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Has Your Child Gone Astray? Your Hope May Be His Saving Grace

January 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Mercy, Vicki Burbach

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The Church of Mercy (Week 3 of 6)

In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts! The “dragon,” evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope! It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols that take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure. Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people lead them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols. Dear brothers and sisters, let us be lights of hope! – The Church of Mercy, p. 62

Has Your Child Gone Astray? Your Hope may be His Saving Grace

When I was expecting my first child, I was given a book of quotes about motherhood. My favorite was from Elizabeth Stone. I have no idea who she is; but for me, her quote pretty much sums up motherhood in a nutshell:

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Motherhood is at once indescribably joyful and inextricably heart-wrenching, depending on the day, the hour, the moment, the child…

One of the greatest lessons of motherhood is that we are not in control. Despite our best efforts to raise little saints, we can force neither our will nor our faith into the souls of our children. Those little people have wills of their own. And the older they get, the stronger those wills. Not only may they decide to reject our music or our style; they may reject our traditions; our values; or even the unthinkable  –  our God.

This is where hope comes in.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1817).

Hope is a virtue that can save us from the depths of despair; more importantly, it is the one that may send our children down the road to salvation. After all, would a loving God refuse the prayers of a persevering Mother? Just think of the widow in Luke 18:1-7. Was she not completely vindicated by her persistence? Our Lord desires that kind of hope grounded in faith from each of us. In fact, Sacred Scripture tells us that Christ's whole point in sharing the parable of the persistent widow with the disciples was “to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

If there is one motto that Our Lord has clearly shouted out to mothers through the ages, it can be found in the words of Pope Francis: Let us never lose hope! Not only will hope strengthen our faith, but when we have hope for our children, even all our suffering will not leave us disappointed.

Saint Paul promises us:

Through Him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. –  Romans 5:2-5

Do you have a child who keeps you on your knees? One who insists upon bucking the system no matter what you do?

Rejoice!! Your suffering is not for nought!  You can trust that God is with you through every trial. After all, your children are His children first. And you can rest assured that He desires their salvation even more than you do.

Perhaps this image will help:

Picture in your mind's eye that child for whom you pray and sacrifice daily.  The one that keeps you awake every night, desperately desiring that he or she would turn to God for guidance, rather than to the ways of the world.  Imagine this child in the devil’s clutches – paying homage to him through a misguided desire for worldly pleasure or recognition.

Now turn to the right, and see God, with all his multitudes of angels and saints – innumerable persons surrounding Him, and all of them, along with their Heavenly Father, turned toward your child.  Each of them is praying fervently, playing a tug-of-war with that soul, which, through baptism, rightly belongs to God.

While your child fights against God (or rather, submits to the devil) with his will, on God's side of this great equation of justice, a tattered slip of paper causes the scale to waver ever slightly to the right. Christ reaches out his wounded hand to gently lift the crumpled mass, handing it to His Father as though it were a sacred vessel. Out of nowhere, your child, contrite and sorrowful, looks up in desperation. Without delay, an avalanche of power comes crashing down upon the scale, clearly demonstrating the winner of that precious soul, and all of heaven celebrates the victory as Our Lord snatches your child from the clutches of evil.

And what about that threadbare slip of paper?

That old scrap is a supernatural testament to your hope.

It contains every prayer you’ve ever offered for the salvation of your child. Every sigh that ever escaped your lips when there were no words left to say.  Every late night you've spent on your knees begging His intercession. Every tear you’ve ever shed. Every sacrifice you’ve ever made. The excruciating pain of your twisting heart as it was wrenched from your chest. Over. And over. And over again. Each time you watched your precious child thwart your guidance and follow his own, not so virtuous path. And each time you asked the Holy Spirit to open his eyes. And his heart.

God desires heaven for each of us.  And He hears your prayers.  He sees your sacrifices.  They will not go unanswered.  Never lose hope. God's grace can fill any soul.  And the greatest of sinners, can become the greatest of saints.

Hope springs eternal.

St. Monica, Pray for us.

Reading Assignment:

Part V & VI

Discussion Questions:

1. How has the virtue of hope improved your life? What do you do to strengthen it?

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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