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

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

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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 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.

Monday Third Week of Advent Reflection

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

In many ways Advent is a season of unanswered questions that we anticipate being answered someday. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus is asked by what authority he acts. He asks his questioners a question that they can’t answer and in the end refuses to answer their question.

It is reminiscent of the God questioning Job.

We all have questions about why evil exist, why God doesn’t intervene more and on and on the questions go. What do we do with the unanswered ones?

Our Lord refused to answer those who questioned Him because they were trying to trap Him. Perhaps that is the intent of our questions too?

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

Daily Advent Devotional by Michael Dubruiel

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

“There will only be children in the Kingdom of God,” Fulton Sheen once said. He could have been commenting on today’s Gospel reading. Jesus praises the Father for having revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom to “mere children” while hiding it from the learned and wise.

Isn’t it true that the more we try to figure it all out the more confused we become. Yet a simple child like pondering done in prayer before God often reveals answers that years of learning could not obtain. A child goes to its parent and asks “what is it?” We should lose any self-reliance we have and turn to God at every moment of our lives to make sure that we understand “what it is” that we are encountering at the present moment.

We may be surprised to find that the Kingdom of God will have finally come to us.

More from Michael Dubruiel

November Devotional Reflection

Standing up for truth.

Pope Benedict XVI recalls his own youth and a lesson:

My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion – before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.

Let us thank God that today many people of your generation are able to enjoy the liberties which have arisen through the extension of democracy and respect for human rights. Let us thank God for all those who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek what is right and just.

The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. This is the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians; and the Church recalls this most dramatically during the Easter Triduum and celebrates it with great joy in the season of Easter! The One who shows us the way beyond death is the One who shows us how to overcome destruction and fear: thus it is Jesus who is the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi, 6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father “you have restored us to life!” (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday). And so, just a few weeks ago, during the beautiful Easter Vigil liturgy, it was not from despair or fear that we cried out to God for our world, but with hope-filled confidence: dispel the darkness of our heart! dispel the darkness of our minds! (cf. Prayer at the Lighting of the Easter Candle).

What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation – especially of girls and women. While the causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects ─ a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other hands – your hands – reaching out. I encourage you to invite others, especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way of goodness and hope.

The second area of darkness – that which affects the mind – often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy. The fundamental importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded. It is no surprise then that numerous individuals and groups vociferously claim their freedom in the public forum. Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.

Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth’s place – or better said its absence – an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a “freedom” which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).


-Michael Dubruiel 

73 Steps to Communion with God 56

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel.The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 56th step:

(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.

Another translation of this counsel has “to listen intently,” both are correct but for a culture where “will” is a weak term, “intent” probably communicates the sense of the counsel better. St. Benedict was referring to the daily table reading that would be done and the fact that one has to be counseled to “listen intently” shows that even a monk’s mind isn’t freed from the clutter that we all find our minds filled with.

We all listen to holy reading every time that we attend Mass and there perhaps is no better counsel then to listen intently to the reading of the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures are “living word” unlike much of what we read which consists of words that communicate a truth and usually little more. The Scriptures have the power to transcend their original purpose and to speak to us directly–if (and this is a big IF) we listen.

Listening is a lost art. I often think of myself as a good listener (my wife would disagree and she is right about most things, so I will defer to her on this manner). Truly listening requires an effort on our part. Too often we are planning our response while someone speaks, like the Prodigal Son who rehearsed his lines on his way home to the Father. God’s word cuts through our speeches and goes right for the heart.

If we want to hear God speak to us, there is no surer way for this to happen than to listen intently to the word of God proclaimed at Mass. Perhaps we are afraid of what God might say to us–so we intently do not listen. That is a shame if it is the case.

If you want to be in communion with God listen intently to what He has to say to you when the Scriptures are read.

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