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Journal of a Soul Week 6 of 12 – Book Club

October 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Journal of a Soul Week 6

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Slow and Steady wins the Race

Anyone who judges me from appearances takes me for a calm and steady worker. It is true that I work; but deep in my nature there is a tendency towards laziness and distraction. This tendency must, with the help of God, be forcibly resisted. To humble myself constantly I will always tell myself that I am a lazy fellow, a beast of burden that ought to do much more work and get on with it much faster, and so deserves to be beaten. I must be particularly careful not to procrastinate but to do at once what is most urgent. In everything, however, I must keep and impart to others that calm and composure with which alone things can be done and done properly. I will not worry if others are in a hurry. He who is always in a hurry, even in the business of the Church, never gets very far. – Journal of a Soul, pg. 198

I have no idea whether others think I’m calm and collected; but I know my husband doesn’t. In our house, he is the steady worker. I’m usually rushing all over trying to get everyone ready and out the door. Not that he doesn’t participate. But he steadily goes about his work, while I frantically try to accomplish as many things as I can in the shortest amount time. In the end, we probably both accomplish the same amount, despite my rapid heart rate and anxious countenance.

When we were first married, I remember riding with my husband down a main street, where we stopped at a red light. The driver in the car next to us was clearly itching to get going, and my husband laughed when the light changed and the driver gunned his motor and took off. There was a lot of traffic, and my husband, who gradually stepped on the gas, was visibly entertained when we met at the next light at the same time, despite the edgy “rush” emanating from the other car. I’ve never forgotten that incident because secretly I know I could have been the driver of the other car.

I go, go, go as fast as I can, and like the hare in Aesop’s infamous fable, I wear myself out and literally quit for a day or two, waiting for my motor to “rev up” again. It seems I’m always on a mission. As a case in point, I think I’ve shared before that I’ve run a couple of marathons. While at the time I took pride in these accomplishments, I’m embarrassed to admit how little I’d run before my training or since the last race (ten years ago).  When in training, I rarely missed a day, because I had a goal. More importantly, I knew I had a deadline, wherein all the work would be OVER. And finally – and perhaps most telling – I have a penchant for excitement, which deadlines and frenzied activity tend to create.

Back when I trained for my first marathon, a good friend told me that she admired my commitment. Little did she know how much more admirable she is for running three miles per day for the past fifteen years. My sporadic passions are really not such a great thing. Because in general, I’m all or nothing. Running full speed ahead or stopped dead in my tracks.  And yet I’ve learned that slow and steady wins the race.

Even in my Faith life, I’ve been passionate or luke warm. Never a committed and consistent disciple. I’ve either been noisy and passionate like a clanging gong, or lazy and mute, with luke-warm zeal. When I first became Catholic, I was determined to become an expert in theology, convert everyone I met, and abandon every desire I’d ever had in order to live for Christ alone. I wanted to learn every prayer, read every book, buy every sacramental, attend every church event. But there is no way to sustain that kind of drive over time. And in the end, I wavered. I became lazy in my commitment. Mass lost it’s allure (I never stopped attending, but for a long while, I was going through the motions). Prayer became a chore, and I stopped my spiritual reading altogether for a time.

Unfortunately, the most important things in life cannot be achieved with this modus operandi. Pope John XXIII is absolutely right! He who is always in a hurry, even in the business of the Church, never gets very far. Eternal life is not the result of passion and high energy exerted on a short-term basis. It’s about patience, steadfastness and perseverance over the long haul – all things which require (or perhaps produce – which comes first, the chicken or the egg?) calm and composure.

In his letter to the Hebrews, Saint Paul writes, …you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised (Hebrews 10:36). Later, he encourages us to …run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith… (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Without that habit of calm and steady perseverance in my everyday life, how can I develop the serenity necessary for perseverance in my spiritual life? If life is a constant stream of ups and downs (of my own creation), where is the endurance? In effect, I’m running a series of sprints, when my entire life should be a marathon.

The above passage reminds me that it's time to take a deep breath, and allow the peace of Christ to engulf my soul, that I may slow down, always keeping an air of calm and composure, with which alone things can be done and done properly.  While this may be easier said than done, I have the assurance that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

 

Discussion Questions:

1. What helps you to maintain a calm and steady countenance?  Or, like Martha, are you anxious about many things?

2. Open forum – comment on any of the reading for this past week.

 

Reading Assignment:

Week 7: 1935 – End of 1944 (pg. 226-262)

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

    I am definitely anxious about many things. One mistake I made after my conversion was trying to be an uber-Catholic, and reading about and piling on as many devotions as I could. It led to spiritual burnout and even today I still struggle to getting back to that simple trust and faith I had when I first converted.

    I notice lately that my best success comes when I start out gradually, with little as 5 min of reading or meditation a day and then add a little each week. I haven’t been able to sustain it, but it helps me not feel overwhelmed or confused.

  • Robert Kraus

    I am definitely anxious about many things. One mistake I made after my
    conversion was trying to be an uber-Catholic, and reading about and
    piling on as many devotions as I could. It led to spiritual burnout and
    even today I still struggle to getting back to that simple trust and
    faith I had when I first converted.

    I notice lately that my best
    success comes when I start out gradually, with little as 5 min of
    reading or meditation a day and then add a little each week. I haven’t
    been able to sustain it, but it helps me not feel overwhelmed or
    confused.

    • Vicki

      I think starting small is helpful too.  Rightly so, it’s very humbling, because it seems when I’m on those those “missions” – as in my time spent being the “uber-Catholic” – I feel like I can do anything.  The slow-down is definitely a reminder that it’s all only through the grace of God that we can accomplish anything; and what He wishes us to accomplish will come in His time, not ours.  

      • Cecilia

        Isn’t this the truth! I make my daily “to do” lists & feel a sense of accomplishment when checking them off. But have learned over the years to say “Lord, You decide what I am “to do” on this list & I will obey” So there are times everything gets scrambled because friends call needing help of some kind, my list didn’t mesh w/my husband’s list, children and grandchildren need “instant” help, etc. That prayer has truly helped me lose much anxiety & to place “things” in proper perspective. What is to happen in a day is in the hands of Our Lord & basically He decides as I learn to surrender.

        • LizEst

          Beautiful, Cecilia! …the Lord has some very interesting “to do” lists of His own. We are so blessed He shares these with us. We are so blessed He wants us to share our lists with Him, as well. The give and take of this relationship is the best!

        • Vicki

          I’m going to make am effort to remember that brief prayer when I make my to do lists.  What a great way to acknowledge that our time really belongs to God. Thanks!

  • Paula

    To keep myself slow and steady,  I have to read something spiritual to get my mind in the right direction.  
     

  • Lsimpkinsnp

    Thank you for sharing all of this. I have exactly the same issues!!!! Lynn

  • Cecilia

    Vicki, isn’t it a great grace that the Church offers these wonderful saints to give us examples of how to work thru the same struggles they had? After weeks of projects which culminated every weekend since September, I decided Monday was going to be a “veg” day to catch up on some reading & some minor chores. By the evening I said to my husband “I’m basically a lazy person & a procrastinator!” My husband is the “slow steady turtle” while I’m the “swift, rushing hare” Although I enjoy these “projects” there is a fear of actually becoming & living out the lazy part of me. My faithfulness to morning Mass & Adoration is the only thing that keeps me balanced, focused and grounds me in my attempt to slow my life down. His call to the quiet is louder than the call to the noisy world and its been a long evolution just to get to this point.

    • Marg

      thank you Cecilia for your sharing. I can also relate to being the “swift rushing hare” I feel God is working in me and I as well find that attending mass in the morning is a time for God to reach me and slow me down. I look forward to my mornings and my time with God not that I don’t feel His presence wit me the rest of the day but I am more settled in church with God. My prayers go your way Cecilia! God Bless

    • Vicki

      Yes – these great examples are wonderful – especially when we get to see their challenges.  It is so helpful when I think of the communion of saints to recognize that they really did run the same race, face the same challenges, and now they are cheering us on as we press onward.  Of course, we do the same – encouraging each other as we continue the struggle.  Thanks so much for sharing your struggles as well as your antidotes. 

  • abandon56

    It helps to remember that it wasn’t Martha’s activity, but her anxiety that he was correcting.  

    • LizEst

       Good observation!

  • Ramaniew

    Thank you . This article has helped me to understand myself. God Bless you.

  • On this one, Vicki, I have a wee bit to say….. “I’ve either been noisy and passionate like a clanging gong”….one day my Confessor listened to me beating myself to a pulp telling Jesus how wretched I am and weeping how I keep on offending Him  and treating Him so shabbily yet He has showered me with Blessings upon Blessings and I am still stuck in my Cardinal Sins, Roof Sins and horrible sinful tendencies…..calmly my Confessor told me.  “Jesus knows exactly who you really are and loves you infinitely.  He knows what needs to be mended  in you to become the child God created you to be.  Please, please, let Him be God.  Stop hampering Him with all these anxieties and He will convert you in His own Way, at His own time.” And I am still struggling to be calm, patient and  kind to myself but it is hard.

    • abandon56

      Beautiful, Mary.  Thank you for sharing the truth about the way Jesus loves us.  He cannot resist a trusting heart.

      • abandon56, I always feel so overwhelmed that He has given us the post powerful Prayer which He simply cannon resist responding to – the four-word Signature on His Divine Mercy Image – “Jesus I Trust in You”

        • abandon56

          Mary42, Yes.  Indeed.  Like St. Therese says, we “take Him by the heart” when we trust in him, facing our lack of feeling and our
          lack of virtue . . . resting in His arms.

  • LizEst

    1. A few pretty big crosses and the passage of time have helped me slow down and be more calm and steady. Finally, I see the wisdom in certain things my sd had pointed out to me in subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, ways. Now, I just patiently waiting for the Lord to lead, reflecting on His love, His mercy and His Word. I am no longer pulled so much this way and that in doing the next great thing for the Lord, in joining just any Church group or busily serving. The danger is that I might get too comfortable just waiting for the Lord. But, even in that, the Lord has His ways of getting my attention so I don’t get too complacent for too long! Blessed be the Lord.

    2.a. In 1928, p. 213 (6) Blessed John XXIII renews his “resolves concerning the life of prayer and union with God…the faithful observance of which is the safeguard of priestly piety.” I agree with him 1000%. This is a sure way to keep oneself out of trouble and is a way of staying on the path of holiness.
    2.b. In 1931, p. 219, (2), it was wonderful to read his love of “St Augustine’s description of the Heart of Jesus: the door of life.” This meshes with the concept at the end of the “Prayer for Divine Mercy”: “For Jesus is our Hope: Through His merciful Heart, as through an open gate, we pass through to heaven (Diary, 1570).”

    • As you are aware, LizEst, the Divine Mercy Devotion is “my whole life”.  In the down-to-earth conversations between Jesus and this, very ordinary, young, Class 3 holy Polish Nun, I am able to relate to Him at my own level.  To me, His Message of Divine Mercy is the most powerful and most important to mankind during these very fearful, un-Godly and troubled times for us and for His Bride.

      • LizEst

        ; – )  What in the world is a Class 3 nun? Never heard of that.

        • LizEst, Saint Faustina’s Formal Education was a few months short of three years. In those days girls in Poland, especially from poor Families like Saint Faustina, never went to School beyond three years.  Yet, when you read her Diary the Theology and her Spirituality are earth-shaking.

          • LizEst

            So, I take it that “Class 3” refers to the number of years of schooling. Thank you, Mary.

          • Yes, LizEst. When you have time, I would recommend you to read her entire Diary “Divine Mercy in My Soul”, and also her Autobiography.  You will thank Jesus for the stupendous Mercy He is pouring upon aching mankind in His Messages to this, our 1st Saint of the Third Millennium

          • LizEst

            I have her Diary and have read a good part of it…but it was a while ago. I knew she was not very educated. Just didn’t know what you meant by “Class 3 nun”…but now I do! 😉 Blessings to you and yours!

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