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Journal of a Soul Wk 12 of 12 Pt 1 of 2

November 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Journal of a Soul Week 12 of 12 – Part 1 of 2

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A Proper Catholic Education

The superiors of the seminary were very strict with us, and at times did not hesitate to impose stern restrictions which made us believe and say that they were too much opposed to anything modern in study or ways of thinking, and over-confident that the future would justify deeds. 

In fact, after a short time the turn of events proved them quite right, and showed the timeliness, foresight, wisdom and practical good sense of their attitude. But associated with their own efforts, although with a different function, the work of Father Francesco was particularly valuable because it preserved us from many evils.

The spirit of modernity, liberty and criticism is like good wine, bad for weak heads. The educative influence of Father Francesco was in fact aimed not only at the hearts but also at the minds of his young students, with the purpose of forming, as we say, good sound heads, both as regards the doctrine and the practice of priestly life. He was much helped in this by his kind, fatherly manner, which enabled him to win our good will even before his thoughts had convinced our minds, thus leaving us no opportunity for any resistance.

All we who were students in that school of strict orthodoxy and the true Roman spirit, combined with lively and enlightened asceticism, may now congratulate ourselves on the fact that not one of us has faltered or strayed from the straight path of being ‘of one mind with the Church’ in all things. As long as we stayed with Father Francesco we were in no danger of being seduced by dangerous novelties. His great spirit of discretion, averse to all extremes, knew how to withhold consent from all that was uncertain, imprudent or insufficiently examined. He was intent above all on establishing in the consciences he directed the superior and balanced judgement that would make us shun futile arguments, thus teaching us the wise art of proceeding from words to things, from learning to life, to the life of priests and apostles. He used to say, and repeated even in recent times, that it is better for a young cleric to be somewhat strait-laced than inclined to broadmindedness. This was not because he was concerned with questions of rigorism or laxism, but because he rightly considered that this youthful austerity, aided by later experience, was the best way of finding the exact middle point where truth, justice and charity meet. – Journal of a Soul, p. 435-436.

I have a confession to make. Five minutes ago, I deleted my entire post for this week. As of this moment, I am starting from scratch.

You may think I have better things to do than to write 1600 words only to delete them and start over. And I’m sure you have better things to do than to hear about it.

The fact is, when I read the above quote, I was moved to tears by what I believe to be a beautiful illustration of a proper Catholic education. Unfortunately, my husband and I have witnessed nothing of the sort. In fact, our search for a Catholic high school for our eighth grade son has led to our experiencing many perspectives, attitudes and practices – 1600 words on a soap box worth – but we have yet to find a Catholic school that would form our son in a way that would encourage – or dare I say inspire – him to live out his Catholicity in this world as a young man of Faith. Truth be told, I think the odds of finding a solid Catholic school (without sending him to halfway across the country) are about as good as there being a recall of the recent presidential election.

Sadly, the secularization of the world, and of the Catholic school system in particular, has had dire consequences – young people are leaving the Church in droves.

According to a study released in October by the Pew Forum on Religious Life, of all losses suffered by religious denominations over the past seven years, Catholics have suffered the most. While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic. These losses would be even more pronounced if not offset by recent immigration from Latin-American countries, which have highly Catholic populations. Worse yet, the results would be absolutely damning if we took into account how many of the Catholics in our country are ‘cultural’ Catholics rather than Catholics who actually follow the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

I cannot singlehandedly change the Catholic school system or the culture at large. And in charity, I will not jump on my soap box and criticize the system. Criticism does not inspire – it only wounds. That said, I am called to do what I can do. And I beg you to do the same. Regardless of where they attend school, we must educate our children.  Let’s start with the following:

1. For the sake of our children, we must BE HOLY. WE as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, priests, teachers, friends…we MUST be holy. If we are holy, we will inspire holiness in our children.

2. We must ATTEND MASS OFTEN – if we want to teach our children that the Eucharist is the greatest gift left to us by Christ, we must not treat it as merely a Sunday obligation, but as a gift to be received as often as possible.

3. We must VISIT JESUS OFTEN in the Blessed Sacrament. By introducing our children to the Real Presence, we will inspire a love for Him that will far outweigh any attempt by the culture to captivate them with worldly pleasures that can never satisfy.

4. We must TEACH OUR CHILDREN THE ROSARY and PRAY IT OFTEN, teaching them to honor Mother Mary as the Queen of heaven.

5. We must EXPERIENCE THE SAINTS as our older brothers and sisters in Christ, discuss them as part of our family, keep pictures of them in our homes and talk to them as our closest spiritual confidants. If we do these things, our children will experience them as a natural part of their lives as well.

6. We must SET LIMITS FOR OURSELVES & our children, despite the temptations by the culture or the idols of this world. If we do that, our children will learn those limits, and they will emulate them.

7. As important as all of the above – we must TEACH our children WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO…WHY WE BELIEVE WHAT WE BELIEVE, in order to solidify their faith and equip them to answer the challenges that will no doubt be raised by members of the secular culture. We all know of a very holy individual who has always been a saintly example to her children. Yet those children still left the faith.  They took with them their mothers' kindness, but have no understanding that her great strength and virtue is seeded in her devotion to our Lord in His Church.  We MUST make that connection for our children.

8. And because Christ has already won the victory, WE MUST BE ON OUR KNEES DAILY, begging that God’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. The future of our Church depends on it.

(NOTE: Part II of this entry – the final for Journal of a Soul – will be posted tomorrow.)


Discussion Questions:

1. Can you think of other ways we can affect the children in our lives?  Or ways that we, as individuals can change the Catholic education system?  What do you do to effect the next generation?

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


Reading Assignment:


Check in tomorrow to learn of our next book…and next week to learn of our first assignment!


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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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