Michael Dubruiel

When St. Peter heard that Jesus was going somewhere, he wanted

to follow the Lord. Jesus refused, and told the apostle that he

would follow later. Peter protested: He was willing to lay down

his life for Jesus (again something that he ultimately would do

later). Then Jesus dropped a bombshell: That very night, Peter

would deny him three times.

The final battle to following Jesus is the battle of self. No matter

how pure our motives may seem, until we trust in God more

than we trust in ourselves, we are doomed to fail. To truly follow

Jesus, we must unite ourselves with him and trust him totally.

Visiting Rome

From Michael Dubruiel 2006

Next it was to the Church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami (St. Joseph the Carpenter), our Joseph’s patron and site of the Mamertine Prison. Joseph was a little too interested in the prison and the sewer but we did manage to spend some time in prayer here.

From here we traveled across the street toward the twin churches that are near the Piazza del Popolo, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto.It was turning cooler by this time, so we took a taxi to Piazza Navona in hopes of seeing the inside of San Luigi dei Francesi “St. Louis of the French”…there was a porter at the door that was locked who informed us that it was closed on Thursdays (but open on Friday’s…so we’ll be back). We then went to the Church of Sant’Agostino, “St. Augustine”, there was some restoration going on and St. Monica’s tomb was blocked, but I noticed someone coming from there, so Michael (on my back) and I made our way to St.Monica’s tomb to offer some prayers. Another spot of interest in this Church was the Caravaggio work “The Madonna Receiving Pilgrims” which Amy had told me before hand had been critized when it first appeared because the Virgin’s feet were dirty, for the record I didn’t think they did personally.

I found this church to be very peaceful, of course it was early evening and we hadn’t been in our usual dose of Churches on this day, so this visit stood out a bit more in contrast to the afternoon of Roman ruins. It is amazing to think of the millions of lives that have been touched by Augustine’s confessions and to be in the Church that contained his saintly mother’s tomb gave some sense of being more connected.

Then emerging from the Church we set out on foot through the narrow streets that would take us back to St. Peter’s in preparation for the evening gig that Amy had doing Theology on Tap in Rome. We found a vendor selling wool caps and bought one for Michael the baby (this day had been a typical Spring Roman day, warm one minute, very chilly the next), he happily wore his hat. We stopped in front of the statue of Saint Catherine where Katie posed next to her patron saint for a picture.And then just before we made our turn toward our apartment, Joseph posed for one of my favorite pictures of St. Peter’s as the sun set painting a beautiful backdrop in the sky.

Rome Touring

From Michael Dubruiel 2006

The scavi tours completed, it was time to head to the Roman Forum. We took the bus to the Termini and then caught the Metro train to the Coloseum. The station lets you out right at the Coloseum and its quite a sight. I’ll admit to being a little tired at this point (even as I write this several weeks afterwards). There were a number of people offering tours in English, we hooked up with one who then purchased the tickets for us, charging 6 euro extra for the tour, but by doing this there was no wait in a line and after a short wait we were inside.

The Coloseum is one of those sites that before the papacy of Pope John Paul (this is my recollection anyway and it is certianly effected by what we see of papal ceremonies on television) I wouldn’t have thought of as a religious site. Even the tour guide who was Italian and spoke English with great force as though every phrase she spoke was a command rather than information pointed out almost immediately that the wooden cross that is central to the Coloseum “that!” she said loudly “is not original!” “It was put there by Pope John Paul the Second!” I believe that Pope John Paul reclaimed this site of martyrdoms for Christianity in the same way that pontiffs before him had done.

The tour guide was very entertaining, she sang the glories of Roman workmanship, their ability to create a structure that would be difficult to recreate today. With her flag she pointed out “original!” and “not original!” Other parts of her presentation were dramatic recreations of the events that would have transpired on this spot, sometimes aided by her illustrated guidebook.In the picture you’ll notice the book, and the flag and if you look dead center (click on the picture to enlarge it might aid you in this exercise) you’ll see the cross dead center erected by Pope John Paul II (“not original!”). This is the day that discovering that I had 1500 pictures remaining on my camera decided to start taking lots of pictures, which is a help in remembering what we did on this day as well as indicting me for taking so few earlier in the week.

Back to the tour, it was brief–around 30 minutes and then we were told to meet at a certian spot in about an hour for the continuation of the tour of the Palantine hill. So we walked around, and up to the upper levels of the Coloseum. It is easy to be caught up in the magnificent structure and to forget that on this spot lives were sacrificed for entertainment. One of the dramatic enactments of the tour was when the tour guide said with great gusto first in Latin and then in her command English “Hail, Caesar! We, who are about to die, salute you” and then extended her hand toward the Emperor that evoked the Nazi salute to Hitler. The martyrs who died here saluted another, the real God and changed the city of Rome and the Empire that was the Roman. Other Caesar’s continue to arise demanding the lives of their followers in exchange for whatever temporal kingdom. Looking down at the ruins of the Coloseum, patched up and being held together by reinforcements of one type or another–the Cross erected by Pope John Paul II speaks to the victory over innocent suffering of countless victims of the false god’s of wealth, pleasure and youth.

The tour guide had actually begun her tour outside of the Coloseum pointing out the Arch of Constantine, perhaps another symbol of the victory over Christianity since it marks the victory of Constantine that was later attributed to his vision of the Cross of Christ as the way to victory. There is nothing particularly Christian about the arch and the tour guide pointed out that “this is original” and that in Paris and Berlin you’ll find copies that are larger (and perhaps now more famous).

Coming out of the Coloseum, we decided against the tour of the Palantine Hill, opting instead to go through the Forum. As we made our way in that direction while trying to steer Joseph away from a newstand I was attacked by one of the Roman’s in the garb of a gladiator with his sword–this was unexpected and I probably jumped a foot or two. Joseph said, “I’ll fight him” but when another approached from another direction he moved around so that if this one “sworded me” he wouldn’t get hurt–so much for courage.

We made our way up the via sacra and began fumbling in our tour books trying to find where we were and what everything we were seeing was (some of this must have been fatigue because I have some of those tour books open before me now and everything is so clear and understandable that I can’t figure out how we could have been confused then but we were and not alone in that regard). While we sat by the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius (not knowing it was that at the time)another family approached us and asked us if we knew what this was, we didn’t. Some were from Cincinnati and one man a doctor said that he would be giving a talk in Fort Wayne the day after we returned…small world.

Another problem at this point was we were right outside of the Church of St. Frances of Rome and there didn’t seem to be anyway to get into it. Her feast was last Thursday (March 9) and when I read the Office of Readings for her feast I was disappointed that we never made it into this church were she rests.

Moving on from the amazing ruins of the Basilica of Constantine we made our way into the heart of the Forum. For the most part you can just look at the ruins (if these had been made into Churches you might actually be able to enter them as you can the Roman Senate). The Temple of Julius Ceasar marking the spot where he was cremated was interesting (I had viewed HBO’s Rome last winter) and there was a fresh rose on the stone marking the spot.Here are a few pictures of this spot, in the second and third you can see the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the background.In the fourth we continue along our way, notice the baby must be back on my back since he isn’t with the other three.There are a lot of pilars in the Forum area and they cast a long shadow, especially when the sun is laying low in the sky. Here Joseph finds a contest of shadows with three pilars (from the Temple of Vespasian) and Katie finds that fallen pilars make a good seat. Joseph uses another pilar to form his

own “Arch of Triumph.”The Temple of Saturn was illuminated by the sun, Joseph felt the need to offer ablutions, Amy outside of Santi Luca e Martina (site of the Roman Senate) and the crew emerging from the same Church bathed in sunlight.


Eucharist means…”thanksgiving”

Michael Dubruiel wrote a book to help people deepen their experience of the Mass.  He titled it, How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist.  You can read about it here. 

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist gives you nine concrete steps to help you join your own sacrifice to the sacrifice of Christ as you:

  • Serve: Obey the command that Jesus gave to his disciples at the first Eucharist.
  • Adore: Put aside anything that seems to rival God in importance.
  • Confess: Believe in God’s power to make up for your weaknesses.
  • Respond” Answer in gesture, word, and song in unity with the Body of Christ.
  • Incline: Listen with your whole being to the Word of God.
  • Fast: Bring your appetites and desires to the Eucharist.
  • Invite: Open yourself to an encounter with Jesus.
  • Commune: Accept the gift of Christ in the Eucharist.
  • Evangelize :Take him and share the Lord with others.

Filled with true examples, solid prayer-helps, and sound advice, How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist shows you how to properly balance the Mass as a holy banquet with the Mass as a holy sacrifice. With its references to Scripture, quotations from the writings and prayers of the saints, and practical aids for overcoming distractions one can encounter at Mass, this book guides readers to embrace the Mass as if they were attending the Last Supper itself.

Thanksgiving Charity

This is the season during which many people think of charitable acts.

The genesis of this book was inspired by a set of talks that Father Benedict J. Groeschel C.F.R., gave several years ago in the Diocese of Manchester, NH. At the time while researching material for a project I was working on I came across an advertisement for the talks and found both the title and topic striking. The topic seemed to fit Father Benedict’s lifetime of working among the poor and raising money to help their plight. I approached him, shortly after listening to the tapes and asked him to consider doing a book version. He liked the idea but was reluctant to pursue the project alone due to the shortage of time available to work on it.

"Michael Dubruiel"

Unwilling to let go of the project, I approached another friend of the poor, Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Diocese of Charleston. I knew that Bishop Baker’s priestly ministry had been devoted to finding Christ in the poor and with a wealth of experience he had in this area that if I could join his thoughts with Fr. Groeschel’ s we would have a book that would be of great benefit to the rest of us. After approaching Bishop Baker with my request he agreed and then Father Benedict agreed to collaborate on this book.

While the Bishop and Father Benedict were working on the written text of the book I came across a stunning work of iconography one day while visiting an Eastern Catholic church. On the back wall of the church was an icon of the Last Judgment taken from Matthew 25. I found that the great iconographer Mila Mina had written the icon. I immediately contacted Mila and asked if the icon might be used as an illustration for this book, her response was “anything to make the Gospel known!” Thanks to Mila and her son Father John Mina for allowing Joyce Duriga and David Renz to photograph the icon at Ascension of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church, Clairton, PA.

Fr. Groeschel has written the introductory text that begins each section as well as the final “What Should I Do?” at the end of the book, and Bishop Baker has written the individual meditations and prayers contained in each of the six sections.

While this book was being written, Father Benedict was involved in a horrific accident that nearly took his life. At the time of the accident the text he was working on was in his suitcase. He had just finished the introduction to “When I was a stranger…” as you read over the text for that section you might sense that he was having a premonition of what was about to happen in his life-where he would soon be in an emergency room under the care of doctors, nurses and as well as his family and religious community.

You will find that this book provides you with keys to finding Our Lord in the poor, and to overcoming the fears and obstacles (represented by the seven deadly sins in each section) that prevent you from responding to His call.

Advent Begins December 1

Be Vigilant: Daily Meditations for Advent by [Dubruiel, Michael, Welborn, Amy]

These brief daily meditations will help you focus on the spiritual side of Christmas. Author Michael Dubruiel died in February 2009. His wife, Amy Welborn, prepared these meditations for publication.

From a reader review:

This is my fourth year to go through this Advent devotional, and it has been truly a blessing to me and contributed to my Advent experience. The devotionals correlate with the USCCB daily readings, so it is best to read the readings and then read the devotional for the day. I myself am not Catholic, but I still get great insight out of these passages, and I can see that the author was a true follower of Christ and loved Christmas. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an Advent devotional. The book was free when I purchased it three years ago, but 99c is still a great value for this!

Scavi Tour

From Michael Dubruiel in 2006

If you’ve been on the “scavi” tour underneath St. Peter’s you know that it ends up here, at the Clementine Chapel.This chapel is directly behind the “confessio” and is also called “St. Peter’s Chapel” since it is very close to where the bones of St. Peter are located. On my early morning visit to St. Peter’s this morning it happened that Mass was being celebrated here in the Clementine Chapel in English by five American priests. I joined them.

At the end of the Mass several of the priests introduced themselves, the celebrant was from Baltimore and was also a Knight of Malta, another priest on hearing that I was from Indiana mentioned that he also was in fact a Holy Cross priest from Notre Dame. Several others were pointing under the altar and making references to the “scavi” tour (which I hadn’t taken as yet, but in fact would be taking later this same morning).

Leaving the Clementine Chapel, I made my way around the semicircular series of chapels and stopped at the Polish one (after all I am half Polish). Here I prayed the office for the day, as well as said prayers for my Polish relatives both living and deceased. I could hear Mass being celebrated in Polish in near the tomb of Pope John Paul II, and I made my way towards his tomb to pray the mysteries of the rosary that he will forever be known for–the Luminious Mysteries prayed on Thursdays.

Behind me in the chapel that is between the tombs of the popes, the Mass in Polish was concluding and a Polish bishop with several Polish priests came around and the security guard stationed at the tomb of Pope John Paul II removed the rope that keeps pilgrims from approaching the actual grave. The bishop and priests went in and knelt at the head of the tomb and said a few prayers. One of the priests took a camera and stepped back to take a picture of the bishop praying at the tomb. Then they left and the people behind me pushed me forward and we were within the niche and I found myself kneeling at the head of the tomb with my hands and the rosary resting on slab that covers the Pope’s resting place. I was in the middle of the Fourth Luminous Mystery, “The Transfiguration” and as always I prayed the petition of St. Peter that I might always be able to discern “Lord, it is good that we are here.”

I said a special prayer of petition for several people who entered my mind at that moment. One was for the husband of Johnnette Benkovic, another was for the brother of Bishop Robert Baker, the third was for the souls of my Polish relatives: great grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousin. I then arose to make room so that other Polish pilgrims could enter.

Returning back to the apartment, we had to move quickly to go back to St. Peter’s so that Katie and Amy could take the scavi tour, I would take the tour right after them (children aren’t allowed for obvious reasons). We left Amy and Katie at the Swiss Guards and then Joseph and Michael on my back went into the Vatican bookstore (I bought a Vatican phone book and some holy cards), then into the Vatican post office, then out of St. Peter’s to the many gift shops that surround the area. I also had to find something that Joseph would eat for breakfast, no easy task I might add. We bought water and I think M & M’s (a breakfast he enjoyed). We walked in a number of gift shops and bookstores, buying nothing. The women in the stores tried to get Michael the baby to wave, smile, make sounds etc. while I tried to keep Joseph from picking up ceramic and glass objects. Finally it was time to trade off both baby and four year old which we did at the Swiss Guard station and I made my way to the Scavi Office.

We had worried that our tours were scheduled too tight but it turned out there was plenty of time between tours. It also turned out that later when I was doing my imitation of the tour guide (who was excellent) that we had the same one. I’ve often found that if someone is really, really good that my mind is like a camera and I can imitate not only what they said, but how they said and what they were doing as they said it.

Anyway I waited outside of the office with a large group that included one “loud” American who was smoking and pontificating (what else do you do when you are in Rome?) about how they weren’t able to do the tour at the time I was doing it but that Father somebody might be able to change that (I hoped that he was wrong and thankfully he was…btw the same guy by himself showed up at the Scholars Pub for Amy’s TOT, never found who he was or where he was from though).

The Scavi tour isn’t advertised and you can’t sign up for it when you are in Rome, you have to do it before (several weeks before). So it isn’t crowded, I think there were maybe six or seven people on my tour. It was also the one thing that a number of people who’ve been to Rome said was a must. What it is, is a tour of the ancient Roman graves that were discovered under St. Peter’s when Pope Pius XII began an archealogical dig to find out if Peter was in fact buried here. The necropolis is impressive enough (those walking in the crypt of St. Peter’s where there are countless Pope’s buried probably for the most part are unaware that below them is another graveyard even more ancient). The tour takes you through these graves and also explains the history of the churches built on this spot. It all culminates once you leave the graves and come to the spot where tradition says Peter’s bones were buried and then suspense–the bones weren’t found where they were expected. Then a walk into the Clementine Chapel (the same chapel pictured above and where I had been to Mass earlier that morning)…the tour guide mentioned that Pope Benedict XVI had said Mass in this chapel eight days ago. Then into another room with a glass floor and glass wall. The bones of Peter were discovered wrapped in royal purple cloth in a tomb built by Constantine under the altar of the first church. What was missing? His feet, the rationale that when Peter was crucified upside down that those who removed his body just cut his feet off in order to remove him from the cross.

The whole trip was very moving and highly educational. A few seconds later we were deposited at the tomb of Pope John Paul II again.

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