How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist – part 5

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

5679b-michael-dubruiel2

Chapter 1 – Serve, Part 1

“You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

ATTHEW 4 : 1 0

In my home parish, St. John the Baptist in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the words Parate Viam Domini are inscribed over the front doors. The two years of Latin that I had in college and my knowledge of Scripture are enough for me to figure out that the message greeting me each Sunday are the words of St. John the Baptist in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” It is an excellent message to set the tone for the mystery that is about to be celebrated.

17

18

P R E PA R AT I O N

I remember how differently I approached the Mass when as a young man I began to serve at the Eucharist as an altar boy.Before I could serve for the first time, I had to attend training sessions so that I knew what gestures and movements I was to make, and had to study the Latin responses so that I could answer the prayers of the priest at the appropriate time.Sometimes school was sacrificed so that I could serve a funeral mass,or a Saturday afternoon so that the priest could be attended to as he witnessed the marriage vows of a couple celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony.

The thought and preparation that went into serving at the Eucharist required a sacrifice on my part but kept me focused on why I was there. Adults who serve as lectors, ushers, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist,and choir members often mention feeling similar sentiments when they first take on these acts of service. Yet with time we are all apt to find ourselves going through the motions without much preparation and indeed without much thought about the fact that we are serving God in our respective roles at the Eucharist, and this inattentiveness is to our detriment. Making preparations is the work of a servant, and in the celebration of the Eucharist it is the work of every disciple of Christ.

T H E WAY

“The Way” is one of the oldest names for the first followers of Christ. Jesus often told his disciples that he came to show them “the Way” to the Father, that God’s ways were not our ways, and that He was the Way. The routine that we can fall into at the Eucharist happens precisely when we stop seeing what is taking place as “different”from everything else that we experience in life. Not only is it different, but if we truly enter into the Eucharist with a spirit of sacrifice,it will change the way that we view everything in our lives. The tension between Christian beliefs and the beliefs of “the world” is understood only when we come to embrace “the way” of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

19

Most converts to Christianity have a clear sense of the saving power of Jesus as “the Way.” Faithful, lifelong Catholics may not have as keen an understanding until they experience the difference their faith has made to them in contrast to the rejection of that faith in one of their children.Yet understanding that “the way” of Christ is not business as usual can keep us from thinking that we have nothing to prepare for when we celebrate the Eucharist. Once we realize that God’s ways are not our ways, we will always see the need to “prepare ourselves for these Sacred Mysteries” we are about to celebrate.

LIVING THE UCHARIST

Throughout the day,when the events of the day do not go your “way,” before frustration has a chance to set in, stop and ask yourself what God’s way might be for what the day has given you. Try to think of a similar incident in the life of Christ to the one in which you find yourself — how did Our Lord handle the situation?

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist – part 4

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

I was giving a talk at a Catholic parish in rural Ohio a few years ago about the topic of this book.When I had concluded my presentation someone asked,“Why do people care so little about their faith today?”

I told them of a man, a non-Catholic, I had known who cared little about his faith but attended Mass every week with his Catholic wife because he wanted to make her happy. He did this for years, to the point that several priests tried to convince him that he should convert to the Catholic faith since he had been attending the Eucharist for so many years. He refused.

Then he was diagnosed with bone cancer. His condition deteriorated rapidly. In a few months he went from being robust and strong to bedridden and totally dependent upon others.He called for a priest, who heard his first confession and then offered the Eucharist at his bedside, where he received his First Holy Communion. In the last months of his life, his Catholic faith was all that mattered to him.

This led a woman in the group to recall an incident when a tornado had wiped out her family’s farm and the family had sat huddled together in the storm cellar, praying the Rosary. At that moment their faith had mattered more than anything else in the world to them.

Someone else mentioned that in the weeks following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on this country he had noticed more people in the Church and more fervency in the way people seemed to pray.

Our faith is a matter of life and death and our faith is totally centered on Jesus Christ.The Scriptures reveal that Jesus did not leave us as orphans but founded a Church. He made the very human apostle Peter the first leader of this Church. He left a memorial of his saving death in the Eucharist and commanded his disciples to perform it.

Getting the most out of the Eucharist is an urgent task, then, because our very life depends upon Christ, and Jesus comes to us in the celebration of his passion, death, and resurrection at every Eucharist. Jesus said that he is the vine and that we are the

branches. In the Eucharist we receive the very life that connects us to Christ the Vine.

Jesus told a parable about what happens when a storm comes that lashes out against our very lives (see Matthew 7:24–27). He said that the wise person builds his house (his life) on solid ground,on rock (the image that he used to speak about his church and Peter). The foolish person builds on sand and is destroyed by the storms of life.

The work of building the foundation on which our lives depend takes place every time we participate in the Eucharist. While I was putting the finishing touches on this book I traveled to Florida, right after Hurricane Frances had made a direct hit near Stuart, Florida. I had been scheduled to give a talk in nearby Palm Beach Gardens two days after the storm had hit.The talk was canceled because the church, St. Patrick’s, was without power, but I had the opportunity to meet with the pastor of the parish, Father Brian Flanagan, and some of the parish staff. In the midst of much devastation what remains vivid in my mind is how peaceful everyone there was. I know Father Brian to be a man whose deep faith is rooted in the Eucharist, and what I experienced in those days immediately following Hurricane Frances was a literal exposition of Jesus’s parable — the storm had come,but because the lives of the people I met were built on solid rock, they were not destroyed.

Isn’t this what we all want, a joy that the world cannot take away, no matter what might happen? Our Lord offers it to us at every Eucharist. It is my hope that this small book will help you to better experience this joy, and to discover the richness the Lord’s Eucharistic presence can add to your life.

How to Get the Most out of the Eucharist, part 3

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

5679b-michael-dubruiel2

A  N O T E      O F C A U T I O N

N ow, I want to be clear that what I am proposing in this book is not the “victim-ism” that was sometimes prevalent in the older spirituality of “offering it up.” In every situation we are free to choose how we will respond to an event: we can blame someone else for what is happening, or we can feel powerless and do

nothing. It is my contention that neither of these responses is Christlike.The experience of “offering up” our lives to God needs to be a positive and co-redemptive act.Thankfully, with God’s help we are all capable of freely choosing to respond in this fashion.

Those who promoted the spirituality of “offering it up” in a previous age often quoted St.Paul’s words to the Colossians:“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24). In offering our sacrifice at the Eucharist, in the same way that we offer up any suffering we endure in life, we take whatever is negative and turn it into a positive, life-giving force both in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. We make up for what is “lacking” for the sake of  “his body,”the Church — that is,ourselves in communion with all Christians with all of our imperfections and all of our failings. “The miracle of the church assembly lies in that it is not the ‘sum’ of the sinful and unworthy people who comprise it, but the body of Christ,” Father Alexander Schmemann remarked.This is the power of the cross of Jesus Christ,taking what appears to be weakness and allowing God to transform it into strength!

How to Get the Most out of the Eucharist, part 2

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

5679b-michael-dubruiel2

T H E  E U C H A R I S T     A S   A  S A C R I F I C E

The solution to this modern dilemma is simple — put Jesus back at the center of the Eucharist and you immediately change all of this. In his encyclical Pope John Paul II says, “In giving his sacrifice to the Church, Christ has also made his own the spiritual sacrifice of the Church, which is called to offer herself in union with the sacrifice of Christ.This is the teaching of the Second Vatican Council concerning all the faithful: ‘Taking part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice,which is the source and summit of the whole Christian life,they offer the divine victim to God,and offer themselves along with it.’ ”2

As we participate in the Eucharist, not only do we participate in Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary but we are called to share in that sacrifice.Just knowing this should change how we view everything that irks us at Mass. Are you:

  • Suffering mental anguish — like a crown of thorns isupon your head?
  • Weighed down by worldly concerns — like the weight ofthe cross is on you?
  • Feeling powerless — like you are nailed to a cross?

If we take away a sacrificial attitude toward the Eucharist, we are likely to fail to see the connection between our lives and what we do at Mass.We are apt to sit in judgment, waiting to be entertained (whether we are conservative or liberal, what we want to see differs but the attitude is the same). When we fail to bring a sacrificial attitude to the Eucharist, our participation seems at times to be modeled more after Herod’s banquet, where Simone’s dance cost the Baptist his head, than after the Last Supper of Our Lord, where there was every indication that partaking in this banquet was likely to cost the disciples their own lives. (Indeed, ten of the twelve were martyred,Judas took his own life,and John survived being boiled alive in a cauldron of oil.)

When was the last time that you celebrated the Eucharist with the thought that you were being asked to “offer yourself” — to give your very life? Chances are,you haven’t thought of it,but you may have experienced it …

  • By thinking “I could be doing something else.”
  • By asking “Why am I here?”

Yet you weren’t doing anything else and you were there — what was missing was the free offering of “your sacrifice,” the choice to offer your suffering along with that of the Passion of Our Lord.

Participation in the Eucharist requires that we die to ourselves and live in Christ. If we want to get the most out of the Eucharist, then sacrifice is the key.This is what has been lost on many of us, and if we want to reclaim all the spiritual riches that are available to us we must relearn what it means not only to “offer it up” but indeed to offer ourselves up.

How to Get More Out of a Catholic Mass – Part 1

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. 

The following is an excerpt from the introduction:


Problems…            I had the opportunity to speak about the Eucharist to various groups of people in almost every part of the United States since the release of The How To Book of the Mass, a book I wrote several years ago. No matter where I happened to be, I received the same response. A dissatisfaction of sorts often rooted in how things were being done at their home parish.
Some of these same people longed for the “old” days of the Tridentine liturgy (and an alarming number of young Catholics). Yet I know from conversations that I’ve had with older priests that the old liturgy was subject to many of the same problems as today’s Mass.
What was different forty years ago is the attitude that Catholics brought to the Eucharist back then was more sacrificial. A term that one often heard older Catholics use was “to offer it up” when things didn’t go the way you expected or wished. This sacrificial attitude made a previous generation of Catholics focus not on themselves but on what God wanted of them.
By the time I attended a Catholic College in the early 1980’s people were being made fun of if they still had this attitude. I remember a very pious student one day suggesting to another student who was complaining about the difficulty of an upcoming test that he “offer-up” the suffering he was undergoing for the poor souls in Purgatory. His fellow student replied, “Are you nuts?” Everyone at the table laughed. It was symbolic of a change in the Catholic psyche.
The Eucharist was viewed almost entirely as a banquet; a picnic table replaced the stone altar in the chapel, it was moved from the front of the chapel to the center.  The emphasis was more horizontal. The pendulum was swinging in the other direction, after many years where it would have been difficult to think of the Mass as a meal, now it was nearly impossible to encounter the Eucharist as a sacrifice.
Some twenty years later the pendulum is returning to the middle. My college chapel has been renovated yet again. The table is gone replaced by a very ornate altar that is located in the middle of the congregation. Images once removed have returned and there is more of a flow of the feeling that both God and humans occupy this worship space.
Pope John Paul in his Encyclical on the Eucharist Ecclesia de Eucharistia has mentioned as one of the modern “shadows” or problems with the way Catholics understand the Eucharist is that “Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet[i].”
It is my belief that this downplaying the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist is the main reason that many of us are not getting the most out of the Eucharist. Over time we lose sight of why we even go or worst the Eucharist gets relegated to one more social obligation that one can easily decide not to attend.

[i] Ecclesia De Eucharistia (10)

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.

How to Understand the 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.

How to Pray the Rosary

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.

%d bloggers like this: