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Navigating the Interior Life Week 5 of 6

April 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Navigating the Interior Life Week 5 of 6

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St. Teresa of Avila in her powerful illumination of this place of spiritual growth revealed that getting through the “purgative way” can be a challenge that requires steadfast determination….

the-good-portion-picture“Nevertheless, the assault which the devils now make upon the soul, in all kinds of ways, is terrible; and the soul suffers more than in the preceding dwelling places; for there it was deaf and dumb, or at least it could hear very little, and so it offered less resistance, like one who to a great extent has lost hope of gaining the victory. Here the understanding is keener and the faculties are more alert, while the clash of arms and the noise of cannon are so loud that the soul cannot help hearing them. For here the devils once more show the soul these vipers – that is, the things of the world – and they pretend that earthly pleasures are almost eternal: they remind the soul of the esteem in which it is held in the world, of its friends and relatives, of the way in which its health will be endangered by penances (which the soul always wants to do when it first enters this dwelling place) and of impediments of a thousand other kinds.

Oh, Jesus! What confusion the devils bring about in the poor soul, and how distressed it is, not knowing if it ought to proceed farther or return to the room where it was before!” – “Navigating the Interior Life” (NTIL), p. 106-108 (Paragraph II of text and Paragraphs III and IV of quote).

Do you ever feel like you're straddling a fence – or walking a tightrope between this world and the next? Here we have so many sorrows, but admit it – there’s a lot of fun to be had, too – not all of it spiritual. And the goals we could set and achieve – in this world – are endless. To what heights might I climb? How far might I go?

My poor soul! St. Teresa is right – those devils do pursue me with a vengeance! Virtually every time I find consolation in God, they sneak in to remind me of all that the world has to offer. And I am easily distracted.

There are some days when I consider all the “bliss” I might have found, had I remained in my former ignorance – particularly when I compare my life with the carefree lives of relatives and acquaintances.  Like Lot’s wife, for just a moment (a potentially deadly moment) I look back…

YES, I want heaven. But is the material world ANTI-heaven? It would seem so from the books we’ve been reading. But didn‘t God CREATE the world? And didn’t He say that “It was very good”? Can’t I love God and love this world? After all HE does, right? Can’t I pursue the American Dream and still be a “good-enough” Catholic?  This is when my soul turns and races in the other direction, sprinting toward the entrance of this room, in effort to go back to that from whence I came.

Thankfully, thus far God’s grace has stopped me before I’ve reached the door. Upon quiet contemplation, I am gently admonished by a patient voice, filling my head with loving reminders. Remember, “…you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world…”(John 15:19).  “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6); “Come, follow Me“(Matthew 19:21).

I must be watchful. The devil is quick to show me the kingdoms of this world, and offer, as he did to Christ, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall be all yours” (Luke 4:6-7).

Frightening.

Christ said to “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). Whatever God’s will is for my life -that is what I must pursue. I cannot pursue my own agenda, and somehow “mold” that agenda into God’s will. In fact, St. Paul says, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

St. Paul even instructs me on how to direct my thoughts. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). Eyes on Christ. Focusing my thoughts and efforts on the Good – only these things will keep me moving forward through these rooms.

At Mass on Holy Thursday, I was very moved by the lady who sat in front of me. There was nothing particularly remarkable about her. And yet, she was remarkable. She was probably in her 90s. I’m sure you’ve seen her type. She was aglow with smiles during the sign of peace, and she took my hand in both of hers, looking into my eyes and wishing me peace as though I were the only person on earth.  And yet she could barely stand when it came time to leave the pew.

My very holy mother-in-law is the same way.  These days, every time I speak with her, she is either coming from or going to a funeral. Perhaps there is something to the “age” factor.  Wisdom comes with age or experience – and I’m sure the two often walk hand in hand. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The years teach much which the days never knew.”

Regardless, there are a great many people in this world who KNOW that it’s not about the money, or the house, or their looks or their health. It’s about LOVE.

These people recognize with every breath what St. Teresa of Avila shares with us:

On the other hand, reason tells the soul how mistaken it is in thinking that all these earthly things are of the slightest value by comparison with what it is seeking, faith instructs it in what it must do to find satisfaction; memory shows it how all these things come to an end, and reminds it that those who have derived so much enjoyment from the things which it has seen have died. Sometimes they have died suddenly and been quickly forgotten by all: people whom we once knew to be very prosperous are now beneath the ground…(NTIL, pg. 108-109)

Lord, may my reason inform my heart of this truth, that I, too, may always recognize the “prizes” of this world for what they are – mere baubles and trinkets – compared with the “pearl of great price” that is the kingdom of God.

 

For Discussion:

1. Do you feel you're straddling a fence?  How do you work through this difficulty?  What do you do to keep your eyes focused on Christ?

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

 

Reading Assignment:

Week 5 – 4/09  p. 115-122; 137-154 (E-Readers: Developing a Rule of Life, Conclusion, Appendix Two)

Webinar Discussion 4/13 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM Central

CLICK HERE to REGISTER for Webinar Discussion on 4/13 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM Central Time U.S.

 

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

For More Information on the Book Club: http://spiritualdirection.com/csd-book-club

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the SpiritualDirection.com book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at pelicansbreast.com

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  • Robert Kraus

    Spot on stuff today…yes, I feel like I straddle the fence when it comes to the world. I think the same thing, “is the world so bad? can’t I have some of the world and some of God at the same time?” It is just so hard to let go. I don’t know if it’s because everyone else around you sees just the world and not God, or else we’re hard-wired to prefer the world?

    From what I’ve read so far last week, I’m knee deep in the purgative way so I haven’t yet found the best keys to avoiding this fence straddling. I do know that ‘spiritual moments’ in my day can help, from attending a great liturgy, to reading my Bible prayerfully, to reading a good spiritual book such as this one.

    • Take some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Whatever you do, persevere. If you fall ten thousand times, get up again and keep fighting. The purgative stage is very challenging. However, the fight is worth it. One of the many keys to avoiding this fence straddling is to limit your intake of the world’s preaching, and increase the intake of God’s teaching. We do this by reducing the noise of radio, TV, music, etc and cultivating silence, prayerful reflection, spiritual reading, participation in the sacraments and fellowship with others who are committed to giving their lives to Christ. Hang in there!

      • Robert Kraus

        I appreciate your great response and I have to say, I have been enjoying your book immensely as it ties into my first steps into spiritual direction. I also have a growing love for Carmelite spirituality so I enjoyed the latest incorporation St. Teresa of Avila into this last chapter I was reading. Thanks again for your support and God bless!

  • LizEst

    Yes, wisdom comes with age. But, at the same time, if we don’t follow the “way of perfection” now, when we become that old lady or that old man on Holy Thursday in the future, we will not have that smile, that confidence that comes from trusting in the Lord when advance age is upon us.

    This life is short. Eternity is forever. We must change now. We must resolve each and every day to begin again, to fight the good fight, to run the race… knowing Jesus is with us every step of the way, encouraging us and giving us His eternal life in Holy Communion even now, even in this lifetime. He is everything we need. Blessed be God.

    • Vicki

      Liz, Thanks again for your sharing your wisdom – the urgency of our conversion is certainly paramount. And I’ve seen many older people who have not become that lady.

      Although I mentioned that wisdom often comes with age or experience – I did’t really touch on the cross, which the saints make clear is intricately related to wisdom (and it probably goes without saying that there is often a direct relationship between crosses and age). Certainly suffering in this life can come much earlier. For me, I’ve only just begun (over the last two years) to recognize what we mean in the Hail Holy Queen when we call this a Vale of Tears. Before that, I had no idea. I’m amazed on a daily basis to see those around me suffering from illness, the death of family members, abandonment, etc. Several of those people have turned to God in a very special way, because they recognize that He is their only hope.

      Regardless, this book is a great tool for helping us to see ourselves as we are, so that we can take that first step “up the ladder” or continue on toward the “inner room”. But boy – to have the wisdom of some of my elders today! What amazing grace I have witnessed in those who understand with great depth what life is all about. So many of us have periods of lucidity, but through temptation, we fall back on the promises of the material world again and again.

      • Terese10

        I came back to the church 2.5 years ago and didn’t understand the “valley of tears” either. I remember thinking it was very strange. But boy do I understand it now. I do see the world as suffering — more than I ever wanted to!

        • LizEst

          Welcome back Terese10. So good you are with us. God bless you.

  • Donald True

    I don’t so much straddle the fence as I hop from one side to the other. I read a suggestion fromHenri J.M. Nouwen’s book The Inner Voice of Love that read: “Don’t read too many of these spiritual imperatives at once! They are meant of be like salt for the meal of your life. Too much salt might spoil it, but little at a time can make it tasty!” I think that is good advice I can use to get myself settled down. The comments in this section are helpful. God bless you.

  • Plevesque

    yes I feel like I’m constantly straddling the fence. I have this constant desire to be out of debt and financially stable, but perhaps then I wouldn’t rely on God as much or that perhaps God won’t truly provide for my family. I feel like to devils are constantly telling me this spiritual life is too difficult or that my past sins are too great for the Lord’s mercy. Your words today are words of hope for me and so is this web site. Thank-you and God bless

    • Dear Friend – I believe your instincts are good on two levels. 1) The voice of God assuring you of the need for dependence upon Him, and 2) the voice of the enemy telling you that the spiritual life is too difficult. This really is textbook discernment of spirits. I will provide a two hour course on this soon if you have not taken the one I provided last year yet.

      • Plevesque

        thanks. I hope I can see it

  • Rebecca Duncan

    My spiritual friend just the other day said I was on the threshold. My problem is I want to run away from suffering and for me prayer = suffering. I’m a convert and my whole life survival strategy was to think about anything other than myself, my life, anything personal. It’s so bad that I have blocked out a lot of my memories and I still have trouble forming memories now when it has anything to do with myself and my life and personal things. I can remember a movie I watched ten years ago perfectly or the events in the life of a Saint I read about three years ago, but when it comes to things my ex husband did or said to me or things I said or did three months ago, they’re gone. I thought about other things, I thought about abstract things, books movies, TV shows, theology, Saint’s lives…anything but my own life. I converted in 2003 and praying was and is extremely difficult just because I have to reverse that survival strategy that had been ‘working’ for me for my whole life. I run away from being personal with anyone but especially with God. I’ve made some progress but it’s slow. I just have hope that God will heal me one day and I’ll cross the threshold.

    • Rebecca – part of working through the purgative way is “purgation” that for many looks just as you have described. I have had many of these same challenges. The key with prayer is that it becomes very much a sustaining grace and the most blessed part of our day. For me, I can’t live without it. Are you using some specific means or approach to help you with prayer?

      • Rebecca Duncan

        I say the rosary and the the divine office most days morning and evening and the divine mercy chaplet and I read the readings for the mass. I try to meditate and I read spiritual readings. Sometimes I feel recollected but not very often.

  • Scott Kallal

    Hey Vicki, thanks for this great reflection on how we relate to God and the the good things of this world. Ignatius here is amazing in his “Principle and Foundation”: That we use and give up the things of this world in as much as they help us towards the ultimate goal of our lives: to love, serve, and adore God… That “as much as” is always the difficult balance we have to strive for, and another area where spiritual direction can be so helpful. There are no formulas to holiness, though there are some great road maps like the one in NIL. John of the Cross gives us a great discipline: in all the creaturely pleasures we do experience, to give thanks, glory, and praise to God for the gift He has given us. In all those we give up, to give them up for the love of God.

    As for me and keeping focused on Jesus, I have the privilege of getting to talk about him often as a spiritual director. That and 4 hours of prayer a day according to our charism, keeps me on track. I also have the privilege of finding Jesus in my amazing brothers who are all pursuing virtue. Pray. Talk about Jesus. Find Jesus in your family. Those are all helpful…

    God bless,

    Fr. Scott, AVI
    Apostles of the Interior Life

  • Terese10

    I’m behind in the reading so maybe this is addressed in the book. But I find myself wondering at times about life “balance”. I hear other christians talking of it… that you have to have a “balance”. I do miss my old life sometimes, my hobbies, etc., but I wouldn’t turn my back on God for them. Now I spend that time in spiritual reading, prayer, and other spiritual pursuits. Is it wrong to want to spend time doing what I like–gardening, painting, etc?

    Is it wrong to miss them? Is that what straddling is? I don’t see Jesus talking about “balance” though–ever! So is this a concept that is only true in our world today–this idea to balance your spiritual life with everything else? Or is it something that doesn’t even apply to people serious about their faith?

    • LizEst

      It’s not wrong to garden or paint, etc. These activities can raise your mind and heart to God. In fact, you can meet God through your gardening and painting. So many artists have done that and shown Christ to the world, evangelizing by the talents God gave them. But, it’s not supposed to take over your life. The beauty, the glory, the excellence that you have in these pursuits are, in fact, gifts from God. So, that’s where our focus is meant to be, towards God (and then, because of Him, towards neighbor). So, take those talents and bring them to the Lord and neighbor.

      Can you do something with your painting that glorifies God and helps others see God through you? Can you do something with your gardening that glorifies God and gives comfort and support to neighbor? If you grow vegetables and fruits, there are many who would love fresh produce…even at church, at a rectory or convent, at a homeless shelter or a women’s shelter. What about flowers? Might you start your gardening by planting a bunch of flowers in pots…and when they start budding, bring them to shut-ins or nursing homes? Do you knit or crochet? There might be folks who could benefit from a lovely sweater…one that was prayed over while being made.

      Do you have a skill that someone else could use? Are you good at computers? Can you do woodworking or cooking? Monks and nuns have, for ages, known that one can glorify God through the gifts that God has given them. You can, too…just remember to put God first in everything you do and remember to pray and spend time with him as well.

  • MGW

    I straddled and thought I was doing fine, riding high on the fence…then, I fell hard, then blacked out. Now I have awakened in a fog, and I see that I need direction more than ever. Tomorrow, I go for my first ever meeting for Spiritual Direction (Thank you Dan Burke!!), with a priest who said that he will help me. please pray for us! I am very nervous. -MG W

    • rjk123

      God bless you. You and are in my prayers. When I am preparing to meet with my spiritual director, I pray and ask Jesus to speak through Him. This gives me great peace. It is always good to trust the Lord. We also have the benefit of Dan’s good advice about spiritual direction. God bless you. Rachel

    • LizEst

      I’ll pray for you, too.

    • MGW

      Thank you, so much for your prayers my sisters! An emergency came up as I was waiting for the meeting and Father had to go. Do you believe it? I was thinking… the devil must be trying to stop this. But it also showed me how busy our priests are, and my heart felt for him. And Father contacted me immediately afterwards and rescheduled! THAT is a good sign, that he contacted me. This priest really loves souls! I think I have a good one here!

      • LizEst

        “Father contacted me immediately afterwards and rescheduled” is an excellent sign. I loved reading that! Yes, this sounds like you are off to a good start…even before your first meeting. And, with Dan’s book to guide your efforts, you have all the tools you need to continue! God bless you, MGW.

      • Vicki

        Yeah! That does sound great! I’m not batting a thousand. I have emails and calls into two recommended priests – have been trying for a few weeks…nothing yet, but we’ll see…

        • LizEst

          Don’t give up, Vicki. Holy Week and Easter Week are so jam-packed for priests they can hardly catch a breath. My sd knew I was going to touch base after Holy Week. Then, it rained funerals during Easter Week. So, it was well-nigh impossible to set up an appointment last week for future. Finally set something up for next week today. So, don’t get discouraged. You will eventually have a date for that meeting…just like the traffic on the road eventually clears. Try to keep in mind that sometimes God makes us wait in order to strengthen our resolve. In the meantime, keep praying and preparing. God bless you!

        • MGW

          Will pray for you too. I asked The Blessed Mother to find someone for me almost a year ago. I waited. Then I went back to my old parish and there was a new young priest who has a great devotion to Mary ! Hmmmmm. ..Says the Latin Mass once a week ..Ahhhhhhh…..and all his weekly homilies are mostly spiritual direction. His homilies helped me in so many things I was struggeling with. I started to go to confession to him. behind the screen. And he would say the absolution in Latin, which really moved my soul for some reason. I never thought to ask him for direction, until Around this time, I found Dan Burke’s book, then I saw your book club, then I attended the webinar, and heard Dan Burke say to ask for outside help when you go to confession. I tried it and BINGO!

          I KNOW the Blessed Mother guided me to him and The Holy Spirit worked through Dan and you too.

          I am grateful!

          • LizEst

            Thanks for sharing MGW. Your experience is a great example of putting Dan’s book into practice. God bless you!

  • Oooh, she comes in late……again…..let me pray the Assignment before the Blessed Sacrament first and then read your Responses, say tomorrow!!!

    • Vicki

      We can’t’ wait to read what the Holy Spirit shared with you!

  • eherrera5@hotmail.com

    I feel I live in two worlds, it just becomes so hard especially with my kids. I try to bring them into my life of God but the world drags them away. I am not always at peace with the aspects of my life. I feel that jesus calls me and gently brings me back each time I stray just a bit. I think I just have to make that leap in one direction and not ever look back, I just don’e know how. The world drags me back in all the time.

    • MGW

      Eherrera, (Your name makes me think of the book, Watership Down)…I TOTALLY relate to what you wrote! My husband is not religious at all, and doesn’t understand my thirst for holiness. He encourages me to do more worldly things! And I do not mean gardening or painting. He thinks I am very strange to want to pray every day, go to daily Mass, and confession “so often??”. ! I struggle to please him , while trying to remain faithful to cultivating my relationship with God! And there are times I slip, slip slip. God bless you. I will pray for you, please pray a prayer for me too!

      • Vicki

        I know this message wasn’t meant for me, but I can’t help responding – I have two good friends who were in your position, and through their prayers and sacrifices, out of the blue their husbands came to them and said they wanted to go through RCIA. Both stories are amazing illustrations of Gods’ grace, and neither husband had EVER given an indication that they wanted to convert. (But I should also add – I know these women talked to God about their husbands more than they talked with their husbands about God – something to keep in mind.) One of my favorite books is The Secret Diary of Elizabeth Leseur. I highly recommend it. We may read it through this book club at some point. Regardless, it’s the beautiful diary of a woman who’s holiness inspired her atheist husband to convert and even to become a priest after her death (This holy priest was even a spiritual director for Archbishop Fulton Sheen at one time). God bless you and your marriage – I’ll certainly pray for you!

        • MGW

          Thank you Vicki! I have that book! Actually I pick it up often and open to a random page and read for encouragement and inspiration, it is amazing how much I relate to her soul. Although, I try not to speak about God to him, it is difficult because I see God everywhere and it is hard to “hold my Breath ” sometimes! Especially when he mocks my faith and treats me like I am stupid for believing …Then there are our children who watch this and are getting older now and see me as strange as well. And neither of them go to Mass with me anymore. Niether of them want to be confirmed. Elizabeth did not have to struggle with that, as she had no children and her extra time was spent doing charitable work outside the home. I would love to see how she would have handleld having children in that situation. It is very painful, confusing. I am looking forward for guidance from my director on this matter. Should have had one years ago. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers, Vicki! And for your work here which iis very helpful in my spiritual life!! MG

  • bltpm

    Vicky, your post fits me like a glove! I am struggling for sure. There is a particular area of my life that is becoming a huge cross.

    Sometimes only lots and lots of tears, totally abandoned to God is really what has helped me get thru the day. In the depth of my soul I’d say “My Lord and My God, I love you, and I DO want to do your holy will….but somedays are so much harder than others…. and amidst sobs and a great many tears I say with Saint Peter “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One on God.” and obedience to Your church is obedience to You….. The world can be so enticing; oh how often I’d imagined the joy it would be to be living in a cloister, protected, shielded, entirely given to prayer and works – having nothing to do with world…..

    • LizEst

      bltpm – I don’t know what your crosses are right now. But, you must do the works that are conducive to your state in life. It is difficult to bear the huge crosses without a good prayer life and, as you said, total abandonment to God. Crosses, and huge crosses, sharpen the struggle between the world and God.

      The cloister can seem a peaceful place – and can be so! But, wherever one is, there are particular crosses and trials that come with that particular state of life. There is no life that is free of crosses, whether they be physical, spiritual, psychological, whether they be in/of oneself or in caring for others, difficulty in a work environment, or no employment, etc, etc.

      In a cloister, besides prayer and works, one is given to long penances as well. One is tried and polished by the community in which one lives just as diamonds are polished by each other. Suppose, you and the Mother Superior don’t see eye to eye? What then? Suppose the person who you are supposed to work together with is a slacker and does as little as possible, or only as much as is necessary? What if the others don’t like the way you pray? What if you have to keep company with someone who has a nasty disposition? Suppose people lie about you or set you up because they are envious of your sanctity? What if you have to take care of someone who is ill and that person is someone who has always been mean to you? A change of scenery in this life does not necessarily mean no cross.

      You’ve hit the nail on the head, so to speak! The best thing is to abandon yourself to God and keep praying. In due time, He will lift you up and you will receive your reward…and He always pays much more than we give Him. A certain Father Joseph once said, “One of God’s arrangements is that after winter there should come beautiful spring days. It happens every year. And it happens in every life.”

      God bless you…and keep your eyes fixed on the Lord.

      • bltpm

        LizEst,
        Aren’t lay called to penances as well? Even great ones?

        • You directed this at Liz so forgive my jumping in. Absolutely lay people are called to great penances. If the road to hell is paved by good intentions, the road to heaven is paved by grace, and ascesis.

        • LizEst

          Absolutely! I just said that they do long penances. For example, I know a Carmelite community that does just that (and I suspect it’s probably the norm for them throughout all communities): They begin the long fast from September 14th, The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and continue that through Easter. That’s a long penance!

          Perhaps we could have a post on long penances that folks could report on and provide examples for others on how to fit them into their lives.

    • Vicki

      I know what you mean – As a wife and mother, the thought crosses my mind as well – but then I remind myself that this vocation is God’s will for me, and all my trials here are His chosen means for my sanctification.

      Little anecdote: Even my 10-year-old daughter had a similar experience recently. While we were on an outing together, she was so excited, sharing with me how she’d made a decision to sell all her clothes and live with a couple of simple outfits, and how when she grew up she was going to become a Carmelite nun and live up in the mountains somewhere. She was beside herself with joy and exuberance – beaming with her desire to become a saint. But when we came home we had a nice laugh after she had a small conflict with her little sister. She came back to me and said, “Mom, it would be so much easier to become a saint if I lived in a cloister, where I could talk with God and read about Him all day every day, away from the rest of the world!:)” (She gave me permission to share this story:)).

      In all honesty, I’m sure those cloistered nuns have their own crosses to bear. We’re each given the perfect crosses for our sanctification – perhaps if we stop struggling and just work with God’s will, rather than imposing our own (I speak for myself here), we’d be like all those little kids I taught to float on their backs when I was lifeguard in college – the more they struggled, the more they felt like they were going to drown. But when they relaxed in my arms, and worked with the water, so to speak, floating became a breeze:).

      Thanks so much for your comments – I’ll keep you in my prayers!

      • LizEst

        I love the little kids floating on their backs as an image of working with God’s will. Thanks Vicki…oh, and be sure to nourish that vocation of your daughter’s. She is not too young to be thinking and talking like this. Keep helping her grow her faith! God bless you.

      • bltpm

        Vicky,

        Thank you for your reply. I ditto my experience with the kids. I have one that has his heart set on becoming a Franciscan and another on becoming a millionaire (go figure!). The other day at breakfast the one who desires to be a millionaire asked whether he could be a saint.

        My reply “certainly you can become a saint” not because of becoming a millionaire but of what you’ll do with all those millions… I couldn’t bite my tongue and said… but your brother here… he’ll be taking the quicker, shortest, safer route to sainthood as a franciscan. There is a reason why the evangelical counsels ARE called counsels of perfection. Now tell me son “why take a longer, more dangerous, painful road when you can be nimble and safe?”!!!!!

        I know the cloister would be full of temptations; just read St. Therese, she’ll shed light on them. I don’t think I romanticize the cloister. I think there is freedom in dedicating day in and out to prayer to a continual rhythm of prayer. A constant flow of prayer; like being on the sea shore and listening to day in and day out; day and night to prayers. At home I try to keep our prayer times almost engraved in stone; but just let one day go by and voila! It takes a great amount of effort to get the ebb and flow back. And when it does…. you’ll hear “you, stay still; you there, speak clearly…you over hear, stop pinching your sister….”

        Just today I gave all of them an ultimatum….”you all have free will, really you do. SO, you may go to bed now OR pray the rosary here with us. HOWEVER, IF you choose to pray with us THEN you MUST pray clearly, calmly and FOCUS on what you’re doing. If you don’t want to, then feel absolutely free to go to bed.”….. They all stayed and we prayed…I dare say the last two decades were lead by me and I was lost in meditations…the words flowed thru my mouth, but my mind was way over there with the Lord and Our Lady’s crowning —- what delight —-… “not in the nitty gritty of childcare”!” (great huge sigh – can you hear?)

        I’m the chef, the prioress, the teacher, the maid, the disciplinarian, the mom, the intercessor, the servant, the nurse…. A life of silence, of prayer, of uninterrupted manual work – honestly sounds divine! There’s a reason St. Teresita (I think it was her) called the cloister the waiting room to heaven.

  • I have finally caught up to the group! I was really taken with the root sin. I did the exercise on root sin the day after Divine Mercy Sunday, it was very very clear what my root sin is.
    Last year this same time I read Interior Castle and very much enjoyed it. It was nice to read the excerpts again but sadly I’m still in the same spiritual place, with the aid of a spiritual director (not his fault I’m rooted in my root sin).
    The timing of this book read, Divine Mercy Sunday, etc have all given me the boost to get back to my Rule while seeking virtue over vice.
    Thank you Vicki & Dan for this wonderful book study & read!

    • LizEst

      Glad you have caught up and that Divine Mercy Sunday gave you the boost to get back to your Rule. It’s also good to know you enjoyed Interior Castle last year. Always a classic!

      I did my root sin eval yesterday during adoration. It was as I suspected when I first read Dan’s book…although for years, I thought it was something else. Turns out, the something else is a close second that masked the true root sin. Those pesky roots have a way of hiding in places we are not aware of. Now to take the axe, and the stump grinder, to them…and, of course, replace with virtue.

      God bless you, Tina! Thank you for sharing with us.

      • So important do get that axe & grinder out! Not only is this a boost I needed now but it will be good for our kids!
        Thanks for the reply Liz! Looks like this is a great place!

        • LizEst

          You’re welcome, Tina. The glory, of course, goes to the Lord…in whom we live and move and have our being.

  • BeckitaMaria

    I’m so grateful you are our moderator, Vicki. I’m ever interested to read your reflections on what you highlight from the rich text of our selected books. Fr. Scott’s reference to “Principle and Foundation” of St. Ignatius hits the mark for my response this week. My spiritual goals often encompass tweaking the use of some thing or some time to strike a healthy, holy balance in my life.

    I’m also grateful for the community of believers which the Lord has provided. Our discussions here as well as the prayer and face to face talks with my daily companions on the journey keep me inspired to strive for the perfection to which Jesus calls us. I must say some profound discussions occur with my three year old and five year old granddaughters. In all simplicity and wonder, they amaze me with their comments and questions!

    • LizEst

      Ah, yes! We must become little like your granddaughters. It is to the little ones that God has chosen to reveal Himself. God bless you, BeckitaMaria…and your granddaughters, too.

      • BeckitaMaria

        Thank you, Liz, for the blessing and for all the ways you share God’s many gifts within you. I appreciate your wise, affirming, prayerful and loving words. Blessed be God in you!

        • LizEst

          You’re welcome, BeckitaMaria. You are too kind. The glory goes to the Lord, from whom we have received everything that is good.

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