Solanus Casey Beatified

From 2009 by Michael Dubruiel

A good and holy priest is the reason I am able to write this at the beginning of 2009. I owe my life to him. The strange thing about this priest is that he died in 1957, the year before I was born. However, in 2000 I was driving on an interstate in Southern Indiana in a torrential rain, when suddenly my Ford Explorer off the road by a sudden gust of wind. As I spun wildly toward the oncoming traffic in the West bound lane, I saw my life pass before my eyes. Then, almost as suddenly as the whole incident had unfolded, I found myself back in the East bound lane heading in the right direction. A holy card with the image of Father Solanus Casey stood in front of me—completely upright.

My legs were shaking as I tried to regain my composure, and the thought entered my mind that God had something for me to do—and that Father Solanus had interceded for me at that moment.

I first heard of Father Solanus Casey in 1985, while on retreat with Father Benedict Groeschel. Father Benedict spent his novitiate at St. Felix Friary in Huntington, IN back in the 1950’s. He had witnessed many miraculous events in Father Solanus’ presence. Years later when commenting on the skepticism of modern people, and sadly some scholars, about the miraculous incidents related in the Bible, Father Benedict commentedthat this was never a problem for him. Referring to the years he had lived with Father Solanus Casey he said, “I lived with the New Testament.”

Providentially, I took a job in 1999, in Huntington, IN—leaving the beloved South. I worked for a Catholic publishing house. On my lunch breaks I travelled to the former St. Felix Friary and walked the grounds while reading about Fr. Solanus. In Christ, who told His followers, “Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die,” (John 11:26), Father Solanus becamea good friend of mine.

A few years ago, the Capuchin pastor of St. Peter and Paul in Huntington, Father Ron, was called to the home of an older married couple who were evangelical Protestants.They called Father Ron because it seemed that a Catholic priest had visited their home and offered them counsel. They wondered if Father Ron knew the priest, so they could thank him for coming.

The lady of the house told Father Ron that her husband was dying of cancer. He had difficulty sleeping and often slept in the living room at night. On this particular night she heard him talking out loud, seemingly in conversation. The next morning she found him asleep, with a pile of nut shells on the table next to him. There was another pile of nut shells near a sofa table.

The man related that during the night when he was in incredible pain, a Franciscan priest had walked into the living room and asked him how he was doing. They ate nuts, while talking about God and life. The priest told the man that he was going to die very soon and he needed to get ready to meet God. The brown robed friar left the house early in the morning. Did Father Ron know the identity of this Franciscan priest?

They described him in great detail,and Father Ron racked his brain trying to figure out who they might have encountered. Finally he pulled out a holy card of Father Solanus, “Does this look anything like the priest?”

The man spoke up at once, “Not only does it look like him, it is him! Where can I get in contact with him again?”

Father Ron explained that Father Solanus had died over forty years ago.

Father Ron later told me that the man with cancer lived a few more months after his meeting.

Father Solanus once said, “Life here in the exile seems so short and uncertain, that it seems like it ought to have another name.” The older I get, the comparison that our earthly pilgrimage is likened to an “exile” makes more sense to me.

New Year’s is a time of making resolutions. I pray that God may bless each of you with the insight into the mission that He has for you and for me. May we all like Father Solanus Casey bring joy into the lives of those we touch.I wish you a Happy and Blessed New Year!

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Free Catholic Book by Michael Dubruiel

The Cross of Christ Transforms. . . How We Forgive

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. EPHESIANS 4:32–5:2 


“You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger, his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all of his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. MATTHEW 18:32–35

A woman once shared with me that she had a problem accepting God’s forgiveness in her life. She was a merciful woman who willingly forgave others; she just could not believe that God could forgive her past sins. We met from time to time over the course of two years. After that long period of time, she was finally able to talk about what she had done, and why God couldn’t forgive her. What finally enabled her to reveal her sin was an experience she had that I would call a personal revelation. One night as she walked into her kitchen, stopping at the entrance, she witnessed

Jesus nailed to the cross. He raised his head and looked at her, then vanished from the room. That was it, no words, just a look. Yet that look conveyed love and forgiveness that flooded her heart.

Those of us who grew up with a deep sense of sin may remember our early experiences of confession. In those early days when we were young we confessed that we didn’t always obey our parents and that we didn’t get along that well with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes we even argued and fought with them. As adults, we can smile at such youthful indiscretions. In adolescence we commit a different variety of sins. We tend to judge these more seriously because we take ourselves more seriously at this point in our lives. But what we don’t realize is that these sins are no different from those we committed as small children: We don’t obey our parent, God our Father, and we don’t get along with our brothers and sisters; every sin that we commit is in some way against God or neighbor.

Separation from God 

The consequence of all sin is spiritual death. We should hate all sin, but some sins can nearly destroy our earthly lives, or greatly alter the path God wishes for us to take. The woman that I mentioned at the beginning of this section had committed such a sin; it could have changed the course of her life and greatly hurt the people she loved. Yet by God’s grace, the sin never came to light to those who would have been most affected by it. Even so, her knowledge of that sin became a heavy cross that she carried for over forty years. In that sense, her sin did hurt those that she loved: Though they must have perceived the sadness in her soul, they were never able to relieve her inner pain. Catholics have always taught that there is a temporal punishment attached to sins, a punishment that remains even when God forgives that sin. In some cases it is easy to understand this  temporal punishment: If you rob a bank and get caught, even if God forgives you there will still be a price to pay. If you are caught in adultery and are sincerely sorry, God will forgive you but the damage done to your marriage will be real. Sin is evil because it does bad things to us; just as many physical behaviors can lead to the development of various cancers, so sin leads to our destruction. Eve looked at the forbidden fruit and it looked desirable, but partaking of that fruit made both Adam and Eve terminally ill. Relief Though confession alone does not remove the temporal penalty of sin, healing still is possible by God’s grace.

Prayer, reading the Scripture, giving alms, doing good works all are acts that have had indulgences attached to them by the Church. By obtaining an indulgence, the Christian receives healing from the temporal penalty of even the gravest sins, reducing or eliminating altogether the time of purification needed in purgatory (CCC 1471). Ideally, the Christian is motivated to perform these spiritual exercises not from fear of punishment but out of love for God. As we read in the preceding passage, St. Paul tells the Ephesians to offer themselves as a spiritual sacrifice with Christ, who has paid the debt of our sins. Seeing Christ on the cross and meditating on his love for us should help us to understand how much God loves us.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus thought of herself as an infant when she prayed. She saw God as her Father, bidding her to come up the stairs, something she made feeble attempts to do with little progress. Finally, she said, the Father would come down and carry her up the stairs. This is the perfect image of prayer: God carries us up to the heavens if we allow him to do so. Yet first we must admit our own powerlessness to achieve the heights to which he calls us, so that he might take us where we would not go. We need to confess our sins regularly, and accept absolution fully—trusting in God’s love more than our failings or our sins. Then we must extend that forgiveness to everyone else in our life, knowing that being forgiven is conditioned upon our forgiving in the same way (see Luke 6:37; Matthew 6:15). Failure to forgive means that we do not fully trust God’s forgiveness, as if God might change his mind down the road. Yet God’s love is everlasting.

The Ignorance of Sin 

The greatest example of forgiveness is that of Jesus, who from the cross forgave those who put him there: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” Who is the “them” to which Jesus was referring? The “them” is us. There is great ignorance in every sin willfully committed. If we truly understood the consequences of sin, none of us would have the courage to commit even one. In a moment of clarity we may come to our senses, and realize that by our actions we have “sold innocent blood.” Yet even when we have a deep sense of our own ignorance in the sins that we commit against others, we often are unwilling to extend that same possibility to those who sin against us. Forgiving others is an act of the cross. In the same way that a priest absolves us while making the sign of the cross over us— so it is necessary to trace the sign of God’s love in the direction of those who wrong us. By seeing them through the eyes of our  Savior, we may find the courage to offer them the forgiveness that he has offered to us.

The Power of the Cross 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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Solanus Casey to be Beatified

From 2004, by Michael Dubruiel Taming the Wild   Solanus had also been cultivating a patch of wild strawberries which he told the friars he was “taming.” Father Solanus: The Story of Solnus Casey O.F.M. Cap. p.174





I had been making my lunch time pilgrimage for several months when I read a chapter from Cathy Odell’s book on Solanus’ time in Huntington. I had literally walked the fields and woods throughout but had never come across any wild strawberries. They must have perished when some of the land was plowed, I figured.


It was a beautiful sunlit day, not a cloud in the sky and very low humidity. I started out walking the perimeter of the property, as was my usual route, and began to pray the rosary. Normally this meant finishing the joyful mysteries by the time I reached the far forest where an Eagle Scout had cleared a trail through the woods. There I would begin the sorrowful mysteries reaching the Capuchin graveyard about the time I reached the third sorrowful mystery (the Crowing with Thorns) where I would prostrate in the direction of the simple wooden cross at the head of the graveyard and pray the prayer of St. Francis, “We adore thee O Christ and we praise Thee because by thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.” Then I would pray the third sorrowful mystery on my knees for the Friars and others buried there, at the same time asking for their intercession for my many needs.


Then I would retrace my steps backward in a slightly different path along the woods rather than through them. At about the same spot where I had discovered an apple tree left over from the orchard that Solanus had blessed, I looked down and spotted something red blooming. At first I thought they were small red flowers that had some how resisted the mowing the lawn had received recently. But on closer inspection I found wild strawberries almost ready to be harvested.


I thought of the irony of my discovery on the very day that I had first read about Solanus’ “taming” of wild strawberries, then I thought of the whole aspect of “taming” the wild.


Looking over the property of what had once been a flourishing center of Catholic spirituality, I could not help but be struck by the apparent failure. What had been tamed here and once again become wild.


It struck me as an apt symbol for the state of Catholicism in the United States at the beginning of the Twenty-first century. The in-roads that the Church had made in converting and bringing Catholic Christianity to this country seemed to have reverted back to its wild state. Those who call themselves Catholic pick and choose what they believe and how they practice their faith. In many ways they mirror the environment they live in with very little to distinguish them from their non-Catholic neighbors.


Of course it also struck me that I suffered from this as much as anyone.


Picking up the wild strawberry, I saw how immature it was. No doubt Solanus’ taming of the “wild” strawberries had resulted in them growing into substantial fruit that was enjoyed by the Huntington Capuchins. Now without that taming, the wild strawberry had once again returned to a small pitiful caricature of what it might have been.


Sadly this is what we also have become. Our influence in our culture is weak and we risk giving scandal to those who look to us as representatives of all that is Catholic. We are “wild” Cathlolics, in great need of being tamed by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Free Catholic Book by Michael Dubruiel

If we want to learn anything about the Paschal mystery of Jesus’

Passion, death, and resurrection here on the mountain of the

Transfiguration, we must approach these mysteries on our knees.

It all begins with prayer.

Jesus climbed the mountain to be alone with the three disciples,

to pray with them. Every effort of prayer begins with an

invitation to “come aside.” Just as Our Lord called Peter, James,

and John to come with him up the mountain, he beckons to us

today. When we feel that inner nudge, that desire to pray, we

must pay attention to God’s call.

It may be difficult to respond to the invitation at times. We

need not climb a mountain, at least not literally. However, we do

need a place to “come aside.” It may be a special corner of our

room, or a nearby chapel; no matter where it is, the trip to put

oneself into God’s presence may seem like scaling the side of a

precipice at times. This is to be expected: We are entering a different

realm. As Peter, James, and John discovered, in leading

them up the mountain Jesus had taken them higher than the geological

summit; he had transported them to heaven itself. They

were able to witness Moses and Elijah, conversing with Jesus in

prayer and blinding light!

The Power of the Cross  by Michael Dubruiel

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November 13- St. Francis Cabrini

A novena to Mother Cabrini is included in The Church’s Most Powerful Novenas by Michael Dubruiel

The Church’s Most Powerful Novenas is a book of novenas connected with particular shrines.  Michael Dubruiel wrote in the introduction to this book he compiled:

A novena to Mother Cabrini is included in

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. 

"michael Dubruiel"

St. Leo the Great – November 10

I attended an early mass at St. Leo the Great’s tomb one morning while in Rome and as I read the office of readings for today by him, I thought how death makes this even more apparent.

St. Leo, pray for us!

From the Office of Readings:

Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of

members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists

as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: We are all one in Christ. No

difference in office is so great that anyone can be separated, through

lowliness, from the head. In the unity of faith and baptism, therefore, our

community is undivided. There is a common dignity, as the apostle Peter says in

these words: And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy

priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through

Jesus Christ. And again: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy

nation, a people set apart. For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by

the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy

Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all

spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers

in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find

yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And

what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer

him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart? Because, through

the grace of God, it is a deed accomplished universally on behalf of all, it is

altogether praiseworthy and in keeping with a religious attitude for you to

rejoice in this our day of consecration, to consider it a day when we are

especially honoured. For indeed one sacramental priesthood is celebrated

throughout the entire body of the Church. The oil which consecrates us has

richer effects in the higher grades, yet it is not sparingly given in the lower.

Sharing in this office, my dear brethren, we have solid ground for a common

rejoicing; yet there will be more genuine and excellent reason for joy if you do

not dwell on the thought of our unworthiness. It is more helpful and more

suitable to turn your thoughts to study the glory of the blessed apostle Peter.

We should celebrate this day above all in honour of him. He overflowed with

abundant riches from the very source of all graces, yet though he alone received

much, nothing was given over to him without his sharing it. The Word made flesh

lived among us, and in redeeming the whole human race, Christ gave himself

entirely

.-Michael Dubruiel

St. John Lateran – November 9

A visit to St. John Lateran, from 2006, by Michael Dubruiel:

After a quick lunch (pizza, what else?)we headed toward the Metro station to catch the A Train to St. John Lateran’s to meet up with Zadok who had so generously agreed to give us a tour of two of Rome’s greatest Churches. We were still pretty green when it comes to the whole Metro system and walked (rather than took a bus) to the station, so by the time we finally arrived we were late and Zadok was nowhere to be seen (at least not at the Metro station where Amy had thought he had said he was going to meet us). So Amy went out the other possible exits and Katie, Joseph, the baby (on my back) and I went a bit further and bought a bottle of water. When Amy came to say that he could not be found, we decided to go on further to the Church and see if he might have gone on there when we had not arrived on time. Sure enought there he was…

I should mention that at this point we had already walked quite a bit (given two treks through St. Peter’s, a good half mile to the Metro and another two or three blocks from the Metro to St. John’s) while we stood and listened to Zadok’s interesting history of the surrounding landmarks, Joseph sat. And even looking at the front of the Church’s pavement now, makes me tired to think about even walking that distance. Most people think that St. Peter’s is the Cathedral Church of Rome, but it isn’t–St. John Lateran’s is. While the chair of Peter is in St. Peter’s, the Bishop of Rome’s chair is at St. John Lateran’s and this is the central feature of the apse of the Church, now that I think of it in a similar way to the way that the Chair of Peter is in the apse of St. Peter’s. When St. Francis of Assisi came to Rome to see the Pope, he came here to the Lateran and their are large statues of Francis and his crew directly across from St. John’s that seem to be in communication with the large statues that are on the facade of St. John’s. After his election as pope last April, Pope Benedict XVI came here to the Lateran to be formally installed as the Bishop of Rome (ever wonder why the Bishop of Rome isn’t an “archbishop”?).

St John’s has it’s own Egyptian obelisk (just like St. Peter’s) and a very impressive Baptistry which next to the Pope’s chair is what I remember most about this part of our tour. The Baptistry was huge (I had seen one at the ruins of St. John’s in Ephesus twenty-seven years earlier that was quite small in comparison). There was some type of festival going on outside of the Church that seemed to be a “Mardis Gras” or “Carnivale” type of celebration, remember this was just before the beginning of Lent. So next to the obelisk were booths, screaming kids and some people dressed in costumes giving the “pope’s church” the feel of a regular parish back home.

Across the street we visited the Scala Santa–the holy stairs, said to have been brought to Rome by St. Helena the mother of Constantine and to have been the stairs that Jesus would have walked on during his Passion when he came before Pontius Pilate. The faithful climb up them on their knees and as this picture will attest–there were no shortage of takes on the day we were there, in fact there were so many that it was really impossible to get near the steps to see them.

We walked up the side steps to another chapel called the Holy of Holies because it contained many holy relics and an image of Christ reported to have been painted by St. Luke entitled “picture painted without hands”….any student of Catholic piety knows there are many images reported to have been painted by St. Luke (Our Lady of Czestochova being one example). I had never thought about it much before, but I wonder if another meaning might be that Luke’s Gospel inspired the works? I doubt the people working their way up on their knees think so..

Around the other side of the Holy Stairs was the remains of the Papal dining hall and an impressive mosaic, as we were viewing this site a woman begging rather aggressively started coming at us, and we moved on toward the Church in the distance…St. Mary Major.

Walking along Zadok shared his knowledge of another area of his expertise the Irish Catholic Church begining with the Irish College, its history and various locations. We talked about the contributions the Irish priests had made to the world at large, Africa in particular and the United States (anyone who lives in the South knows the debt the Catholic Church owes to the Irish priests). What a marvel that where the Church is most vibrant right now is where the Irish planted the Faith. Pray for the Catholics in Ireland.

At this point I became very tired, I think the baby might have fallen asleep on my back and as we learned this made him very heavy. So we stopped and Zadok, Amy, Katie and Joseph had gelato. I sat.

Then up and at it again. A short visit into the Redemptorist Church where the original Our Lady of Perpetual Help is enshrined–a modern enshrinement, simple and I must say not much to my liking. Mass was being said so we weren’t able to really get close.

Next to Saint Prassede, a very interesting Church decorated in a more Byzantine style with beautiful mosaics. This church contained the column that Christ was bound to when he was scourged.

Evening was falling as we arrived at Saint Mary Majors, built on the spot where snow fell one August after Pope Liberius had dreamed that this would be a sign for him to build a church dedicated to Our Lady. As we entered the Church, the chanting of Vespers could be heard. My back was aching from the baby on it and I stole away from our tour to go into the side chapel and join in the praying of Evening Prayer. I grabbed a book and went to the first empty seat I could find which was in the front where I sat next to Cardinal Bernard Law. In spite of the comotion that I created, he did not even seem to notice. I fumbled around in the book trying to locate the point the prayer was at, but to little avail and after about five minutes Michael the baby decided to join in speaking loudly his own version of chant–at which point I made my exit. We toured the church and then started making our way back to the Metro station, thanking Zadok for his time and well presented tour.

When we arrived back on Borgo Vitorio we stopped at a restaurant that Amy had spied the evening before. It was in the cellar and proved to be an excellent choice. We had a meal where everyone had what they wanted, for me it was a pasta with cheese and pepper and it was great,Joseph had a cheese pizzza, Katie a giant calzone, Amy another pasta dish, the baby had some of it all.

Evening came, the second day.

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