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The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur Week 4 of 12 – Book Club

August 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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Resolution to be always amiable, without trying too obviously. If I wish to avoid all useless controversy and fruitless expense of energy, I must nevertheless know how to make myself all things to all men and interest myself in things that sometimes seem childish, and sadden me by their contrast with my own state of mind. Often people are like great children, but Jesus has said that what is done for children is done for Him.

So let us show indulgence to childishness and to the incredible light-mindedness of so many about us, and insofar as it is useful, let us learn how to become little with all types of “little ones,” even the little soul. Let us try to speak the language they can understand, and with them stammer eternal truths. Has not God done the same with us, and has He not placed in our souls only as much light as we can bear? – The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur, p. 41-42 (Journal, October 18, 1904)

After seeing a daddy-longlegs spider on the way to Mass this morning, our two-year-old began a conversation with her father, beginning with a well-thought out assertion: “Daddy, You are a daddy and you have long legs. You are a spider!” Her daddy played right along. “That would make you a daddy-longlegs too, since I’m a daddy-longlegs and you are my little girl.” To which she responded, “I’m not a spider! Only you are a spider, because you have long legs and you are a daddy. I am not a daddy. So I am not a spider!”

In a home with young children, silly discussions like the one shared above are countless. And we cherish every one of them. But while virtually every parent is enchanted by the “childishness” of young children, many are annoyed beyond belief by the childishness of their teenagers. Not to give teenagers a hard time! We can be just as annoyed – if not more so – by the childish behavior of our husbands, wives, parents, brothers, sisters – you name it. There’s something about the childish behavior of people whom we love and care for that often pushes our tolerance to its limit.

We wonder: Why in the world did So and So leave the church? Why is Such and Such so self-centered? Why is You-Know-Who so materialistic?

Now, I realize I’m comparing our response to innocent silliness with greater questions of morality; but no matter. It's all about perspective.

With young children, I can be perfectly present in their fun little make-believe world, leaving my own sense of reality behind to join theirs. But when it comes to those souls most dear to me, whom I believe should “know better,” I refuse to appeal to them in their world, and become frustrated when they don’t join mine.

Aren’t I treading in dangerous waters here? Wouldn’t I be more honest if I admitted that my annoyance is not so much a reflection of others as it is a reflection of pride in my own knowledge of the truth? In my ability to make “good” decisions in certain cases, to do the “right” things?

Unfortunately, not only does my frustration jeopardize the health of my own soul, but damage to the other soul can be tragic – particularly when that soul is someone I love.  I may want only what’s best for my family and friends, but my less than charitable thoughts have a way of slipping into an expression, or a conversation, and I risk further alienating them from the Truth. Rather than showing them the light, I may push them further into the darkness.

The human soul is a fragile thing. If pushed, it can fall; if pressured, it can be crushed. And if rejected, it can be destroyed. The sensitivity of a soul is so great that these things need only be perceived – often I have no intention of pushing, pressuring or rejecting my loved ones; but my actions may communicate otherwise.

Elisabeth’s most attractive quality is that she recognizes the delicate fragility of the soul. She understands that we are all children, spiritually speaking. She sees the good in everyone and makes a conscious decision to love people where they’re at. Even more – she approaches others with a genuine humility, knowing that she can take no credit for the light that shines within her. Giving all glory to God for the very breath she takes, there is nothing smug or self-righteous about her.  And her beauty radiates from the pages of her journal.

If I can emulate Elisabeth, appreciating my loved ones as the spiritual children they are, loving them rather than judging them, I might be surprised by the response I get. In The Hidden Power of Kindness, Father Lovasik tells us that kind thoughts can help us to have a great effect on the souls of others:

As a mother’s love draws the heart of her child like a powerful magnet, so, too, does the genuinely kind person wield the power to influence others for good. Only a kind person is able to judge another justly and to make allowances for his weaknesses. A kind eye, while recognizing defects, sees beyond them. Its gaze is like that of a gentle mother who judges her beloved child more leniently, and at the same time more correctly, than a stranger would.  

No one ever saw human weakness more clearly than Jesus saw it in His apostles. Yet how patient He was with their worldliness, their faults! The wellspring of His patience was a kindness of heart that nothing could disturb. His followers clung to Him with an unshakable confidence. Love radiated from His person and warmed the hearts of those surrounding Him…  (p. 124)

Lord, may I exercise the loving kindness demonstrated so beautifully by Elisabeth Leseur. In my effort to more effectively love my neighbor, please allow Your Divine Light to shine through each of my thoughts, words and actions. Amen.

 

Reading Assignment:

Week 4: October 2, 1905 – End of “July – August 1907” (p. 51-79)

 

Discussion Questions:

1. Are there loved ones in your life that push your tolerance beyond normal limits? How do you ensure that you provide light for them, as opposed to pushing them further into darkness?

2. Feel free to comment on anything from this past week!

 

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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  • Camila

    What an awesome post, Vicky, simply awesome.

    I “Amen” right along you to your prayer.

  • joha0621

    Wow… This is SOOOO true!!!
    “Aren’t I treading in dangerous waters here? Wouldn’t I be more honest if I admitted that my annoyance is not so much a reflection of others as it is a reflection of pride in my own knowledge of the truth? In my ability to make “good” decisions in certain cases, to do the “right” things?”

    Great insight Vicky… Much to be learned, confess and pray about.

  • DianeVa

    Great reflections Vicky. I confess I have pushed many in my family, especially my spouse into the darkness as I try to share my knowledge. Elisabeth and I have much in common! I see it is only by God’s Mercy, Love and grace that I am in the light and not in the darkness that I once was in. How deep is my yearning for those I love to enter the Light! It truly pains me! I know what Elisabeth feels and it is indeed the longing of our Lord as well! I must surrender to His timing, His will. He will not force anyone to come into the light against their will. I must continue to remind myself of how patiently and long He waited for me to come to Him. My penance is to learn how to wait as long for my loved ones to return. I visualize my “prodigal” self now waiting on the porch next to the Father, both of us looking, searching and waiting and He must keep a hand on my shoulder because in my zeal I want to dart out and drag them back Home. Forgive me Father, I will learn to wait patiently in prayer with You. Teach me and give me your strength!

  • DianeVa

    Great reflections Vicki! I must confess that I have pushed loved ones, especially my husband further into the darkness. I have much in common with Elisabeth, and learn much from her when I remain humble. Now that, by His great mercy, love and grace, I am back in relationship with God I believe my penance is to suffer, along with Him and offer up to God the heartache I feel. “The human soul is a fragile thing”, how true! I needed to hear that for I know how fragile mine is, yet I forget the souls of others are just as fragile. I often visualize my “prodigal” self standing on the porch of the Father’s house, beside Him; waiting, watching in painful longing, the return of His children. The Father must constantly put his hand on my shoulder to keep me from bolting off the porch in misguided zeal to drag a loved one back. His hand lets me know to be patient, to wait in love as He waited for me all those years. He does not go against the free will He created us with; but that does not mean His heart does not “ache”. We are called to “console the heart of Jesus”. Elisabeth knew this ache, I feel by God’s grace I too have been blessed to know and experience this ache. Lord, help me and give me the strength to be as patient and wise!

    • LizEst

      Hi Diane –This is just an administrative note. Once you have posted, there will be an edit button under your post. If you wish to edit your post, just click on the Edit button and then you can go into what you wrote and add or delete things. After you finish your editing, be sure to hit the “Save Edit” icon underneath your post and it will save what you edited.

      Hope this helps. God bless you!

      • DianeVa

        Thanks! I’m new at this as you can tell. Love all the wonderful inspirations I get from you all!

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