73 Steps to Communion with God – 73

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous postings are found in the archives to the right. This is the 73rd Step:

(73) And never to despair of God’s mercy.

We fall, time and again after numerous resolutions that we won’t ever sin again. In a matter of seconds we are passing judgment on someone or even worst–once again falling into sin.

The tool that we most overlook in this great toolbox that we have been given to grow in communion with God is trust. Most of our acts of conversion are feeble attempts when we turn to God and ask Him to trust in us, but this is not what the spiritual life is about. Rather it is about knowing that we cannot be trusted but that God can be.

Turning to God is what the spiritual life is all about. It begins and ends with an act of trust in God’s love and His mercy. There is nothing more tragic than when someone ceases to believe that God could ever love them or when they feel that they have done something that God could never forgive. Despair and closing ourselves off from God’s mercy is the only act that can keep us from receiving it.

The devotion to the Divine Mercy that swept the Catholic world in the late 1900’s and continues to thrive today is a great way to keep our focus on God’s love and mercy by daily at 3:00 P.M. calling to mind God’s mercy. The revelation to St. Faustina by Our Lord was that His death on the cross was for our sins, nothing new here, but He lamented that people were not availing themselves to His mercy and that she would become His Apostle of Mercy. “Jesus, I trust in you” is a powerful antidote to the many other voices that seek to destroy our lives. Focusing on the crucifix and meditating on the Passion of Christ as the supreme sign of God’s love and mercy is powerful way to remind ourselves of how much God loves us.

Through the many counsels that we have looked at this is the most important–to remember God’s mercy. God is our savior. Jesus we trust in you!

73 Steps to Communion with God – 72

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous postings are found in the archives to the right. This is the 72nd Step:

(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.

We should always strive to remain at peace with everyone. One wonders how different life would be if everyone were to embrace this counsel and practice it in their daily life. Would there ever be another war? Would anyone have reason to live in fear anymore?

But such is not the case and I cannot live with my focus on what others are or are not doing. I can only put this counsel into practice myself. Do I allow the sun to set without making peace with those who I’m either angry with or those who are angry with me.

I have worked with people who practice this counsel and it can be rather tiresome when they come up to you to make peace and you weren’t even aware that you were at “war” with them. But in the long run it is much better to have these summits of peace than to have people around you stewing about some slight that you have committed against them.

And what of us?

Are we aware of the control that others have over us by their actions and words?

Really this is a counsel to make sure that any time God is Lord over you. When we make someone an enemy we are in danger of making them an idol that we worship and serve. They and the actions that they commit against us are not all-powerful and do not deserve the time and emotion that we often waste on them. Making peace with our adversaries means making peace with God first, asking God to empower us to forgive and acknowledging that God is the judge over all. We let go and let God be God in our lives.

73 Steps to Communion with God -71

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous steps are found in the archives. This is step 71:

71) To pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ.

“Father, forgive for they know not what they do,” are the words that come to mind when we reflect on this counsel to “pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ.” Jesus not only preached this counsel of Benedict’s but He also left us an example of how to do it. Yet it is pretty tough to do when we start putting faces to the word enemy.

We could start by those who personally affront us and pray for them. Do we believe that they really didn’t know what they were doing when they hurt us? I’ll be that if you share the incident with an objective person they would offer you some insight into the ignorance that probably was at work on the other end. Perhaps our enemies are insane, misled or plain stupid and this is the evil that we live with in the world that things are not quite what they could be or should be at any given time.

Even those who are moved by greed and dispense with poisons that injure and kill thousands daily (many of whom are quite respected in our communities) should be prayed for because could anyone really know what they are doing–and still do it if it had such horrible results. One can easily look at the insanity of a Hitler or Stalin but what of those who market items that kill (feel free to fill in the blanks with all known cancer and disease causing products that one can still buy at the local convenience store).

We are to pray for these people–those who hurt us and threaten us personally and the same for those who we fear in a more global way. In doing so we also are made aware of our own ignorance and how we too are responsible for the pain and hurt we cause others.

In praying for our enemies we change them into our brothers and sisters. We recognize their frailty. We bring them back down to earth where we are. We destroy our idols (albeit idols that we fear). In the process God almighty is restored to His rightful place in our lives as the Supreme Being who should be our one concern.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel – 70

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step #70:

(70) To love the younger.

Benedict’s advice to love the junior monk is a counsel that may not mean as much to us in a culture that prizes youth. There was a real danger in a culture where wisdom and age are seen as equal to see youth as foolish and of little significance.

Of course in the Gospel Jesus had told his disciples that “out of the mouths of babes” comes wisdom. The Christian realizes that there is a wisdom that comes not from years and reflection but directly from God.

The idealism of youth often carries with it a wisdom that can be lost with age. The high ideals that we both strive for and expect from others when we are young can grow into disillusion and cynicism with age. Having youth around whether at home, in the work place or in the church can greatly enhance our lives.

What is lost on modern man is this exclusion of youth from its midst. Modern people do not love “youth” meaning “others” as much as they love the idea of ‘”youth” for themselves.

There are many applications to this counsel for non monks. We should welcome children into our lives. We should see them as having much to offer in helping us to understand the ways of God in this life.

It should also be added that the abuse of children shows why this counsel is so important. If we see children as precious beings who must be protected and cared for, i.e. truly loved, then we will stand up and defend them whenever they come under attack from those who would use their innocence to use them sexually or damage their young souls in any way.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 69

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step # 69:

(69) To honor the aged.

Life that has been lived long has acquired wisdom that can not be learned in books. The idealism of youth often finds quick solutions to problems that the person with wisdom will merely smile at. They have seen it all and have grown to appreciate what is of the utmost importance and what is trivial in a way that those of us who are still learning have not.

There is nothing more valuable in a culture than those who have been around for a long time and can provide this perspective to life. I was blessed to live near my grandparents and to enjoy their wisdom as I was growing up. There is a perspective to life that they can give that younger parents can not.

Benedict’s counsel encourages us to honor the gift of life that has been bestowed upon our elders; to hold them in high esteem, to seek their counsel. To learn from them when we disagree with them.

Our culture unfortunately has not followed this counsel of late. We present youth as the ideal. Older people are made to feel that their time is past. This is a tragedy and the lasting effects are yet to manifest themselves in our culture.

Honoring anyone is a sign that we recognize the value that they possess not only to us but also to all. Honor the older people you encounter today. Take time to say hello, take time to learn from them. Allow yourself to receive their blessing.

Our Lady of Sorrows by Michael Dubruiel

In northern Ohio there is a church dedicated to Our Lady

of Sorrows; in the basement is a room containing signs of

weakness that have been left behind by those who have experienced

the power of God at that shrine. Among whiskey bottles,

cigarettes, crutches, and leg braces is a mat that once

carried a paralyzed man there—who left empowered by God

to walk again.

I suspect that the most powerful stories of healing, however,

come from those who were unable to leave anything behind.

Their weakness, whatever it was, remained with them; however,

they had been empowered to carry their weakness in the power

of God. This type of healing often goes unnoticed. Even so, it is

the greater healing, because it enables us to share in the cross of

Christ, to embrace our weakness in the power of God. For the

follower of Christ, weakness need not mean defeat!

"michael dubruiel"

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel – 68

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous steps are in the archives to the right. This is the 68th step:

(68) Not to love pride.

A direct translation of the Latin for this counsel would be to “flee” pride. Yet it would be fair to say that I think few people actually flee pride these days. There is a reason it is a vice and sadly there is nothing worst than a vice that is presented as a virtue.

“Looking out for #1” became something of a slogan starting in the 1970’s and with it an explosion of the love of pride. Pride for many is no longer a sin but a sign of psychological maturity. This is sad because pride always mask a secret belief that deep down I really know that I’m not all that good and that is a tragedy!

We all can relate to a person who constantly is blowing their own horn and how tiresome this can be. But imagine for a moment that the person who is doing this is your child. I think if you asked yourself why they were doing it and tried to enter their skin you would see that sadly they really don’t believe it and they are proclaiming it hoping that someone will affirm it.

Unfortunately such pride merely leads to people heaping scorn upon the individual in unsuccessful attempts to bring them back down to earth. And the sad individual becomes mired in an ever deepening pool of self-pity.

Contrast this individual with the saints. Although esteemed by others they hold themselves in low esteem. They realized their faults and they realize their gifts. Their gifts they realize are just that, presents from a God and they thank God continuously for them.

The saints are truly those who look out for #1, and they manifest this in their lives. They live in reality and know that God is number one and seek Him in the poor, in others and most of all constantly in prayer.

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