Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates / Catholic Spiritual Direction

A Crisis of Faith

July 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Book Club INTERNAL IMAGE (internal to post) 600x214


Consider Jesus on the Cross as you would a devout book worthy of your unceasing study and by which you may learn the practice of the most heroic virtues. This is the book which may be truly called the “Book of Life” (Apocalypse 3:5), which at once enlightens the mind by its doctrines and inflames the will by its examples. The world is full of books, but were it possible for man to read them all, he would never be so well instructed to hate vice and embrace virtue as by contemplating a crucified God. But remember that there are those who spend hours lamenting the Passion of Our Lord and admiring His patience, and yet on the first occasion betray as great an impatience in suffering as if they had never thought of the Cross. Such men are like untried soldiers, who in their barracks breathe nothing but conquest, but on the first appearance of the enemy, beat a hasty and inglorious retreat. What is more despicable after considering, admiring and extolling the virtues of our Redeemer, than to forget them all in an instant when an opportunity of practicing them presents itself? – Spiritual Combat, pg. 161-162 (TAN version; The corresponding quote from Sophia Press is found on pages 142, from This crucified Lord…forget and neglect them?).

I sat in on the floor in our bathroom, hugging my knees, crying uncontrollably. My hands were sweaty, my face a mess of tears and hair and I desperately needed to blow my nose. I was absolutely beside myself because a horrific thought had just occurred to me:

What if there is no God?

I know that sounds crazy. I was a wreck because of the horrendous nature of my doubt. Before that day I had considered myself to be a “good” Catholic. I had converted to Catholicism eight years before, two days before our wedding day. I had read all things Scott Hahn and was excited about Holy Mother Church. My husband and I went to mass on Sunday and we taught CCD classes even though our own children were mere toddlers.

But this was no simple moment of doubt. This was my reaction after seriously contemplating the cross one day. Rather than absorb the magnitude of the cross and resolve to offer Christ everything, I rejected the cross by questioning Christ’s very existence!! I asked myself – If the God of the universe actually gave his life for us as described in the Passion, wouldn’t I live my life differently? Wouldn’t I want to receive Him daily? Wouldn’t I go to confession more than once every few months? Wouldn’t I want to practice virtue more fervently than I did? Wouldn’t I burst with sorrow every time I denied Him in sin? Wouldn’t I LIVE for Him alone?!

And what about the rest of the world? If God REALLY existed, wouldn’t more people LIVE for Him? Wouldn’t daily masses be packed? Wouldn’t there be lines outside the confessional?

I spent the next three days in agony, vacillating back and forth. If God didn’t exist, then I needed to stop pretending that He did. But if God DID exist, my entire life had to change. I begged God to let me KNOW if He was real. In the end, of course, He did exactly that. After three days of absolute turmoil, I woke on day four with the most amazing feeling of peace I had ever experienced before or since. I KNEW with all my heart that God was real, and that my life had to change. I recognized that I had not been studying the “Book of Life.” This was the first time in my life I’d actually considered what my commitment to God should mean to me. From that point on, I resolved to consecrate myself to my Lord, to offer Him every moment of every day.

But why did I have such a crisis of Faith? I realized that from my moment of panic, I had been gauging God’s existence on the failure of man. Because I didn’t BEHAVE as though God existed, I began to think that perhaps He didn’t. Multiply my behavior by that of much of the world, and I began to think exponentially that God MUST NOT exist. Obviously, I had it all wrong. My questions should have started and ended with ME, not with God.

As I read this excerpt, I relived the amazing moment when God allowed me to truly feel His presence in my life. But this was also a rude awakening, my Lord’s whispered question in my ear, asking where all my passion had gone. What had happened to that elated feeling I’d had when His grace presented Itself so openly to me? Certainly my devotion to serve had deteriorated over the years, and I was reminded once again how terribly sinful I really am. The very thought of Jesus suffering for me on the cross should be enough to stop me in my tracks when the threat of selfishness creeps in.

I really am like the untried soldier. I talk a good game – I share with friends all the amazing books I read about God, teach my children the Catechism, talk with them about love and sacrifice, take part in the sacraments regularly and try to live a life of prayer. Yet when those opportunities to LIVE for God present themselves, I often fall short. When our family is running late for mass, when I make a wrong turn or when I have a child that refuses to cooperate, I begin to lose perspective. I forget about Christ on the Cross, and I become impatient. Despite my resolve, I fail to see these small annoyances for what they are – opportunities for me to patiently suffer as Christ suffered, and to offer them for the intentions of Our Lord.


Discussion Questions:

1. What happens when you contemplate the cross?

2. Have you ever had a crisis of faith? If so, how was it resolved?


Schedule for This Week (Keep in mind that this is approximate – if you read somewhere around that range, we’ll still be reading together):

TAN:  pg. 175-202 (to Treatise…)

Sophia Press: pg. 155-175 (to Interior Peace)

NOTE:  The TAN version of Spiritual Combat has a second book attached (at least that's how it appears) – A Treatise on Peace of Soul; I had not intended to read that book, as I assumed other version wouldn't have it.  But I've realized in comparing versions that the Sophia version has this portion too, only it's seamlessly part of the same book.  In that light, we'll plan to read it all, but will add an extra week to this book – which means we have two weeks left, including the above assignment.  The last week will have a little more reading, so you're welcome to read ahead a little if you'd like.  Most weeks, I've planned for about 30-35 pages – the last week will have closer to 45.

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!