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Journal of a Soul

September 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Journal of a Soul

A Man After My Own Heart

27 February, 1898

Considering that it is only a week since I finished the Spiritual Exercises, I must admit that I have spent the time very badly, because of my continual distractions during prayers…


6 March, Sunday

I have been less distracted at prayer, but still not always and entirely recollected. In these last days I’ve had little recourse to invocations, with the result that I have been less united with Jesus than hitherto…


 13 March, Sunday

So many failings this week too!


20 March, Sunday

A month has already gone by since I came out from the holy Exercises. Where have I got to now in the way of virtue? Oh poor me!

Having made a general examination of my behavior during these recent days, I have found good reason to blush and feel humble. I have found that all my actions are far from perfect…


28 March, Monday

What good indeed has come out of all these promises? Alas! I had already forgotten them. If I go on like this I shall end in trouble. I am still in the same plight…


4 April, Monday

This week I have done a little better, but not altogether well: some things have been neglected in the general flurry of the examination period….


22 April, Friday

Holy Week has gone by, the vacation also is over, and instead of moving forward I have continued to slip back. How can this be, after so many good resolutions?


1 May, Sunday

What a lovely day! What a heavenly day after a week of scant fervour, indeed of distractions, almost of indifference! 


15 May, 1898, Sunday, in retreat

This month, even I myself have been able to see how full I am of self-esteem, and when I went to see my director he made me see if even more clearly…

Who knows why this should be so? The good Jesus sees that I have no other desire than to serve him, and that I try to stifle the impulses of my self-love. And yet I still fall, and so frequently! – Journal of a Soul, pg. 18-22


This progression of books has taken me from virtual despair to an unbelievable amount of motivation!! Why? Because I’m now filled to the brim with the beautiful theological virtue of HOPE! Can you believe it?! Even I can become a saint!!!

Be honest – you’ve been thinking the same thing about yourself! I know it – we’re all in this together – we imperfect souls.

Seriously, though. I can identify with this precious man. Anyone who analyzes his progress or lack thereof from day to day, and who keeps lists of his resolutions is a man after my own heart.

I, too, am a list person. I make spreadsheets for family meals and I use an app to organize every minuscule step to cleaning my house.  I also have a schedule for every minute of school each day, so that I know where every child is and we make sure every item is completed. I even set my familial, social, intellectual, financial and spiritual goals each year (although often I’m just re-evaluating and re-writing what I’d written the year before), and I often list spiritual commitments I’d like to make. The problem is that I almost never follow through. I stick with lists and schedules for about a week, and then they fade away until I'm inspired by another plan. My children are so used to this that when I recently introduced my latest plan for motivating them, complete with incentives and stickers, my oldest son actually said to his brother, “Don’t get too excited – it’ll last a week and then she’ll move on to something else” – OUCH!

This lack of follow-through applies to my spiritual life as well. Because the new school year is a time for new schedules, it seems every school year we begin be praying the rosary each night as a family, praying the Divine Mercy each day, reading spiritual stories and pretty much placing God as top priority throughout the week. But as the weeks go on, the business of the day overwhelms me and these things too, fade away until next year. I’ll share a pathetic illustration of this concept in our home – don't laugh. EVERY year we celebrate my sons’ and my husband's feast days – which fall in September and October. But I can’t remember when we last celebrated the girls' feast days – because they all fall in Spring!

Like I said. I can identify.

Perhaps it’s a sad testament to the state of my own soul that I’ve been so excited while reading this spiritual journal. Is it simply that “misery loves company”? Or is it something more?

I think back to various saint books I’ve read. The one that first comes to mind is The Story of a Soul, the autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux. We all love her. And because she’s everyone’s favorite saint, perhaps it I shouldn’t share this, but in present company, I'm sure it's OK.

Here goes – I have a very difficult time identifying with Saint Therese. Certainly she inspires me, and that’s important. It’s also the reason I’ve read her autobiography four or five times. But when I compare the oceans of grace she received with the thimble-full I see as my own, I must say, I’m not particularly motivated. I think – “here is a rose, and I am a weed.” What do I do with that?

On the other hand – I feel close to Pope John XXIII already! I could literally take this journal, and replace his name with mine on the cover. The only difference is that he was about 17 when he wrote these entries, while I am 41. I have a feeling by 41 he’d probably made some significant progress on his spiritual life. I try to pay attention now, but at 17, I was consumed with worldly pleasures – boys, clothes, school and friends.

I’ve never read this book before, so I’m looking forward to learning how Pope John XXIII's spirituality changed through the course of his life. Was he always disappointed in his progress? Or did he start to have a perspective like that of  St. Therese – content to be the flower Jesus wanted him to be, and satisfied with himself from that perspective?

Well, lets’ get on with it – I’m anxious to read. And I’m anxious to begin a modified version of his rules of life. Have I told you how excited I am?

This is me signing off to begin next week’s reading!

This Week:  Read Sept. 5, 1898 – Aug. 22, 1900


Discussion Questions:

1. What do you think of the reading so far? What do you think of the man?

2. Who are some of the saints who most inspire you and why? Were you surprised by Blessed Pope John XXIII? If so, how?


Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

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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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