73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 39 a

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 39th step part 1:

(39) Not to be a murmurer.

I like how the dictionary defines a murmur, “a confidential complaint.” Of course the complaint being offered confidentially is never directed at the person who is responsible for the complaint.

There are murmurers in the Gospel. When Jesus says to the paralytic “your sins are forgiven” the people present begin to murmur amongst themselves about what they perceive to be the presumption of Jesus to do something that is reserved to God alone, (this brings to mind the modern tendency for everyone to forgive sins or at least dismiss them as not really all that serious). Jesus hears the murmurs and addresses them directly.

If you have ever been caught murmuring by the person you are murmuring about–you probably know how they felt.

Michael Dubruiel

Mother Teresa – September 5

The Cross of Christ Restores. . . The Image of God


And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. NUMBERS 21:8–9


“When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” JOHN 8:28–29

Once when my wife and child were touring a large cathedral in the United States, a famous archbishop passed us by; a high-ranking cardinal, visiting the United States from the Vatican, followed him. The archbishop completely ignored us, but the cardinal stopped and took our baby in his arms, talking gibberish to him. We were moved by the actions of the cardinal, who had taken the gospel to heart. It is amazing how often Jesus took time to notice someone his disciples had passed by or ignored. In the kingdom of God, the first are last and the last are first. No one exemplified this principle better than Christ himself: the Prince of Heaven  became a helpless infant, was raised in obscurity, and died like a criminal.

People who have seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ are shocked by the violence. What should shock us more is the idea that the all-powerful God would subject himself to being treated in such a fashion by mere mortals. Yet Jesus said in the Scripture that people would realize that he was from God when men “lifted him up” on the cross. The way of the cross is the path of humility. So often we seek perfection in how we look, the way we dress, the way we speak, or in what we possess. Jesus told his disciples not to worry about any of these things but to seek God’s kingship over them first. Jesus then showed them how to do this. Then he took up his cross and invited them to follow. It is in those who accept that invitation that the divine image is most perfectly restored.

When Blessed Mother Teresa would visit one of her communities, the first thing she did was to pick up a broom and begin to sweep. Revered during her life as a saint, she sought no special treatment within her community; no task was beneath her. People who met Mother Teresa often remarked at the beauty of her deeply lined face. In her presence, they felt like they were in the presence of God. In the Image of the Father Jesus perfectly reveals to us what God is like. By following the way of the cross, we receive a divine “extreme makeover.” The path is not an easy one; our ego constantly tries to exert itself over us. Serpents in forbidden trees will whisper of easier paths. However, there is only one way to fulfill what God has planted in our hearts. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus warned his disciples (Matthew 18:3). Some people will go amazing lengths to retain their youth. Sadly, these same people will assiduously avoid the spiritual childhood that the gospel demands, the only sure path of eternal life.

Wandering in the desert, the Israelites complained about their lot, and God sent poisonous snakes. As people died around him, Moses prayed to God for mercy. God told Moses to make a fiery bronze serpent and to put it on a pole; all who looked upon this bronze serpent were healed of snakebite. This bronze image foreshadowed the healing tree of Christ; just as Moses had lifted up the serpent in the desert, Jesus told Nicodemus, so would he be lifted up on the cross, and all who would look upon him would be saved. We need to look at the cross of Christ to rediscover our soul’s inner beauty. God loves us so much that he died for us on that cross. As we gaze upon the cross of Christ, what really matters comes to the forefront in our lives, and we find we can let go of all the trivial pursuits that seem to dominate our time and thoughts. As the psalmist reminds us time and again, what matters is not to seek and be driven by the desire to please other people but to seek what pleases God. We will discover that not by hiding behind fig leaves, as our first parents did, but by coming to him whenever and wherever he calls us.

The Power of the Cross  by Michael Dubruiel is a book well-suited to daily reading during Lent. The book is available here in pdf version. Daily excerpts will be reprinted in this space during Lent.

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73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 38 b

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 part 2:

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

…..

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.

Michael Dubruiel

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 37 b

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 part 2:

(37) Not to be 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).

Joseph Dubruiel

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 37 a

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 part 1:

(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.

Michael Dubruiel

How to Pray a Novena

The Church’s Most Powerful Novenas is a book of novenas connected with particular shrines.  Michael Dubruiel wrote in the introduction to this book he compiled:

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his Apostles to stay where they were and to “wait for the gift” that the Father had promised: the Holy Spirit.  The Apostles did as the Lord commanded them. “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:14). Nine days passed; then, they received the gift of the Holy spirit, as had been promised. May we stay together with the church, awaiting in faith with Our Blessed Mother, as we trust entirely in God, who loves us more than we can ever know. 

Prepare for the Catholic Mass

What will we say when the messengers of Our Lord come to us

and tell us that the time is at hand, and the Lord wishes for us

to prepare for his Passover? Will we open the door of our hearts

and welcome him?

Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori method of

learning, wrote a book in the early twentieth century about the

Mass for Children. She began by describing the inside of a

church: candles lit, altar cloths set on the altar. Something very

special must be about to take place here, she said. Just as the disciples

prepared for the Passover, the Last Supper of the Lord, so

we must prepare to welcome the Savior before we approach his

banquet.

Being prepared for Mass is essential to the disciple and follower

of Jesus Christ who wishes to be enriched with his teaching

and be fed with his Body and Blood. St. Paul’s admonition

to examine ourselves is paramount if we are not to eat and drink

judgment upon ourselves—but rather partake in the Way, the

Truth, and the Life.

From The Power of the Cross , by Michael Dubruiel available as a free download by clicking the cover below:

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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 

 

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St. Monica’s Tomb

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.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 32a

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, part 1:

(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).

Michael Dubruiel

How to Pray at a Catholic Mass

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. 

Excerpt:

F U R T H E R H E L P S

1. Keep Your Focus on Jesus

Whenever you desire to “control” what happens in the Eucharist, or suffer because you sense someone else is hijacking the liturgy,

  • Think of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
  • Think of Jesus telling his followers to take up their crossand follow him.
  • Think of Jesus saying that he did not come to be servedbut to serve.

Keeping your focus on Christ will prevent the devil in his attempts to distract you from the purpose of the Eucharist.

2. Learn from the Blessed Virgin Mary

Following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary we declare ourselves at God’s service. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38) was Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel’s

announcement that God would become incarnate within her. When we come to the Eucharist, God desires to continue the incarnation within us, and Mary teaches us how we should approach so great a gift.

Mary’s reaction to the angel’s message gives a supreme example of the sacrifice we can bring to every celebration of the Eucharist. When confronted with anything that does not go according to our plans,we need to open ourselves up to what God might be asking of us.

3. Foster an Attitude of Service

When Joshua realized that he was being confronted by a messenger of God, someone who at first he was not sure was a friend, he asked, “What does my Lord bid his servant” (Joshua 5:14)?

When we have the right stance toward God in our worship this is the question we will ask when confronted by anything that disturbs us: “What does my Lord bid his servant”?

4. Developing a Eucharistic Spirituality

Empowered by Christ, we should seek to serve God and anyone God places in our path throughout the day. “How may I serve you?” should be the question ever on our lips, whether at home, at work, or in recreation. We can find concrete ways to serve Christ in the many guises in which he comes to us in the poor and the weak.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 29

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 29th step:

(29) Not to return evil for evil (cf 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9).

St. Benedict references two Scripture passages with this counsel. The first is from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, “See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all,” (1 Thess. 5:15). The next is from the First Letter of Peter, “Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing,” (1 Pet. 3:9).

The motivation for this is clearly stated in Peter’s letter when he says that the Lord is against those who do evil. Get it?

If we return evil for evil, then we are evildoers.

If we are in God, then we will only have love and peace to give. Like Christ we will forgive our enemies, we will return their hatred with God’s love.

Doesn’t it sound humanly impossible to do this? It is, but for God all things are possible.

These steps continually make us aware, like a mega examination of conscience that we need to pray continuously. Prayer is essential because in order to live out the Gospel message, God must be in our every breath.

Our prayer should always be for the other’s good.

Is there anyone that could make heaven hell for you? Then you’d better pray for that person. Pray that good will happen to them, that their heart will be touched, and that in the process your heart may also be changed to accept them.

Often love and hate are flip sides of the same coin.

Our Lord’s cross is for a sign of victory, for the world it is a sign of defeat. Jesus told his disciples that he has overcome the world, how we respond to evil in our lives shows who we belong to—Jesus or the world.

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St. Maximilian Kolbe – August 14

Today is the Feast of St. Maximillian Kolbe

From a letter he wrote, from theOffice of Readings:

It is sad to see how in our times the disease called “indifferentism” is spreading in all its forms, not just among those in the world but also among the members of religious orders. But indeed, since God is worthy of infinite glory, it is our first and most pressing duty to give him such glory as we, in our weakness, can manage – even that we would never, poor exiled creatures that we are, be able to render him such glory as he truly deserves.



Books by Michael Dubruiel

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 25a

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 25th step, part 1:

(25) Not to make a false peace.

This may catch us by surprise. We might reason, wouldn’t some semblance of peace be better than war. But, again if we think about the ramifications of someone who we think is at peace with us but really isn’t, we can see how damaging this “show” of peace can be in the long run.

St. Benedict isn’t saying that we shouldn’t be at peace with everyone, he is telling us not to make a “false” peace with anyone.

We are to be honest, as the previous counsel has instructed us. We are to make peace with our brother or sister that is genuine this step counsels us.

But what if we find ourselves incapable of being at peace with someone?

We must bring our warring heart to God.

People, from a distance, often are amazed at how certain groups of the same people can foster hatred toward one another over so many years. Sometimes it is religious belief (in the case of most religions, it is against the very belief that they fight over) that keeps people enemies. Military might is often used, sometimes by a third party to keep the peace. But as history proves time and again such peace is no peace at all. Soon the parties are warring with one another again often with a conflict that has inflamed while it was dormant.

What then?

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