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Welcome Sarah Reinhard to the Book Club!

January 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard, Vicki Burbach

Book Club INTERNAL IMAGE (internal to post) 600x214Welcome back!  I hope you've been enjoying this Blessed Christmas Season!  I also hope you are ready to roll because we have quite a bit of ground to cover this week! 

First, after our two-week break, we need to discuss our latest assignment from An Introduction to the Devout Life

Second, I’d like you to meet my new cohort, Sarah Reinhard, who has graciously agreed to moderate the book club every other week. Our plan is to take turns offering our personal perspectives on the current week’s reading. Sarah will be leading the discussion next week for Week 9, on 1/14, and I’ll meet you back here on 1/21 to discuss the assignment from Week 10. Welcome, Sarah!!!

1. Discussion: An Introduction to the Devout Life (Wk 8 of 14)

You should be more watchful than men of the world are, in order to turn your possessions to good use. Are not the gardeners of kings and princes more particular and diligent in the cultivation and embellishment of the gardens committed to their charge than they would be were these their own, and that because they belong to those kings and princes, whom they would fain please by their assiduous services? Our possessions are not our own; God has given them to us that we may cultivate them, and it is His Will that we should render them useful and fruitful.  – An Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III, Chapter XV, Paragraph II

Dozens of homilies associated with stewardship, along with all the books I've read about Catholic finances over the years have been of great service to my understanding of money and possessions, as well as their place in my life.  Before reading this passage, I would have told you, “I get it.”  I do not own anything.  God owns everything.  My husband and I are mere stewards of our money and possessions. And rather than seeing them merely in terms of blessings bestowed upon us and amidst which we can bask in our gratitude, we should consider them more along the lines of responsibilities to which we should tend with prayer and discernment.

At first glance, the passage above could be seen merely as a repetition of something I've heard for twenty years.  But this paragraph stood out for me.  Rather than reiterate things I've known, it provided for me a much more profound visual definition of the word stewardship – even a whole new dimension.

Perhaps I can explain.  When I think of being a steward, I think of having money or possessions entrusted to my care.  That I should manage them effectively, taking good care not to waste them, but to use them wisely. Unfortunately, when I sync my understanding of stewardship with the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), my definition could technically apply to all three servants.  Between you and me, I've always felt that the servant who was punished for burying his one talent got a raw deal.  After all, he didn't exactly squander it!  And frankly, I'm not particularly adventuresome, so I might have been a little nervous, too, about losing something that didn't belong to me.

But perhaps my preconceived notions of stewardship were responsible for my tendency to identify with the disgraceful servant.

Seeing myself as a gardener both clarifies and expands my understanding of God's Plan.  In this analogy, I could not possibly see myself receiving seeds from the King, only to hide them until His return.  As His gardener, I would do everything I could to please Him.  As His gardener, I imagine (must imagine because in truth I’m not much of a gardener) diligent planning and year-round foresight and care. When I see the word “cultivate,” I think of long-term designs to be developed and plotted over many years.  Plans must be made for complimentary plants, tall and short, wide and narrow, in a wide variety of colors planted so that beauty is maximized and all plants are in balance.  Carefully positioned in a way that allows and even encourages the garden to flourish over time.  And, when I think “gardener” I think of getting my hands dirty. Not simply signing a check and putting it in the collection plate, but of getting involved and spreading fertilizer so that seeds may grow in greater abundance.

As His gardener, I would desperately want to please the King. Not just today, but when we stand, looking back at how the garden has developed over the years.  As I plan for each seed, I must look ahead and ask myself, “Will He be pleased with the overall progress of this garden over time? With its growth? With its beauty?”

The King wants to return to a garden brimming with exquisite blossoms. He desires a full and glorious garden grown from whatever seeds He’s given us to plant – whether they be wildflowers or roses.  And He seeks only our faithfulness and diligence in the process.

(Please see Discussion Questions and Assignment Below.)

 

2. Introducing our New Book Club Blogger – Sarah Reinhard!

If Sarah Reinhard isn’t off hiding somewhere with a good book, chances are she’s chasing a kid or a critter—or drinking coffee, because it’s the only way she’s found to fight off her constant desire for a nap.

She enjoys the idiosyncrasies of rural life in central Ohio with her husband and children. She’s been Catholic since 2001 and has a background in high school agricultural education, marketing, and miscellany. She’s spent the last ten years working for her parish as publications' editor, webmaster, catechist, youth leader, and person-who-does-whatever’s-needed.

Sarah has been blogging at SnoringScholar.com since 2006 and contributes regularly in a number of other venues, as both writer and editor, including CatholicMom.com, Integrated Catholic Life, and The Catholic Times. She’s written a few books but maintains that the rumor about “social media addiction” is completely unfounded.

Her backyard faces acres of fields and the sunrises are astounding. Her front yard faces a lovely view to the west and she’s always astounded by the splashes of sunset color in late fall. She rides horses, wrangles schedules, and juggles commitments like the basketballs her kids throw around the house. But her first love is reading, plain and simple. When she found herself topping the 100-book mark in 2013, she pretty much figured that life was as good as it was going to get.

And then, she found out about the book club here at SpiritualDirection.com. She’s excited to dive in here, because that feeling of being the only person in the room who (a) is reading five books at once, (b) has read something Catholic in the last two days, and/or (c) longs to talk books, books, books all day long is getting pretty old.

Please welcome Sarah to our Book Club family. I’ll be taking time every other week to catch up on grading, housekeeping, or just plain reading – something I’m sure you can all appreciate!

 

Reading Assignment:

Week 8 Part 3: Chapter 19-27

 

Discussion Questions:

1. Does the above passage provide for you any insight into the meaning of stewardship? If so, please share them with us.

2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment 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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  • patricia

    Welcome back Sarah

    I am a individual who reads like four or five at the same time and I at least out of the four of five two sources are catholic meditation or spiritual reading. I am also an Avila Student and completing my masters in mental health counseling and play therapy certificate program. I can understand when you say reading is one of your passions mine too. I found a deeper passion in it because of the spiritual reading. God Bless and good luck on your endeavors!

  • LizEst

    Welcome Sarah! We are so happy you have joined our team. God bless you and keep you!

  • Mary Kay Battafarano

    Amidst the “polar vortex” this gardener longs for Spring and so appreciative of your insight on St. Francis de Sales’ use of this analogy to bring a fresh take on stewardship. I bet he must have been a gardener, at some point in his life, for all his references to nature. I often find myself too busy to attend to my garden, recently switching to a preference for native plants without ongoing maintenance a true sign of a mature green thumb! A great analogy of the relationship between SFDS and St. Jane de Chantal towards the end of his life.

  • This made me think, my Dad is always emphasizing that you need to earn money before you give it away. That it’s wrong to play small when you have so much. I was hoping to live a simple life as a human rights lawyer while maybe being consecrated or religious. But he implies that I’m wasting my talents. That I should pursue what can help more people. Like going into business (actually its family business, but I’m not inclined to it), yet I’m not sure if it is selfish that I’d rather do something that might not help as many people.

    In college I was part of a charity that built houses and holistic community development. My dad says it is better to earn money first then use it to hire people to build houses than the little work I could contribute with my own manpower. That all makes sense. It’s obviously more productive that way. In truth I’m happier being out there doing things myself. Is it selfish for me to want to do it myself? You wrote here that we should get our hands dirty. What do you mean by that?

    Welcome Sarah! Glad you are here! I love reading your articles in other websites! 🙂

    • Mary Kay Battafarano

      Finding balance between your career, spiritual life and “building” avocation is your challenge-while being gentle with yourself. Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to stay involved in an organization like Habitat for Humanity in another role using your professional skills and supporting those more experienced in building trades. Change allows for growth and more hands make light the Lord’s work! As for living a spiritual life in today’s world amidst other duties, check out http://www.sfdsassociation.org where I’m actively involved- one of the “best kept secrets” of the RC Church.!

      • Thank you for the advice!
        I was a member of Gawad Kaling which is similar to Habitat for Humanity in the Philippines. But aside from houses, they are affiliated with Couples for Christ, they also provide, livelihood programs, youth groups, etc.
        That St. Francis de Sales Association looks lovely! I’ll read up on it. I have a friend who is a devotee of Saint Francis de Sales. I’ll tell her about it. Would you know if they have a group here too?

    • LizEst

      “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor” (Psalm 127:1ab). What your dad says makes sense…from his perspective; but, if the Lord is calling you to the religious or consecrated life, it’s better to heed our heavenly Father. You will be much happier in this life and the one to come. You need to take these thoughts to your spiritual director and have him/her help you discern God’s will for you, Mary. When you have commented here in the past, most of it has been focused on the possibility of becoming a religious or consecrated. Your talents are never wasted in the service of the Lord. But, you must discern how the Lord wants you to use those talents to serve Him. What does your director say about your dad’s comments?

      • Thank you! I’m worried about wasting the talents He gave me. I only know that He wants me to be a law student right now.

        My director told me that I shouldn’t join the family business just because my dad expects it of me. He is encouraging about my vocation. He tell me to pray that God’s will be done. He wants me to wait until after my bar exams, so that over 2 more years…

        I really want to enter religious life! Or at least be a consecrated virgin! The thought of it is so wonderful! Though I know it won’t be easy, I look forward to being able to serve God’s people and being closer to Him.

        I hear what my Dad tells me. It makes sense. But I don’t feel inclined to it all. Is that selfish? Wanting to enter because it makes me happy? It’s hard to discern God’s will. Well, good thing I have over 2 more years to discern!

        • Camila

          Hi Mary,

          Three ideas stand out to me in your comment:

          idea 1: “God’s will be done.”
          God is sovereign. So He is either causing all this confusion, OR He is allowing this confusion so that you emerge strong and confident in His will. Keep seeking Him Mary, you will find Him.

          Idea 2: “I really want to enter religious life!”
          If St. Therese listened to all the people telling her she couldn’t enter Carmel as young as she did, even the Bishop, remember, we wouldn’t have SAINT Therese. So here I would be VERY bold. We are facing a crisis in vocations; and here’s a healthy, smart, holy soul (you) who desires to give God all she has. You are a rare soul Mary. We NEED more religious. So I say Amen to your desires and I would encourage you to defend these with all your might. We need more consecrated holy virgins – they are the visible sign of the reality to come. Oh Mary, God bless you!

          Idea 3: Is that selfish?
          Huh?! Are you seriously even asking this?! You mean to give your entire self to God, so that you may dedicate your life to Him and the service of His church and His people in prayer and works of mercy……. please, I beg, where is this remotely selfish?

          I think we are so hammered not to follow ‘my will’ that it can get confusing when ‘my will’ is to give myself to God. Mary, that is the ultimate self gift of generosity. Remember what Jesus taught:

          “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

          So No Mary, selfishness is the desire to be great in this kingdom, not the desire to be great in the kingdom of God.

          • Thank you so much for all you have written here! They’ve encourage me lot!

            My dad thinks I am being selfish because he thinks I am being escapist. And says that we can’t always do what makes us happy, like he doesn’t necessarily enjoy his work… So I if I choose what makes me happy, is it selfish? Sorry if this sounds so muddled up.

            And sorry to everyone for spamming here because of my discernment concerns. Thank you again Camilla, Liz and Mary Kay! 🙂

          • irene compton

            I have a daughter who joined a religious order eight years ago. At the time her dad and I were very unsure of this choice she had made. We wanted toake sure she kept all her options open. Today I can tell you she is the joy of our life and a blessing to our entire family. Give your dad time; when he sees the true joy that comes.from An authentic vocation he will wonder that he ever doubted your choice. God bless!

          • Thank you! Your words are very reassuring! God Bless you too!

          • “selfishness is the desire to be great in this kingdom, not the desire to be great in the kingdom of God”

            This is beautiful! 🙂

  • CatholicKath

    Very exciting to find Sarah here! What a blessing she will be to this ministry!

  • $1650412

    Bravo!!! Welcome Sarah! :o)

  • irene compton

    Thank you for your insights. Like you my perception of stewardship was very narrow. You have helped open my eyes to greater possibilities and responsibilities.

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