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Never Lose Your Way Home

February 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Book Club, Cardinal Virtues, Vicki Burbach

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The Four Cardinal Virtues (Week 5 of 12)

Fundamental truths must constantly be pondered anew lest they lose their fruitfulness. In this lies the significance of meditation: that truth may not cease to be present and effective in the active life. Perhaps when all the consequences of a false presupposition suddenly become a direct threat, men in their great terror will become aware that it is no longer possible to call back to true and effective life a truth they have allowed to become remote – just for the sake of their bare survival. – The Four Cardinal Virtues (Justice: Chapter 1, Paragraph 28)

Never Lose Your Way Home

There is a wonderful story by Max Lucado called Because I Love You that illustrates this point. In the story, a wise man named Shaddai takes great pains to protect and love the children in his care. He builds for them a beautiful village that promises to meet their every need, and, in return, he asks only that they stay within the village and never leave. While Shaddai would not force the children to stay, he warns the children that if they leave the village, they would no longer be under his protection.  One curious little boy, named Paladin, ignores Shaddai's request, climbing through a hole in the wall that surrounds the village.

Soon he was through the hole and on the other side of the wall. He rose slowly to his feet. “Hmmm…It’s not so bad,” he said aloud. “It’s nice out here. What was Shaddai worried about?” Paladin began walking into the forest. Twigs snapped beneath his bare feet. Sweet flowers scented the air. I don’t see any scary creatures, he thought. The trees were so thick he could barely see the sky. “Just a few steps into the woods,” he said aloud, “to see what it’s like.”  

After a dozen more steps, he stopped. He liked the wilderness. “Nothing to fear here.” For the first time in his young life, he believed that Shaddai was wrong. “Just wait until I tell the others.” And he turned to go back through the hole.  

But the hole was gone!

He stopped and stared. He saw only a solid wall. Paladin ran to the wall. Was this the spot where he had crawled through? He couldn’t remember. He ran a dozen steps one way and then a dozen steps the other. Nothing.  

Suddenly he heard a strange sound in the woods behind him. He swung around, but he saw nothing. Paladin looked into the forest.  

It no longer seemed friendly. It was dark and scary, as if it were about to destroy him.  

Desperately, Paladin searched the wall. He couldn’t climb over; he couldn’t break through. There was no way home.

Those of us who seek to strengthen our spiritual walk do our best to pave our path through life with those fundamental truths mentioned by Pieper.  We ponder them, ruminate on them, allow them to serve as the backdrop for our decisions. Unfortunately, over time, whether through outright curiosity that leads us to explore other paths, or, through a gradual but consuming preoccupation with our daily activities – career, family, cooking, cleaning and other aspects of practical living – we fill our time with what ultimately boils down to frivolity, mindlessly wandering away from the solid path.

But like Paladin, once we leave the security of those fundamental truths, we risk losing our way home.  We are in particularly grave danger when encountered by life events that are beyond our control.  We've all had those moments.  Whether the loss of a loved one, sickness, a financial tragedy, marital trouble or great uncertainty about the future.  Bereft of the truths that have guided us thus far, our souls are left barren, distressed and alone.  And one of two things generally happens.  Either we tear after those truths in an effort to gain stable footing on rocky ground, or we are lost amidst the fear, uncertainty and the bitter lack of control we are forced to acknowledge.

Facing those moments in the refuge of a strong prayer life is inextricably different than facing them after having been distracted for too long by the world at large. While uncertainty or fear may still plague our initial thoughts, the Truth manages to secure us at once in the comfort of knowing that the future is in Good Hands. That, whatever happens, everything will be OK, because the God of the Universe is in charge.  And we rest in the peace of knowing that His Holy Will is perfect.

How do we rest secure in truth even in times of trouble?  We make a commitment – right now – at this very moment – never to leave the path.  Not intentionally, not through mindless wandering, not for any reason.  We cling to those fundamental truths as to the very air we breathe. Just as we never miss a meal, we commit to never miss time spent pondering those fundamental truths.  Each day we make time for some form of contemplation, whether the Sacraments, Sacred Scripture, prayer, spiritual reading or some combination of them all.  We inhale and exhale them deeply each day, filling our hearts and minds with fresh air in a world of pollution.

Always we must be the child who never strays too far from his mother.  Or the fisherman who never leaves his boat.  The ship that never loses sight of that lighthouse on the hill. Then, when we find monsters peering out from dark corners of the room, we can step deftly behind our mother's apron.  When the ocean waves come crashing down around us, we can rest secure within the confines of our rock-solid ship; and when the fog is thick and the skies ominously dim, we will be ever guided by that bright light that promises always to lead us safely home.


Reading Assignment:

Justice: Chapters 3-5

Discussion Questions:

1. How do you ensure that you constantly ponder those fundamental truths?  Do you have a daily routine?  If so, please share that the rest of us may be inspired.

2. 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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