Problem understanding text in a devotional


It says “Stay on the path I have chosen for you.” I am sick and am I to believe God chose this for me? I am the one who made me sick by smoking and getting COPD. God chose this for me?

Reading a devotional

That sounds like a nice greeting card, but, it is not exactly Catholic teaching.

We have free will to make our own choices. We are going to have to live with those choices. What God promises us is that we can rejoice in our suffering and have peace in the midst of the worst times.

Try reading St John Paul II writings on suffering.



Yes, that’s what I thought. It’s Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling , which is otherwise quite good. It once in a while says something like that, though, and sends me into a tizzy. I’m 71, so I don’t pray for a miracle, but my illness does get me down. Thanks for your response, TheLittleLady! God bless you and thank you for your prayers. I will pray for you, too.

I will read St. John Paul II’s work on suffering. Been meaning to read something he wrote, anyway. Do you have a recommendation on what to start with? I’ve just ordered SALVIFICI DOLORIS and George Weigel’s book Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II.

However, I have a question. This book, In God’s Hands: The Spiritual Diaries of Pope John Paul II, is said to have been published in defiance of the will of St. John Paul II. His personal secretary was entrusted with them and told to burn them. But he did not burn them. I feel more than a little uncomfortable reading something the great man chose to have destroyed. Am I being scrupulous?


St. John Paul II is in Heaven and understands now that his writings were preserved by the will of God in order to help other people be closer to God. St. JPII is fine with it now. He may have been motivated by saintly humility, or he may have been concerned that something he wrote would have been misunderstood, or he may have simply not understood that God had another plan for his writings. Presumably the Vatican approved whatever was published, and so you need to trust the judgment of the approving Pope who simply wanted to help people through the writings of the great saint.


God allowed you to abuse yourself so that His grace would sustain you through the aftermath. It has become your cross. Of all world religions, Catholicism has the perfect explanation of the reasons for, and purpose of our suffering.

Offer your suffering - right now! - for the souls in purgatory (family or loved ones), for unconverted sinners, for any charitable need. The more you focus on offering your suffering for the sake of others, the less you turn inward and feel sorry for yourself.

We have as our models the great Saints who progressed to where they enjoyed suffering - you get that? Enjoyed suffering for their love of God. A high standard, but well worth striving toward, since we cannot avoid suffering.

I would trade my three cancers for the suffering of others, but so far, no takers. Thus, I am delighted to know that my suffering has eternal value.

Talk to Father about your concern. As well, consider a copy of Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s Arise From Darkness.


It likely means the spiritual path that Christ laid out for us.


I don’t think Ms Young is a Catholic, so, understanding suffering in her books will be more Protestant in nature


Thank you, po18guy. Much appreciated.


Thank you, PaulfromIowa.


Thank you, Tis_Bearself.


It’s so easy to understand the theory; it’s the practice that I fear I cannot do. When I am in the midst of suffering, I frequently cannot even call out to God.


That book was written from a Protestant perspective and, from what I’ve heard, has more than a few serious problems. I remember Johnette Benkovic talking about it on her show, Women of Grace, on EWTN. Her guest was Susan Brinkmann, who posted this on the Women of Grace website. In part it says:

"Jesus Calling is essentially a devotional book containing one year’s worth of short reflections on the Christian faith which Young claims came from Jesus Christ in a way similar to messages He allegedly gave to two anonymous “listeners” who authored the book, God Calling. The problem is that these two listeners were engaged in what is known as automatic writing – an occult art – while receiving these messages – a fact that is the main source of controversy surrounding Jesus Calling.

“For those of you who are not familiar with automatic writing, this practice is similar to the Ouija board only instead of spelling out answers to questions with a planchette, a person “receives” these answers on paper. They hold a pen which is said to move independently across the page and write out messages, usually from so-called deceased persons or from unknown discarnate entities.”

This practice of automatic writing, sometimes called spirit writing, is based on the occult, which makes it very questionable to use for Catholic devotion. Someone who uses automatic writing does it while in a trance-like state and is unaware of what they are actually writing until they read it, later. I don’t think I would trust anything it teaches.


The way Sarah Young describes the process in the Introduction sounds nothing like automatic writing. She refers to “my writings” frequently enough for me to believe she’s not doing automatic writing.


I hate to say this as it sounds so crass, but no one lives forever…at least not in this life. I have a few little health problems myself, but I accept them and have learned to work with them to some extent. The A1C I have controlled well by putting myself on a self-imposed regulated diet. The Renal failure is in the hands of God. I accept what The Lord proposes for me. I am not passive about by any means but wish for quality not quantity of years. I count my many blessings and pray that you can, also.


I am not sure I agree with your assessment of automatic writing as being ‘cultish.’ We don’t know enough about the human mind or what lies beneath the brain in the subconscious or the lower brain stem. I suspect that The Lord placed many hidden treasures therein waiting to be brought forth when in dire need. Therefore I wonder if automatic is perhaps a little known rare gift. Would love to hear the opinions of others. Just don’t gang up on me with verbal clubs.


I’d suggest some good devotional books:

This one we read every day when DS was a teen:

This one I’ve been reading recently:

The Little Books are excellent:


I would stay away from Young’s work. Protestants really don’t have good theology in regards to suffering and when they do write about it, it’s often from a personal point of view or opinion.

Rarely, do they write something that can be universally applied like the Catholic Church does.

I argue that it’s is because Protestantism is much more rooted in emotion, while Catholicism is much more rooted in philosophy & logic.

God Bless


I never said anything about it being ‘cultish’. I said that it was an ‘occult’ practice, which is a completely different thing.

(‘cultish’ is not an actual word in the dictionary, it’s just one of those kinds of words that we might think “should be a word”, but it would take its root from ‘cult’ if it was)

cult, noun

  1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
  2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
  3. the object of such devotion

The Catholic Church contains many things that would be defined as “cultish”, such as the Mass, our devotion to saints, etc., but those things are not necessarily defined as being negative, particularly not in the case of the Catholic Church. In some cases, a cult can take on a negative quality in other so-called ‘religions’, such as the groups following charismatic leaders like Jim Jones or David Koresh, or the membership of “Heaven’s Gate”. But, they are more of the exception, instead of the rule. On the other hand:

occult, adjective

  1. of or relating to magic, astrology, or any system claiming use or knowledge of secret or supernatural powers or agencies.
  2. beyond the range of ordinary knowledge or understanding; mysterious.
  3. secret; disclosed or communicated only to the initiated.

The occult is an entirely different kind of thing. That’s why any practice of the occult is strongly condemned by the Church in the Catechism.

You seem to be looking at this from a more “natural” POV, combined with Catholic beliefs. I’m sure your intentions are good, but I don’t think you fully understand the difference between a “cult” and the “occult”. The occult is based on spiritual beliefs that use natural means in order to control the spiritual world, which is in direct opposition to God. It’s base is in Paganism.

I’m just trying to explain the differences and have no intention of ganging up on you with “verbal clubs”. :wink:


Thank you, phil19034. I’ve just bought a boatload of books to help me understand, among them the titles mentioned in this thread.


I am not saying you used the word ‘cultish’ which is why I put the ‘…’ around the world. I write the word as being alluded to cult or the occult. My word-spell checker recognizes the word and does not reject it.
I was more interested in the idea that automatic writing could be something other than from the occult. I really didn’t expect a spelling lesson or a theology discourse. I am only making the observation that even there has much progress in mapping the brain much of it remains a mystery. When something is not fully understood we label it and expect everyone to follow suit. For instance: Someone is called brain dead and lies in a vegetative state. They come back to life and proclaim to have heard and know everything going on around them. The deep brain is a mystery. So where was that ‘person’ that was called brain dead with no brain activity?

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