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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

For Love of My Soul

November 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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An Introduction to the Devout Life (Week 3 of 14)

Consider that then the world is at an end, so far as regards you; there is none any more for you. Everything will then be reversed, all pleasures, vanities, worldly joys, and vain attachments will then appear as mere phantoms and vapors. Woe is me, for what delusive trifles have I offended my God! Then will you discover that you have forsaken God for nothing! On the other hand, how beautiful and desirable will good works and devotion then appear; why have you not followed on that holy and blessed road? Truly at that hour sins which before seemed as trifles will wax great as mountains, and how faint, how weak, will your devotion then appear! – An Introduction to the Devout Life (Part I: Chapter 13, paragraph 2)

For Love of My Soul

Appropriately during the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, the readings this past Sunday spoke directly to the notion of eternity.  Our priest took the opportunity to ask how often we think about eternity. With a twinkle in his eye, but with the weight of truth in his voice, he accused many of us of being like the Sadducees, who did not believe in the Resurrection, and therefore, were “Sad U See?”  Knowing we were a bit taken aback, he explained that, while as Christians we may claim to believe in eternity, we often live our lives as though this were IT. As though there were no Resurrection!  We seek to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, as we concern ourselves with work, school, bills and entertainment, rarely keeping heaven in the forefront of our minds.  In effect, he asserted, many Christians live as “practical” atheists.

His reflections gave me pause.  Do I live my life as if there were no heaven?  I must admit that often, while eternity is in the back of my mind, it is easily forgotten in the passion of any particular moment (where its presence is most important).  What a grave error!  As a Christian, my every thought, word and action should begin and end with eternity in mind. Unfortunately, this concept seems to have been much easier for the Saints than it is for me.

The Saints kept eternity at the forefront at all times, and this perspective allowed them to have great courage and perseverance despite severe trials.  They sought to preserve their souls above all else, and they could not be too careful when it came to their salvation.  For me (brief moments of lucidity notwithstanding), the notion of things eternal seems rather ethereal – an intangible and vague possibility as I sit amidst the joys and sufferings of this world. How can I bring that proper perspective to the forefront, placing heaven and the salvation of my soul above all?

Mother Mary Loyola, in her book, First Communion, offers an illustration for me to contemplate:

Supposing the story to be true, that Queen Elizabeth on coming to the throne of England, said, “Give me forty years of glory, and I care not what follows,” how would those words have come back to her when her forty years of earthly glory came to a close, and her soul was going to its account!  …On the other hand, what did all their torments matter to the martyrs she so cruelly put to death, once they were over?  They lasted some of them many years, for the prisons of England at that period – to say nothing of the tortures there inflicted – were worse than death.  But what are fifty or a hundred years compared to Eternity?  For more than three hundred years these blessed martyrs have been enjoying all the delights of Heaven, and their happiness will last as long as God shall be God.  If He were to require of us all He required of them, it would be very little – it would be nothing compared to the reward.  But He does not ask this.  He only bids us avoid sin, keep His Commandments, and bear patiently the troubles He sends us for our good.  Oh, how glad we shall be when we come to die if we have done this, if we have served Him faithfully! – p. 13-14

But what about those little moments every day when I choose “self” over God?  When I forget about eternity and focus on what I want right now?  Why is it that Martyrs and other Saints were able to keep a proper perspective?  Perhaps, whereas I see my soul through the lens of this world, the Saints saw this world through the lens of eternity.  How can I foster in my own heart their passion for the eternal life? Mother Mary Loyola suggests that I see my soul through the eyes of God, rather than examining it through the muck and the mire of this world:

Now what does God think of my soul? He values it so much that He has been always occupied about it. As long as He has been God, He determined to create it and do for it all that He has done. From all eternity He has been looking at it with love, and making plans for its happiness. From all eternity He appointed the Angel who was to be its guardian, the graces He would give it, the time when it should be sent into the world. This was to be, not that dark, dreadful time before our Lord came, but the time since His coming, since the foundation of His Church and the institution of His Sacraments, that so my soul might have its share in all these priceless blessings. It was to work out its salvation, not in a Pagan country, but in a Christian land … Holy Church was to make it His child and an heir of Heaven by Baptism, and prepare it by her teaching and her sacraments for its place in His Kingdom. The Precious Blood is to be always at hand that its sins may be washed away. Every morning the graces stored up in Holy Mass are to be unlocked for it, that it may come and help itself freely. More favoured than the child of any earthly king, it is to be admitted at any hour of the day or night into the Royal Presence to ask for all it needs or desires. Any one harming it will incur the anger of God; all who love and help it will be rewarded by Him. Angels and saints are to be its brothers and sisters; the Blessed Mother of God is to take it into her motherly keeping; and God Himself it is to call by the tender name of Father.

What could this Father do for me that He has not done? What has He spared that my soul may be eternally happy? Nothing – not even His only Son. For its sake this well-beloved Son came down from Heaven, lived a life of sorrow, and died a death of shame. For its sake He rose again and ascended into Heaven, that He might prepare its place there. And – as if all this were not enough – He is coming down from Heaven again to bring it a Gift, greater than all He has yet given – His own very Self – to be its Food.  

This is the value God puts upon my soul. This is how He treats it. All this He does not think too much to secure its salvation. And what value do I set upon it? How have I treated it up to now? – p. 15-16

 

Reading Assignment:

Week 3 Part 2: Chapter 1-12

 

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you struggle with the concept of eternity in your everyday life? If so, what steps have you taken to keep this life in proper perspective?

2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

 

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

For More Information on the Book Club:  https://spiritualdirection.com/csd-book-club

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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 SpiritualDirection.com 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 pelicansbreast.com

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