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What’s Gritty, Gutsy, Requires Patience and is Absolutely Necessary? Granite Faith

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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Granite Faith

The Lord (Week 2 of 23)

What is demanded of us, as of her, is a constant wrestling in fide with the mystery of God and with the evil resistance of the world. Our obligation is not delightful poetry but granite faith — more than ever in this age of absolutes in which the mitigating spell is falling from all things and naked opposites clash everywhere. The purer we see and understand the figure of the Mother of God as she is recorded in the New Testament, the greater the gain for our Christian lives. — The Lord, (Part 1: Chapter II: The Mother, Paragraph 15)

Sometimes we see Mary as a beautiful, perfect, joy-filled lady who raised a perfect son, had little to complain about and whose only suffering came as a result of seeing Christ ridiculed, beaten and crucified. Sure – she hated to watch Him suffer; but she did know that he was GOD. No doubt she also knew that He could take care of Himself.

If we’re not careful, we can succumb to the mistaken notion that we have nothing in common with Mary. that the Mother of God skipped her way through through life, virtually unscathed, a lovely image of the “perfect” mother the rest of us so long to become.

But that..is poetry.

I agree with the the author. Mary was not poetry. Neither should we aspire to the merely poetic images of perfection that we witness on television or in movies, or – seemingly – in Sacred Scripture.

Our obligation is not delightful poetry but granite faith…

Granite faith.

If you need a more accurate image to contemplate, think of the portrayal of Mary in Mel Gibson’s, The Passion. This was a woman who might have questioned anything. Everything. But she did not. She clearly suffered. She was obviously pained. But she fully believed in her obligation to Trust. She maintained a rock-solid faith that was grounded in Her Savior. And despite the pain, the suffering, the absolute devastation of watching her Son suffer at the hands of men and losing Him in the process, she never once wavered.

Guardini says

What is demanded of us, as of her, is a constant wrestling in fide with the mystery of God and with the evil resistance of the world.

This “wrestling” is the story of my life. Each day is a tug of war between what I want and His Holy Will. But rather than a wrestling where I stand as the arbiter between selfishness and virtue, choosing the good and shirking the bad, I stand, disheartened as I choose virtue (begging for it for myself and my family) but constantly come up short.  In my heart of hearts, I know that my desires are aligned with God’s Will on that point. And yet, I'm often disappointed when it appears that He fails to deliver.

I’m not asking for material things. [OK. Full disclosure – financial security has come up once or twice.] But what comes up countless times each day is my great desire that my children become saints. That I beome a mother who can lead each of the precious souls in my care to her Son.

And yet every day I am laden with mistake after mistake after mistake as I struggle with the weak example that our Lord has chosen for my children. My faults; my habits; my lack of faithfulness; my tendency toward sloth. They all stand as monuments to failure and they serve as walls which stand between my family and the holiness that I so desire for all of us.

My children deserve better.

They have suffered because of my shortcomings.

And God knows it.

For good or for bad, my children are shaping up to reflect both the beauty – and the ugliness – of their father and myself. My life is a never-ending battle to squash the ugliness while allowing the beauty to flow.

I fail daily.

Worse than all my failures is the depression that follows. Not depression as in a diagnosed medical illness. But a depression that consumes me each time I fail. A temporary feeling of despair. A shameful countenance that lacks the joy properly due to Our Lord for His grace; shame because I realize – yet again – that I will never be good enough to lead my children to a life of great virtue. I will never be able to inspire, encourage, convince, cajole, nag, pressure, threaten or force my children to sanctity.

But then I hear a whisper that calls softly through my darkness.

That is not your job. 

It is not your job to make saints. It is Mine. 

It is your job to know that only I can open hearts. Only I can move the inner workings of the soul. Only I can give you that which you desire more than anything. And that which I desire even more. 

It is your job to be Faithful. 

As Mary demonstrates so well in The Passion, faith is not a poetic thing. It is not flowery; it is not graceful; it is not romantic or lyrical or imaginative.

Faith is gritty. It takes guts. patience; trust.

Faith is is hard.

Yet it must be the foundation of all we do.

Instead of spending our time mourning our faults and our weaknesses, our mistakes and our defects, we must, as Mary did, hold on with a granite faith for

…how glorious our Faith is! Instead of restricting hearts, as the world fancies, it uplifts them and enlarges their capacity to love. — St. Therese of Lisieux

When we steep ourselves in faith, life is an amazing journey, full of joy and full of love. Faith allows us to expand our souls and soften the edges of our hearts. Ironically, it helps us to become the parents we so desperately long to be. It helps us to Hope in the promises that He’s given us. And it helps us to Love with greater openness. It allows us to dispense with pride and frustration because we acknowledge our own helplessness before God.

Like Mary, you (and I) must “do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). As Saint Paul says in Romans, we must have practice the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5).

Mary knows. He is the Rock; we need only hold fast and Believe.

Granite Faith. 

It can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).

 

Reading Assignment:

Part 1: Ch. V-VIII

Discussion Questions:

1. Does Mary inspire you to a greater faith? In what way? Did you take anything from the reading that can help you in that area?

2. Please feel fee to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

Read More: http://spiritualdirection.com/topics/book-club

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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  • Roshni Nunes

    Yes absolutely…the more i read and ponder on the faith and struggles of our Blessed Mother the more i am challenged to surrender to a God who loves me beyond measure. The chapter on The Mother in this book, is one that presents the deep darkness that Mary went through and yet was able to say YES at all times.

    • Catherine Kibler

      The Litany of the Blessed Virgin invokes a title of Mary that reflects each of lives a time we pray. She lived a human life full of joys and sorrows. She was burdened by sin. We have to constantly be converted and say “yes” to His Will – easy in “good” times, but a trial in our sufferings.

  • Catherine Kibler

    Yes, Mary is Our Mother, who desires our salvation as you, Vicki, and all mothers desire the salvation of their own children. As stated in the book, she was unconscious of the greatness of her act, her “yes.” Praying for God’s will in my life and believing and truly desiring it daily is also a struggle with me. Humility and remembering constantly “blessed is he who is not scandalized by me.” St. John the Baptist also lead of life full of trust. He believed yet did not see the fullness of his message ( the death and crucifixion and resurrection of “The Lamb of God”). The grace of Mary and St. John to be faithful is what we all desire.
    This book is full “eternal” things and wonderful reflections on passages I read so many times. I look forward to the next chapters.

  • Sharon

    As far as the chapter on Mary, my little notes say, “Mary didn’t comprehend, but she did have faith.” That’s one of the amazing things about Mary. She had to trust so beautifully, and under such difficult circumstances. She wasn’t told many details of how things would play out. I knew that Jesus’ teachings were made clear to the Apostles on Pentecost, but Msgr. Guardini points out that for Mary, full comprehension also came at Pentecost. That was a new idea for me.

    • Vicki

      Sharon,
      Yes. That is something that I don’t often think about; but it makes Mary an even greater inspiration. I have a lot to learn:)!

  • Sharon

    I was really touched by the chapter on John the Baptist. I’ve thought before about when John was in jail and sent his disciples to ask, “Are you he who is to come, or should we look for another?” He knew he was going likely to be killed soon, and he wanted to know for sure that he was really dying for the right thing. It reminds me of St. Therese and Mother Teresa, who both felt very far from God during their lifetime. John must have felt something similar. I found Jesus’ response to John’s disciples to be very kind and reassuring. It must have been sad, too, as Msgr. points out, that John was not going to live to see Jesus complete his ministry. John had to decrease to the point of death.

    • Vicki

      The comparison between Moses and John was moving. It was a reminder for me that we are not here for this world. Today, the notion of working on something that will not be completed in our lifetime is almost unheard of – and yet, think of all the pyramids, cathedrals and other amazing buildings that took lifetimes to build. As 21st century Christians, we need once again to recognize and be comfortable with our “littleness.” God bless you!

  • Susan

    When putting myself in the place of John the Baptist I realize that it is hard for me to “decrease.” We all want a little recognition now and then. After all the sacrifices John made to proclaim the coming of the kingdom and then wind up in a dark dungeon would be very hard. I would want to be recognized for my heroic efforts and maybe be the guest of honor at a banquet. Wow! John did end up at Herod’s banquet (but on a plate.) Lord, help me to be your humble servant, no matter the outcome.

    • Sharon

      Wow, what a thought, that John was at the banquet… yikes! St. John is such an inspiration for courageously speaking the truth, a role model we need so much today. But yeah, he’s also a reminder that the worldly outcome is not guaranteed to be pretty.

      • LizEst

        Indeed! … still we must keep in mind that we are in the world, but not of the world. The world hates us because we do not belong to it (cf John 17:14).

  • Fictional 100 /Lucy

    I had learned fairly recently of the interpretation of John’s question which suggested that John asked for the benefit of his own disciples–so that they would be reassured and know they could follow Jesus in all faith after John’s death. That made plenty of sense to me, so it was fascinating that Guardini challenged this idea. As Guardini probed further the psychology of a prophet, the highs and lows, his picture of John in prison certainly had the ring of deep insight. Yes, perhaps John himself needed to hear again from Jesus words that confirmed his identity and validated John’s sacrifice and diminishment. How touching to point out that Jesus’ blessing to those who are not scandalized by him was not only meant generally but was a special message of comfort for John.

    For me, this says that in my own low times–times we all experience–it is okay to reach out to Jesus for reassuring words. He will not judge us for times like those. Through scripture, words from other people, or thoughts that come during prayer, he will send ( if we are patient) something for faith to hang on to.

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