good things and bad, life and death, poverty and wealth, come from the
    Lord.” Sirach 11:14
    I must say, reading this gave me a problem, yet I continued reading.
    St. Augustine says, “All that happens to us in this world against our will (whether due to men or to other causes.) happens to us only by the will of God, by the diposal of Providence, by His orders and under His guidance; and if from the frailty of our understanding we cannot grasp the reason for some event, let us attribute it to divine Providence, show Him respect by accepting it from His hand, believe firmly that He does not send it [to] us without cause.” (pg 10).
    “In every sin there are two parts to be distinguished, one natural and the other moral….what God COULD NOT cooperate with, is the sinful intention which the will of man contributes to the act.” (pg 12)
    “…all evil actions must be attributed to God and to man insofar as they are natural, physical acts, but they can be attributed only to the will of man insofar as they are sinful and blameworthy.” (12-13)
    “…when God co-operates with the person who attacks or robs you, He doubtless intends to deprive you of health or goods because they will be harmful to your soul.”(pg 13-14)
    But, my favorite part which seems to make all this go down a little easier (a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down) is this:
    “God…wishes to make you see your own faults, to humble you, deprive you of what you possess, IN ORDER TO FREE YOU FROM VICE AND LEAD YOU TO VIRTUE; but this good and merciful design, which HE COULD CARRY OUT IN NUMEROUS OTHER WAYS without any sin being involved, … IN FACT, it is not this man’s evil intention or sin that causes you to suffer,humiliates or impoverishes you, BUT THE LOSS OF YOUR WELL BEING, YOUR GOOD NAME OR YOUR POSSESSIONS….This is the way we ought to separate the good from the evil in events of this kind, and distinguish what God operates through men from what men add to the act by their own will”. (Pg 14-15)
    This is difficult to wrap my head around, but I begin to see the clouds thinning to reveal the light of the Son.
    And yesterday, I came across this quote from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD (Edith Stein), “One cannot desire freedom from the cross… when one is especially chosen for the cross.”
    I look forward to continuing my reading and contemplation of God’s truths.
    One idea that I still haven’t quite grasped the meaning of in relation to this came to mind as I was reading. God told Moses he would harden Pharoah’s heart. Not that Pharoah’s heart would be hardened (it would just happen because of something Pharoah did), but that God himself would actually do it. Still very cloudy on this.
    And finally, we must remember Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. That was a very evil thing to happen to them. I had a very wise priest once point out to me (at a time when I was in the midst of my own fiery furnace) that the three were not in the furnace by themselves. God had his angel in there with them to protect them. I find it very comforting to remember this no matter how high the flames of my personal fiery furnace get, I am always protected by God so that no spiritual harm will befall me.

  • Philco

    I have read this book at least four times and given it to four or five people. It needs to be read slowly. It has bolstered my faith and given me the assurance that I am loved.

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