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Satan’s Lies – Journal of a Soul Book Club

September 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Satan's Lies
(Journal of a Soul)

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Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? I am nothing. Everything I possess, my being, life, understanding, will and memory – all were given me by God, so all belong to Him. Twenty short years ago all that I see around me was already here; the same sun, moon and stars, the same mountains, seas, deserts, beasts, plants and men; everything was proceeding in its appointed way under the watchful eyes of Divine Providence. And I? I was not here. Everything was being done without me, nobody was thinking of me, nobody could imagine me, even in dreams, because I did not exist. 

And you, O God, with a wonderful gesture of love, you who are from the beginning and before all time, you drew me forth from my nothingness, you gave me being, life, a soul, in fact all the faculties of my body and spirit; you opened my eyes to this light which sheds its radiance around me, you created me. So you are my Master and I am your creature. I am nothing without you; indeed, if at every moment you did not support me I should slip back whence I came, into nothingness. This is what I am. And yet I am boastful and display with pride before the eyes of God all the blessings he has showered on me, as if they were my own. Oh what a fool I am! “For what have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (1Cor. 4:7)

God created me. Yet He did not need me; the whole scheme of the universe, the world which surrounds me, everything, in fact, would exist without any help from me.

Why then do I think myself so necessary to this world? What am I but an ant or a grain of sand? Why do I puff myself up so proudly? Arrogance, pride, self-esteem! What am I set in this world to do? To serve God.  – Journal of a Soul, pg. 64-65

Satan wants my soul. And he goes after it daily by telling me little lies which are beautifully refuted by this passage. Lies like, “If you drop just one of those plates that you're spinning right now, your entire household will fall apart.” Or, when my son gets caught in a fib, “You’d better discipline him exactly right or he’s going to end up working a chain gang in San Quentin.” Or, when he says, “You CAN'T miss that charity function!  Better yet, you'd better help organize the dinner, because if you don't, who will?!”  Or, even tonight, as I start this post at 10pm Monday (because my husband has been out of town and I’ve been nursing three sick little ones since Friday), “You’d better hustle up and write well, because thousands of people are depending on you – don’t make it look like you threw it together because it will show. And of course, you MUST write, because the world would stop spinning if this post were a day late!”

In addition to all the lies he tells me about the power I wield, he also whispers lies about the gifts God has given me. The one I fall for most is that my “time” is my own. In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis addresses this concept, and it rings so true. At one point, Screwtape, an insidious devil who is giving advice to his protege, says about their “patient,” “Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him.  It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend's talkative wife…(turning up when he looked forward to a tete-a-tete with the friend), that throw him out of gear.  Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it.  They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen…”

Time is my downfall. The devil succeeds in convincing me of his lies despite my knowledge of his plans. Just last night as I got into bed, the baby cried out because she wasn’t feeling well. Did I jump up lovingly and rush to her, cradle her in my arms for an hour until she could get back to sleep, thankful that God had given me that precious, uninterrupted time with her? I wish. I did jump up, because I am a mother, after all. But first I gave the grand “sigh” (No idea why because no one was around to hear it), and then spent the time that I rocked her thinking of how it was already midnight, and I had to wake up at 5:30 the next morning. That's just one example – I'm sure I would not be exaggerating to say that those “sighs” occur dozens of times each day.  Forgetting that time is a gift is something I do often.

Reading this beautiful passage brought me great joy because it reminded me that I am not my own. I say joy because there’s a lot of pressure in believing that I am “all-important” in my roles as wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and blogger.  How horribly prideful I am!!!

Sadly, I listen to Satan’s lies more often than I like to admit. If only I would remember that my household is a place for each of us to grow in holiness. As much as I THINK I'm in charge, there are a million and one things that I can’t foresee that could cause my plates to spin out of control. And my children are not mine, but God’s children and He will guide them in spite of me if not through me.

As for this blog? CSD was here long before me, and I’m sure it will continue to grow as long as God wills it, regardless of whether I am writing. On the other hand,  as long as I am blessed to serve God on this beautiful site, I need to remember that this is His book club. It came about purely by God’s Providence, and I've no doubt that He will continue to lead it as we move forward.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my precious baby is crying out in her sleep.  I think I'll try this again…without the sigh.

 

Discussion Questions:

1.What comments in the above quote hit home for you and why?

2. There was a lot of Great stuff in this past assignment – please feel free to comment on anything you read this past week.

Reading Assignment:

Week 3: Aug. 22, 1900 – Jan. 31, 1903

 

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

    Boy, I hardly know where to begin. I’ve read nothing but gems in this book since I’ve started. In fact, I’ve had to keep myself from reading too much because I can only ponder so many great quotes in a day!

    From the quote you include, I too was struck by the profound humility it shows when he talks about how everything was already there before he was born and how it will be after he passes on. It was sobering for me, reminding me of my infinitesmal nothingness when compared to the world around me, how tiny a cog I am in history. Yet I am beloved of the everlasting God and known by name. How amazing is that!

    I sympathize with your struggle with time. Sometimes I’ll be reading my Bible or a spiritual book and my wife will enter, asking a question. Of course, the first thing that pops in my head is resentment. “This is my time! I’m trying to be spiritual here!” And I immediately notice how silly that is. What’s the use of all this reading if I don’t put it into practice in love with my spouse?
    Thanks again for more ‘gems’ of insight this week! 🙂

    • LizEst

      Yes, your comment about your wife interrupting you with a question reminds me of a saint I read of once (can’t remember who). If memory serves, he was praying quietly in church when someone came in to request help. Immediately, he stopped praying and attended to them. When someone asked if it didn’t disturb his prayer to be bothered that way, he said something like, “No, it is the same and no difference between attending to God in prayer and attending to him in person! I just go from God to God.” That quote has helped me a greatly to deal with similar interruptions…even if sometimes I think–oh, all right Lord, what now?–At least, it keeps my focus on God. We are supposed to see Christ in everyone even, and especially, when He needs our assistance disguised as someone close to us. You are blessed, Robert!

  • Genevive

    As I kept reading, I thought you were writing about me. All those sighs were me…….I needed this. God bless all of your efforts.

  • wonderful post, you are so transparent and truthful. I can totally relate to having been caught up in thinking that if I did not make sure that all my kids (6-four grown, 2 boys at home with no dad around) did everything I wanted just the way I wanted them to that something horrible would happen . I was addicted to the sin of over-control. It doesn’t work. I have given up most of that control, but then I worry that I am not controlling, or guiding even, enough and I have to remember, like you do, that God is in control. I just know that heartfelt prayer to Him for their guidance (a la St. Monica for Augustine) will do more good for them than all my pathetic attempts to “get them” to do everything right. And my time is not my own. I need to spend myself for my children and if I get interrupted so what!!! I am able to do that in my work with psychiatric patients now thank God. I do not look at the clock and try to just get it all done so that I can go back to “my life.” My clients and my kids are my life and I pray to spend myself and my time more and more for them without thought for myself. Help me to do this more God!

  • It’s far too easy for this lute to think it’s making such beatiful music. Completely forgetting the Maestro Who saved from it the kindling…smoothened it’s bark…crafted it’s empty spaces…spaces without which no music could ever flow though… It is only when He breathes life into it that the music can play…without Him it’s a lifeless twig…good for the nothing but the fire…

    • Vicki

      Beautiful analogy!

      • Maestro’s words not mine. 🙂

  • Victoria Campbell

    “So you are my Master and I am your creature. I am nothing without you; indeed, if at every moment you did not support me I should slip back whence I came, into nothingness. ” This quote powerfully emphasizes our need to consider our very existence as being completely dependent on God as our creator and master. Yet it is easy to be full of pride and thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe. How does this affect Me? It is easy to to react to this quote and want to push back and resist because we all too often are so full of ourselves. But instead if we approach this quote and contemplate ourselves not just in terms of being worthless but rejoicing in the love of our creator who gave us everything we have, including our very existence how can we not react with love and gratitude?

    I found this week’s readings to be full of growth in this future Pope’s spiritual maturity. The first week’s entries we read seemed full of rules and guilt when he did not achieve the level of perfection which he resolved over and over to achieve yet failed. This week his understanding and expression of the mercy and love given to us by our Father is vastly different . I love the section that began on the bottom of page 68 with , ” I am the lost sheep and you are the Good Shepherd, who hastened lovingly in search of me, found me at last and after a thousand caresses lifted me onto your shoulders and joyfully carried me back to the fold…” This entry continues and concludes with a deep understanding of the love that our Father has for us and the depths of his mercy and a new resolution to persevere out of a sense of love and gratitude more secure in God’s love and care for him despite his weaknesses and failings.

    • Vicki

      Victoria – I love that quote about the good shepherd too. I thought of using that this week – there were so many great ones from which to choose! I, too, agree that he shows much spiritual growth. It’s funny – I had the thought that he’d passed my by within just a few pages! Last week I thought his journal could have been my own – no longer – I have much growing to do before I could share his level of wisdom or the eloquence with which he expresses it. His words are almost poetic in many passages.

  • Jackie

    I love reading this book and enjoy everyone’s comments ,, especially those gifted in deep spiritual thoughts. I tend to “take home” those phrases that resonate with me throughout the day, for example: “Words should be filed and polished before they are uttered”, “When words abound, sin is found”, “We must be humble and then we shall do no harm to anyone” and “Where my thoughts so often turn there is what I love”. These little “pearls” I tuck away in my purse to refer to when I forget what words can do or how to be humble. I am surprised this man has not been beatified, or has he?

    • LizEst

      Blessed Pope John XXIII was beatified September 3, 2000 by Pope John Paul II (who himself is now beatified). Blessed Pope John XXIII’s feast day is coming up on October 11th.

  • LizEst

    1. Hit home: “So you are my Master and I am your creature. I am nothing without you, and through you I am all that I am. I can do nothing without you…’For what have you that you did not receive? If they you received it why do you boast as if it were not a gift?'”1 (Cf 1 Cor 4:7). I love this because this is the realization of what we all are before God…and how all we have is because of Him, that we owe Him everything. We simply cannot take any credit for anything. All the glory is His. It’s just as simple as that. The quote from Corinthians is one of my favorites, a great one to memorize and a true help for growth in virtue. Worth committing to memory as a weapon to use when the head begins to swell!

    2. You’re right, Vicki, there are so many treasures in this reading. It’s hard to select among them! Here are just a few I liked: “O Jesus, I say from my heart: ‘Here let me burn, here let me be tormented, here do not spare me; but spare me in eternity.'” “Oh may my heart burn and be consumed in sacrifice for you on the altar of your most Sacred Heart.” “When these thoughts upset me and swell my pride, there is one stern and effective way to dismiss them: to think of myself at the moment of death…and to ask myself: ‘What has this to do with eternity?'” This last quote is something a confessor told me once in a different way: “Five or ten years from now, what will it matter?” So, extending that, “In eternity, what does it matter?” This is also a very effective way to back down from something my ego wants so desperately to push me into.

    There is much to reflect on in this book. Thanks be to God for the life and writings of Blessed John XXIII. As we read his journal, may we also grow in understanding and holiness along with him as our guide!

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