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The Imitation of Christ Week 10 of 10 – Book Club

February 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

The Imitation of Christ Week 10 of 10

 

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Has God “Hugged” You Lately?

You must seek the grace of devotion with perseverance, ask for it with earnestness, await it with patient confidence, receive it with thankfulness, retain it with humility, and use it with great care. But, while you await its coming, entrust the-good-portion-pictureto God the time and manner of this heavenly gift.

When you feel little or no devotion within you, you should especially humble yourself, but not to the point of becoming excessively sad or overly dejected. God often grants in one brief moment what He has denied over a long period, and sometimes it is only at prayer’s end that God grants what he delayed giving when it began. – Imitation of Christ, Book IV, Chapter 15, p. 208-209

As I read this passage, I decided we should have a little fun this week!

When à Kempis talks about what God grants in one brief moment, he’s probably referring to a special grace we need for the spiritual life – a virtue granted or understanding of some complex theological issue.

But we spend so much time delving into the complex mysteries of the Faith.  Today, let's let loose!  What about all the HUGS we receive from God virtually every day?  Those occasions when God just REVEALS Himself to us in one brief moment?  Gentle reminders of His love and devotion tend to strengthen our faith like “mini” Transfigurations, to borrow from Sunday’s gospel.

I was blessed with one of those moments just this past week.

First, a little background.  A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that my Lenten resolution was to pray all 20 mysteries of the rosary throughout the day, as time allowed. Well, you may have seen the comment that I posted, copying an email I received about someone praying eleven rosaries per day for each of her eleven children. I was very moved by her message and decided that if someone could pray for eleven children, I could certainly try to pray for six, plus my husband.

I sought the Lord’s assistance in this, asking that He help me be especially attentive to my duties as a wife and mother, not allowing me to “set things aside” so that these rosaries became an end in themselves. But I also asked that He help me to complete them if He wished me to keep this resolution. After all – generally speaking, I have trouble praying ONE rosary a day!

The first three days went well. Unfortunately, on day four I had three rosaries left to pray by the time I went to bed. I was a little disappointed, but decided to offer the prayers I’d already prayed for my entire family. I began praying my fifth rosary as I fell asleep.

I started to doze off somewhere in the middle of the second decade, which is normal for me; but miraculously I woke up shortly thereafter and became, not just alert, but wide awake!  As I lay there, I finished my son’s entire rosary – Yeah! I felt very content, knowing that God had helped me to finish – I thanked Him, and fell asleep, thinking that my work was done…I should have known better.

No sooner had I fallen asleep than my four-year-old began crying hysterically from his room – apparently he’d had a bad dream. As I held and consoled him, I began my sixth rosary. I wasn’t quite finished before I dozed off again; but I didn’t sleep long because I was awakened by the cries of my two-year-old.  When I went to her room, I found that her clothes were wet and she needed a change of sheets on her crib (This NEVER happens in the middle of the night.).

As the rest of my family slept, I took care of her bed and held her in my arms, rocking her, all the while praying my sixth rosary. By the time I got back to bed, I had finished two rosaries. I smiled and THANKED the Lord for giving me the ability to be faithful to my prayers. I even suspected that if He’d gone to all this work, He probably wasn’t finished yet.

I kid you not – as soon as I fell asleep, I heard a crash, followed by screams from my daughter. I rushed to her room and found that the adjustable side of her crib had broken off. Yes, you read that correctly. The whole side of her crib was laying on the floor.

At this point, I actually laughed. I had one rosary left to pray – this time for my husband, and I had to wake him up to fix the bed because I couldn’t do it myself. So I rocked the baby and prayed silently for my husband while I watched him put her bed back together.

When I finally returned to my bedroom, I was so full of joy and thanksgiving that I was afraid I’d never get back to sleep! I KNEW that my Heavenly Father had literally been at my side all night, helping me to fulfill my Lenten resolution. I glanced at the clock – 5:30. I had less than two hours to sleep before beginning a new day. But I knew that I wouldn’t be tired. I KNEW that if God had been faithful in helping me pray, He would also help me fulfill my daily duties. And He did.

I don’t know about you, but “hugs” like that are Cupid’s arrow to my soul – penetrating my heart and filling me with an unquenchable thirst for Christ. There is NOTHING that spurs my passion for Christ like His very personal (and visible) involvement in my life.

Unfortunately, while I want to shout from the rooftops when these moments occur, over time they fade and I find my devotion weak yet again (How does that happen?!). Thankfully, I’ve learned to overcome the faded memories by recording these events in a journal. This way, during my down times, when I’m waiting with perseverance, I can relive those special experiences, reminding myself that His heart is actually BURNING with love for ME, whether I can see it or not.

How about creating an “online journal” as an antidote to spiritual dryness?  If we use this week to share stories about how God has “hugged” each of us, we can return to this page when our devotion begins to get a little “blah.”  I’m sure you have some fabulous stories – please share them with the rest of us!

 

 

Discussion Questions:

1. Have you received a HUG lately?  Please share your stories with us – remember that no story is too great or too small.

2. Open discussion: Feel free to comment on any topic from this past week's reading.

 

Reading Assignment:

NONE – Next week we'll wrap-up The Imitation.  Then stay tuned in the following week for a Special Post on our Upcoming Calendar.

Note: We plan to begin Navigating the Interior Life by Dan Burke on March 12, so order your copy soon!

 

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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  • Scott Kallal

    Hey Vicki, one of my most recent hugs was this Sunday when I googled with my family. I was able to give a special blessing to my parents for their 35th anniversary (Monday) and to see my sister’s big belly as she is about 7 months pregnant. 

    I was also hugged today when my brother Apostle, Fr. Edward reminded us in his homily how blessed we are to be able to be ministers of God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Confession. How strange that things we once longed for so ardently can so quickly become old hat, taken for granted. It is good to remember the journey we’ve been on, how far we’ve come, and how God has blessed our little community. I am convinced that gratitude is the foundation for spiritual health, and that nothing destroys it like taking things for granted.

    Thank you again for this reminder and this opportunity to share. 

    God bless,

    Fr. Scott, AVI
    Apostles of the Interior Life

    • rjk123

      Praise God! Gratitude in all circumstances– and God’s Peace guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus — leading to more gratitude! Rachel

  • God hugged me today! He hugged me last Sunday too! And I’m so very grateful to Him for them! 😀 

    Last Sunday was my 2nd anniversary (liturgical calendar-wise) since my conversion. And God gave me so many anniversary gifts! He helped me pray the rosary, consolation while praying the Chaplet. Being able to pass by the adoration chapel before Mass and reaching the end of LOTR: Return of the King on tv. 

    Today, I was able to pray Lauds in the adoration chapel for a change. And I was filled with joy and peace after resting in His love. 

    It’s my final exams, last weeks of March when the schoolyear ends. I’m starting to get stressed out with school work, extra-curriculars, and celebrations because its my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary during my exam week. 

    But this morning, on Facebook, I read a quote from St. Faustina’s diary. That when she felt too burdened she ran to Jesus’ heart and told Him “You can do all things.” She trusted He would intervene for her and she would spend the time loving Him instead of growing anxious. The quote came with a painting of a girl kneeling at Jesus feet, His hands lovingly holding her in His arms. 

    I went to the chapel for noon Mass. On the bulletin board, I saw exactly the same painting! I know that God was assuring me that He would take care of me and help me survive all the stress. I knew He was embracing me too! I happily went to the adoration chapel, trying to imitate St. Faustina’s prayer.

  • Robert Kraus

    I love the online journal idea! There are many times I feel God has shown me a consolation or given me a special grace, a prod in the right direction, and it’s so easy to forget them. I have got to start writing them down so I can go back to them and feel reenergized in times of weakness.

  • One thing I’d like to add, last Sunday Fr. Horst SVD said that when God grants us moments on the mountain, (Or should I say hugs! :D) we should gratefully accept them because they help prepare us for what lies ahead. Two years ago, another homily on the Transfiguration said that after an intimate experience of God, this only has meaning if we go down from the mountain and live it out in our daily lives. 🙂 
    Thank You Lord for all Your loving reminders of Your great love for us and that You are always with us! 

    • Vicki

      So true!  Thanks for reminding us.

  • carl641

    Hi Vicki,

    The hug (s) I think
    about is what the Lord prevented me from doing.

               I was planning on going to Colorado last summer and
    hiking on the most desolate portion of the Colorado trail for several weeks.
    The six months or so previous to leaving I had been doing a great deal of
    backpacking to get in shape for the hike. I had been pushing myself physically
    very hard. I am 64.

               Sometime in June of last year I became quite ill with flu
    like symptoms. I went to the doctor and was tested for Lyme disease and found
    to have it. I was treated for it and recovered completely. However, the timing
    of coming down with it prevented me from being able to hike the Colorado Trail
    as I had planned.

               In October I was at the gym and on the treadmill and
    started having chest pains. I went to the ER and ended up having to have a
    stent put in one of the arteries of my heart. The surgeon who did the surgery
    told me they called the artery where the blockage was ‘the widow maker.’ Mine
    was blocked 95%. I have since made a full recovery.

               So here’s how I put the hug together in all of this. If I
    had gone out to Colorado as planned with the condition my heart was in, I may
    not have made it back. I believe the Lord allowed the Lyme disease to prevent
    me from going and to set up the situation where I could receive the stent. They
    told me at the hospital that I was hanging by a thread when I came in for the
    surgery. The day after the surgery as I was praying, one of the readings was
    from Ezekiel and it said something to the effect ‘I am giving you a new heart.’
    I realized as I read it that, in actual fact, that’s what the Lord had just
    done. I can’t put into words the gratitude I have for the Lord watching over
    me. 

    • Vicki

      Wow!  God is amazing!  

  • talby

    Hi Vicki, thanks for your blog today…it brought a smile to my face because I can relate to having “similar” experiences where God just shows us literally how much He is in control and how much He loves us and the time we spend with Him…humbling yet so joyful!  🙂

    Although my Lent started a little slowly, God is giving me daily revelations that is clearly guiding this journey… our readings this week in the Imitation, your blog, other reflections I’ve been reading, daily readings for Mass, and other things that others have said to me or have sent in an email… it is all leading me to greater revelation and growth with a desire for more… lots of little hugs encouraging me to push forward! Thank you God!

    I have been keeping a journal for about a year and it is so helpful to be able to go back and read some amazing prayers and thoughts that I have written down…it’s a great comfort to read and also reflect on the times that produced those thoughts.    

    From this week’s readings, I marked the entire prayer Kempis wrote in chapter 9. I am adding this to my daily Lenten prayers…

    God Bless,
    Terrie

  • CeciliaMarks

    Vicki, wow were you hugged…how wonderful. I believe God uses children to give the best hugs. The following popped into my head as I read your story: Once after experiencing a rather stressful day of teaching, I was feeling very tired and down about how the lessons had gone. On the way home, I stopped by the store for some items. Upon leaving my car, I noticed in the car next to mine what looked like a grandfather asleep in the front seat while in the back was a little girl about 2 or 3 years old sitting in her car seat. Just as I looked at her, she smiled & mouthed “I love you.” Immediately my spirits rose and I couldn’t help but smile. I knew God was giving me a hug. Thank you for helping me to remember this gift….

    • Vicki

      How precious!

  • I had promised Jesus that during our Divine Mercy Tuesday’s Cenacles, I would be an attentive listener and let others contribute to the Week’s Lesson discussions.  You know, as one grows older, they have a tendency of rabbling on and on or impulsively talking too much.  I have discovered this is one of my major weaknesses which I am fighting to conquer with varying degrees of failure and very few successes!!!!!

    So my Resolution, especially during this Lenten Season, was to become a listener and not an active participant and I prayed for God’s Grace to achieve this serenity….(if God wanted me to talk all the time, He would have given me two mouths and one ear,so had I read somewhere).

    And what was His response to my Resolution???? It has happened that during the last Two Cenacles, the Topic for Discussion has been Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical “Dives in Misericordia” – Rich in Mercy;  Chapter I for Week Forty-three and Chapter 4 for Week Forty-four which was yesterday the 26th.  I am the only Eucharistic Apostle of the Divine Mercy in our Cenacle who has the copy of this Encyclical.  So not only have I had to read it out to the Members, but I have also become the Facilitator of the Sessions!!!!!!!!

    I am trying to ascertain what was God’s view about my Resolution to keep quiet during the Cenacle Meetings and checking the Manual just now, I find  that next Meeting’s Topic in Week Fort-five is Chapter 6 of the same Document.  Well, I guess these are His Hugs as I struggle to practice the Virtue of Humility which I desperately need.  Mercifully, next Tuesday’s Cenacle has been postponed to the 13th March because we shall be anxiously  awaiting for the Results of the crucial General Elections after voting on Monday the 4th March.

    Please pray for my beloved Country, Kenya that this time round, we shall be spared the blood-letting, massive destruction of properties and widespread displacement of innocent Citizens which followed the announcement of the results of the 2007 General Elections and the Presidential Candidate Loser refused to accept the outcome and, instead, called out his supporters to stage angry Protests and country-wide wanton violence.  We are still struggling to recover and achieve inter-Tribal reconciliation and healing. Unfortunately, the same person who caused the violence, is one of the main Contenders for the Presidency and his main rival is already ahead of him in the Opinion Polls. His utterances in Campaign Rallies are causing a lot of fear and anxiety and it is feared, if he loses, he might, once again, reject the results. We are all hoping and praying that if he loses, he will this time gracefully accept the Results and concede defeat honourably.

  • AntonetteTherese

    I have struggled with liking the Rosary. It had been more than a decade (no pun!) since I’d prayed one. I knew my great-grandmother was devoted to it, so I prayed for her help. Within a short time, I suddenly felt drawn to pray it and started praying one every night. I didn’t have an actual Rosary though, so I prayed for my great-grandmother to provide me one. I prayed that prayer maybe once or twice – it seemed like a silly request. Last Saturday, my mom stopped by and – knowing none of this – said, “Here’s your great-grandmother’s Rosary. I thought you should have it.” So not just any Rosary, but hers! So a hug from God, through my great-grandmother. 🙂

    My son is being treated for leukemia now, and I can’t begin to list all the hugs we have received. So many people tell us how sorry for us they are, and it is hard, but I have been moved to tears countless times because of the outpouring of God’s love we have received during this time.

    • Vicki

      WOW! I love that one!  As a convert, over the years, the rosary has been difficult for me too.  It’s only been over the past year or two that I’ve begun to appreciate it, and only over the past few months that I’ve really felt drawn to it.

  • suzherbert

    The practice of the 20 decades has been such a blessing as i journey through the life of Christ each day.  It has helped focus on Christ and not the mundane distractions that can fill one’s day.  As i go along i am meditating and contemplating each mystery and as a result the Lord has brought such beautiful thoughts and images to my mind.

    But, i do not understand how you say a certain number of rosaries.  i would have to give this beautiful daily journey up in order to concentrate on the rosary at hand.  How do you meditate?  It takes me all day to get through the 4 that i do.  Do you meditate on the mystery of that day or each person?  It sounds like the rote prayer that we are cautioned against.  Please help me as i don’t want to miss a blessing in interceding for my people.

    Thanks!

    • Vicki

      I’m so excited that you’ve joined me in this!  Isn’t it amazing?!  Regarding your questions, I’m sure I don’t do it “right”, but it works for me.  What do I do?  I pray at all times when I can pray without using my mind for something else – if that makes sense.  For instance, I can pray when I’m cleaning, driving, waiting, walking, etc.  I cannot pray when I’m talking, emailing, working with my children in school, etc.  There have been a couple of times when I’ve stayed up later than I normally would have and have cleaned the first floor so that I could finish my prayers.  I LOVE that my family comes downstairs to a completely clean house in the mornings after I’ve done that.  Since the beginning of Lent, I’ve noticed that I am much quieter, more patient, and more diligent in my housekeeping (and I have always liked having a clean house – but now it seems to have a supernatural “purpose” in addition to simply enjoying cleanliness:)).  

      I’ve lost my place MANY times – I just go back to the last decade I remember.  I’m sure I’ve actually prayed many more than seven rosaries per day if all the decades were counted:).  What do I do when I’m praying?  Well, I begin each rosary by thinking of that person.  Then I begin each decade with an intention for that person associated with that decade.  For instance, that our Lord will guide my children in carrying their crosses well.  Then I try to meditate on the actual mystery.  What I’ve really liked is that in order to do this, my thoughts always have to be on the Gospels when I’m not intellectually doing something else during the day.  I get sidetracked a lot because I begin to think about relatively unimportant things.  But then I get myself back on track and go back to the mystery.  It’s been quite an education on how much my mind is on overdrive during the day.  I’ve been trying to direct all my “free” thinking time to our Lord through this prayer time.  It doesn’t feel rote, because I feel like I’m inviting Jesus and Mary into my everyday activities.  The fact that Jesus helped me finished them that one night in such a blatant way told me that He appreciates the effort, however poor my actual concentration may be at times:). I’ve not been perfect, but it’s been an amazing blessing for me, and I’m sure for my family as well.  

      • suzherbert

        Thank you for your thorough reply! It was very helpful and answered my questions about rote.  What i have also found so beautiful in doing the 20 decades throughout the day is where i end up being during certain mysteries.  For instance,  i have found myself walking into church for Mass during the 5th decade of the Luminous Mysteries – no coincidence!  

        After reading your explanation i may try to somehow incorporate doing the rosaries for each person.  i would need to do 12 each day!  Before Lent i had gotten up to 3 rosaries a day and thought that was amazing! 

        i will let you know what happens as i continue this new venture with Lord!
          

         

      • BeckitaMaria

        WOW, Vicky! I love this sharing. In addition to my “sit down” roasries, I also pray mysteries as I’m doing mindless tasks.

        I mentioned before that I tend to the care of a “retired” priest.  After he fled from China due to the rise of communism, he finished his seminary training in Spain. When he he told me of the Spanish custom of praying while cooking, we evermore incorporated that tradition into our kitchen.

        Another old Spanish custom I began using is to begin my confession with “Hail Mary Most Pure!” My confessor responds with “Conceived without sin.” I deeply appreciate inviting the precious and powerful heel of our Mother to crush the head of the serpent from my life.

  • Victoria Campbell

    It seems like every post brings me back to talking about this journey I am on with breast Cancer.  Through this book and the one before I learned a lot about suffering.  I don’t think I’ve ever before understood suffering as a gift to embrace before reading these books.  Previously I approached struggles as why me or poor me but during the course of these book club readings, I felt a significant shift in my thinking.  Why not me?  My challenge became to approach the next trial that came into my life with a different mindset.  When I found the lump in mid January, I immediately felt a peaceful resignation that God has been planning this for me.  I knew very quickly in my own heart that it was malignant even before the biopsy confirmed this for me. For the first few weeks, I felt a sense of peace and strength that was unlike how I would have approached this trial ever before.  Then, I felt myself slipping.  I let fear and doubt take hold of my serenity and anxiety ruled for a week or so.  Yet, I knew that only God could get me through this journey.  I kept turning to my daily devotions.  The rosary has become my middle of the night friend and I takes me to a place of peace almost every time as I reach to it on my bedside table.  

    Gratitude too I believe is essential.  I have felt the care and love of so many at my church, in my neighborhood, my many Facebook friends and so on who have prayed for me and been so kind.  If I had not faced this challenge, I don’t believe that I would have ever truly seen how incredibly blessed I am in so many ways.  I am more intentional now in thanking God for all these incredible blessings.  I also am opening myself to the direction God wants for me as he takes me through this.  I am open to those hurting facing I see when I walk into the center where I will soon be receiving chemotherapy and I find myself asking what do you want me to do here?  I know God is readying me for greater service to him and more purpose my life and I believe that I will be far more intentional in how I live my life each day. 

    I am looking forward to continuing the book club.  Tomorrow is my first chemotherapy treatment and I plan on taking our next book with me.  God Bless you all. 

    • LizEst

      Praying for you, Victoria. Your post is encouragement for many. God bless you.

    • BeckitaMaria

      You are a witness to Faith, Hope and Love, Victoria. My prayers for you continue.

    • Vicki

      Victoria, You’ll be in my prayers tomorrow and throughout your journey.  Your post is inspiring – you sound like a personification of all we’ve been reading. In Christ,Vicki

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