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Journal of a Soul Wk 6 of 12

October 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Journal of a Soul Week 6

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Slow and Steady wins the Race

Anyone who judges me from appearances takes me for a calm and steady worker. It is true that I work; but deep in my nature there is a tendency towards laziness and distraction. This tendency must, with the help of God, be forcibly resisted. To humble myself constantly I will always tell myself that I am a lazy fellow, a beast of burden that ought to do much more work and get on with it much faster, and so deserves to be beaten. I must be particularly careful not to procrastinate but to do at once what is most urgent. In everything, however, I must keep and impart to others that calm and composure with which alone things can be done and done properly. I will not worry if others are in a hurry. He who is always in a hurry, even in the business of the Church, never gets very far. – Journal of a Soul, pg. 198

I have no idea whether others think I’m calm and collected; but I know my husband doesn’t. In our house, he is the steady worker. I’m usually rushing all over trying to get everyone ready and out the door. Not that he doesn’t participate. But he steadily goes about his work, while I frantically try to accomplish as many things as I can in the shortest amount time. In the end, we probably both accomplish the same amount, despite my rapid heart rate and anxious countenance.

When we were first married, I remember riding with my husband down a main street, where we stopped at a red light. The driver in the car next to us was clearly itching to get going, and my husband laughed when the light changed and the driver gunned his motor and took off. There was a lot of traffic, and my husband, who gradually stepped on the gas, was visibly entertained when we met at the next light at the same time, despite the edgy “rush” emanating from the other car. I’ve never forgotten that incident because secretly I know I could have been the driver of the other car.

I go, go, go as fast as I can, and like the hare in Aesop’s infamous fable, I wear myself out and literally quit for a day or two, waiting for my motor to “rev up” again. It seems I’m always on a mission. As a case in point, I think I’ve shared before that I’ve run a couple of marathons. While at the time I took pride in these accomplishments, I’m embarrassed to admit how little I’d run before my training or since the last race (ten years ago).  When in training, I rarely missed a day, because I had a goal. More importantly, I knew I had a deadline, wherein all the work would be OVER. And finally – and perhaps most telling – I have a penchant for excitement, which deadlines and frenzied activity tend to create.

Back when I trained for my first marathon, a good friend told me that she admired my commitment. Little did she know how much more admirable she is for running three miles per day for the past fifteen years. My sporadic passions are really not such a great thing. Because in general, I’m all or nothing. Running full speed ahead or stopped dead in my tracks.  And yet I’ve learned that slow and steady wins the race.

Even in my Faith life, I’ve been passionate or luke warm. Never a committed and consistent disciple. I’ve either been noisy and passionate like a clanging gong, or lazy and mute, with luke-warm zeal. When I first became Catholic, I was determined to become an expert in theology, convert everyone I met, and abandon every desire I’d ever had in order to live for Christ alone. I wanted to learn every prayer, read every book, buy every sacramental, attend every church event. But there is no way to sustain that kind of drive over time. And in the end, I wavered. I became lazy in my commitment. Mass lost it’s allure (I never stopped attending, but for a long while, I was going through the motions). Prayer became a chore, and I stopped my spiritual reading altogether for a time.

Unfortunately, the most important things in life cannot be achieved with this modus operandi. Pope John XXIII is absolutely right! He who is always in a hurry, even in the business of the Church, never gets very far. Eternal life is not the result of passion and high energy exerted on a short-term basis. It’s about patience, steadfastness and perseverance over the long haul – all things which require (or perhaps produce – which comes first, the chicken or the egg?) calm and composure.

In his letter to the Hebrews, Saint Paul writes, …you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised (Hebrews 10:36). Later, he encourages us to …run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith… (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Without that habit of calm and steady perseverance in my everyday life, how can I develop the serenity necessary for perseverance in my spiritual life? If life is a constant stream of ups and downs (of my own creation), where is the endurance? In effect, I’m running a series of sprints, when my entire life should be a marathon.

The above passage reminds me that it's time to take a deep breath, and allow the peace of Christ to engulf my soul, that I may slow down, always keeping an air of calm and composure, with which alone things can be done and done properly.  While this may be easier said than done, I have the assurance that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).


Discussion Questions:

1. What helps you to maintain a calm and steady countenance?  Or, like Martha, are you anxious about many things?

2. Open forum – comment on any of the reading for this past week.


Reading Assignment:

Week 7: 1935 – End of 1944 (pg. 226-262)

Happy Reading!


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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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