Catholics and Halloween

The Great Christian Feast-Halloween – by Michael Dubruiel

This is one of those thoughts that comes to you in a moment of clarity with such force that you wonder how it could be that everyone just doesn’t see the truth of it.

Last night when I made one of my few trips to the door to hand out candy, it just hit me. There I was confronted with a skull painted white on the face of an African American, who was standing there holding open a bag, expecting something from me.

A home invasion? No.

Trick or Treat!

I gladly obliged his request with a handful of candy and he turned and went on his merry way to join the other hordes of beggars that flooded our streets.

I had just fulfilled the mandate of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I had just welcomed Him in the guise of the hungry, “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat.” Matthew 25!

“When did we see you Lord?”

“Whenever you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”

Is there anytime left in our year when Americans are so blatantly Christian, welcoming the strangers that come to their door? Is there anytime that we reward those who on purpose try to repulse us by their costumes?

Yet the thought that it is better to give than receive dominates this day and truly the day fulfills its purpose of being the eve of All Saints Day! For if we are ever to join the saints we must learn to make everyday Halloween!

So that today when we meet those we might otherwise demonize, we give what we have freely as though we were meeting Christ Himself in the streets (and if we believe the Gospel message we are in fact meeting him)!

I used to joke that strangers could in fact be demons, (this was when the angel rage was in full swing and I use to make the point that yes a stranger might be an angel but who is to say if it is a good one or a bad one–sort of a twist of the Glenda the Good Witch’s question to Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”), but I would ask you to reflect on Halloween a bit more with me.

If we give to the stranger, indeed we welcome them as Christ. But if we look at the stranger only as someone who has something to give and we judge them based on that we are apt to conclude that all strangers are demons!

For example if we start viewing every middle eastern looking Arab that we do not know personally as a terrorist we are forgoing an opportunity to see them as Christ (who happened to be of middle eastern descent). Abraham was visited by three strangers (one would presume of middle eastern descent) and he fed them–they turned out to be angels and they gave him a blessing! But let’s suppose that we in fact do come across some terrorists in our daily activities. What if our interaction with them, seeing them as Christ and giving them whatever we have to give at that moment (even if it is only a smile of acceptance) led them to change their whole way of viewing Americans?

It is sad to think that a day that is the perfect example of what it means to be a Christian has been protested by so many Christians in this country. Do they read the Gospels?

No one is celebrating or worshipping demons on Halloween. The children who dress up in their costumes are playacting and giving the individual behind every door an opportunity to imitate Christ.

It is also sad that many miss the point in the other direction. They overdo it in the name of “everyone else is doing it” and light their houses up as though it is Christmas, rather than encountering the little masked Christs in the darkness the way it is intended to happen and does happen in daily lives. The vacuous nature of their souls demands making a show of their giving. Sadly they have already received their reward–the empty praise of their neighbors and friends.

There have been moves lately among some Catholics to have children dress up as saints– this may be a fine thing to do on All Saints day but it totally misses the point of Halloween. We will never be saints, nor will we imitate them, until we open the door everyday and welcome the ghouls we encounter as though they are Christ.

73 Steps to Communion with God – 71 – Part 2

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are found in the archives. This is step 71 part 2:

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

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 Communion with God – 71 – Part 1

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are found in the archives. This is step 71 part 1:

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).

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion – 70 part 2

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step #70 Part 2:

(70) To love the younger.

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 – 70 – Part 1

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step #70 part 1:

(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.

October is Rosary Month

Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

. "Michael Dubruiel"

The Gospels show that the gaze of Mary varied depending upon the circumstances of life. So it will be with us. Each time we pick up the holy beads to recite the Rosary, our gaze at the mystery of Christ will differ depending on where we find ourselves at that moment.

Thereafter Mary’s gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14) [Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 10].


As we pray the Rosary, then, we join with Mary in contemplating Christ. With her, we remember Christ, we proclaim Him, we learn from Him, and, most importantly, as we raise our voices in prayer and our hearts in contemplation of the holy mysteries, this “compendium of the Gospel” itself, we are conformed to Him.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 69

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. 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.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel – 68 Part 2

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are in the archives to the right. This is the 68th step, Part 2:

(68) Not to love pride.

….

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 – 68 Part1

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are in the archives to the right. This is the 68th step Part 1

(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.

Feast of the North American Martyrs- November 19

From Michael Dubruiel, 2001

Today is the Feast of St. Isaac Jogues and North American Jesuit Martyrs. I spent one month of my life living at the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, NY making a 30 day retreat in 1992. A month of silence and vivid dreams on the very land where Rene Groupil, John LaLande and Isaac Jogues were martyred. The dream I remember most was being chased by someone who had a hatchet in their hand. Read about St. Isaac Jogues and you can probably figure out where that came from. – Michael Dubruiel, originally published 10/19/01

Prayer of Petition

O God, who inflamed the hearts of your blessed Martyrs with an admirable zeal for the salvation of souls, grant me, I beseech you, my petions and all the requests recommended here today, (here name your request) so that the favours obtained through their intercession may make manifest before all the power and the glory of your name. Amen.

St. Jean de Brébeuf, pray for us.

St. Isaac Jogues, pray for us.

St. Gabriel Lalemant, pray for us.

St. Antoine Daniel, pray for us.

St. Charles Garnier, pray for us.

St. Noël Chabanel, pray for us.

St. René Goupil, pray for us.

St. Jean de Lalande, pray for us.

Holy Mary, Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.

In the U.S…. National Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs

In Canada…Martyrs’ Shrine

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel – 67 Part 2

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel The previous steps are found in the archives to the right. This is step 67 Part 2:

(67) Not to love strife.

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 by Michael Dubruiel – 67 Part 1

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel The previous steps are found in the archives to the right. This is step 67 Part 1:

(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.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 66 Part 2

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous postings are available in the archives to the right. This the 66th step Part 2:

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

….

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.

October 15 – Teresa of Avila

From the Office of Readings:

All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.

What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart.

Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.

Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.

-Michael Dubruiel 

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 66 Part 1

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous postings are available in the archives to the right. This the 66th step Part 1:

(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.

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