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.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel – 67

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous steps are found in the archives to the right. This is step 67:

(67) Not to love strife.

Another way of translating this counsel of St. Benedict’s is “not to love confrontation.” There is not a counsel here to avoid it, but simply not to “love” it. There are some who literally love to pick a fight; who are entertained by creating an environment of unease.

The model must be Christ who was no stranger to confrontation or as our Lord say, “bringing the sword.” His attitude is one of repairing the damage that has been inflicted or is in the process of being created by others. We should love the imitation of Christ at all times and seeking to do what Christ would do in any situation, mindful that we are in Christ.

This necessarily means confronting evil wherever we encounter it. But it does not mean loving that confrontation. There comes a point and it is a fine point where good people can become evil. Critics of Christianity often point out the damage done by “good” Christians. What they are highlighting is not the work of good Christians but rather the work of evil people who have allowed their love of strife to overtake their love of Christ.

The goal is never to destroy a person but rather to seek their salvation. Christ alone can save the person, not us. We can merely point out the way, most of the time painfully risking the loss of friendship from those who prefer darkness to light. This should grieve us too and move us to prayer.

Whether we live this counsel or not can be judged by our reaction to the way we deal with confrontation in our lives. Does it give us a feeling of satisfaction or sorrow? Our Lord was moved to tears when He approached Jerusalem because they did not know the time of their visitation. Is our response the same?

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 66 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous postings are available in the archives to the right. This the 66th step:

(66) Not to be jealous; not to entertain envy.

Perhaps the saddest of sins both of these arise from a failure to acknowledge and give thanks for tall the ways in which God has blessed us. Our focus is not on our own giftedness but rather on someone else. God has blessed us, and we are blessed right now. Looking at someone else as more blessed or focusing on their gifts as something that we want for ourselves is a waste of time.

This is especially true in the quest for sanctity. We do not become holy by becoming someone else. We become holy by being fully who God created us to be. Saints are as varied in their gifts as are people.

Knowing ourselves is not always self-evident. Many times everyone around us seems to know who we are better than we know ourselves. And often we know others better too and are able to admire the gifts that others possess more than the ones that we do ourselves. This is the crux of the problem.

Jealousy and envy should be treated in the same way we would treat a rash on our body–as an indication of a problem. The answer to jealousy and envy is to thank God also for the gifts that He has given to others. We need to look upon others not as a threat but as a blessing.

We need to thank God for the gifts that he has given us. Like the steward who took the gifts left with him by the master and multiplied them a hundredfold we need to focus on what God has given us and how it might benefit others. Our one goal should be that we use our gifts in accordance with His will.

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