73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 20a

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous are posted below among the other posts and last week’s archives. Here is the twentieth step:

(20) To hold one’s self aloof from worldly ways.

If you are like me, you can readily come up with a list of what “worldly ways” means, but too often this list have very little to do with what most spiritual masters mean when they use the term.

St. Benedict, again is writing these counsels for monks. Monks take a vow of obedience to an abbot. The abbot, a term that could be translated “father”, watches over the monks and assigns them various tasks for the good of the monastery.

About a year ago, I visited a monastery where the abbot invited me to join the monks for dinner. During the meal taken in silence, while a monk read from one of the Fathers of the Church, several monks had to kneel in front of the abbot’s table. They were being punished for some infraction of the rule that they had committed during the day (one monk told me that he had forgotten to put his napkin back in its holder).

As I sat there, in my forties, and witnessed the grown men who were around sixty years old, I momentarily thought of the ways of the world and how foolish this all seemed. But then, I remembered the counsel of Our Lord, “Unless you become like a child, you can not enter the Kingdom of God.”

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 15a

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous are posted below among the other posts and last week’s archives. Here is the fifteenth step part one:

(15) To clothe the naked…



For some reason the first thing that comes to mind when confronted with this counsel of St. Benedict is something that I read some years ago in a work by Peter Brown in a book entitled The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity -a book that among other things, looks at early Christianity’s view of the body. Brown speculates that the Church’s view of modesty in the Roman World is colored by the fact that nudity was the privilege of the wealthy.

Another thought that comes to mind, is the way in which Baptisms were done in the early church. The catechumen would strip naked leaving the clothing they entered the church with behind, as they entered the Baptismal pool and then as they emerged from the waters and had oil poured over their heads, they would be clothed in a new garment.

The young man in Mark’s Gospel (Mk 14:52) who fleas the scene of the arrest of Jesus naked, is another image that comes to mind. Whereas the apostles had left everything to follow Jesus, now at the crucial moment of decision this young man (thought by some to be the writer of the Gospel–Mark) leaves everything behind to get away from Jesus.

But it could be that this young man’s presence in the Gospel is also an indication of the early Church’s Baptismal practice. When you understand how Baptisms were done, and also what entering the waters of Baptism symbolizes (entering into the Death and Resurrection of Jesus) you will see the connection between the young man leaving his clothes behind and then reappearing after the Passion in the Empty Tomb, (in place of the Angels who are there the other Gospels).

Livestreamed 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

H A N K O D H E A D        O F I M E

There is an American friar whose cause for sainthood is currently before Rome. His name is Father Solanus Casey; he was a Capuchin Friar who ministered in Detroit, New York, and Huntington, Indiana. He died over forty years ago. I often walk the grounds of the former friary where he served in Huntington and think about his ministry. Born of Irish immigrants, he was sent to German seminaries where the priests taught him in German how to speak Latin. He didn’t fare too well — who would?

Eventually he was ordained but not allowed to preach doctrinal sermons or hear confessions. In a time when there was more of a caste system in religious life he was given a “brothers’ job” as porter. People sought him out near and far.They found great wisdom in his words, and great miracles of healing were recorded after his prayer and touch. Many were converted.

In many ways, it would seem that he would have had much to be bitter about. He was obviously one of the most gifted friars in the community, but he was treated as one who had little to offer.

Yet he was not bitter, and his advice to people who requested prayer and healing is interesting. He told them to “thank God ahead of time”— as an act of faith.He often also had them enroll in a Mass association as a way of giving thanks to God.

This is a beautiful message for us: to thank God in all things, to be thankful for everything that life brings to us even if to all appearances it doesn’t seem there is anything to be thankful for, and to thank God ahead of time,trusting that in God’s time good will come from it all.

The Eucharist is all about “giving thanks,” and how much you and I can do so at any given moment is dependent upon how deeply we are adoring and worshiping God.Offering God our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving will help us to get the most from the Eucharist.

Michael Dubruiel

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the constant images of suffering and devastation challenge the common world view of most Americans…and unfortunately most Christians who have forgotten how the Gospel presents the Good News of Christ…aptly summarized in Archbishop Bruno Forte’s statement “Life is either a pilgrimage or a foretaste of death.”

I’m also struck by a letter that I received by a group of women in Hurricane stricken Florida last Fall after they had completed a group study of The Power of the Cross: Applying the Passion of Christ to Your Life. The leader of the group wrote to me, “We’ve missed out on this key element of the Gospel that helps us to understand where God is in the midst of horrific events.”

Indeed.

The natural disaster that has stricken the Gulf Coast reminds us again that this life can bring many crosses which we either curse because we see nothing beyond or contemplate with Faith because of our belief in Christ.

Michael Dubruiel – 2005

Daily Lenten Meditation

The Cross of Christ Teaches Us. . . How to Pray 


In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. HEBREWS 5:7 


And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. MATTHEW 6:7–8 

While visiting the Holy Spirit Trappist monastery in Conyers, Georgia, I wandered into the abbey church one afternoon to spend a few moments in prayer. A young woman with two small children was already there. Although she prayed inaudibly as her two small children circled about her, I could tell by her raised hands and her tears that she was pleading and reasoning with God. I have no idea what the woman was praying about, only that she was praying the way Moses is described in the Letter to the Hebrews, “. . .seeing him who is invisible.”

As the Israelites battled the Amalekites (see Exodus 17), Moses lifted his hands in prayer, holding his wooden staff over his head as the battle raged in the valley below. So long as Moses’ hands remained in the air, the Israelites were victorious; as Moses’ arms grew tired and began to fall to his sides, the battle turned to the enemy’s advantage. When they realized what was happening, Aaron and Hur stood on either side of Moses, holding his hands aloft, until the battle was won.

To the early church fathers, the prayer of Moses in the battle with the Amalekites foreshadowed the victory Christ won on the cross. Like Aaron and Hur, we have an opportunity to stand with Christ, interceding for the salvation of souls. Of course, Moses, Aaron, and Hur had an advantage that we do not: They could see the effects of Moses’ intercession on the battle raging below. How our prayer life would change if God gave us the ability to see the effect our intercessions—or lack thereof—have on the battle that is being waged daily for souls.

The letter to the Hebrews draws a strong connection between the cross and prayer. Because every moment of our earthly existence is threatened by death, and we know neither the day nor the hour when that existence will come to an end, we, too, need to cry out to the God who can save us. Like Moses, we need the help of our fellow Christians to hold up our arms when they grow tired. We, too, need the help of the Holy Spirit to make up for what is lacking in our prayer.

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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RCIA Confession Resource

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

New Year’s Eve Meditation

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Octave of Christmas-Seventh Day

Two readings that fit for the last day of the secular year. In the first reading John tells us that this is the “last hour” and that many antichrists have appeared. He tells us that they came from “our number” but they really didn’t belong. As we close out this year we might think of the “antichrists” that we have listened to in the past year. What gospels have we accepted that have moved us further from Christ?

The Gospel reading is from the Gospel of John and is the same as the Gospel for Christmas Day–“In the beginning was the word…” As we begin a new year we should seek to align ourselves with the “Word,” Our Lord.

So in the midst of our celebrations, let us be out with the old false gospels and in with the ever new gospel of Our Lord who speaks to us in the events of everyday.

More from Michael Dubruiel

Here’s an excerpt:

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.

Also, check out this post from 2003, in which Michael Dubruiel narrates the events of one of his “rosary walks.”.

Daily Advent Meditation

Friday of the Second Week of Advent

When I hear the Gospel reading for today, I’m stopped in my tracks by the phrase “the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm” and necessarily I’ve had to spend some time canvassing the great minds of the church to figure out just exactly what Jesus meant by this.

Well, it turns out that the Greek word that is translated “violence” above is probably best rendered “forceful” but that doesn’t change the overall passage that much, yet it does give us some indication of what is meant by violence. The early Fathers of the Church felt that the passage was best understood by thinking about who was entering the kingdom of heaven–sinners, namely people who did not belong there. They were intruders, outsiders who had been let in through the violence of the cross.

Taking this a step further, if our sins are really what nailed Jesus to a cross then we see that the violence we have done to the Son of God in some way have been our ticket to the kingdom of heaven.

It is only those however, who are desperate to enter that get in. One imagines the crowds that surrounded Jesus and John the Baptist (a modern example might be Pope John Paul and the crowds that surround his visits). Only a desperate person would get close enough to touch Our Lord.

So it is today. Are we desperate in our desire to enter the kingdom of heaven or is it somewhere way down the list of things to do today?

More from Michael Dubruiel:

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.

Wednesday First Week of Advent Reflection by Michael Dubruiel

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

“How many loaves have you?” is Jesus’ question to us today. Daily Advent Devotional by Michael Dubruiel

It is easy in life to concentrate on our lack in the face of the problems that arise daily. But Our Lord’s response is to take what we have, give thanks to God and throw what we have at the problem. There is a lesson in this for all of us. The disciples when confronted by Our Lord’s question mouth our response, “but what is this for so many?” and Jesus ignores this objection.

Today take what you have and give it. Give it for others. Take the words that are buried in your mind and share them with those you meet. Take the loose change you have in your pocket and throw it into the Salvation Army bucket. Whatever you have it is enough, share it.

Some years ago when the city of Berlin was divided but before the Berlin wall had been built. Some Berliners from the Soviet side sneaked over late at night to the American side and dumped all of their trash into the street. A few nights later the Americans retaliated by sneaking over with a truck load of food and provisions and leaving them in the street…along with a sign “One gives what one has to give..”

Give what you have today asking God to bless it as you do.

More from Michael Dubruiel

How to Receive Communion as a Catholic

When our Lord gave the disciples on the road to Emmaus the bread that He had blessed and broken, “he vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:31). It was then that they recognized Him. We receive the Lord as they did in receiving the Eucharist. Now, at the moment that He is within us, we too should reflect, as they did, on the Scriptures that He has opened to us during this Mass, especially on what has made our “hearts burn.”

In our consumer-minded society, we can miss the treasure that we receive if we treat it like one more thing to “get” and then go on to the next thing. Our Lord is not a “thing.” He is God, who has deigned to come intimately into our lives. We should reflect on His Presence within us and ask what He would have us do.

More on The How to Book of the Mass here. 

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Catholic Mass Prayers

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

H A N K O D H E A D        O F I M E

There is an American friar whose cause for sainthood is currently before Rome. His name is Father Solanus Casey; he was a Capuchin Friar who ministered in Detroit, New York, and Huntington, Indiana. He died over forty years ago. I often walk the grounds of the former friary where he served in Huntington and think about his ministry. Born of Irish immigrants, he was sent to German seminaries where the priests taught him in German how to speak Latin. He didn’t fare too well — who would?

Eventually he was ordained but not allowed to preach doctrinal sermons or hear confessions. In a time when there was more of a caste system in religious life he was given a “brothers’ job” as porter. People sought him out near and far.They found great wisdom in his words, and great miracles of healing were recorded after his prayer and touch. Many were converted.

In many ways, it would seem that he would have had much to be bitter about. He was obviously one of the most gifted friars in the community, but he was treated as one who had little to offer.

Yet he was not bitter, and his advice to people who requested prayer and healing is interesting. He told them to “thank God ahead of time”— as an act of faith.He often also had them enroll in a Mass association as a way of giving thanks to God.

This is a beautiful message for us: to thank God in all things, to be thankful for everything that life brings to us even if to all appearances it doesn’t seem there is anything to be thankful for, and to thank God ahead of time,trusting that in God’s time good will come from it all.

The Eucharist is all about “giving thanks,” and how much you and I can do so at any given moment is dependent upon how deeply we are adoring and worshiping God.Offering God our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving will help us to get the most from the Eucharist.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 37

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:

(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.

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).

Queenship of Mary – August 22

Today is another Marian feast – the Queenship of Mary.  It’s also one of the mysteries of the Rosary, and so it’s appropriate to talk about the Rosary as we contemplate the feast. Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

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.

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