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The Best Way to Thwart Divine Mercy

April 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Divine Mercy, Mercy, Vicki Burbach

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The Second Greatest Story Ever Told (Week 8 of 8)

So we prepare for the Lord’s coming not by being consumed with fear but by following the message of Divine Mercy. Of course, this is not some new Gospel. Rather, it brings us to the heart of the Gospel, which tells us to repent of our sins and then ask for, trust in, and receive Gods’ mercy. The main refrain, as we see in the image of Divine Mercy, is not fear but trust — “Jesus, I trust in you.” – The Second Greatest Story Ever Told (Appendix I, Paragraph 16

The Best Way to Thwart Divine Mercy

Trust. This sounds like such an easy concept. The word trust even pops off the tongue with gusto. With decision. Trust.

It’s a declaration. I trust you.

It’s not a wimpy word like meander. Or a word that by its very nature is wishy-washy, like hesitation or apprehension.

No. And the concept is just as bold as the word.

Trust is not dipping your big toe in the shallow end and then wading in up to your waist. Trust is an all-out back flip with a half twist off the high dive, breaking the surface head first at top speed.

There is nothing passive about trust.

And yet, that’s what Christ asks of us. He wants the back flip off the high dive. He wants us to be all in.

Are we?

I don’t know about you, but reading so much on the gift of Divine Mercy recently provided me with many opportunities to contemplate where my trust may be lacking. Truth be told, I have relatively few trust issues when it comes to the little things in life. Things like life and death, or whether my husband loses his job, we run through our savings and the eight of us end up cramming into our Honda Pilot for shelter (although that would be interesting since we’re pretty much packed like sardines for the 20-minute drive to Mass).

But it didn’t take long for me to discern my Achilles' heel.


Trust is a difficult thing for a mother. At least, for this mother. Oh, yes, I read The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, and I rejoiced with hope and confidence in our Lord’s Divine Mercy. I have no doubt that God will reach down from heaven to guide us to His glory, provided we trust Him.

But when it comes to the well-being of my children, there are times I feel like a mama bear trying to battle the entire world with nothing but wits and wagers, standing alert and on guard as I try to extinguish all fires and dispel any perceived areas of weakness with my own two hands.

Sadly, there are times when I am so engaged in the battle that I don’t even hear God whispering words of calm and comfort in my ear. If fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve even thrown Him in with the enemy a time or two – one more battle to be won on behalf of my kids. In those moments I become the be-all, end-all of their physical safety and eternal salvation.

Not a good idea.

It is in those moments that my (thank goodness I have him) husband reminds me that faith is about trusting God. But even with this reminder, I’ve been known to counter with an “I know, but…” defense.

I know, but what if they turn away from the church? I know, but what if they choose not to follow God about whom I've taught them all the days of their lives? I know but what if they don’t do well in school? I know, but what if they get addicted to drugs or alcohol? I know, but what if they end up in jail? I know, but what if they reject everything we’ve ever taught them?

Can you read between the lines? Because it sure didn’t take me long to get to the heart of the matter.

I think, that when I am this hung up on the outcome, what I am actually saying has a lot more to do with me than with my children.

I gave up my career to raise these children. I gave up a second income and we have scrimped and saved that I might be able to spend all my days at their side. I have given up 17 years of that life, day and night, pouring my heart and soul into their welfare. I have shared with them my most intimate values and my greatest love. I have given up nearly all my free time by homeschooling them for 13 years. I sacrificed my life for them.

And it all gets down to this:


With this much fear, there is certainly no room for trust.

Why do I allow so much tension for myself when I know better? I mean, I KNOW better.

Only one answer:


That’s it. Think about it. Should one of my children turn from God, leave the Faith and denounce our way of life, wouldn’t that be like a giant advertisement to the entire world that I am severely lacking in holiness? Wouldn’t it make me just the biggest hypocrite ever? Sure, that lady tries to talk a good show, but her own kids don’t even buy it!

When I am prideful, every fall becomes monumental, because I believe it reflects on me as a mother. But when there is no pride involved, I am willing to allow my children to fall, to suffer, knowing that God has His hand on their shoulders. I don't own their actions. I allow them to own them, and I allow God the room to pick them up and guide them along the way. When I set pride aside, I can trust God with their salvation, as opposed to hanging my hat on short-term, earthly successes.

Pride is the best way to thwart Divine Mercy.

In an attempt to get myself back on track – three teens under one roof will throw you off every time – I pulled out one of my favorite books, Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure. If you struggle to trust God in any area of your life, I strongly recommend you read this book. One of my favorite passages reminded me, should I choose to trust God, that He will answer my prayers for my children. I only need step aside and allow The Holy Spirit to work in their hearts at His Will:

He has given His word and there is only one condition attached — that we seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, that we make this search the one great aim of our lives by bringing everything else into relation with it to make it successful and fulfill our every duty with this end in view. In return for this He will unburden us of all anxiety, He will take upon Himself all our needs and the needs of those who belong to us or for whom we have to provide, and His care will be all the greater in proportion to the degree of confidence and surrender to His will we strive to attain. p. 60-61

Christ longs to share His Divine mercy with each and every one of us. If only our pride doesn’t stand in the way. He wants us to take that dive. Trust is risky, but He will not abandon us.

Spend some time thinking about those areas where you are lacking in trust. Could it be that you have too much tied up in the outcome? Could it be that your hangups, like mine, are thwarting the Divine Mercy of Christ?

NOTE: Join us next week for our new book, Life of Christ by Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen!  We plan to devote 26 weeks to this book, but don’t let the length intimidate you! As with everything by Fulton Sheen, this book promises to be both intellectually stimulating and spiritually edifying. It’s not a difficult read at all but is unbelievably packed with profound commentary on the gospels. There is no better way to explore the concept of Mercy than to examine Mercy, Himself.

Reading Assignment:


Discussion Questions:

1. Where is your trust lacking and what do you plan to do to get back on track? Do you have any success stories in that area that you would like to share?

2. I hope you enjoyed this book as much as I did – please open a discussion on any topic covered by Father Gaitley. There was so much amazing information that it's difficult for me to highlight any single thread. I look forward to hearing what intrigued you most.


Read More:

For More Information on the 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 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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  • Mary L

    I don’t know which comes first, pride or control but they seem to walk hand in hand for me. I really have no control of the outcome for my children, or anyone else, actually. We pray, we teach, we model by example. And the outcome for another’s soul is still God’s hands. Doesn’t mean we don’t try. Just means we’re not God.

    Fast forward a few years. You’re sixty and your children are grown. One child drinks too much, another lives with his girlfriend, another struggles to keep a job and another has left the church. The answer in 20 years is the same as today. Trust. Allow these ‘failures’ to humble us so we can trust. Pray, teach by example and then trust. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of our own trust in God. Then, we can let go, and let God.

    • Vicki

      Mary, This is good advice. Humility is the great antidote to pride, and a bold step toward trust. Thank you so much for sharing – God bless you!

  • Pamela Soup

    Something about the paragraph that reads, “I gave up my career” and the litany of other sacrifices really got me to thinking. We might easily replace “I” with “Jesus” who also gave up his life and ultimately suffered crucifixion to “bring us up” in His teachings … and we still choose to “TURN AWAY FROM GOD.” As parents, we can teach, we can lead by example, we can pray, we can punish … but we do not have control over our children’s free will any more than God chooses to control ours.

    • Vicki

      Absolutely. I often remind myself that, despite having the perfect example, Judas still turned away. And yes, so do we, each and every day. Very humbling point to keep in mind. Sometimes we expect so much from our children, and then we turn around and excuse our own sinful habits. Thank goodness for His Divine Mercy, right?! (btw – I love your picture!)

  • LizEst

    Vicki — You know, you are a blessing to your children, your family, to us and to all who read your posts. ; )

    Sometimes, it’s a matter of outright pride, sometimes a matter of pride manifested as the need to control a situation. One of the ways the Lord teaches us to trust Him is to allow us and/or our projects to fail. It’s not that He doesn’t bear us up. He does, or else we would disappear into nothingness. And, it is not that He wants us to fail, either. But, when we get to the point of saying to God: “I can’t do it. I’ve tried to the best of my ability. I can’t force Susie or Johnny to do x, y and z. If it is your will–and I believe it is–you have to do it (notice, this is not telling God what to do, it is, rather, acknowledging that we are not God and that He is the only one who can move the human heart–not us).” When we say to Him: “I can’t — I don’t have the capacity, the smarts, the personality, the mothering/fathering skills, etc. If you want it, please, in your great mercy, move his/her heart to this (here state your intention!).” It’s then that, sometimes, God may move a particular heart in a particular way, though He never forces anyone. When He says no, it’s because He has something better in store for both you and your child, husband, friend, etc. This whole situation can be a difficult lesson to absorb. Those that learn it sooner rather than later, have great peace and trust in God…sooner rather than later!

    • Vicki

      A prayer I pray often and for many years! Thanks so much for your comments, Liz – you are a wealth of wisdom! God bless you!

  • Patricia

    Please kindly condense and resubmit this, Patricia. Remember our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here, particularly question 4.10: Your comment was almost twice what we normally allow. Thanks…and God bless you!

  • Patricia

    Scripture provides guidance on bringing up a child “in the way he should go.” Will a parent be judged on their efforts in this responsibility for the souls of the child(ren) entrusted to them by God… the fruit you will know the tree?

    Perhaps it is not pride, but a real gratitude for His mercy to ensure that children come to know, love, and serve Him. If one sincerely tries to bring a child up to follow the ways of the Lord, it is a genuine sorrow, when the child turns away.

    Parents do their best to sow the seeds but they are not the masters of the harvest. But love wants the best outcome for the souls of child(ren).

    Trusting in God’s mercy lets us have hope they will be saved in spite of their sins. God has unlimited mercy to give, but they must turn to Him to receive it. He can change hearts, but the reality is that not all souls do. Could there be a mother who wouldn’t grieve over the possible loss of a child’s soul?

    “For I know that he will command his children, and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, and do judgment and justice: that .. the Lord may bring to effect all the things he hath spoken unto him” (Genesis 18:19).

    “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way …” (Deut 6:7).

    “The fruit of the just man is a tree of life: and he that gaineth souls, is wise” ( Proverbs 11:30).

    “For there is no good tree that bringeth forth evil fruit; nor an evil tree that bringeth forth good fruit” (Luke 6:43).

  • Jeanette

    Another very good book is “Abandonment to Divine Providence” by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J. It was a great help to me as was Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence. You are a blessing Vicki!

    • Vicki

      Thanks, Jeanette! I keep hearing about that book, but haven’t read it yet. I’ll have to make some time!

  • elisabetta

    You have pinpointed the hardest area of trust for every mother. We hold our children in our hearts all the days of our lives. If they aren’t doing well, we aren’t doing well. There is nothing we want more than their salvation. It is a cross to carry when they aren’t in the Church. Thank you, Vicki!

  • Lynn

    Great article, and very timely for me, I must say. But I do have one question – I look back on what I did and did not do with my teenagers when they were younger and see that I did not do a good enough job instilling the faith in them. I have been a good example in that we always go to church, they have seen me read the bible and go to a bible study, pray, etc, but because of different reasons they missed a few years of religious ed. My oldest did get confirmed this year, but I know she just did it for us and I don’t think the program was a good one. We are in a sort of parish limbo because we can’t seem to agree on where to go because my husband and I want different things. My 8th grader didn’t get religious ed this year at all (see parish limbo above).

    So I know I need to trust in God that he will take are of them, but I know most of where they are now is my fault, and I don’t see a clear way of making up for that. I am more of the spiritual leader in our family, and I haven’t done a good job. I don’t know where to go from here. Does that make sense?

    • Vicki

      Absolutely. I know how it feels to be in limbo parish-wise. Our family has struggled with that as well and it’s very unsettling. If your oldest was just confirmed, am I right to think she would be around 13 or 14? I would suggest looking into various things offered in your archdiocese for families. There are often great speakers, retreats, etc. for teens and for families – that’s one way to help open heart to the Holy Spirit. One thing I’d love to suggest is reading a book together. Maybe just you and your oldest. My daughters and I are reading a little book called Our Daily Bread: (you can get a free sample here) – it is a wonderful book that really lays out the important things in life. It is small in stature, and each chapter is only about two pages, including a prayer. We read it every night when we pray together. My girls are 10 and almost 14. That’s just one suggestion. There are so many things you can do. Since summer is beginning soon, I’m attaching a post I wrote for National Catholic Register last spring about engaging kids in spiritual reading: Bottom line – don’t give up. Start where you are – they are not gone yet:). And frankly – I have a 16 year old who was well-catechised and he still thinks the world has more to offer these days:) – prayer and fasting, just as Patricia mentioned above:). Thank you so much for sharing and God bless you!

      • Lynn

        My daughter is 16 and my son is 14. They do confirmation in sophomore year of high school here. She says she has prayed about things but then nothing works out the way she wants so why should she bother, doesn’t want to go to Mass because she thinks she is old enough to make her own decisions. For some reason I have a hard time talking to her about faith, but I will make more of a concerted effort to be more open. My husband is Catholic doesn’t take a great interest in being active in the faith like I do, if that makes sense, so I feel a little like I am pulling the rope alone. She is going through some other struggles now, too, like anxiety and depression, so that doesn’t help things! 🙂 I will definitely check out your links, I appreciate it!

    • Vicki

      Lyn, One more thing – a quote by one of my favorite people, Elisabeth Leseur: “What we have to do is to work on ourselves, to accomplish our own inner transformation, to do each day and each hour our duty and all the good that we can do. Above all we must ask God to fill us with an intense charity.” — Her book, “The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur” is one I highly recommend for you and anyone who loves someone that doubts or that does not share their Faith. Her husband was an atheist. She quietly prayed and sacrificed for him all the days of their marriage, offering her life for him in the end. After she died, he had a great conversion and not only became a Catholic, but a Dominican Priest!

      • Lynn

        I have heard of her, I will have to go look up her book, thank you!

  • Joan

    My two sons now in their twenties say they don’t believe in Jesus any more and as Patricia says below it really is a genuine sorrow and a real fear for a parent. They seem to have both been influenced by Richard Dawkins book The God Delusion as far as I can tell. I am really going to have to trust God in this and that is something I find hard as I keep thinking it is up to me when of course I can only pray for them and hand them over now. They are very kind young people and so precious to me I only want the best for them but so does God and even more so.

    • Vicki

      If it’s any comfort, I know a lot of people who wandered for a while and came back when they began to raise their families. Kids have a great way of grounding us:). I will add you sons to my prayers – God bless!

      • Joan

        Thank you Vicki it is a comfort to remember that and thank you for your prayers which are very much appreciated. God bless you and your family and the good work you do, I will remember you in my prayers too.

  • Patricia

    “My daughter, I want to instruct you on how you are to rescue souls through sacrifice and prayer. You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone. I want to see you as a sacrifice of living love, which only then carries weight before Me.”??— Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary of St. Faustina, 1767.

    • Vicki

      Patricia, Yes, yes and yes! I am right there! Thank you for sharing this quote. I’m sure it will be helpful to many.

    • Lynn

      I am just reading her diary now. I must remind myself of this quote, thank you for sharing this.

  • Robster

    And yet, one’s dismay over the seeming indifference of those whom we have tried to help gives us a small taste of the agony of Jesus, weeping over Jerusalem, sweating blood in Gethsemane. Despite all, some will ignore the message.

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