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Book Club – The Imitation of Christ Week 3 of 10

January 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

The Imitation of Christ Week 3 of 10

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My Dearest Reading Friends,

Welcome Back!!!  I hope each of you enjoyed a beautiful and Christ-filled Christmas season full of family and friends.  I took a little break from The Imitation over the holidays to read brief meditations on Christmas here and there, and I finally refocused and finished the reading assignment by reading the final chapter in Book II last night.  Sometimes I think Jesus is a good portion picture1real “party pooper.”  (I don’t like the term any more than you do, but I’m lacking something more apropos at the moment.)  If you read the last chapter recently, you know what I mean.  If not, you’ll know soon enough.  Below is a quote from Chapter 12:

 Many think this is a hard saying: Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus, but it will be much harder to hear those final words: Depart from me, you cursed one, into everlasting fire

…Plan as you will and arrange everything as seems best to you, still you will find some suffering in your life. Whether you wish it or not, you will always find the cross, for you will either experience some pain in your body or perhaps have to endure some affliction of spirit in your soul.

Sometimes God may leave you to yourself and sometimes you neighbor will try you; but worse, you will often be a burden to yourself. There is no remedy to free you from this nor is there any ointment to ease the pain, but you must bear it as long as God wills.

God wants you to learn to endure affliction without relief, wholly to submit yourself to Him and to become more humble by passing through adversity.

No man’s heart can experience what Christ endured in His passion except the man who suffers as He did. – Imitation of Christ, pg. 65-66.

We just finished our Christmas celebrations last night on the Feast of the Epiphany, and after retrieving everyone’s coat from the bedroom, saying our long but festive goodbyes and tucking the kids into bed late one last time, I sat down to this, the final chapter in Book II: Directives for the Interior Life. Not exactly the period at the end of a beautiful season – if felt more like a blaring alarm that goes off too early in the morning – neither pleasant nor appreciated.

In all fairness, it wasn’t just last night. There have been other glimpses into the “darker” side of life throughout this Christmas season. Take the Feast of the Holy Innocents, for example. Or even the readings leading up to it – Herod and his evil intentions. The angel warning the wise men not to return the way they’d come. Then we’ll have Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt with their precious Infant in their arms. The entire story is fraught with danger and high drama.

In all the glory of God we celebrate on Christmas, there is always the reminder that evil does exist in the world. That crosses are real, cannot be avoided and even the most innocent endure them every day. But as Thomas à Kempis points out, “Christ’s entire life was a cross and a martyrdom, and you look for rest and pleasure?”

Even before His birth, we learn that there was no room for Him in the inn. Our Lord and Savior entered this world as a sort of castaway – without fanfare or celebration – in the humblest of circumstances. And yet I have the audacity to want more?

Actually, YES, I do want more. I want to live a peaceful life without the crosses I am destined to bear. I don’t want the ones thrust upon me by circumstance, and I certainly disdain those that I bring about myself! I want a nice, cozy home filled with a loving family. I want to reenact Little House on the Prairie each day in our home, with a loving father, understanding and generous mother, and children who both obey their parents and serve one another on a daily basis. I want extended family members to remain healthy and stay with us forever. I want to be a great wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I want the perfect family with the perfect home and the perfect life that I imagine of the people I see on Hallmark commercials.

But God has willed none of those things for me.  After much reflection, I must admit that I am thankful for His providence. The above referenced chapter is aptly entitled “The Royal Road of the Holy Cross.” Without the cross, there can be no crown. In fact, the cross is the key to the joy we find on Christmas. Without the cross, Christmas would be, well, just another birthday. We rejoice on Christmas precisely because we rejoice in the cross.

As Archbishop Fulton Sheen tells us in The Moral Universe,

If a man is ever to enjoy communion with Christ, so as to have the blood of God running in his veins and the spirit of God throbbing in his soul, he must die to the lower life of the flesh.  He must be born again…And hence the law of Calvary is the law of every Christian: unless there is the Cross there will never be the resurrection, unless there is the defeat of Calvary there will never be the glorious wounds, unless there is the garment of scorn, there will never be the halo of light…for the law laid down at the beginning of time which shall be effective until time shall be no more, is that no one shall be crowned unless he has struggled and overcome.

 

Discussion Questions:

1. Please share how these readings affected your celebration of Christmas this season.

2.  Do you fear the cross?  If so, what most helps you in your efforts to carry it with courage?

 

Reading Assignment:

Week 4: Book 3 Ch. 1-11

 

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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  • KAACD

    I’m not sure if I picked up my cross but I do try to follow. I can never endure what Jesus did on the cross. Sometimes I cry and think, “Why, do I have to go through more trial?” Is this part of the suffering on the cross? Whatever it may be, I love God and to the end will endure, I just wish it wasn’t so hard sometimes.

  • Scott Kallal

    One of the quotes that most struck me was something like: “Don’t worry about who is with you or against you, just make sure God is with you.” I recently gave a homily where I received many compliments, but one person who I highly respect offered me some serious criticism. It was tough for me to stay humble and accept his correction while also acknowledging all the good that homily did for people. 

    I also really liked: “no one is richer, more powerful, or more free than we are if we know how to renounce ourselves and all things.” This is the power of detachment, the freedom to do whatever God asks at all times, no matter what the cost. This may be one of my favorite thoughts of all time on true freedom.

    As far as bearing crosses, I consider myself still very much an amateur, but there are two thoughts that touched me:
    1) Bear crosses like a soldier! This touches my deep identity as a man.
    2) Always remember why or for Whom you are doing what you do. As Viktor Frankl quoted Nietzsche, “A man can live with any how as long as he has a big enough why.” If I remember that I’m in this for God’s glory and the salvation of souls, my little crosses become much lighter and easier to bear.

    Please keep the final session of our Catholic Spiritual Mentorship Program in your prayers this week as we “graduate” our first class of spiritual mentors.

    God bless,

    Fr. Scott, AVI

    • LizEst

      Praying for the final session of the Mentorship Program…and thanks for your comments on this blog. They are wonderful. God bless you, Father Scott.

  • zelmo1954

    “Wood of the Cradle-Wood of the Cross.” In The Fulton J Sheen Sunday Missal (Hawthorn 1961) the Archbishop writes an incredible Introduction to the Mass. In it he says ‘Jesus is the only man born to die’. He turns our cross into a cucifix and makes suffering meritorious. Some even become “Friends of The Cross”. Peace

  • zelmo1954

    Wood of the cradle, wood of the cross. In the Fulton J Sheen Sunday Missal (Hawthorn, 1961) the Archbishop writes an awesome intoduction to the mass. It is the man Jesus, born to die, who turns our cross into a crucifix. Suffering becomes meritorious. Some become “Friends of The Cross”. The Joy of Advent embraced by the sorrow of Calvary. The sorrow of The Cross tempered by the joy of the resurrection. I embrace the cross because of the unmerited grace of Our Father.

    Peace

  • Robert Kraus

    Yes, I’ll admit I fear the cross. Maybe because my faith is weak or I’m a fledgling Catholic. I keep praying for peace and freedom from anxiety and honestly, I do secretly hope I don’t get the big crosses. This is how I know my faith is immature.

    What helps in my efforts to carry it with courage or, more realistically, carry it at all? I’d say solid spiritual reading for a start, the examples of the saints. I think the biggest cross for me is just being Catholic in a sarcastic, hostile world. I’m a coward when it comes to expressing my faith. So spiritual reading helps sustain the realization within me that there is a truth I find in my faith that I don’t see anywhere else.

    I’m glad the club is back! We had a great holiday season. 🙂

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

    Been learning a lot about bearing my cross lately…when I’m suffering… it helps me to imagine myself kneeling before Him, offering what I am going through or imagine embracing my cross. Praying the divine Mercy Chaplet also gives me strength… When I try to humbly accept my cross, God really  does give me the grace to bear them.
    I used struggle under the weight, but He told me to be honest with Him. To be honest because He wanted to carry the load with me. How truly good He is! 

  • carl641

    ‘If
    anyone will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and
    follow me.’ Now that’s a hard saying. I’ve wondered about that for many years.
    Even now, I’m not really sure I understand what it means. Do I fear the cross?
    Depends on what cross you’re talking about. I’m not anxious to endure physical
    or mental sickness. Do I fear those? Maybe. On the other hand I know there’s
    nothing I can do to avoid those if one of those crosses comes into my life.
    That’s where the Faith comes into it for me. It gives me a way to understand
    what comes into my life and, hopefully, accept it and see Gods purpose in it.
    Knowing that doesn’t always make the living of it easy, though. But the Faith
    does give one hope and a way to interpret suffering so that it can be put into
    some kind of framework of meaning. My wife has been disabled and sick for over
    40 years, and sometimes it’s very difficult to see any purpose in any of it,
    but we always come back to the idea of: how could we deal with any of it if we
    didn’t believe? We couldn’t. So for us, the Faith provides a way to be able to
    carry our crosses. TK hits the nail on the head when he says ‘If you carry your
    cross willingly, it will carry you and lead you to your desired goal, where
    suffering will be no more; but that will not be while you are here. If, on the
    other hand, you carry your cross grudgingly, then you turn it into heavy
    burden, weighing yourself down the more and still you must carry it.’ That
    said, we still do all we can to reduce or eliminate any suffering due to the
    illnesses.

  • woolymomof9

    I can really relate to the comments about being a burden to yourself. Much of the motivation in my personality is fear. Fear of not being a good enough wife, mother, daughter, housekeeper, neighbor, etc., fear of suffering, but most of all, fear of hell.   Learning to balance those fears with a trust in God’s providence for me has been built through leaps of faith and prayer.  Meditation at the end of each day or longer period of my life, looking for the places that God has taken care, even in the suffering, has taught me stronger faith for the future. Re-reading journal entries where I have pondered my suffering at a later time shows me that I got through that hard time and came out the better for it, and I can do so again.
    Our pastor frequently says in his homilies that no matter what our current problem (cross) is now, and however much we want it solved and behind us, another problem will be waiting to take its place.  So, as much as we want to be in that peaceful, perfect place, it won’t happen until we finally reach Heaven.  Its such a simple thought really, but with the secular world pushing its idea of happiness and peace, we forget that the real reward is not in this life.
    I think also that our understanding of God as Father, and our own idea of father shape how we carry our cross. If we understand Father to mean a loving parent who will do whatever is necessary to help us grow to our potential, even to the point of allowing suffering, then I think it is easier to bear our cross with trust in the Father’s hands. But if our idea of Father does not include this loving strictness, it is much harder to accept what we are growing through.
    “Though storms may rage and winds may howl, and lightning strike again. I think as does the mariner’s child, “My Father is at the helm.” -Father Joseph Kentenich

    • Vicki

      I especially like the idea of looking back through journal entries and re-discovering past crosses through which you’ve grown.  That is a great idea.  I tend to use my journal only for prayer and positive things, thinking my kids may read it some day, but I might need to reconsider that notion.

      • http://catholiccoffeeklatch.wordpress.com Jen S

        Vicki, as I was doing some journaling of my own tonight, I was thinking about this post you wrote.  Please, especially if you think that your kids might read your journal sometime, write about your pains and struggles as well as the good stuff.  You want them to know that whatever they are going through in their lives, you had similar struggles.  One of the biggest disservices we do to each other and our kids is to paint that smile on and make like everything is great, even when it isn’t.  Yes, we should be joyful, but we should also be honest.  When we go around making like everything is ok, the people we encounter, all of whom have their own struggles, may look at us and think, “Sure, it’s easy for her to be happy.  She has the perfect life.”  I learned this when I realized that someone in my social circle was separating from her husband because of addiction.  I sat there, feeling like a heel and kicking myself because she felt like she was alone and that there must be something wrong or broken in her family because they were dealing with this and she just wasn’t a good enough wife to stick it out.  I felt like a heel because I’d already been dealing with my husband’s alcoholism for several years at that point but never told anyone because I was embarrassed. So, for the desire to save my own face, I let this friend feel alone and like she was a failure.  Now, several years later, I talk openly about our family’s struggle with alcoholism.  I have been able to stay with my husband, but it’s a hard road and I share our story so that I can give hope and strength to others.  When we share our burdens with others we all get stronger.  One has to be discerning (I’m not taking out billboards or anything!) but I have been consistently amazed by how many people share very similar struggles and how, we truly are all in this together.  Anyway, I was thinking of you tonight and just wanted to share that with you.  

        Deo Juvante, Jen

        • Victoria Campbell

          Your post to Vicki was spot on.  Journaling can be such a treasure especially to those who will come after us and learn from us.  My mother passed away almost 23 years ago and one of the treasures I found was a diary written by her late during her high school years and early into college.  Having her words gave me an insight into her thoughts and feelings that I treasure.  How I so wish that her journal continued into  her life further.  Our words can outlive us.  As a new mom 22 years ago, one of the things that I most missed was being able to ask my own mother about what life was like for her as a new mother or questions about what I did as a baby.  You don’t think about these things as a teenager/young adult so having this memorial of another’s thoughts at a time when your perspective has matured really can be a true treasure. 

    • Victoria Campbell

      I like the comment about another cross waiting to take its place…so true.  I tend when faced with a life struggle that is ongoing to lose focus and purpose.  My goal is to grow in this respect and to embrace struggles… well as much as humanly possible and to be more resigned to suffering in this life reminding myself of how Jesus suffered and offering my own sufferings to him.  The earlier book Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence was a good and eye opening perspective for me as it challenged me to view what confronts us in this life as ultimately something that God allows or wills.  I think allow is easier for me to grasp. So yes trying to be more accepting of those crosses. 

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

    “And yet I have the audacity to want more?Actually, YES, I do want more. I want to live a peaceful life without the crosses I am destined to bear. I don’t want the ones thrust upon me by circumstance, and I certainly disdain those that I bring about myself! I want a nice, cozy home filled with a loving family. I want to reenact Little House on the Prairie each day in our home, with a loving father, understanding and generous mother, and children who both obey their parents and serve one another on a daily basis. I want extended family members to remain healthy and stay with us forever. I want to be a great wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I want the perfect family with the perfect home and the perfect life that I imagine of the people I see on Hallmark commercials.”
    I can so very much relate to this comment. Just during the Christmas season I came across these ideas that I have pulled together, typed up and placed in various places around the house to help me keep the correct focus. Maybe someone on this site will find it useful as well. The meditation comes from the book ‘Jesus Calling’ by Sarah Young and the Bible verses are from Psalms 46:1-3, 6-11

    “Cease striving, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

    “Receive My peace. This is still your deepest need, and I your Prince of Peace, long to pour myself into you neediness. My abundance and your emptiness are a perfect match. I designed you to have no sufficiency of your own. I created you as a jar of clay, set apart for sacred use. I want you to be filled with my very Being, permeated through and through with Peace.
    Thank Me for My peaceful Presence, regardless of your feelings. Whisper My Name in loving tenderness. My Peace, which lives continually in your spirit, will gradually work its way through your entire being.” ‘Jesus Calling’ by Sarah Young

    “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult…. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come behold the works of the Lord, how he has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, he burns the chariots with fire! ‘Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations; I am exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psalm 46:1-3, 6-11

    During the break, I also broke the chapters of Imitation up into daily readings. One chapter per day will allow me to go through the book three times per year. Repetition, repetition. 🙂 I pray for continued blessings for all of you through the remainder of the Christmas season.

    • Vicki

      Thanks so much for sharing these quotes, Jeanie!  They definitely help keep the focus in the right place.

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

        Your welcome, Vicki.

        Here is another quote from ‘Jesus Calling’ by Sarah Young that I find extremely applicable. Read this just last night.

        “When you bring Me prayer requests, lay out your concerns before Me. Speak to Me candidly; pour out your heart. Then thank Me for the answers that I have set into motion long before you can discern results. When your requests come to mind again, continue to thank Me for the answers that are on the way. If you keep on stating your concerns to Me, you will live in a state of tension. When you thank Me for how I am answering your prayers, your mind-set becomes more positive. Thankful prayers keep your focus on My Presence and My promises.”

        • Becky Ward

          I love this! I’ve always heard that we should thank Jesus and ‘believe’ that our prayers will be answered – although maybe not quite as we envision or desire them to be answered – but it was always difficult. Maybe I was expecting instant results.

          This part especially speaks to me: “Then thank Me for the answers that I have set into motion long before you can discern results. When your requests come to mind again, continue to thank Me for the answers that are on the way.”

          Thank you Jeanie!

        • Vicki

          Very helpful at this particular stage in my life – thank you!

  • http://catholiccoffeeklatch.wordpress.com Jen S

    First, I have to say that I loved reading this book.  I’m new here and didn’t read Book 1 yet but am hoping to come back to it eventually.  I have often tried to pick up the Imitation of Christ but with little success.  This time, however, I found so much here that spoke to me.  Things that really explained what I have been feeling in the last couple years. How do I carry my cross with courage?  Hmmm . . . . I struggle with how to answer this.  I get asked this all the time, in different ways.  I have born a lot of struggle, carried a lot of crosses, and people are always asking me how I do it – and why I’m still smiling!  One of the phrases that stuck out to me most in this book was #12 of the last chapter, “suffering remains your lot.”  I have learned to accept this in my life.  In fact, I just said it to a friend last month (ironically, before I even considered reading this book) because we were talking about suffering.  As she reverted back to her faith several years ago, she found that a lot of the struggles she dealt with were tied to spiritual issues, especially due to occult practices of her family members.  She was wondering aloud, as I told her of our most recent trial, why we were so afflicted as it seemed like I was “doing everything right.”  After some reflection, I told her that I had recently realized that it was mine to suffer in life.  It is simply my lot in life to bear heavy burdens.  I have also, through “trial and error” (no pun intended), found that I am *better* if I am suffering.  When there are adversities in life, I pray more, I lean on God more, and I have a deeper faith life in general.  The minute things clear up and there is a calm, I get lazy.  I start to gravitate to earthly things and I don’t pray as often or as devoutly – and I am far from super devout in the first place so when I get lazy, I quickly slip to barely praying at all.  So, I have learned to be blessed in my suffering and to even find joy in it.  It was a lesson hard learned – and I wasn’t the most patient or understanding student in the beginning! – but it was definitely worth it in every way.  

    Deo Juvante, Jen

    • Victoria Campbell

      I can certainly relate to your post about carrying your cross.  Looking back over past crosses some I have carried with courage but my regret would be that I have carried far too many with complaining.  Although I do not ultimately lose sight of God being there in all things, far too often I resort to the comfort offered by a friend listening or by trying to solve it on my own secularly or through some type of escape. This book club is challenging my faith not expecting to deserve no challenge in life and to increase my understanding of what it means to embrace the cross by turning first a foremost to God with trust that he will indeed see me through. 

  • http://catholiccoffeeklatch.wordpress.com Jen S

    Oh, I just thought of one more thing I meant to add.  When trials come, I sometimes think of it as an adventure.  Like, “Wow!  I wonder what God is planning this time!”  or, “I can’t wait to see how He’s going to get us out of this one!”  Life’s just one big roller coaster when you make God your driver!! lol

    • LizEst

      Ha! He does have a great and unique sense of humor, doesn’t He Jen S.?

  • dut47eau

    I don’t fear the cross because of the Resurrection. I know the acceptance of suffering and using it for good will bring salvation and HOME!

    Sandra

  • http://clinmarjo.blogspot.com/ Maryellen Jones

    Happy New Year. I’m loving reading this book and sharing comments with you. 

    Trials come to each of us throughout the seasons of our lives. Our good Father sends exactly the suffering that each soul needs at the time.  Most of us, when we are young, prefer to avoid all suffering, but of course avoiding them doesn’t work.  I spent many years doing all I could to evade all unpleasantness.  It took a long, long time for me to come to that place where suffering was accepted, though grudgingly. I didn’t embrace it, I just knew it was inevitable, but I was a burden to myself; the trials were harder because of my resistance to them. I’m at a place now in my old age where I no longer fear suffering. I’ve been through enough to know that God only sends what is best for our soul. I love that for Catholics, suffering can be meritorious. We can offer, not only suffering, but irritations, inconveniences, and other daily burdens for the salvation of sinners, and the holy souls in purgatory. We can even offer our Daily Rosary, other prayers, fastings and other mortifications. Joined with the merits of Christ’s redemptive work, we can lay up treasure in heaven. As TK writes: “……..through much suffering, we must enter the Kingdom of God”  chapter 12

    • http://catholiccoffeeklatch.wordpress.com Jen S

      Amen!  The fact that we can find purpose in our suffering is one of the biggest and best things about being Catholic.  We don’t have to just sit and be miserable, turning inward and wondering, “Why me?”  We can offer our sufferings up for others, knowing that we are meriting grace that can help someone else and instead ask, “Why not me?”

  • talby

    Hello everyone… I am also new to the book club after stumbling onto this website. I had actually started reading this book several months ago and occasionally pick it up and read portions but thought how wonderful to share thoughts comments with a group. With everything I have going on, this was clearly God’s providential timing! Thank you Vicki for driving the discussion!

    In my reading a couple of quotes stood out in section 12 “Of the royal road of the holy cross”… “Lo, all stands on a cross, and all lies in the dying, and there is no other road to life and to true inward peace but the way of the holy cross and of daily dying to self” And “For God wishes you to learn to suffer trial uncomforted, and to cast yourself entirely upon him, and become the lowlier through the test”…  Speaks to me that 1) peace and suffering go together, 2) we must die to self – purge our weaknesses so that Christ can further our walk with Him and deepen our love for Him, and 3) God has a plan – in our trials He is working on those weaknesses in us with the reward of true peace (and I’ll add true joy)! I agree with everyone that trials and sufferings are definitely not a desirable prospect but oh what gloriousness awaits as we perservere through it all!

    What helps me my efforts to carry the crosses are the amazing assistance of our Loving Mother… she is so incredibly comforting especially as you contemplate on her sorrows. I also seek the intercession of many saints…just recently I came across St. Gemma Galgani who has become quickly one of my favorites…her suffering and her love for Christ was incredible and her writings are very moving. The saints offer us such great consolation because they give us witness to that “royal road of the holy cross.”

    I loved the excellent quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen: “And hence the law of Calvary is the law of every Christian: unless there is the Cross there will never be the resurrection, unless there is the defeat of Calvary there will never be the glorious wounds, unless there is the garment of scorn, there will never be the halo of light…” 

    I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and look forward to sharing more as we continue reading.

    God Bless,
    Terrie

    • Vicki

      Terrie – Thanks so much for joining us and for sharing your thoughts!  We look forward to your comments in the future!

    • LizEst

      Welcome Terrie (Talby)! Happy you are joining us. God bless you!

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Vicki, I must admit I have neglected reading this precious Gem.  But, hey, Good People of God, pray for me to be more organized and catch up with you. A Belated Blessed New Year from Grandma

  • Tdwunder

    hi everyone! i too am new and will be starting with this next assignment. I look forward to joining you all on this journey. i have had this book in my possession for years and it’s about time i read it!

    • LizEst

      Good for you Tdwunder…and welcome! We are happy you are joining us. God bless you!

    • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

      Tdwunder, welcome to our “Family”….you are in good company.  This Granny has had this little Gem like you for a number of years and as you can read further down, she has yet to catch up with the rest.  So we shall embark on the “Journey” together

  • CeciliaMarks

    Vicki, my husband gave me Imitation Christ as a Mother’s Day gift in 1994 but I read it in bits and pieces. This last Christmas Day found my husband and myself alone but not lonely….peace had descended and I was able to really reading this gem of a book. The Cross for me changes and challenges me but learning to surrender to it and not to fight it has been a long learning process. Example: After moving to California years ago, we decided to spend a day at the beach. I decided to wade out into the Pacific Ocean and “watch” the waves roll in. Sounds crazy, of course, & a large wave came rolling towards me which pulled me into the undertow. I was truly scared and began to fight the wave motion. The more I fought the more I was being pulled downward. The thought came to “stop fighting and go limp” As soon as I did, I was literally dumped onto the sandy shore. Waves of suffering have rolled over our family & me over the years. We have learned that prayer, trusting in God and patience in humility have helped us to weather these storms. The Cross will not be larger than the grace we are given to bear it.

  • Janet

    Hello. I am new and just catching up on the reading of The Imitation of Christ. I’m looking forward to journeying with you all.

    • LizEst

      Welcome Janet. We’re happy you have joined us and look forward to your comments and discussion. God bless you.

  • BeckitaMaria

    I’m grateful to be another newcomer to the book club.  I’ve read the previous chapters with your posts, Vicky, and the many replies. Thanks to All for sharing! This chapter has really 

    In my life of tender ages, I was blessed to attend Catholic grade school. I vividly remember our Friday Stations of the Cross devotion during Lent when I, with tears streaking my cheeks, often asked Jesus to let me suffer with Him. I wanted Him to rest His cross upon me that He might be relieved. In my innocence, I didn’t realize my prayer was being answered immediately as I was raised in a family stricken with the disease of parental alcoholism.

    As I grew with the wounds of many repressed emotions and hurts, the cross became very difficult to carry and I did fear it. Typical of those raised with these issues, I felt alone in my misery. My greatest ache was my own separation from me.  Through God’s mercy, I engaged in therapy, an ever-deepening prayer life and inner healing work supported and surrounded by His Love in many Simons.  Such freedom! Such beauty! Such holy healing!

    Just as for each of us, there were many crosses to be carried throughout life but I no longer feared the carrying. The inner healing had freed me to be who God created me to be. (At the same time, quite honestly, I’m still being fashioned by Him.) In my late thirties, I began to ponder anew the power of redemptive suffering. In 1992, when in Medjugorje, I asked Jesus and Mary to give me just enough suffering so that I could still function in my vocations as wife and mother as well as teacher and director of music ministry. (This definitely gives you a clue of my root sin of pride, as I often attempted to guide God in how to “do” my life for me.) Shortly after this pilgrimage, I was managing some difficult symptoms of fibromyalgia, spending time at the end of the school days lying under a heating blanket seeking warmth to bring relief from even my chest wall aching. By God’s grace I could manage this cross just as Cecilia has remarked: “The Cross will not be larger than the grace we are given to bear it.”

    Then more than seven years ago, I distinctly heard Jesus ask me to walk with Him to Calvary in the summer. I agreed never dreaming my husband would be diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer a month later and be set on a path for a treacherous final journey Home. There were many fears to face with all sorts of complications and the ensuing gamut of emotions which those who walk this way must endure. Even so, with God’s grace we walked with dignity, with Love Himself, with our Mother and with those beautiful souls He had placed on the journey with us. With God’s grace, I could sing the Divine Praises as complications arose.  With God’s grace, I spent many a night sleeping in a cot and sometimes on the floor. With God’s grace, there were priestly blessings and anointings for every surgery and procedure with Holy Viaticum and the Apostolic Blessing at death. With God’s grace, in my husband’s final days our parish family kept vigil in the Eucharistic chapel in this hospital at my request.

    I don’t like to suffer. I don’t. Even so, I pray to ever grow in trusting our God in all things, especially in embracing the Via Dolorosa especially shaped for me. Our Lady of Fatima said there are too many souls who go to hell because they have no one to sacrifice and pray for them.  Our Mother pierced my heart with these words, so much so that the souls for whom Jesus thirsts are a constant focus of my life. (Honesty check: This is what I intend. I am still striving to let go of certain attachments.) 

    I shall lift You All, Members of the Book Club, to Jesus as I adore Him this evening. 
    Happy Vigil of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord!
            

    • Vicki

      Thank you so much for sharing with us. Your story is beautiful and moving.  I have been so attached that I’ve been unable to offer to suffer for my Lord for several years.  The last time I did, my world came crashing down three days later, and it took three years to find some shred of “normalcy” again.  While I readily admit that I learned a lot in those three years, and was able to see life from a completely different perspective – I let go completely, and trusted God to lead us where He wanted us to go – now I’ve noticed that I’m holding on even more tightly than before, which makes no sense since I know that what control I think I have is an illusion.  Nevertheless,  reminding myself to embrace the cross has been invaluable.  The peace that you communicate through your story is very edifying.

      • BeckitaMaria

        Thank you, Vicki. I often sleep with the Relic of the True Cross. Last night I held it to my heart and prayed for you. Peace of our Lord and our Lady.

  • novice01

    Hi, BeckitaMaria. I am new like you are. I am moved by the many crosses that you have been given and endured for the Lord. I can appreciate the many blessings that you have received by your patient acceptance and endurance. Indeed, ther have been crosses along the way as I reflect on my life of 71 years . It has only been in recent years that I find myself praising and thanking the Lord for the opportunity to show my love for Him and to help me grow in faith by the crosses that He gives me-. Thank you for including members of the Book Club in your prayers at your  Adoration hour. God bless .   

  • Victoria Campbell

    From the 1st Chapter of Book 2, “…for when you have Christ you are rich and he is sufficient for you. He will provide for you. He will supply your every want, so that you need not trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains forever, standing firmly with us to the end.

    Do not place too much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and friendly though he be; and do not grieve much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change with the wind. Place all your trust in God.”

    This was our first Christmas in our home in years.  For many years our expected place has been with family whose Christmas focus was completely secular in nature.  This was different quite a bit from my own Christmas where church assumed a far more central place. Yet in past years we were with the “family,”  This year by comparison we stayed home with our 3 children all by ourselves ages 22 to 16.  Part of this change was occasioned by our choice but part by an estrangement with the extended family that has been brewing since the summer.  

    I have read everyone’s comments and reread book 2 and today when I set down to write my own comments and reflect this passage again spoke to me. It has been a catalyst for arriving at a point for forgiveness something I struggle with for what I believe was a wrong done to our side of the family that “grieved” me so to speak. Through prayer, I have been able to let go of these resentments and also to look to these relationships in a new way.  No they are not repaired but my husband and I each daily pray for the extended family in a way that I never did before.  I pray especially for all of them who have cast their faith aside that they might turn back to God.  I am also praying and would ask others who read this to do so as well for my sister in law who learned in December that she has breast cancer and must have surgery soon.  She is a wife and mother of 2 young children and I am praying for her complete healing and also for her and the rest of the family that they might turn back to God with their whole hearts and place their trust completely in God. 

    As for the question on the cross, I have responded to comments by others and I hope to face future crosses that come my way with greater acceptance by turning first and foremost to God for resolution and also  for whatever trials that I must endure  I pray that I will be secure in the knowledge that God will see me through many dangers, toils and snares with his Amazing Grace. 

  • angel5551

    Hi,I am new to the book club.. I have printed the first 3 weeks and just today received 
    my book,  I so looking forward to starting.  I’m not sure how to follow the assignments.I have not started to read the book since I only received it today.
    would like to know how to follow.  thank you and God Bless you.   

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