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Spiritual Adolescence

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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The Sinner's Guide (Week 2 of 16)

Thou art an unfinished work. Many things are lacking to the perfection of thy being. Thou has naught of the beauty and luster which are yet to be thine. Hence thy restless, unsatisfied yearning; hence those unceasing aspirations for a higher, better state, which arise from thy very necessities.  

Yes, God let thee hunger, in order that, driven by necessity, thou mightest have recourse to Him. For this reason He did not give thee perfection at thy creation, but He withheld it only through love for thee. It was not to make thee poor, but to make thee humble; it was not to leave thee needy, but to compel thee to have recourse to Him. – The Sinner’s Guide (Chapter 2, Paragraph 14)

Spiritual Adolescence

At the moment, we are raising two teenagers, with a third following closely at their heels. In my few brief moments of lucidity, I am dumbstruck by the similarities between life in our home and our lives as a Church.

Aren’t we in many ways like the wayward adolescent? Don’t we question His wisdom, ignore His commands and scoff at His insistence upon archaic concepts like self-discipline and sacrifice?  While hope springs eternal, there are some days when I can just imagine the sigh that must emanate from God’s very Being at our incessant desire to seek “completion” in all the wrong places.

Think about it. From the dawn of creation, man sought recourse to God for all his needs. Through his experience, he came to know God, as through a veil. Certainly, his knowledge was imperfect, skewed at times toward the notion of many gods, angry gods, even wicked gods (projecting – of course – his own fallen nature upon Nature, itself). Regardless, as an infant grasps desperately to his mother’s breast, man, in his infancy recognized his utter dependence upon a Greater Being.

As time progressed, God gave His children a home in His Church, filling us with love and a desire and ability to seek truth, goodness, and beauty. But in our adolescence, we have rebelled against Him. Rather than draw closer to Him in gratitude and humility, we are like the nine lepers, so quick to take upon ourselves all that is good and to forget the very source of those gifts that we flaunt as our own (Luke 17:11-19).

With foolish confidence, we skip boldly into the world, seeking to “make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4). We turn to the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), paying heed to the Father of Lies rather than pay homage to the Bearer of Truth. And like a drug dealer, tempting us with smooth talk and quick pleasure, Satan hustles us on every corner. Sadly, rather than warily meeting him in dark corners and back alleys, we've made a sweeping act of defiance by inviting him into the public square. Now, virtually everywhere we turn, his lies are promoted by industry, academia and even by the state.

He can be found in the trenches of science, where he has led us in a quest to understand the very origin of man. His deception is so effective that for many, the propagation of Darwinism has displaced the Proclamation of the Kingdom.

He can be found in the halls of medicine where we seek miracle cures and relief from all suffering. Like the rebellious adolescent, not only have we bought the lie that we can be like God, but Satan is quick to inform us that we don’t even need God. Through genetic engineering, we can remove Him from the equation entirely by creating our own version of the “perfect” child – albeit away from the safety of a mother’s womb, mass produced in Petri dishes – ensuring that health, sex, size, temperament and intelligence meet our post-modern standards.

He has enticed us to hand over our freedom to the government, in return for the promise of a “utopian” society. Who needs liberty if we can assure that everyone enjoys equitable results through social engineering – welfare states, universal health care, Robin Hood tax codes and Godless schools?

As we continue in our adolescent desire to break from our Father, perhaps one of the gravest consequences (as witnessed in virtually any family), is the visible trickle-down effect on our younger brothers and sisters in Christ. We are failing to give our children the resources they need even to Know God, much less seek His wisdom in their lives. In schools, Satan has pulled out all the stops, convincing us to promote “career-readiness,” that he may keep us from using education for its intended purpose – as a quest for truth, goodness, and beauty. With the absence of God and the advent of centralized curricula like Common Core, we are severely hindering their ability to seek answers or – for that matter – even to ask the necessary questions!

Saint Paul warned us against seeking truth from nefarious sources:

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. – 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

Time and time again, we have allowed ourselves to be deceived.  We have supplanted a Father's love with lawlessness and destruction. At some point in the distant future, like an errant teenager after a failed quest for autonomy, we’ll sit amidst the dung-heap we’ve created for ourselves, feeling inconsolably betrayed, and foolishly naive. To Whom will we turn?

…To our Heavenly Father.

Like the leper who returned to give thanks to the Lord as the Benefactor of his healing, let us spend the final hours of Lent giving thanks to the Father for all His gifts. At long last, may we mature beyond the blinding pride of adolescence, turning our eyes heavenward, and recognizing that all recourse is to none but our Ever-Patient and Merciful Father, the First and Everlasting Source of all that is Good.

Reading Assignment:

Week 2 Chapter 4-6

Discussion Questions:

1. Which of the First Motives in the reading had the most impact on you?  Why?

2. What most helps you to stay focused on God while living with all the false teachings perpetuated in the world?

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

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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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