73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 38

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 38th step:

(38) Not to be slothful (cf Rom 12:11).

The scripture passage that St. Benedict quotes from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. I expected it to be the passage “if a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t eat,” but its not that. The passage he quotes is “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.”

Again, like in all previous counsels the motivation to not be slothful is to be animated by God’s Holy Spirit. How do we receive this Spirit, by serving the Lord (I like to think of this as “working for the Lord”).

Just as one might take a job with a certain company and enjoy certain benefits that the company offers, so too for the person who “works” for the Lord. The chief benefit that God provides to those who serve Him is that He gives them the power to fulfill the job. He also fills His workers with the desire and zeal to do the work.

Being lazy, or slothful is a sign that we have turned in on ourselves again; that we are “serving” ourselves and our own desires. So it is easy to see how this would stop us from being in communion with God.

What then of all the lazy Christians? Remember Benedict wrote these counsels for monks, men who had left everything to follow Christ in the life of the Monastery. But as Jesus prophesied the the “love of many will grow cold,” so too in religious life, people can lose sight of the great need that they have for God and start slacking off in prayer.

Which brings us to the greatest danger of being slothful–neglecting prayer. Communicating with God is essential if we are to live–we must never give up prayer.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 37

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 37th step:

(37) Not to be drowsy.

Several years ago, Amy and I attended the Easter Vigil Mass at a monastery. We arrived at the Abbey Church on Holy Saturday night at 9 when it began. The Blessing of the Fire was done, the Easter candle carried in procession, the Exsultet sang, and the readings began. Then they stopped after the fourth one.

There was an announcement. The readings would resume at 4 A.M. We both looked at each other. We were staying at a hotel about a half hour away. It was already 10:30. We rushed out the door and headed back to the hotel and after leaving a wake up call for 3 A.M. at the desk went to sleep.

Like zombies we took are place in the Church again at 3:45 A.M. The monks were all there, psalms were being read. They looked well rested, alert-awake. I was not, I was drowsy.

Monks get up at 4 A.M. every morning. Most of us do not but sleep is essential for all of us. St. Benedict’s counsel reflects the rigors of monastic life but applies to us as well. We need sleep in order to give our full attention to life’s demands.

There also is the memory of the Apostles and their failure to stay awake at the crucial moments of Our Lord’s agony, “And he came and found them sleeping,” (Mark 14:37). And of course the warning that he is coming again and how will Our Lord find us, “Watch therefore-for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning-lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch,” (Mark 13:35).

Beheading of John the Baptist – August 29

From the Office of Readings:

“He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptised in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptise the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.

Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake. He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.”

Homily of St. Bede

More about Michael Dubruiel

Feast of St. Augustine August 28

From The Confessions:

To Carthage I came, where there sang all around me in my ears a cauldron of unholy loves. I loved not yet, yet I loved to love, and out of a deep-seated want, I hated myself for wanting not. I sought what I might love, in love with loving, and safety I hated, and a way without snares. For within me was a famine of that inward food, Thyself, my God; yet, through that famine I was not hungered; but was without all longing for incorruptible sustenance, not because filled therewith, but the more empty, the more I loathed it. For this cause my soul was sickly and full of sores, it miserably cast itself forth, desiring to be scraped by the touch of objects of sense. Yet if these had not a soul, they would not be objects of love. To love then, and to be beloved, was sweet to me; but more, when I obtained to enjoy the person I loved, I defiled, therefore, the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence, and I beclouded its brightness with

the hell of lustfulness; and thus foul and unseemly, I would fain, through exceeding vanity, be fine and courtly. I fell headlong then into the love wherein I longed to be ensnared. My God, my Mercy, with how much gall didst Thou out of Thy great goodness besprinkle for

me that sweetness? For I was both beloved, and secretly arrived at the bond of enjoying; and was with joy fettered with sorrow-bringing bonds, that I might be scourged with the iron burning rods of jealousy, and suspicions, and fears, and angers, and quarrels.

About Michael Dubruiel 

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 34

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 34th step:

(34) Not to be proud…

I do not think that it is a mistake that pride is mentioned right after persecution. There are tales that at the times in the early Church, when persecution was waged against the church, that some Christians actively sought to be persecuted and martyred. This was against Our Lord’s command: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next,” (Matthew 10:23), and here St. Benedict cautions us not to be proud.

This is a fundamental principle to the Spiritual Life. You can not be proud. Once you start to gloat over the spiritual gifts that you are blessed with, or how well you are doing in prayer, or how much better you are, or how high you are up on the spiritual ladder—you are right back at the bottom of the pit. Your ego has won again and God is very distant from you.

There is a prayer to pray when you feel “proud ” of your spiritual accomplishments. Not surprisingly it comes from God Himself in the person of Jesus. Jesus tells his disciples, “when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty,'” (Matthew 17:10).

We must avoid pride, because it is a great obstacle to be open to our great and unrelenting need for God. Pride at its root seeks to cut God out of the picture. It goes without saying then that pride is the greatest enemy to our communion with God, but it also needs to be said that it is a great temptation when we find our lives becoming so much better because of our communion with Him.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 33

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 33th step:

(33) To bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt 5:10).

St. Benedict references one of the Beatitudes for this counsel, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:10). If we are just and right in what people choose to persecute us for, then we should bear it patiently.

Many people suffer persecution for doing what is right and unfortunately often at the hands of religious people. Our Lord told his disciples that, “indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God,” (John 16:2). One have only to open the papers and to read of crimes against human beings committed by people of every religious belief out of conviction that they are doing the will of God.

Jesus promised his followers, ” Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you,” (John 15:20). Therefore, again in imitation of Our Lord we should bear persecution when we are not at fault with patience.

One of the greatest examples of this patient endurance of persecution in our own day is the nonviolent civil rights movement of the late 1950’s and 1960’s. There are memorials and historical markers where horrible persecutions took place in various cities through the south. The test of time has proved the righteousness of the cause, but those who stood up suffered horribly at the time. They took their example from the Scriptures.

In more recent times those who have bravely protested nonviolently in front of abortion clinics, silently praying the rosary, are great examples of the just who are persecuted for righteousness sake!

We should do the same. When we stand up for what is right and just we should not expect accolades; in fact we should be weary of the applause. What is right is seldom popular; people seem to slip into a collective hypnosis from time to time that blinds them from recognizing the truth. But God is the truth and living a lie can only distance us from Him.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 32

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel./The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 32th step:

(32) Not to curse them that curse us, but rather to bless them.

There is an image that comes to mind when I read this counsel. It is the image of a bishop (no one in particular) walking up the aisle in procession at the beginning of Mass or at the conclusion of Mass, turning from side to side and blessing all those in attendance. What he is doing at that moment (no doubt every bishop has more than their share of people who are cursing them), is what we are all to do–at every moment of everyday.

I’m not real good at this, as anyone who knows me well will tell you, I’m more apt to criticize those who curse me, not bless them. So I certainly need God’s help in this regard.

One might wonder what benefit blessing those who curse us could possibly have. Here is a hint from Scripture. In the Second Book of Samuel, when David had been overthrown by his son Absalom and is fleeing the city of Jerusalem, a man comes out and curses him. Shimei, throwing stones and “saying as he cursed: ‘Away, away, you murderous and wicked man! (2 Sam. 16:7). In response to this outrage one of David’s guards says to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, please, and lop of his head,” (2 Sam. 16:9)

David’s response to this is interesting and not at all what one would expect (if you are an avid reader of the Old Testament that is). Here is David’s response, “Suppose the LORD has told him to curse David; who then dare to say ‘Why are you doing this?’ (2 Sam. 16:10). So they went on and Shimei “kept abreast of them on the hillside, all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went,” (2 Sam.16:13).

“Perhaps the LORD is telling him to curse me.” An interesting thought, and again one that can only lead to a deeper relationship with God. To at least admit to seeing God’s hand in all things.

Most of the curses that I receive are from those who don’t like the way I drive (and they are usually right to offer a gesture of displeasure) or those who don’t like what I write (again they are often right–things are seldom one way or another but grayer). May I bless them all.

A blessing is only possible when we see ourselves as blessed by God, then we share the abundance of what God has given us with those who wish us evil. We acknowledge God as the final judge and we are selves are not to quick to judge (as David wasn’t in the above). Interestingly, when David is restored to the throne in Israel, Shimei (the cursing stone thrower) is brought before the king and does have his head lopped off.

%d bloggers like this: