January 24 – Francis de Sales

Today is the feast of St. Francis de Sales the Patron Saint of Writers

To read more about him, check out the CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Francis de Sales

There are two elements in the spiritual life: first, a struggle against our lower nature; secondly, union of our wills with God, in other words, penance and love. St. Francis de Sales looks chiefly to love. Not that he neglects penance, which is absolutely necessary, but he wishes it to be practised from a motive of love. He requires mortification of the senses, but he relies first on mortification of the mind, the will, and the heart. This interior mortification he requires to be unceasing and always accompanied by love. The end to be realized is a life of loving, simple, generous, and constant fidelity to the will of God, which is nothing else than our present duty. The model proposed is Christ, whom we must ever keep before our eyes. “You will study His countenance, and perform your actions as He did” (Introd., 2nd part, ch. i). The practical means of arriving at this perfection are: remembrance of the presence of God, filial prayer, a right intention in all our actions, and frequent recourse to God by pious and confiding ejaculations and interior aspirations.


More by Michael Dubruiel

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist – part 11

From How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist by Michael Dubruiel

From chapter 2 – Serve. Part 7

“ I H AV E I V E N O U     A N X A M P L E 

Jesus told his disciples that he had given them a model to follow. He said,“If you know these things,blessed are you if you do them” (John 13: 17).

The traditional tale of the fall of Satan is that it was due to his refusal to serve: non serviam, “I will not serve,” was the devil’s reply to God.Inflated by pride,he would not obey.Fallen human-

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ity shares this trait, as Jeremiah the prophet says: “For long ago you broke your yoke and burst your bonds; and you said, ‘I will not serve’ ” (Jeremiah 2:20).

In opposition to Satan and fallen humanity is Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. We who follow him are “in Christ”and we are to imitate him at the liturgy.If we want to get the most out of the Eucharist we need to start by fostering the attitude of Christ the Servant.

O U C H O TAT O AT H O L I C S ?

It strikes me that at the heart of every problem we experience in the Eucharist today is a fundamental stance of someone who will not serve but wants to be the one served — sort of a couch potato Catholic.

St. Benedict, in his Rule, explains the proper attitude the follower of Christ is to have at prayer: “If we do not venture to approach men who are in power, except with humility and reverence, when we wish to ask a favor, how much must we beseech the Lord God of all things with all humility and purity of devotion? And let us be assured that it is not in many words, but in the purity of heart and tears of compunction that we are heard.”7

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,

so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he have mercy upon us.

— P SALM 1 2 3 : 2

If someone very important were coming to your house, you would want to make sure that the person was at ease, you would look after his or her comfort, and that person would be the center of your attention until his or her departure. Likewise, if we truly serve God at our celebration of the Eucharist, God will be our focus. Our hearts and minds will be raised to him.

If your role is to preside at the liturgy, you must serve the liturgy faithfully

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as the Church has handed it down to you. If you are a musician, the music must serve the liturgy, helping all to raise their voices as one to God. If you function as a lector you must proclaim the readings with great care so that all may hear the Word clearly. Every person in the congregation has a role to serve in the Eucharist.

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist – part 9

From How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist by Michael Dubruiel

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From chapter 2 – Serve. Part 5

“DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE FOR YOU?”

When Jesus had finished washing the feet of his disciples, he rose and resumed his place at the table and asked them a simple question: “Do you know what I have done for you?”

There are several ways to take this question which Jesus posed to us, his followers; let me suggest two.

What Jesus Has Saved Us From

The first possible meaning relates to what Jesus has done for us by his sacrificial act on the cross:Do we know what Jesus has saved us from?

You may know enough to say,“Jesus has redeemed us from the bondage of original sin,” but unless you know what the lived consequences of this sin are, you cannot fully appreciate what Jesus has saved you from.The Catechism of the Catholic Church spells out the nature and effects of original sin in paragraphs 397–412. Here I briefly summarize this teaching and contrast it with how Jesus has reversed the “curse” of original sin. First, in the sin:

  • Man “let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and,abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command” (CCC 397).

— Jesus trusted in God completely, even to death on the Cross, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

  • Man “preferred himself to God,” thereby turning his back on the Creator (CCC 398).

— Jesus, though he was the form of God, did not deem equality with God; rather, Jesus lowered himself, taking the role of a servant (see Philippians 2:6–7).

As a result of original sin:

  • People are “afraid of the God of whom they have con-ceived a distorted image” (CCC 399).

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— At the Conception of Jesus, his Mother was told: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). — Jesus told his followers, “I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten by God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:5–7).

  • The original “harmony in which they [Adam and Eve] found themselves … is now destroyed” (CCC 400). — Jesus set the example of reversing this disharmony, so that St. Paul would pray, “May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5).
  • “The control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered” (CCC 400).

— Jesus’s death and our incorporation into it at baptism restore the right order, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace” (Romans 6:12–14).

  • “The union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination” (CCC 400).

— Jesus  said, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4–6).

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— St. Paul instructed the followers of Christ that “the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:4) and in an often misquoted passage he told the Christian husband to love his wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

  • “Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man” (CCC 400).

— Jesus commanded nature and nature obeyed, both in healing the sick and calming the storm. He told his disciples, “In my name … they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17–18).

  • “Death makes its entrance into human history” (CCC 400). — Jesus raised the dead and was raised from the dead, and promised eternal life to anyone who believed in him, proclaiming himself to be “the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:58).

Knowing what Jesus has done for us will give us a greater appreciation of the Bread of Life that we receive when we approach his altar at every Eucharistic celebration. It is literally a matter of our life or our death!

LIVING THE UCHARIST

Is your Christian life dominated by the fallen worldview?  Do you strive with the help of the Holy Spirit and the nourishment of the Eucharist to live the new life of the kingdom that Jesus offers?

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday

From 2004 by Michael Dubruiel


This past summer on our way to Florida, Amy and I stopped at the gravesite of Martin Luther King Jr. I had been there before, a number of times. Though it is close to downtown, there is a quiet that persist–obviously this was not the case the other day when President Bush was there–but the times I’ve been there, although a crowd is present, most are quiet, reflecting.




What are they reflecting on?




Non-violence, peaceful protest, offer no resistence–the teachings of Christ! For what made Dr. King’s message different and in the end successful was the apparent failure of it. Like the master he preached–his tomb stands like a cross planted squarely in the middle of the south. The relecting pool surrounding it reflects the faces of humanity who walk around it.




It was Christian faith, radical belief in the message of Jesus that led the civil rights movement of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and sadly that very faith has been forgotten by many who wish to follow in his footprints. But who can blame them when they see the tomb of Dr. King, they see the price of the taking up one’s cross and following the master.




We also visited the Ebenezer Baptist Church nearby. I had never been inside the church before–since it was undergoing renovations. Amy and I were both shocked at how small it was–having seen in on television countless times, it seemed large. But alas it wasn’t…”if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to that mountain.”




There will be many talks given today, that will laud Dr. King and his contribution to our society. There will be many proclamations about the progress we have made and some lamentation about how much further we have to go. But the saddest indictment will not be that we have not moved far enough in recognizing all people as our brothers and sisters–but rather that most of us have forgotten the one Father that we share that makes us all brothers and sisters!




At the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN where Dr. King was shot there is a historical marker with a quote from Genesis…”here comes that dreamer, let us put an end to him and then see what becomes of his dream.” Of course the dreamer spoken of in Genesis is Joseph and his dream was given to him by God and nothing men could do could destroy or keep that dream from coming to fruition. Ultimately God always wins…

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist – part 8

From How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist by Michael Dubruiel

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From chapter 2 – Serve.  Part 4

G E T T I N G T H E M O S T O U T       O F T H E E U C H A R I S T

If you want to get the most out of the Eucharist you have to check your “I” at the door.The “I” that wants things, that endlessly critiques the way things are done, and  that demands things be done in exactly a certain way (meaning “my way,” not God’s way). I think it was Peter Kreeft who once said that the famous song, “I Did It My Way,” sung by such great artists as Frank Sinatra and Elvis, is the national anthem of hell. The way of the world may be to do things “our way” but the way of Christ is to do things his Way.We therefore consciously have to leave “my way” at the door and in exchange take up an attitude that asks “how may we be of service to you, Lord, in this celebration of the Eucharist?”

THE INSTITU TION OF THE EUCHARIST BY JESUS On Holy Thursday, the day on which the Church celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist,the gospel reading for the Mass does not mention Jesus taking bread and wine but rather an act of service that Jesus performed at the Last Supper.The Lord taking bread and wine and declaring it his body and blood is mentioned in the Second Reading for that Mass,but not in the gospel.

The gospel for Holy Thursday is from John’s gospel. It is the story of Jesus rising from the table and shocking his disciples by doing something totally unexpected, washing their feet.

Peter refuses to have his feet washed at first but acquiesces when Jesus tells him that it is necessary if Peter is to have any inheritance in him.

If you are like me, you can relate to Peter.There is something in Peter’s character that perfectly illustrates what we all are like in our fallen nature.We are proud.We want to be in control.We like Jesus, and we want to be part of his crowd, but we also want to tell him what to do.

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How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist – part 7

From How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist by Michael Dubruiel

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From chapter 2 – Serve. Part 3

H O S E WAY R E R E PA R I N G ?

Every Sunday when I come to the Eucharist and am confronted by the words inscribed in stone over the entrance of my parish church, “Prepare the way of the Lord,” I am reminded that the first sacrifice I must make at this Mass is my own ego, and as I strive to relinquish the need to be in control of what will happen at this Eucharist I ask, “What does my lord bid his servant?” (Joshua 5:14).

We all face the same struggle. Some of you may protest:

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  • “The ushers don’t make me feel welcome in my church.”
  • “My parish priest preaches too long.”
  • “The musicians in our church are out of control.”
  • “People are too loud and talk too much before theEucharist.”
  • “The people dress too well or too poorly.”

Each of us, if given the opportunity to share what we think is keeping us from getting the most out of the Eucharist, is apt to come up with our own list. Recently I asked this question online and received a deluge of responses. Many were true abuses of the liturgy,and were worthy of being reported to the diocesan bishop, but just as many were not.

When I shared my amazement at the number of responses with my wife,she very keenly mused,“They all feel helpless,like they have no control.” As soon as she said this I realized that this was exactly the same thing I had heard from priests and musicians, the two groups who are most often the target of the congregation’s ire.Priests who come into a new parish and encounter established ways of doing things with which they do not agree and yet are powerless (at least at first) to change and musicians who are hired to provide a parish with beautiful music yet find themselves restrained by parish staff or established practice to playing pieces they feel are less than worthy of the liturgy often express frustration at their lack of control.

This brings home a point that we do not like to admit: None of us is in control, no matter what our function is in the liturgy. Yet we are all tempted to think that if we were in charge we could make it all perfect.

The greatest suffering that I’ve endured at any celebration of the Eucharist has been the few cases where someone, whether it was the presider, a musician, or, as in several cases, a member of the congregation, thought he or she could  make the liturgy more perfect by his or her own inventions. Here are some examples of this type of behavior, all of which actually happened:

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  • An Easter Sunday where a visiting priest tried to woo thecongregation by creating a “Mass” of his own making, never once using the words prescribed by the Church from beginning to end.
  • A musician who saw himself as in a battle with the cele-brant and who continually and loudly played music over the presider’s attempts to pray the prescribed prayers of the Church.
  • A congregant who screamed out for the priest to stopbecause “no one” —meaning herself — “knew where he was” in the liturgy.
  • A congregant who held up a crucifix as he processedtoward the altar to receive the Eucharist and then, after receiving the Eucharist, turned and exorcised the congregation with loud prayers and wild gesticulations of the cross.

Now, you may think of some of these people as being mentally ill, and perhaps some of them were, yet a case could be made that when any of us “lords” it over another we are a little off in the head, especially if we are doing so and claiming to be a follower of Jesus. None of this is new, of course; even in Jesus’s time there were those who sought to take control and lord it over others.Yet Jesus addressed this issue directly,and clearly specified the subservient attitude that would be required of his followers:

Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not be served but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many.”

— M ATTHEW 2 0 : 2 5 – 2 8

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist – part 6

From How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist by Michael Dubruiel

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From chapter 1 – Serve. Part 2

H E O R D

Jesus told his followers that when they had done all that had been commanded of them they should say:“We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10).

Our lives often are like a field of weeds with pressing concerns that can seem to take priority, but indeed the weeds are not as powerful as they might seem, and remembering who is Lord, Master, and God can help us put everything into perspective.

LE S S O N S LE A R N ED F RO M A H REE -Y E A R -O L D

Anyone who has a young child has a built-in reminder that coming to the Eucharist requires servitude. Preparations have to be made so that the child will be taken care of during the celebration. Sometimes this means making sure that a child’s prayer or Mass book is in his or her possession. At other times it simply

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means having tissue for a runny nose or having an extra dose of patience to deal with any outburst that might occur. One thing is certain: any parent who has a young child is already bringing the attitude of a servant to the Eucharist. If I get a little too comfortable in the pew and lean back in the posture of a spectator, my three-year-old will pretty quickly remind me that I’m not there to relax but to serve.

“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

— LUKE 9 : 4 8

Having a young child in our midst, whether it is our own or someone else’s in the next pew, is a great reminder to us to humble ourselves, that in serving the child we may serve the Lord himself.

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