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Finding Time for God

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

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An Introduction to the Devout Life (Week 4 of 14)

Do not children as they hearken to their mother, and, lisping, imitate her, gradually learn to speak her language? And so if we remain close to the Savior, meditating upon Him, and giving heed to His words, His actions, and His affections, we shall gradually, by the help of His grace, learn to speak, to act and will like Him. There we must stop, for, believe me, Philothea, we can approach God the Father by no other door: just as we could see no reflection in a mirror were it not covered at the back with lead or tin, so should we be unable in this world to contemplate the Divinity were it not united to our Blessed Lord’s Sacred Humanity, His Life and Death being the most suitable, sweet, blessed, and profitable subject which we can choose for our constant meditation. He did not call Himself “the Bread which cometh down from heaven,” without a meaning: just as men eat bread, with whatever other meat they may have, so in all our prayers and actions we should seek, dwell upon and meditate on our Savior. – An Introduction to the Devout Life, p. 56 (Part II: Chapter 1)

 
Finding Time for God

Over the years, I’ve been blessed with some pretty amazing friends, many of whom I rarely see anymore, as we (or they) have moved steadily from here to there around the country. And I feel guilty about not trying harder to keep in touch. It’s not that I don’t have great intentions – I’d love to go to Virginia next summer for vacation or take a quick trip to Oklahoma between kids’ activities. And someday, I’d love to hit Portland and Texas and Georgia too! But life is so busy that I haven’t even visited my own mother in a year and a half. She’s traveled to our neck of the woods a few times, but, truth be told, I might be disowned if over our next three day weekend we don’t pack the car and head to St. Louis!

The bottom line is that great intentions don’t amount to much when there are more immediate demands on my time. Demands that look me square in the eye and dare me to turn my back. Demands like boy scout campouts and speech competitions, choir practice and art class, not to mention five days per week of homeschooling with home management activities to be completed over the weekend – and these must be tackled too, lest we collapse beneath a mountain of chaos come Monday morning.

With all the demands of life staring me down, the only way I’m going to Portland or Virginia or anywhere else is if I purchase airfare and block off the calendar. That’s when an intention becomes a commitment.

And that’s how it is with God. I may desire to visit with Him each day.  But intentions don’t matter much if I’m unwilling to make a commitment.

The Catechism tells us,

“Following Christ and united with Him, Christians can strive to be “imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love” by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the “mind…which is yours in Christ Jesus,” and by following His example (CCC 1694) [italics added]

Imitation requires an example to follow.

I once had an acquaintance who was a well-respected attorney. Quite successful and in high demand, she devoted long hours to her career.  When she learned she was expecting her first child, she was very excited to be a mother.  By the same token, she had absolutely no desire to end her career.

Before her daughter was born, this mother painstakingly searched for a live-in nanny, as her husband also had a demanding career. The couple desired to find the best care that money could buy. Their little girl would be fine. After all, they reasoned, good parenting is about quality time, not quantity time, right?

Fast forward a couple of years. I ran into this mother/daughter pair at a local Easter egg hunt. After I applauded Mom for getting away on a Saturday morning, she told me that she had recently quit her job. Apparently, her daughter had spent so much time with her nanny that she had begun to emulate her. It’s not that she developed bad habits, the mother explained. But she and her husband had begun to notice a Northern accent creeping into their daughter’s voice, much like that of the nanny. And the little girl had developed idiosyncrasies in favor of certain foods and routines. Foods and routines preferred by the nanny, not by Mom and Dad. The final straw fell when Mom had come home early one evening excited to be able to tuck her little girl into bed for once. As she began singing her favorite lullaby, the child burst into tears because Mommy didn’t sing the “right” song – a song often sung by the nanny at bedtime. The next day, this woman gave notice to her employer, preferring time with her daughter over the highest of accolades and great wealth from her career.

There is no way around it.  Human beings will follow the example placed before them.  If that example is not God, surely there will be another more than willing to take His place.

Without  any effort, we are bombarded daily with the values and priorities of this world. Negative cultural messages are constantly communicated via movies, television, songs, literature, advertising and the like. If we don’t make a commitment to spend time daily with Christ, won’t we, like the little girl, absorb the more constant influences in our lives?

St. Francis de Sales recommends we spend an hour per day in mental prayer, preferably in the morning.  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I understood this to mean focused prayer without interruption. For me, this will be quite a jump from the 15 minutes I currently spend in prayer (most mornings).  But it is doable.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen made a resolution on the day of his ordination to spend a continuous hour each day with our Lord in adoration. To my knowledge, he kept this commitment until his death. Here are a couple of thoughts he shared about The Hour that Makes My Day:

 The third reason I keep up the Holy Hour is to grow more and more into his likeness. As Paul puts it: “We are transfigured into his likeness, from splendor to splendor.” We become like that which we gaze upon…

…Is it difficult? Sometimes it seemed to be hard; it might mean having to forgo a social engagement, or rise an hour earlier, but on the whole it has never been a burden, only a joy.

An hour, huh?  This kind of time commitment will certainly require sacrifice (How far can I roll that alarm clock back before it becomes “last night”?);  but I've no doubt the rewards (both in this life and in the next) will be more than worth the effort.

Baby steps, anyone?

 

Reading Assignment:

Week 4 Part 2: Chapter 13-21

IMPORTANT: There will be NO post next week, due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. We will begin with Week 5 on Tuesday, December 3.

 

Discussion Questions:

1. When do you find time to spend with Christ? Do you have a routine you’d like to share? Or perhaps you have questions for others in the club about how to juggle other obligations to make time for Christ?

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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