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Spiritual Adolescence

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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The Sinner's Guide (Week 2 of 16)

Thou art an unfinished work. Many things are lacking to the perfection of thy being. Thou has naught of the beauty and luster which are yet to be thine. Hence thy restless, unsatisfied yearning; hence those unceasing aspirations for a higher, better state, which arise from thy very necessities.  

Yes, God let thee hunger, in order that, driven by necessity, thou mightest have recourse to Him. For this reason He did not give thee perfection at thy creation, but He withheld it only through love for thee. It was not to make thee poor, but to make thee humble; it was not to leave thee needy, but to compel thee to have recourse to Him. – The Sinner’s Guide (Chapter 2, Paragraph 14)

Spiritual Adolescence

At the moment, we are raising two teenagers, with a third following closely at their heels. In my few brief moments of lucidity, I am dumbstruck by the similarities between life in our home and our lives as a Church.

Aren’t we in many ways like the wayward adolescent? Don’t we question His wisdom, ignore His commands and scoff at His insistence upon archaic concepts like self-discipline and sacrifice?  While hope springs eternal, there are some days when I can just imagine the sigh that must emanate from God’s very Being at our incessant desire to seek “completion” in all the wrong places.

Think about it. From the dawn of creation, man sought recourse to God for all his needs. Through his experience, he came to know God, as through a veil. Certainly, his knowledge was imperfect, skewed at times toward the notion of many gods, angry gods, even wicked gods (projecting – of course – his own fallen nature upon Nature, itself). Regardless, as an infant grasps desperately to his mother’s breast, man, in his infancy recognized his utter dependence upon a Greater Being.

As time progressed, God gave His children a home in His Church, filling us with love and a desire and ability to seek truth, goodness, and beauty. But in our adolescence, we have rebelled against Him. Rather than draw closer to Him in gratitude and humility, we are like the nine lepers, so quick to take upon ourselves all that is good and to forget the very source of those gifts that we flaunt as our own (Luke 17:11-19).

With foolish confidence, we skip boldly into the world, seeking to “make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4). We turn to the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), paying heed to the Father of Lies rather than pay homage to the Bearer of Truth. And like a drug dealer, tempting us with smooth talk and quick pleasure, Satan hustles us on every corner. Sadly, rather than warily meeting him in dark corners and back alleys, we've made a sweeping act of defiance by inviting him into the public square. Now, virtually everywhere we turn, his lies are promoted by industry, academia and even by the state.

He can be found in the trenches of science, where he has led us in a quest to understand the very origin of man. His deception is so effective that for many, the propagation of Darwinism has displaced the Proclamation of the Kingdom.

He can be found in the halls of medicine where we seek miracle cures and relief from all suffering. Like the rebellious adolescent, not only have we bought the lie that we can be like God, but Satan is quick to inform us that we don’t even need God. Through genetic engineering, we can remove Him from the equation entirely by creating our own version of the “perfect” child – albeit away from the safety of a mother’s womb, mass produced in Petri dishes – ensuring that health, sex, size, temperament and intelligence meet our post-modern standards.

He has enticed us to hand over our freedom to the government, in return for the promise of a “utopian” society. Who needs liberty if we can assure that everyone enjoys equitable results through social engineering – welfare states, universal health care, Robin Hood tax codes and Godless schools?

As we continue in our adolescent desire to break from our Father, perhaps one of the gravest consequences (as witnessed in virtually any family), is the visible trickle-down effect on our younger brothers and sisters in Christ. We are failing to give our children the resources they need even to Know God, much less seek His wisdom in their lives. In schools, Satan has pulled out all the stops, convincing us to promote “career-readiness,” that he may keep us from using education for its intended purpose – as a quest for truth, goodness, and beauty. With the absence of God and the advent of centralized curricula like Common Core, we are severely hindering their ability to seek answers or – for that matter – even to ask the necessary questions!

Saint Paul warned us against seeking truth from nefarious sources:

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. – 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

Time and time again, we have allowed ourselves to be deceived.  We have supplanted a Father's love with lawlessness and destruction. At some point in the distant future, like an errant teenager after a failed quest for autonomy, we’ll sit amidst the dung-heap we’ve created for ourselves, feeling inconsolably betrayed, and foolishly naive. To Whom will we turn?

…To our Heavenly Father.

Like the leper who returned to give thanks to the Lord as the Benefactor of his healing, let us spend the final hours of Lent giving thanks to the Father for all His gifts. At long last, may we mature beyond the blinding pride of adolescence, turning our eyes heavenward, and recognizing that all recourse is to none but our Ever-Patient and Merciful Father, the First and Everlasting Source of all that is Good.

Reading Assignment:

Week 2 Chapter 4-6

Discussion Questions:

1. Which of the First Motives in the reading had the most impact on you?  Why?

2. What most helps you to stay focused on God while living with all the false teachings perpetuated in the world?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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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 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

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  • Donna Leone

    Like Jeff, I recognize myself as one of those who has sought the Lord out of self-interest. And yet, as Chapter 1 shows, the Lord is more incredible than anything we can imagine. Only in recent years have I been able to make the connection between the beautiful creation and the Beautiful Creator; if this world is this beautiful, I can only imagine how beautiful, how attractive He must be! How easy it is to become infatuated with others who are flawed, and yet, when we finally lay eyes on Our Lord, we will never want to take them off of Him!

  • Patti Knudsen

    Looking back over my 60+ years, I realize I have been duped by the Prince of Lies…more than once, I am ashamed to admit. I do recognize the adolescence when it comes to my interior, spiritual life. I feel now like I am just reaching adulthood. I give much credit to having found this wonderful book club…which has led me to greater understanding of human nature, my own faults and weaknesses, and God’s saving grace. What amazes me most is that so many of my life’s questions and predicaments are the same as so many others….all throughout human history. This book looks like another one I should have read as a young woman. I admit, I cheated and read ahead through the index. Found a chapter we’ll be reading in June. Looking forward to discussing it. Ooohhh….I missed so much! Glad to have it now.

    • Vicki

      My son and I skimmed through the book too – we found a couple of chapters that were definitely life-changing if read with a soft heart.

  • Karin Searson

    You made so many wonderful and truthful points in your post. Spiritual adolescence is a great analogy. I work with teens on a daily basis, and yes find myself heaving a heavy sigh and rolling my eyes at their actions and thinking-also whispering a prayer or two for them. I can see how God must do the same with us in our spiritual lives as well.
    The motive that had the most impact on me in reading the first three chapters was actually the one you cited at the start of your post. I was awestruck at how much of a work in progress I am and at God’s infinite wisdom to create us in such a humbled state that we would realize our need for Him and our utter dependency on Him. I knew this all on some level, but to see it there in black and white really drove the point home for me. It was and continues to be a beautiful reminder of my need for God in everything.

    • Vicki

      Very humbling, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • FrCraig

    One word seems to resonate: Gratitude.
    Inscribed on a tombstone in the parish cemetery: “All is Gift.”
    A Truth that radiates from the Cross on this Good Friday.

  • I think the First Motive: God’s Being and Perfection had the biggest impact. To be fair all three impacted me. The reason God’s being impacted me the most is because I fail to appreciate God’s perfection in everything I see around me. I was overwhelmed by reading this chapter. My head still spins a week later.
    Prayer is what helps me focus on God while I live in a fallen world and am a card-carrying sinner! My prayer has increased over the years. I enjoy the Rosary but this year, I decided to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. It’s a challenge some days to pray 7 times a day because of my station in life. I find that as I am faithful to this promise, God brings great blessings and graces to me.
    More importantly, prayer helps me see through the lies of the enemy and leads to greater peace. I think it is because I like to avoid problems. When I bring problems to our Lord in prayer, either they evaporate because it was not a problem or God gives me patience, strength and insight to face it head on. The drama between my ears greatly diminishes and results in an increase in my capacity for love. Thanks be to God!
    P.S. For those troubled by the state of our world, please send your husbands and fathers to join That Man Is You at their parish. If they do not have a group, they can start one for free.
    I have been in it for 3 years. In that 3 years, my marriage, relationships with my two young children (10 and 6) and my life is remarkably better. It’s better because That Man Is You teaches us men our roles as disciples, husbands and fathers. It reminds us that the foundation of society is the family. My family has grown so much that our kids want to go to Catholic school and cannot wait to begin there journey in the Fall. Also no Common Core in Catholic schools. Visit for more information.

    • Vicki

      Jeff – Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! It’s powerful to hear how That Man is You has affected your family. My husband would also recommend it as well. I second your comments about the First Motive. I just read a story to my kids tonight that addresses that Motive in such kid-friendly way – three angels decide to count all the stars in the sky – they count 389,543. But when they tell God they had counted them, He only smiles; they could not even begin to see all the stars in the sky, but because God put them there, He knows that despite their very detailed method of counting, their number is waaayy short. The story goes on to describe how the angels then decide to count all the rivers in the world. Then the people, etc. For a small child, the details of their counting demonstrates the grandness of all the world, and God’s intimate relationship to everything in it. The story reinforced that chapter beautifully for me.

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