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Book Club – Journal of a Soul – Week 11 of 12

November 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Purity in Deed

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Journal of a Soul Week 11

First of all we pray for purity of mind, a clear understanding of doctrine which is a gift of the intellect; then modesty of body. O Mary, you see what a scandal of shameless nakedness of men and women we have around us, profaning the churches, the squares and the ways of the city, for the corruption of innocent youth and the perversion of our people, with the threat of terrible punishment to follow.

Thirdly, we beg for holiness of life, because this is what matters most on earth and in heaven; finally, brotherly love, that is the peaceful agreement among citizens which is the secret of prosperity, the perfection of Christianity and an inexhaustible source of joy and peace. – From the prayer “The Glory of Mary”, Journal of a Soul, p. 386-387.

A few months ago, I was at a cookout at my sister’s house. She and I were sitting at the kitchen table talking about books we’d read when she jumped up and ran to grab a book called 50 Shades of Grey. “I’ve heard this is a GREAT read,” she told me as she laid it in front of me. She proceeded to explain that she’d seen tons of recommendations for it on Facebook. “Everybody’s talking about it,” she said. She had just bought the book, but encouraged me to read it first. Thankfully for both of us, a friend of my sister’s walked in from the back yard just as I was going to take the book. “Oh, I don’t think you want to read that,” she warned. My sister and I looked at her.  “Why?” we asked simultaneously. Let’s just say after her brief description of the erotic book, I was blushing and my sister was embarrassed to have recommended it to me. She laughed nervously and we joked about the value of Facebook recommendations.

Despite its lurid nature, or more aptly because of it, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has sold over 20 million copies.  In fact, books from this series account for 20% of adult fiction sold this year. This is the world in which we’re trying to teach our children about purity.

Yes. Purity. Amidst dresses that stop above the thigh, tops that stop below the…well, Below. Purity. Amidst shows like Dancing with the Stars, movies like Magic Mike and books like 50 Shades of Grey. Need I say anything about the cesspool that lurks just fingertips away thanks to our highly regarded “information” age?

As a mother, I don’t believe I’ve faced such a daunting task. We try.  This past spring my husband taught Theology of the Body for Middle Schoolers in our home for my sons and three other boys. The information was invaluable.  But due to the overwhelming number of opposing messages they receive from the culture on a daily basis, it feels like we used a gallon bucket to fend off an ocean.  Our 13-year-old has recently discovered girls. And he is comparing notes. Those he took in the spring with things he hears (and sees) daily from “the rest of the world.”

But before I pass judgment on the “rest of the world,” what about me? As a Christian, I complain a lot about the culture, but do I REALLY walk the talk?

Case in point: We watch very little TV in our home. But when my husband returned from a business trip and told me about a TV show called HOUSE (he had seen it on the plane), we ran to the local video store to rent Season 1. We were both attracted to and repulsed by Gregory House’s humor, intelligence and quirky personality. We watched several seasons, despite the fact that there were very disturbing moral problems with the show. We discussed how angry we were with the writers for using twisted story lines, but we kept watching. My children know that we liked that show. They also know we wouldn't let them see it.  What kind of message are we sending – do as we say, but not as we do?

Another Case in Point: My sons have been asking lately whether they can watch Jerry Maguire, a movie we have owned for many years – purchased way before our kids were old enough to ask questions. I always thought it was a pretty good movie, if you ignore the extra-marital relationships. But can I do that? Can I judge a movie as “pretty good” WITHOUT taking those issues into account?

And Yet A Third Case in Point: In the car, I've been allowing my kids to listen to Top 40 music. When there is a song that is questionable, I turn it off. But outside of the rap, which I can’t stomach, several of their songs have grown on me. Unfortunately, I had an eye-opening experience last week. My husband called to tell me that my six-year-old was singing rather unseemly lyrics around the house. The other kids had assured him that Mom liked the song. Well, when they reminded me of the tune, I had to admit that I’d danced right along with them in the car. Unfortunately, I “ignored” the line about “stripping down to dirty socks.” What was I thinking?!

In my defense, family entertainment in our home is usually dominated by DVDs of Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy and Little House on the Prairie, if we watch TV at all.  But when it comes to purity, I am constantly trying to walk a tightrope between the person I was years ago (i.e. the movies, music, books I enjoyed), and the person I am now.  Like a sentimental girl who caresses love letters from her old boyfriend, I find it difficult to let those old memories go.  I’ve been walking another tightrope as well.  Searching for a balance between chastising the current culture and trying to live and guide my children through it.  With all these tightropes, it's only a matter of time before I fall flat on my face!

What about you?  Do you find it difficult to be “in the world” but not “of the world”?  How do you stay pure?


Discussion Questions:

1. How do you live in the culture while remaining pure of heart, mind and body?

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


Reading Assignment:

Week 12: Appendix II – End of Book (p 417-453)

Happy Reading!


Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

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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 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

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  • Robert Kraus

    Another good, relevant, post. Purity is a struggle for me, especially with the internet. My battle is a constant one, with filters, time limits, etc. I try to put little spiritual reminders around my computer, such as the desktop background, a little prayer card or rosary on my monitor, etc. I guess my battle for purity is more personal and I can’t imagine how hard it would be with kids too. God bless.

    • Vicki

      Thanks for your comments, Robert.  It think this is difficult for all of us. But having children  certainly forces me to look in the mirror more often.

  • Charlie500

    This is probably one of the most critical issues today that should be addressed WITH CHRISTIANS that we hear very little about from the pulpit. I take a hard line on this topic because of the damage it is doing to souls, particularly children.
    This is probably the entire reason why we have so many people claiming to be Christian in North America, yet are not evangelizing the culture. They are more influenced by the polluted culture than an influence on the culture. We don’t even realize anymore that we are polluted. Desensitization to verbal and visual impurity is insidious. How else can we explain the pillage of the innocence of children when there are so many ‘Christians’ about?

    Does it not seem that porn has become so familiar in our culture that the topic, if addressed at all, is addressed in a very casual manner? We have lost our sense of “horror for sin” immersed in a cultural atmosphere of sexploitation destroying the image of God in our humanity. St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians told them that “immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among the saints. “Be sure of this,” he said, “that no immoral or impure man…has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God.” (Eph 5:3,5) And let’s not forget what Jesus said about leading children to sin, it is better if a millstone would be placed around your neck and you be cast into the sea.(Matt. 18:6) In our culture we see the innocence of children being pillaged. This is the fallout from adult sin. Heaven does not view this mildly.

    I think that many Christians do not see the use of porn as a mortal sin which would deprive them of heaven. It is viewed more as a psychological illness/addiction than sin. I am not saying that psychological counseling is not a good and necessary thing, but I do think that viewing the problem in this light of “illness” minimizes culpability.
    I could go on, but it is a start of some more thought and discussion.

    • Vicki

      You’re absolutely right, Charlie. This is a very difficult discussion to have among Christians in our culture, because the tentacles of impurity have wound their way into every crack and crevice of our lives.  We have open discussions about pornography and extra-marital relations, but we fail to discuss the “innocent” flirting we do in our day to day lives with music, movies, TV, books, jokes and the like.  It’s like a teen asking where to draw the line with dating.  Is holding hands OK?  What about kissing?  How far can we go before we’ve gone too far?  Once they start asking the questions, we know they’re heading down the wrong path altogether.

  • This is hard. Especially Facebook, I can’t control what friends post but I can’t block them either because are made by my college friends. Actually just being with them sometimes… because of the jokes they make etc… They know it makes me uncomfortable… But they were there for me when I needed them most. 
    Honestly, it seems impossible to screen out and censor every single impure image, message or music out there. Or if I did I would be living in a virtual bubble.
    I was raised to be aware of right from wrong. And that to a certain extent, being exposed was okay as long I had a well-formed conscience. 
    I admit I have watched certain shows which I regret, like “Game of Thrones” It’s hard to break out of things when everyone you know is into them. Or to even just tell them how you feel about it.   

    • Charlie500

       Mary, you are right, it is impossible to ‘screen out’ the pollution from the culture. We have to work on our own hearts, it is what in festering in the temple of our own hearts that counts. We have to look at what we are feeding ourselves with too…especially entertainment, music, movies, TV, internet etc. Certainly we can work on our own hearts and be an influence to our friends. If we all did this, we would not have the problem that we now have in the culture where we cannot get away from the images and messages no matter where we turn. It all begins with ME.

      • Yes, what matters is working on our own hearts. Hopefully we can be a good influence to others. Thank you! 

    • Becky Ward

      Hi Mary,

      I finally deleted my Facebook account after receiving a ‘like’ notice from a sister to something totally vulgar. I replied to it and told her what I thought, but forgot that everyone on my friends list had now been exposed to it too!!

      I was finally forced to see that I was trying to serve two masters.

      It is very hard to feel ‘out of the loop’ and to not know what people are talking about when they mention movies, books, songs, etc. and we do face persecution for it….but our refusing to even dip our toe in the ‘cesspool’ may be the only thing that alerts our friends and family to the fact that there is something wrong here!!

      Don’t forget that we DO have each other….the devil does everything he can to make us feel like we’re all alone in this battle….but we’re not.


      Vicki, just two days ago I turned off a rerun of HOUSE. (Why do they have to put all the garbage in there?)

      • I’d delete my facebook if I could. As it is I got an account pretty late in the game. But as a student, that’s also where they post homework and org activities. And I do benefit from the religious pages. 🙂
        You’re right I should’t be afraid to feel out of the loop. I shouldn’t worry too much about not fitting in.
        And yes we do have each other! Thank you!

  • Charlie500

    In our culture today it is common to misconstrue purity with prudishness. Those who practice purity of heart are likely to be looked at by the culture as inhibited or prudish. John Paul II explained the difference between purity and prudishness in Love and Responsibility. He said that a prudish person would be one who condemns the most natural manifestations of sex and sexuality. On the other hand, true emotional shame is a healthy reaction against any attitude to another person which disregards that person’s essential value, degrading him or her to the level of an object for sexual use.

  • LizEst

    We are in the world, but we are not of the world. So, it’s the age-old issue of avoiding the occasions of sin. Way back in the Old Testament, we are told to avoid that which causes us to sin, “stopping [our] ears lest [we] hear of bloodshed, closing [our] eyes lest [we] look on evil” (Isaiah 13:15de). This is otherwise known as custody of the eyes and custody of the ears. In fact, we promise to do this very thing in the act of contrition we recite in confession [this version] “…I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace and thy mercy, to sin no more, TO AVOID THE OCCASION OF SIN, and to do the penance prescribed.”

    Recalling what the Lord told St. Paul, God’s grace is sufficient for us. The problem is that we are usually fairly attached to those occasions of sin. And, though our spirit is willing, our flesh is weak. So, what’s the best solution? Get rid of those things that cause us to sin. Easier said than done because of our attachments. So, either go cold turkey and get rid of the problem all at once. Or, get rid of the problem gradually. The best thing is to get rid of the problem all at once [go cold turkey–an idiom in the U.S.]. In that way, you will turn completely to the Lord. Be sure to replace the temptation with something of the Lord, something good and pure and wholesome.

    Is the internet a problem? Stay off of it. Is pornography a problem? Put a child filter on your computer so you don’t go there. Is a song a problem? Get rid of it. Replace these things with wholesome activities or you will just be inviting different issues to become occasions of sin. It’s extra tough when children are involved. But, it is possible to train them to avoid these things, too. My mother, God rest her soul, used to tell us, “You don’t have to eat a rotten egg to know it is bad.”

    You also don’t have to be rude about making your preferences known. And, you really don’t have to announce to people that you don’t want to engage in these kinds of activities. When they see that you don’t, they will not bring them to your attention. In other words, your actions will speak for you. After a while, other people will understand. In this way, by not being obnoxious about it, you will win more people over to Christ than you would if you beat them over the head with the issue.

    Sometimes, we just can’t help but be in the midst of temptation. We still don’t have to give in to it. We can instruct and admonish in a kind and merciful way. I understand Blessed John XXIII, when he was Nuncio to France (if memory serves), was once seated across the table from a woman who was dressed rather immodestly. All eyes were on him and what he might say and do. He gave her an apple and encouraged her to take a bite…but she just didn’t understand. “It wasn’t until after Eve ate the apple,” he said, “that she realized she was naked!” Once again, our good Pope John gives us a good example to follow!

    May God bless everyone here…and, Happy Thanksgiving Day on Thursday to all those in the U.S. and U.S. citizens overseas (belated Happy Thanksgiving to those in Canada)!

    • eelia

      “After a while, other people will understand. In this way, by not being obnoxious about it, you will win more people over to Christ than you would if you beat them over the head with the issue.”Or you won’t be invited out anymore and lose a lot of companionship.

      • LizEst

        Yes, one wins more people over with honey than with vinegar! God bless you eelia!

        In the final analysis, we must choose Christ. There will never be any shortage of companionship when one is serving others. Jesus himself told us that the poor will always be with us. What a joy that we will always be able to serve our Lord in the poor.

  • CeciliaMarks

    Oh my Vicki, both my husband and I struggled w/that 30 years ago & still do so with our grandchildren. We received only one TV station for many, many years. Got an antenna when my husband wanted to watch a Super Bowl game one year. We were still able to “control” what the children watched in the home realizing that what was brought into our home could not be toxic to the life living here. We actually fasted from the little we watched on Fridays. However the culture seemed to run over us like a tidal wave of porn and impurity once we walked out the front door. Many of us parents struggled trying to implement solid Christian teachings to combat the outside influences of the media, etc.

    Our children are now young adults in their 30’s & the culture did influence them; however, so did our teachings! Even though my adult children and I do not agree on all things, I see them as heading in right direction using a good moral compass. Each one of them chose good marital partners which in itself is a blessing. I imagine our home as a warm cocoon surrounded w/heaven’s protection. None of us within this cocoon is perfect and each is growing and learning–parents, too! However, our constant is the love we have for one another–warts and all.

    Vicki, as you said in your last post something about many “sighs and tears” that no one heard except heaven. Moms truly are the “heart of the home” and heaven must have a room full of files labeled “Moms Sighs and Tears”!

  • Terese10

    Since returning to the church I’ve changed what I read, watch on TV, and think about. But I’m still sitting on a fence with some music. I really love some of the old stuff I grew up with–Bob Dylan, Meatloaf, others. And also some of the current country music. I’ve wondered if it’s wrong to listen to that stuff. It is just so fun, it releases tension for me to sing them out and just let loose. Now I’m even more uncertain if it’s good or bad. I know this sounds awful, but can’t we have ANY fun?

    • Vicki

      I’m with you 100%.  Music is an issue for me, too.  I like country music, but – as my children (particularly my teen) point out – there’s almost as much bad “stuff” in country as there is in pop.  And when it comes to jogging?  Most Christian music just doesn’t inspire me to run faster, even though it should.  I’ve been trying to find my “fun” in other areas – but I think  there’s definitely an element of sacrifice here.  

      The first step is probably the hardest. But over time, just like anything else – the sacrifice becomes a part of our lives and we no longer consider it a burden.  For example, a few years ago I gave up soda.  For many years, that was my “coffee.”  I probably drank a case every day or two.  But after a while, I didn’t even miss it.  In fact, water is no longer a sacrifice – I actually prefer it.

  • CeciliaMarks

    Terese10, just a thought for you. I recently read that the quickest means into our soul is thru music. How many times have we found our selves humming a tune & wondered where it came from and the feelings that arise as the tune is played? There is something very powerful in the way humans receive messages via our visual and audio senses. We do respond positively or negatively by what has been “programed” in us.

    While driving my pre-teen children to school one day, one of the “oldies” from the 60’s came on the station. I was humming along when I actually heard the lyrics! I had never noticed them previously–had the words been changed I wondered. Anyway the kids wanted to know what the song meant…a teaching moment on the ride to school did occur!

  • My beloved Family Members.  Reading through your Responses and experiences quickly, I understand your hard life in the cacophony of the evil around the young generation as you struggle to keep your beloved youngsters uncontaminated. As a widowed Grandmother, the line I hoe is daily Prayers for my Grandchildren – one now in the whirlwind of the early 20’s; the other three in the explosive teenage years.  I know, they need lots and lots of prayers. Mine and all youth of the world.

  • Becky Ward

    I surround myself with as many holy things as possible. Music, books, people, etc. There are a lot of GOOD Christian musicians out there. Here’s a link to one of my favorites. Listen to song #2, “Take Us To The River”

    It took some time to transition from my rock & roll, and country favorites but far from putting me to sleep, (Like I thought Christian Rock would do) I exercise to it…’s good for all of me!

    It IS hard to live a pure life today, but not impossible. We need to find, and stay connected to others who can confirm us on the journey.

    When my son was a teenager, I took him to get fitted for a tux and was complaining about how little teenagers listened or paid attention. The old guy who owned the shop told me something I have never forgotten. He said, “They can’t “un-hear” something.” Our job as parents is to make sure our children….and all those in our spiritual communities….hear the message, and of course, we need to set a good example. Teenagers are allergic to hypocrisy!! (Fr. Sam Medley, SOLT) Then we need to believe that the Holy Spirit will do the rest…and get out of his way!

    • LizEst

      Nice songs, Becky. Thanks.

    • Oooh, Becky, you should not have had to remind me I am soooooo old!!!! “You know you are growing old when you can no longer follow the words of a beautiful song”……..somebody wrote that somewhere a long time ago.

    • Beautiful songs! can I recommend one too? This is a beloved favorite in the Philippines. Not exactly exercise worthy… But I love to sing it while running just for the fun of it! 😀

      Oh and the words at the start and and don’t mean anything… they’re sort of like “ooohs” and “lalalas” 

      • LizEst

        A really joyful song, Mary. Thanks for sharing that.

      • Becky Ward

        Thanks Mary….that IS beautiful. We need to hear songs like this connected to God and our faith when we are little! (And older too….)

      • Oh, Mary, God bless you.  You have made my day.  The Song is simply beautiful.  And the words speak to the centre of my heart.

        • Am grateful to Him that He spoke to you through this song! 🙂

  • I keep saying a Hail Mary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. There is just so much in our society that is so pagan, and at times it becomes overwhelming. I am very fortunate though, because my office faces our backyard which is a small forest. It is amazing when one stares at the trees, the peace one can experience.

    • LizEst

      Yes…and sometimes even nature reflects images of the cross, our Lady, our Lord, etc. There indeed is so much that is pagan in our society. But, there is so much more that is right and holy and good. Always remember that Christ our King has already won the victory…and He gives us the grace to live in these times and make Him known. His grace is sufficient for us! (cf 2 Corinthians 12:9a)

  • Deborah Rentler

    I just joined the book club.  I hope I did it right.  I’m looking forward to reading the next book and getting in on the discussion. Thanks!

    • LizEst

      Welcome Cloisterella! We are happy you are joining us and are looking forward
      to your participation. The schedule says our next book is “The
      Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis beginning December 4th. It is
      available on-line free of charge because it is in the public domain. I got it as a pdf.

    • Vicki

      Welcome!  We’re thrilled to have you!  You’re joining at a wonderful time, considering we’ll be starting our next book a week from tomorrow.  I look forward to reading your comments!  God bless you!

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