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Has Your Child Gone Astray? Your Hope May Be His Saving Grace

January 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Mercy, Vicki Burbach

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The Church of Mercy (Week 3 of 6)

In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts! The “dragon,” evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope! It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols that take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure. Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people lead them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols. Dear brothers and sisters, let us be lights of hope! – The Church of Mercy, p. 62

Has Your Child Gone Astray? Your Hope may be His Saving Grace

When I was expecting my first child, I was given a book of quotes about motherhood. My favorite was from Elizabeth Stone. I have no idea who she is; but for me, her quote pretty much sums up motherhood in a nutshell:

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Motherhood is at once indescribably joyful and inextricably heart-wrenching, depending on the day, the hour, the moment, the child…

One of the greatest lessons of motherhood is that we are not in control. Despite our best efforts to raise little saints, we can force neither our will nor our faith into the souls of our children. Those little people have wills of their own. And the older they get, the stronger those wills. Not only may they decide to reject our music or our style; they may reject our traditions; our values; or even the unthinkable  –  our God.

This is where hope comes in.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1817).

Hope is a virtue that can save us from the depths of despair; more importantly, it is the one that may send our children down the road to salvation. After all, would a loving God refuse the prayers of a persevering Mother? Just think of the widow in Luke 18:1-7. Was she not completely vindicated by her persistence? Our Lord desires that kind of hope grounded in faith from each of us. In fact, Sacred Scripture tells us that Christ’s whole point in sharing the parable of the persistent widow with the disciples was “to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

If there is one motto that Our Lord has clearly shouted out to mothers through the ages, it can be found in the words of Pope Francis: Let us never lose hope! Not only will hope strengthen our faith, but when we have hope for our children, even all our suffering will not leave us disappointed.

Saint Paul promises us:

Through Him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. –  Romans 5:2-5

Do you have a child who keeps you on your knees? One who insists upon bucking the system no matter what you do?

Rejoice!! Your suffering is not for nought!  You can trust that God is with you through every trial. After all, your children are His children first. And you can rest assured that He desires their salvation even more than you do.

Perhaps this image will help:

Picture in your mind’s eye that child for whom you pray and sacrifice daily.  The one that keeps you awake every night, desperately desiring that he or she would turn to God for guidance, rather than to the ways of the world.  Imagine this child in the devil’s clutches – paying homage to him through a misguided desire for worldly pleasure or recognition.

Now turn to the right, and see God, with all his multitudes of angels and saints – innumerable persons surrounding Him, and all of them, along with their Heavenly Father, turned toward your child.  Each of them is praying fervently, playing a tug-of-war with that soul, which, through baptism, rightly belongs to God.

While your child fights against God (or rather, submits to the devil) with his will, on God’s side of this great equation of justice, a tattered slip of paper causes the scale to waver ever slightly to the right. Christ reaches out his wounded hand to gently lift the crumpled mass, handing it to His Father as though it were a sacred vessel. Out of nowhere, your child, contrite and sorrowful, looks up in desperation. Without delay, an avalanche of power comes crashing down upon the scale, clearly demonstrating the winner of that precious soul, and all of heaven celebrates the victory as Our Lord snatches your child from the clutches of evil.

And what about that threadbare slip of paper?

That old scrap is a supernatural testament to your hope.

It contains every prayer you’ve ever offered for the salvation of your child. Every sigh that ever escaped your lips when there were no words left to say.  Every late night you’ve spent on your knees begging His intercession. Every tear you’ve ever shed. Every sacrifice you’ve ever made. The excruciating pain of your twisting heart as it was wrenched from your chest. Over. And over. And over again. Each time you watched your precious child thwart your guidance and follow his own, not so virtuous path. And each time you asked the Holy Spirit to open his eyes. And his heart.

God desires heaven for each of us.  And He hears your prayers.  He sees your sacrifices.  They will not go unanswered.  Never lose hope. God’s grace can fill any soul.  And the greatest of sinners, can become the greatest of saints.

Hope springs eternal.

St. Monica, Pray for us.

Reading Assignment:

Part V & VI

Discussion Questions:

1. How has the virtue of hope improved your life? What do you do to strengthen it?

2. 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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  • Desert Sun Art

    As a mother of a child who has left the Sacraments, I thank you for this piece/peace. (pun intended) God Bless.

    • Vicki

      I have added your child to my intentions. God bless you as well.

      • Desert Sun Art

        Oh, thank you, Vicki! His name is Jason.

  • Catherine Nagle

    Thank you, Vicki Burbach, for your most beautiful article full of hope and visions that I’ve yet to read! Every parent should keep this and refer to as our greatest and truest comforter. The older I get; I can understand how my own devoted mother of prayer was so full of grace. St. Monica, pray for us.

    • Vicki

      Yes! May God bless all mothers who sacrificed their knees for our sanctification!

  • MariaGo

    I was praying for my brother to have a relationship with God. I really thought it would come true someday. But now he is gone. I know he is safe but I still don’t understand why God allowed that to happen and did not grant my prayers. Even if he is safe, I wanted more for my bro. Everyone else seems content with his being safe though…

    • Terry

      Maria, your prayers may very well have enabled your brother to turn to Jesus in his heart right at the moment of death. So your prayers would have been answered!! Keep praying! Your brother needs still more prayers in purgatory .

      • MariaGo

        Thank you! God assured me that my bro turned to Him before he died. I just wanted more for him I guess. I do keep praying for him.

    • Vicki

      Maria, I have a loved one who keeps me on my knees. I often find myself admonishing God – “I don’t think you understand – I’m not looking for a death-bed conversion. I want this person to live this life in your friendship.” But truth be told, this life is such a small speck in all of eternity. We must have hope that, whether early in life, or at the very last moment, God will answer our prayers for their reunion. He will make all things work for good in His time and not ours. I will offer all my prayers for your brother today. God bless you!

      • MariaGo

        Thank you so much for the prayers! God assured me that my bro is in purgatory at least. I did want my bro to live his life in God’s friendship. I thought God would want too! I guess I need to trust Him more. God Bless you too!

    • Julie Jennings Chan

      I AM IN A SIMILAR position but it is my son for whom i was praying but he died. we found him after 3 days dead on his couch.I PRAY THAT HE HAD cried out to God before he died. I had hoped that he would have changed before he died this happened 6 years ago. He was only 29.

      • Joan

        Dear Julie I am so sorry about your son. My son is 26 and has left the church. I worry about him as he lives alone and drinks too much at the weekends, he has been beaten up on one occasion that I know of. I really hope you can get some comfort from Vickie’s reply below to Maria that God will answer our prayers and will make all things work for good in His time. I too will pray for you and for your son. God bless.

  • Victoria Campbell

    Thank you although not reading it was the providential message I needed today

    • Vicki

      I’m sorry to hear that! Prayers for you!

  • Scholastica

    I am currently in this situation, though I never thought I would be. We homeschooled and lived our faith daily. They attended good Catholic schools and were engaged in their Faith. It has been very painful to watch my oldest adult children neglect Sunday obligations and adopt ways of the modern world. Our dear Lord showed me yesterday in the readings and homily that I had filled the jars with water, but He would turn it into choice wine.
    In other words, I was faithful and obedient in teaching the Faith and bringing my children to the sacraments, which was all He asked of me.
    I can expect, in hope, that He will complete the work He has begun in my children.

    • Vicki

      Thank you for sharing your beautiful revelation! I’m sure your insight will comfort hundreds of others who find themselves in similar situations. May God bless you and your children.

    • MaryofSharon

      Scholastica, check out this article a friend showed me a couple days ago. It’s about how, even if we do everything right, our children can still drift: It’s both heart wrenching and hopeful.

  • Kathy

    Pray the Rosary, if you pray it you pray all things, faith , hope , love. You pray the Our Father, you praise God in the glory be, you pray with our mother who prays with you and for you and your loved ones. You also pray for forgiveness – o my Jesus forgive us our sins save us from the fire of hell. All of heaven is with you and you will find great comfort and confidence. Prayer is from God it is His love and grace showering down upon you and your loved ones. Take care it is difficult times for us parents, I refuse to be discouraged anymore , I won’t give the devil the satisfaction. God is good and He has a plan . Jesus I trust in you.

  • Lucille

    It’s so very difficult and heartbreaking when your own child whom you raised in the faith rejects the truth and won’t even visit or speak to you. I pray someday she returns.

  • Margarita Carreon

    First of all, I don’t know how yih find time to write and doing it so beautiful! But thanks for doing it. Hope is not the last thing we have, it’s everything. God loves us and certainly hears our prayers. Let’s not despair, let’s keep praying and hoping in confidence. Let’s not give satanvtyexsstisfsction to see us miserable and weak! We’re precious children of God and so are our love ones who are stray.

  • Laura Chapman Rosics

    Thank you for this article. It helps me to remember to let go and let God and how he wants the salvation of my wayward children’s souls even more than I do

  • marybernadette

    ‘When you read the life of the Saints e.g. St. Monica, it should certainly inspire us.’ Also, As we know, God can use ‘all of our pain’ for our sanctification too as was mentioned in a previous teaching, ‘The Gift of pain.’

  • Tina Larin

    Thank you Vicki for the nudge I needed to explore the concept of hope more fully. Understanding the truth about hope; that hope is a theological virtue and not just an emotional reaction to a desire to fulfill a superficial need like a bigger house is a big step towards understanding the Truth of our faith. Pope Francis tells us that “We are living in an age in which people are rather skeptical of the truth. Benedict XVI has frequently spoke of relativism, that is, of the tendency to consider nothing definitive and to think that the truth comes from consensus or from something we like.” (pg43) Our children are raised in an extremely diverse society that is has capitulated to the notion that truth is subjective to the individual and there can be no absolute truth. This relativism understands hope as a desire for materialistic things to provide us with happiness where as Christian hope is a much greater expectation of the” glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.” CCC1821
    Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1. The more I commit to the Faith the stronger my hope becomes which in turn strengthens my faith. Pope Francis raises our consciousness when speaking of the apostles he says ” Their faith was based on such a strong personal experience of the dead and risen Christ that they feared nothing and no one, and even saw persecution as a cause of honor that enabled them to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to be like him, witnessing with their life.” (pg54). So I will put that in my minds eye and contemplate in meditation on the apostles absolute not relative commitment to the truth, of their hope and faith.
    I am the mother of 1 for nearly 37 years and I was misled by the relativism of our society and had I understood I may have saved some heartache and possibly my knees too! Satan is at the heart of relativism and I am reminded by St Peter, Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1Peter 5:8

    • Vicki

      Thank you for your words of wisdom, Tina. I’ve noticed that through my experience too – faith definitely breeds hope. The closer we unite ourselves with Christ, the more we allow ourselves to trust Him. May God bless you and your child.

      • Tina Larin

        You are so welcome, to Him be the Glory! God’s Peace to you and yours.

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  • misererenobis

    Ahh! I am late to the conversation, but no less grateful for your non- judgmental encouragement! Too often am I “encouraged” by stories of women with “perfect” children whn what I really need is the reassurance that God is in control and I must simply continue as I am and trust that he is in control.

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