"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Catholic Spiritual Direction Book Club

Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction

welcome to the catholic spiritual direction book club!

Join us in our world-wide reading and discussion of the most profound treasures of spiritual insights that our Lord offers us in His Church!

how can i join the club?

  1. Send an email request to RCSpiritualDirection@gmail.com with your full name and location. You will not receive a reply email. The purpose of asking for your email is to be sure we can send you updates directly without intruding on those who are not participating.
  2. Subscribe to the posts on this site either through email or RSS feed (you may have already done this is you receive regular updates).
  3. It is really just that simple?

what are we currently reading?

Journal of a Soul by Blessed Pope John XXIII

The following paragraphs are copied from the back of the book (Doubleday):
No other pope of this century has aroused so much interest and universal affection throughout the world as has Pope John XXIII. Journal of a Soul is an inspiring reading experience that records this pope’s thoughts and traces his spiritual development from adolescence to the seminary to a career as a priest, a European papal diplomat, Patriarch of Venice, and finally Pope John XXIII. This [book] includes several of his most moving prayers, sixty brief thoughts and aphorisms, his “Rules for the Ascetic Life,” many of his letters, even his last will and testament. Christians everywhere will welcome…”one of the most original, interesting, and inspiring revelations of intimate personal experiences ever written,” which “ranks well with the classic spiritual autobiographies”.

Journal of a Soul, the first ever such work from a Roman pontiff, opens new windows into the soul of the man himself.

Below is sneak peak from page 5 of Pope John XXIII’s autobiography.  It lists “Rules of life to be observed by young men who wish to make progress in the life of piety and study:”

Every Day

1. Devote at least a quarter of an hour to mental prayer as soon as you get out of bed in the morning.

2. Hear, or better, serve Holy Mass.

3. Devote a quarter of an hour to spiritual reading.

4. In the evening, before going to bed, make a general examination of conscience, followed by an act of contrition, and prepare the points for the next day’s meditation.

5. Before dinner or before supper, or at least before the general evening examination, make a particular examination concerning the best way to rid yourself of certain vices or failings and concerning the acquiring of certain virtues.

6. Be diligent in attending the meetings of the Sodality on feast days, in school and in study circles on week days, and always allow sufficient time for study when you are at home.  

7. Visit the Blessed Sacrament and some church or chapel where there is a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, at least once a day.

8. Recite five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in honor of the wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ, between six and nine o’ clock in the evening, and make at least three acts of self-mortification in honor of the Virgin Mary. 

9. Recite the other vocal prayers and practice the other usual devotions to the Virgin Mary, to St. Joseph, to the patron saints and the Holy Souls.  These devotions must however meet with the approval of your own director, as must also the books for meditation and spiritual reading.

10. Read carefully and thoughtfully a whole chapter, or at least part of one, of the very devout Latin book of Thomas a’ Kempis. 

11. So as to be constant in your observation of these points, arrange the hours of your day, and set apart the special time for prayer, study and other devotions, for recreation and sleep, after consulting with your Spiritual Father.

12. Make a habit of frequently raising your mind to God, with brief but fervent invocations.

So with all these declarations, Blessed Pope John XXIII must have been near perfect, don’t you think? On the contrary, I think he would say that he was far from it. Rather, he would argue that he was flesh and blood just like the rest of us, with the same struggles and the same God to implore when he faltered. Another sneak peak, this time from page 58, offers a glimpse into his opinion of himself:
“Divine Providence wanted to show me that this was my duty, and so had me baptized under the name of Angelo. But what a disgrace for me, always to be called Angelo, with the obligation of behaving like an angel, when on the contrary I am no angel at all.”

Despite his humility (or rather because of it), Pope John XXIII was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II on September 2, 2000. Perhaps by reading his journal we can obtain insight into how one holy soul put into to practice the instruction we’ve been given throughout our last two books.

how can i participate in discussions about the book?

  1. Purchase or download the book (see below)
  2. Read with us!
  3. Engage with us in the comment boxes on the weekly posts (it is best if you have a photo in your DISQUS profile so that the group can better connect with you as you engage. To update or create your profile go to www.DISQUS.com)
  4. Please be sure to follow the combox guidelines which can be found here.

what is the reading schedule?

Journal of a Soul

Week 1: 1895-Sept. 4, 1898
Week 2: Sept. 5, 1898 – Aug. 22, 1900
Week 3: Aug. 22, 1900 – Jan. 31, 1903
Week 4: Jan. 31, 1903 – End of 1903
Week 5: 1904 – End of 1914
Week 6: 1915 – End of 1934
Week 7: 1935 – End of 1944
Week 8: 1945 – End of 1958
Week 9: 1959 – End of Spiritual Testament to Roncalli Family
Week 10: Spiritual Testament – End of Devout Considerations
Week 11: Some Prayers – End of Appendix I
Week 12: Appendix 2 – End of Book
Happy Reading!

what will we be reading next?

Beginning approximately December 4: Imitation of Christ  by Thomas a Kempis (approx. 10 weeks) – subject to change

what is the upcoming schedule?

The long term schedule is tentative and subject to change, but following is a list of books we plan to cover over the next several months:
Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation by St. Alphonsus Liguori

who should i talk to if i have questions about the readers or discussions?

Please contact Vicki at dvburbach@gmail.com

Read more: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/csd-book-club#ixzz26opej8KD


csd book club – journal of a soul

Posted on September 18th, 2012 by Vicki Burbach

satan’s lies

Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? I am nothing. Everything I possess, my being, life, understanding, will and memory – all were given me by God, so all belong to Him. Twenty short years ago all that I see around me was already here; the same sun, moon and stars, the same mountains, seas, deserts, beasts, plants and men; everything was proceeding in its appointed way under the watchful eyes of Divine Providence. And I? I was not here. Everything was being done without me, nobody was thinking of me, nobody could imagine me, even in dreams, because I did not exist. 

And you, O God, with a wonderful gesture of love, you who are from the beginning and before all time, you drew me forth from my nothingness, you gave me being, life, a soul, in fact all the faculties of my body and spirit; you opened my eyes to this light which sheds its radiance around me, you created me. So you are my Master and I am your creature. I am nothing without you; indeed, if at every moment you did not support me I should slip back whence I came, into nothingness. This is what I am. And yet I am boastful and display with pride before the eyes of God all the blessings he has showered on me, as if they were my own. Oh what a fool I am! “For what have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (1Cor. 4:7)

God created me. Yet He did not need me; the whole scheme of the universe, the world which surrounds me, everything, in fact, would exist without any help from me.

Why then do I think myself so necessary to this world? What am I but an ant or a grain of sand? Why do I puff myself up so proudly? Arrogance, pride, self-esteem! What am I set in this world to do? To serve God.  - Journal of a Soul, pg. 64-65

Satan wants my soul. And he goes after it daily by telling me little lies which are beautifully refuted by this passage. Lies like, “If you drop just one of those plates that you’re spinning right now, your entire household will fall apart.” Or, when my son gets caught in a fib, “You’d better discipline him exactly right or he’s going to end up working a chain gang in San Quentin.” Or, when he says, “You CAN’T miss that charity function!  Better yet, you’d better help organize the dinner, because if you don’t, who will?!”  Or, even tonight, as I start this post at 10pm Monday (because my husband has been out of town and I’ve been nursing three sick little ones since Friday), “You’d better hustle up and write well, because thousands of people are depending on you – don’t make it look like you threw it together because it will show. And of course, you MUST write, because the world would stop spinning if this post were a day late!”

In addition to all the lies he tells me about the power I wield, he also whispers lies about the gifts God has given me. The one I fall for most is that my “time” is my own. In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis addresses this concept, and it rings so true. At one point, Screwtape, an insidious devil who is giving advice to his protege, says about their “patient,” “Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him.  It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend’s talkative wife…(turning up when he looked forward to a tete-a-tete with the friend), that throw him out of gear.  Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it.  They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen…”

Time is my downfall. The devil succeeds in convincing me of his lies despite my knowledge of his plans. Just last night as I got into bed, the baby cried out because she wasn’t feeling well. Did I jump up lovingly and rush to her, cradle her in my arms for an hour until she could get back to sleep, thankful that God had given me that precious, uninterrupted time with her? I wish. I did jump up, because I am a mother, after all. But first I gave the grand “sigh” (No idea why because no one was around to hear it), and then spent the time that I rocked her thinking of how it was already midnight, and I had to wake up at 5:30 the next morning. That’s just one example – I’m sure I would not be exaggerating to say that those “sighs” occur dozens of times each day.  Forgetting that time is a gift is something I do often.

Reading this beautiful passage brought me great joy because it reminded me that I am not my own. I say joy because there’s a lot of pressure in believing that I am “all-important” in my roles as wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and blogger.  How horribly prideful I am!!!

Sadly, I listen to Satan’s lies more often than I like to admit. If only I would remember that my household is a place for each of us to grow in holiness. As much as I THINK I’m in charge, there are a million and one things that I can’t foresee that could cause my plates to spin out of control. And my children are not mine, but God’s children and He will guide them in spite of me if not through me.

As for this blog? CSD was here long before me, and I’m sure it will continue to grow as long as God wills it, regardless of whether I am writing. On the other hand,  as long as I am blessed to serve God on this beautiful site, I need to remember that this is His book club. It came about purely by God’s Providence, and I’ve no doubt that He will continue to lead it as we move forward.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my precious baby is crying out in her sleep.  I think I’ll try this again…without the sigh.

Discussion Questions:
1.What comments in the above quote hit home for you and why?
2. There was a lot of Great stuff in this past assignment – please feel free to comment on anything you read this past week.
Reading Assignment:
Week 3: Aug. 22, 1900 – Jan. 31, 1903

For More Information on the Book Club:  http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/csd-book-club

Read more: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/topics/book-club#ixzz26oqFv4hg

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