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Imitation of Christ Wk 9 of 10

February 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

The Imitation of Christ Week 9 of 10

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Woe to you…

Examine your conscience with great care, and cleanse and purify it as best you can by true contrition and a humble confession. Thus, nothing grievous will remain in you and you will know of nothing that could cause you remorse and hinder your free access to Me.

the-good-portion-pictureIn general, be sorry for all your sins, but in particular, you must grieve and bewail those offenses you commit every day. If time then allows, speak to God in the secret mansions of your heart about the miseries your passions cause you.

Be sorry for the following: that you are so carnal and worldly, that your passions are still unmortified, and that you are so filled with evil desires;

so unguarded in your external senses and so frequently occupied with foolish fantasies;

so interested in worldly affairs and so indifferent about the interior life;

so quick for laughter and dissipation, but so averse to tears and sorrow;

so ready for relaxation and bodily comfort, but so sluggish to practice penance and devotion;

so eager to hear the latest news and to visit interesting places, but so slow in embracing what is humble and poor;

so desirous to have many possessions, but so miserly in giving and so tenacious in retaining;

so inconsiderate in your speech and so reluctant to observe silence;

so undisciplined in behavior and so rash in conduct;

so avid about food, but so deaf to Gods’ word;

so prompt for rest, but so tardy for work;

so awake to listen to stories, but so sleepy for night vigils;

so hasty to end your prayers and so taken up with daydreams;

so negligent in reciting the Office, so lukewarm in celebrating Mass, and so lacking in devotion in receiving Holy Communion;

so swiftly distracted and so rarely recollected;

so suddenly brought to anger and so easy to take offense;

so rapid to judge others and so severe in rebuke;

so happy in prosperity and so depressed in adversity;

so willing to make good resolves, but so unwilling to keep them.

– The Imitation of Christ, Book IV, Chapter 7, p. 193


Today in the grocery store I noticed a young man with a sweatshirt that said, “Bite Me.” I averted my eyes in sadness, thinking that as a society, we are so far from where God wants us to be. Not that an offensive sweatshirt should engender such a strong reaction, but it seemed to represent for me a world of sin.  Immediately, The Fatima Prayer came to me: O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

As soon as the prayer crossed my mind, I felt strongly rebuked.

I know people who commit adultery, others who have committed the horrible atrocity of abortion and still others who are actively promoting a homosexual lifestyle. I pray often for these people and I sometimes I find myself thinking, like the Pharisee, “God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get (Luke 18:11-12).” OK – I don't use those exact words, but you can imagine they are close – essentially, I thank God for giving me the grace to know Him. And of course, I beg Him, “Please help these people to turn from such atrocious sins.

Shame on me! As though my sins aren't just as heinous (or even more so) in God's eyes!  I will be held accountable for every one of my sins. I KNOW God as my Heavenly Father. And yet truth be told at one time or another I have committed virtually every sin listed in the passage quoted above, usually without proper remorse. I shuddered today as I realized that I am the one who needs mercy above all others. Like the tax collector, I could not even lift my head as I recognized with horror this sad reality:  I KNOW that God is ALL GOOD and ALL DESERVING of MY LOVE, and yet I still turn from Him on a daily basis. Imagine my reckoning!

And the servant who knew his master’s will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required (Luke 12:47-48)…”

I am distracted in mass; I am lazy with my devotions; I am selfish; I am prideful; I am gluttonous; and the list goes on and on. Our Lord must be SO offended and deeply saddened by EVERY one of my sins – especially when I have the audacity to judge the sins of others.

Lord, this Lent please give me TRUE sorrow for my sins. Help me to recognize that my arrogance inhibits any possibility of perfect contrition. Help me to detest my sins for Love of You – may I recoil from all sin, visible and invisible. Tear away any trace of the pharisee’s wretched pride in my soul and replace it with the heart of the tax collector or of the thief on the cross. Justly am I condemned; but in Your mercy, please remember me in Your kingdom.


Discussion Questions:

1. What did you think when you read the list of sins above?  Do you find yourself committing them often?  Do you recognize it when you are committing them, or only when you look back and examine your conscience? Do you tend to overlook some of  these sins?  If so, why do you think that might be?

2. Open discussion: Feel free to comment on any topic from this past week's reading.


Reading Assignment:

Week 10: Book 4 Ch. 8-18

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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