How to draw closer to God – Part 2a

Here is the second  posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict’s Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.

2a. Love one’s neighbor as one’s self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).

It is ironic but the way we treat our neighbor in many ways reveals what we think about ourselves. Whenever I run into a parent berating the child I always find myself equally feeling as sorry for the parent as the child. Negative views of oneself often lead to a negative view of others. This maxim follows the first that we love God above all things. It is from that maxim that a true sense of ourselves flows.

If I believe that God has a mission for me, then it is only a short distance of thought to believe that he has a mission for everyone else on the planet.

Daily we encounter opportunities to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The other day a woman carrying a bag of groceries bumped into me rushing to her car. She apologized and I immediately had the uncharitable thought of what in the hell is your hurry? But then I started to list the reasons for why she might have been in a hurry in my mind. Perhaps she was late for an important appointment or there was someone in dire need of something that she had just purchased at the store. In other words I strove to think of why I might be in a hurry and to afford her the same privilege.

Love our neighbor as ourselves ultimately means wishing them success. Success in their mission in life means success for us all. In the same way that loving God is foundational to the Spiritual life, so too is the love of neighbor. They all are pieces that fit into the same puzzle.

What of the most despicable people on the earth, how can we love them? What about those who ________ and __________(fill in the blanks with your favorite unforgivable sins)?

The answer is simple, we love them in the same way as we would if they were are own child.

I remember when the serial murderer Theodore Bundy was being executed in the State of Florida that his mother was interviewed. She was asked the question, “Do you still love your son?”

She answered, “Yes, I don’t like what he has done, but I still love him.”

I think it is easy to understand why she would. No matter what anyone of us do in our lifetime there is a part of us that is deeply lovable. No matter how hateful we are or what terrible things we do for whatever God known reason, there is a part of us that God has created and that is good, call it the “true self.”

The true self might be likened to that part of us that is the plan of God for each of us. It is that true self that we love in our neighbors and ourselves, because it is most truly who we are.

I remember a man who had undergone a conversion experience telling me in front of his family that he had never been that bad of a guy even before his conversion.

His daughters disagreed, as they in unison cried out, “yes your were dad, you were horrible!”

He then went on to explain how before his conversion he had “acted” in a way that he thought he had to, to be accepted; since his conversion he was truly himself.

I can think of no finer testimony of what life immersed in God’s love is like. We no longer “act” but we are who we are. It’s as simple as that.

Loving others can be difficult but doing so teaches us a lot about ourselves and who we truly worship as God.

How to be close to God – Part 1A

Here is the first posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict’s Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.

This is part two of step one:

(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength…

…..

The attitude we have toward God is all-important if we are to love God with our whole being. We must believe that God loves us first and want what is best for us. It is hard to do anything but love God with our whole being if we believe that God loves us. In an older translation of the New American Bible the words of Jesus are applicable here, “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” The words of the supplicant must be our words also, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.”

It may seem obvious that the first step that anyone would make toward perfect communion with God is to place God at the very center, but how many times we look everywhere else for the way? If we wish to have communion with God we must enter into God’s presence and offer our entire being to God.

Most of us have given the allegiance of part of our being to God but not the whole. I can say that intellectually I have always believed in God and placed my soul in varying degrees to the love of God, but my heart well that is another story. There have been countless times that what my heart has desired has been anything but God. I have thought that this or that would make me truly happy and I have gone down many paths ignoring God in the process.

If I believe that God has created me and knows me best and what is in my ultimate interest, I will seek God above all things.

I still remember the first time I encountered the simple engraving over the entrance of the Monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemane in Kentucky. I stood there for some time looking at the simple words etched in stone that seemed bigger than life, “GOD ALONE.” There was something shocking about the simplicity of the statement, but at the same time a truth that touched me deeply.

In the end when our life is failing nothing else will matter. If we can acknowledge that at this point why not see the wisdom of putting God first in everything today? The message of Benedict’s first step is to put God first in all things and to do so lovingly.

How to Be Close to God

Here is the first posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict’s Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.

This is the first part of step one:

(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength…

Benedict begins what will be a list of simple practices with one that is above all others, the practice of a complete love of God. A love that is one that desires only God, symbolized by the heart; a love that meditates only on God symbolized by the soul; and a love that focuses all of its energy on exhibiting this love of God symbolized by my strength.

If we are honest, this is exactly what we all fear the most, an unconditional surrender of all to God.

I remember when I taught high school theology at a Jesuit School the response that I would always receive from my students whenever I would present to them Saint Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation which teaches that the purpose of our lives is to know, love and serve God and that everything else is secondary and is here to help us attain that purpose. Most of the Catholic students would become outraged, usually a few non-Catholic students in some cases nonbelievers would say it made perfect sense to them.

The issue of acceptance of this foundational attitude in spirituality is one of trust. Do we trust that God wants what is best for us. In our fears is an agenda that thinks that God will only get in the way of our happiness. Unfortunately it takes a long time for most of us to realize that what we think we want changes almost hourly.

We need direction in our lives. Our lives need to be oriented in some direction. The question is where will we seek that guidance?

The map pocket of my car is full of maps. The maps are only helpful to me if I know what my ultimate destination is and if I know where I am at the present moment. Recently while driving in a strange city with the map opened to that city, I knew where I wanted to go but had no idea where I was. Someone in the neighborhood I was in had torn down all of the street signs. I continued to travel up the street until finally I was able to locate a street sign.

Our lives can be the same confused mess that I felt on that day driving aimlessly up and down a city street. Who are we? Why are we here?

The Baltimore Catechism gave us a simple answer. We are here because God loves us. That is the starting point of the spiritual quest is to believe wholeheartedly that we are loved. A subtle but key ingredient to the fear that we feel in surrendering to God is that we do not believe that we are loved but fear that we are hated.

I remember as a child whenever I would be on my way to confession on a Saturday afternoon secretly fearing that God would try to see to it that I was killed before I arrived there. Where this fear came from I do not know, but it was real and it was only much later that I finally realized that God was the redeemer not the enemy.

The attitude we have toward God is all-important if we are to love God with our whole being. We must believe that God loves us first and want what is best for us. It is hard to do anything but love God with our whole being if we believe that God loves us. In an older translation of the New American Bible the words of Jesus are applicable here, “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” The words of the supplicant must be our words also, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.”

It may seem obvious that the first step that anyone would make toward perfect communion with God is to place God at the very center, but how many times we look everywhere else for the way? If we wish to have communion with God we must enter into God’s presence and offer our entire being to God.

Most of us have given the allegiance of part of our being to God but not the whole. I can say that intellectually I have always believed in God and placed my soul in varying degrees to the love of God, but my heart well that is another story. There have been countless times that what my heart has desired has been anything but God. I have thought that this or that would make me truly happy and I have gone down many paths ignoring God in the process.

If I believe that God has created me and knows me best and what is in my ultimate interest, I will seek God above all things.

I still remember the first time I encountered the simple engraving over the entrance of the Monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemane in Kentucky. I stood there for some time looking at the simple words etched in stone that seemed bigger than life, “GOD ALONE.” There was something shocking about the simplicity of the statement, but at the same time a truth that touched me deeply.

In the end when our life is failing nothing else will matter. If we can acknowledge that at this point why not see the wisdom of putting God first in everything today? The message of Benedict’s first step is to put God first in all things and to do so lovingly.

Feast of Corpus Christi Michael Dubruiel

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.

Do Miracles Happen Today?

There are those who believe that we live in an age when miracles

have ceased, but I know better. Miracles abound—we just

don’t always recognize them. Those cured of physical blindness

perceive the world to be made of light; the same is true of those

cured of spiritual blindness. What seemed dark and hopeless

suddenly becomes a path to glory. The psalmist reflects this spiritual

vision when he prays in perhaps the best-known psalm,

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil; for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).

Today there are eye surgeries that allow people to see clearly

without corrective lenses. We need the “surgery of the cross” to

restore our vision, allowing us to see the world as God sees it. The

person filled with the Light perceives light, even in apparent

total darkness. As we read in the Gospel of Matthew: “The eye

is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body

will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body

will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how

great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22–23).

Lord Jesus, touch our eyes that we might see!

Are You Enslaved?

In the Scriptures, a person is considered enslaved to the extent

that he or she is attached to anything that is not God. “No servant

can serve two masters,” Jesus says in Luke 16:13. “Either he

will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the

one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

When God is not master of a person’s life, other forces are

free to enslave him. A Christian must be especially careful not to

become encumbered by lesser “gods,” knowing the price Jesus

paid to set us free from the bondage of sin. In the passage quoted

above from the book of Romans, St. Paul speaks of the horrible

effects of this enslavement. Wretched man that I am! Who will

deliver me from this body of death?

Inevitably, the way of bondage is the way of death. However,

even at the moment of death, the liberation of the cross is possible.

Two men were crucified with Christ, one on each side of

him (the seats that James and John requested). Both prisoners

were guilty of the crimes for which they were being executed.

However, one admitted his guilt; from his cross, Jesus assured

that thief that they would soon be in paradise.

RCIA Resources

The How To Book of the Mass is a great resource for inquirers and RCIA sessions.

You can find more information at this page. 

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In this complete guide you get:

  • step-by-step guidelines to walk you through the Mass
  • the Biblical roots of the various parts of the Mass and the very prayers themselves
  • helpful hints and insights from the Tradition of the Church
  • aids in overcoming distractions at Mass
  • ways to make every Mass a way to grow in your relationship with Jesus

If you want to learn what the Mass means to a truly Catholic life—and share this practice with others—you can’t be without The How-To Book of the Mass.

Discover how to:

  • Bless yourself
  • Make the Sign of the Cross
  • Genuflect
  • Pray before Mass
  • Join in Singing the Opening Hymn
  • Be penitential
  • Listen to the Scriptures
  • Hear a Great Homily Everytime
  • Intercede for others
  • Be a Good Steward
  • Give Thanks to God
  • Give the Sign of Peace
  • Receive the Eucharist
  • Receive a Blessing
  • Evangelize Others
  • Get something Out of Every Mass You Attend

“Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the risen Jesus with his disciples? Walking with them he explained the Scriptures to them; sitting with them at table ‘he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.”

1347, Catechism of the Catholic Church

How to Go to Confession by Michael Dubruiel

For a brief, pointed and helpful guide,

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All of Michael Dubruiel’s books listed on Amazon.

The Power of the Cross free download and audio files.

The New Version of the Stations of the Cross link

Free Catholic Books

I once read a personal essay written about attending Mass

where the writer advised the reader to get to church early to find

a pew where you will likely have no one sitting anywhere near

you to distract you. I confess there have been times that I have

felt this way too, but I can see how sinful such a view is—how

“separation” even in the name of God is not of God.

Jesus came to reunify all those separations brought about by

original sin—whether they be nationality, gender, or language. “For

by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks,

slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1

Corinthians 12:13). Our sinful self rebels against this notion; we

want to judge others rather than forgive in Christ. This is our cross!

If we hold it in front of us, we will have a constant reminder of the

One who died for the sins of the world—to save “them” and “us.”

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

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More about Michael Dubruiel

Sunday, June 7: Most Holy Trinity

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Today’s first reading from the Catholic Mass, from the Book of Exodus.

Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai

as the LORD had commanded him,

taking along the two stone tablets.

Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there

and proclaimed his name, “LORD.”

Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,

“The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,

slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”

Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.

Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O Lord,

do come along in our company.

This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins,

and receive us as your own.

Sunday, June 7: Most Holy Trinity

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Today’s first reading from the Catholic Mass, from the Book of Exodus.

Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai

as the LORD had commanded him,

taking along the two stone tablets.

Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there

and proclaimed his name, “LORD.”

Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,

“The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,

slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”

Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.

Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O Lord,

do come along in our company.

This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins,

and receive us as your own.

Michael Dubruiel Interview

You can listen to an interview program with Michael Dubruiel about his book, The Power of the Cross. The interview is with Kris McGregor of KVSS radio. This is the fourth episode

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Episode 4 – The Cross of Christ unites… – Michael discusses:

Day 15 – How We Worship

Day 16 – How We See Jesus

Day 17 – How We Forgive

Day 18 – Law and Love

Day 19 – Our Lives

Day 20 – Our Priorities

Day 21 – How We See Ourselves

You can find out more about The Power of the Cross here, including a free download of the book. 

Michael Dubruiel’s Books

You can listen to an interview program with Michael Dubruiel about his book, The Power of the Cross. The interview is with Kris McGregor of KVSS radio. This is the fifth episode.

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Episode 5 – The Cross of Christ unites… – Michael discusses:

Day 22 – Blindness

Day 23 – Lagtime

Day 24 – Weakness

Day 25 – Death

Day 26 – Our Choices

Day 27 – Truth

Day 28 – The Way to True Unity

You can find out more about The Power of the Cross here, including a free download of the book. 

Michael Dubruiel

You can listen to an interview program with Michael Dubruiel about his book, The Power of the Cross. The interview is with Kris McGregor of KVSS radio. This is the third episode.

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Episode 3 – The Cross of Christ unites… – Michael discusses:

Day 8 – The Temporal and Eternal

Day 9 – Those Divided by Sin

Day 10 – In Humility

Day 11 – In Sin

Day 12 – Those Who Suffer For Justice

Day 13 – Us in the Work We Have to Do

Day 14 – God’s Mercy and Love

You can find out more about The Power of the Cross here, including a free download of the book. 

Novena to the Sacred Heart

The Novena to the Sacred Heart continues

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. 

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