First Sunday of Advent

 These were written by Michael Dubruiel many years ago. First Sunday of Advent

My memories of growing up in New England are filled with examples of what ideally we all might do if we were to celebrate Advent in response to Jesus’ admonition in the Gospel of Mark. Gathering on the Sunday after Thanksgiving for the lighting of the village Christmas Crèche, caroling throughout the streets of the small town, and the general mood of good cheer that permeated the cold wintry landscape warms me even now. Everyone seemed to make an extra effort to notice everyone else.What does this have to do with the readings you ask?Jesus tells his disciples to “watch,” to be alert, for they do not know when the time will come. Last Sunday we had the end portrayed and indeed the gathered people (the sheep and goats) are surprised that they had already either helped the Lord or refused him when they had reached out to those in need. If we are truly vigilant we will greet everyone we meet today as though it could be the Lord himself coming into our midst.There are no unimportant visitors for the Christian. Advent is a time of expectation of the Lord’s coming, not on our terms but in whatever way He chooses to come to us today. Be vigilant!

The way we celebrated before Christmas when I was growing up seemed to capture this spirit, people genuinely became other focused. If we truly believe that the Lord might be lurking in the stranger that we meet how might we treat Him differently. The Lord commands us to “Watch!” There is no better way to celebrate Advent than this intense watching, vigilance for the unexpected arrival.

More from Michael Dubruiel

Michael Dubruiel

73 Steps to Communion with God 60a

  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 60th step, part 1: 

Michael Dubruiel

(60) To hate one’s own will:

Someone who seeks to be in communion with God has to learn to subject themselves entirely to God’s will. Jesus who was the Son of God still prayed in His humanity that “not his will be done but the Father’s.” We all have “our way” of looking at life and “our way” of doing things and the Scriptures are quite clear that “our way is not God’s way.”

We all suffer because we believe that happiness lies in fulfilling our will. But if we have the gift to reflect on our past, we quickly come to the realization that much of what we “will” does not bring us happiness and in fact is quite fleeting and arbitrary–changing with the wind.

73 Steps to Communion with God 59a

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 59th step part 1: 

Michael Dubruiel

(59) Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).

This counsel of St. Benedict’s is a quote from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh,” (Galatians 5:16). St. Paul saw the flesh and the Spirit at war with one another and one would suspect that so would St. Benedict. The flesh for Paul was an obstacle to being the person God had created us to be.

But less we project all of our own ideas about what the “flesh” means, let us look at what St. Paul means when he speaks about the “flesh”: “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” (Galatians 5:19-21). If one peruses the list one will find that the “desires” of the flesh are all the ways that our desires can go mad and lead to our own destruction.

73 Steps to Communion with God

 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. 

(58) To confess one’s past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.

One of the areas of spirituality, which has been under attack for the past forty years, is the “emphasis on sinfulness” that seems to have dominated spirituality of all religions from the beginning of time. Those who have bought into this notion have found that after awhile God seems to slip further and further from the picture.

Sin essentially is anything that breaks my relationship with God. Remove sin from the picture and you are essentially removing God from the picture–because you are admitting that it really doesn’t matter if you are offending God or not. It would be like being in a relationship with your spouse and refusing ever to admit any wrongdoing or to even consider that you are ever wrong (I’ve been accused of this before but I humbly submit that I am almost always wrong when it comes to my faults in my relationship with my wife), one would expect such a relationship to be in grave trouble.

Admitting that we are not living up to our part of the relationship is a healthy practice of constantly trying to stay in communion with God. Doing it with “sighs and tears” means that we are not just doing some per forma but rather are emotionally feeling what we are saying. St. Ignatius of Loyola would have retreatants pray for the gift of tears when they meditated on their sinfulness and this is a practice that should be restored.

Michael Dubruiel

73 Steps to Communion with God 58 Part 2

Michael Dubruiel

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 58th step: Part 2

(58) To confess one’s past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.

I remember during a pilgrimage to Medjugordje in what is now Bosnia in the late 1980’s standing in a confessional line and watching people emerge from the outside confessional stations (a chair with a priest, while the penitent knelt beside him) wiping tears away. It was touching, because it gave me the sense that these weren’t just a listing off of faults but a heart felt conversion from a life without God to a life that the penitent truly wanted to live with the help of God. We should all pray for the gift of tears for our failings.

My great-grandfather would always be wiping tears away when he returned from receiving communion. I found this deeply significant as a child and it is something I’ve never forgotten. Involving our emotions in our relationship with God is a great grace that we should strive to have in our relationship with Him.

The final part of Benedict’s maxim is to amend our lives. Real contrition for our sins involves a firm resolve to involve God in those parts of our lives that we have excluded Him in the past. By being aware of God’s presence at all times we likely will amend our lives in the future.

73 Steps to Communion with God 58 Part 1

 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 58th step: Part 1

(58) To confess one’s past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.

One of the areas of spirituality, which has been under attack for the past forty years, is the “emphasis on sinfulness” that seems to have dominated spirituality of all religions from the beginning of time. Those who have bought into this notion have found that after awhile God seems to slip further and further from the picture.

Sin essentially is anything that breaks my relationship with God. Remove sin from the picture and you are essentially removing God from the picture–because you are admitting that it really doesn’t matter if you are offending God or not. It would be like being in a relationship with your spouse and refusing ever to admit any wrongdoing or to even consider that you are ever wrong (I’ve been accused of this before but I humbly submit that I am almost always wrong when it comes to my faults in my relationship with my wife), one would expect such a relationship to be in grave trouble.

Admitting that we are not living up to our part of the relationship is a healthy practice of constantly trying to stay in communion with God. Doing it with “sighs and tears” means that we are not just doing some per forma but rather are emotionally feeling what we are saying. St. Ignatius of Loyola would have retreatants pray for the gift of tears when they meditated on their sinfulness and this is a practice that should be restored.

Michael Dubruiel

73 Steps to Communion with God 57 a

MIchael Dubruiel

 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 57th step part 1:

(57) To apply one’s self often to prayer.

The word that is translated “to apply” can also mean to fall down in adoration (prostration). It is worth mentioning because if anything has been lost in modern Christianity it is the sense of adoration that preceded or indeed was a part of prayer in previous ages. One can still see the ancient method most noticeably in the prayer or Moslems who fall down bowing their heads to the ground whenever they pray.

This reflects the way Christians would have prayed during the time of Mohammed. It has been noted in several biographies of Pope John Paul II that when no one is around that he also prays using this posture. Yet most Catholics have been taught that “standing” is the ancient method of prayer (which quite frankly is nothing short of a lie).

Anyway, “applying” oneself in this manner involves the body in a way that forces one to “pay attention” to what you are doing (also causes the blood to flow to your head). The early Church Fathers recommended this posture whenever anyone was having trouble praying and later St. Ignatius of Loyola instructed pray-ers to find some way to acknowledge that they were in God’s presence at the beginning of every prayer period.

First Sunday of Advent – November 29

Be Vigilant: Daily Meditations for Advent by [Dubruiel, Michael, Welborn, Amy]

Be Vigilant: Daily Meditations for Advent

These brief daily meditations will help you focus on the spiritual side of Christmas. Author Michael Dubruiel died in February 2009. His wife, Amy Welborn, prepared these meditations for publication.
From a reader review:This is my fourth year to go through this Advent devotional, and it has been truly a blessing to me and contributed to my Advent experience. The devotionals correlate with the USCCB daily readings, so it is best to read the readings and then read the devotional for the day. I myself am not Catholic, but I still get great insight out of these passages, and I can see that the author was a true follower of Christ and loved Christmas. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an Advent devotional. The book was free when I purchased it three years ago, but 99c is still a great value for this!

73 Steps to Communion with God 56b

 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 part 2:

Michael Dubruiel

(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.

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.

73 Steps to Communion with God 56a

 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, part 1: 

Michael Dubruiel

(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.

73 Steps to Communion with God – 55

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel

MIchael Dubruiel

The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 55th step:
(55) Not to love much boisterous laughter.
Written in the context of rules for monastic living this one is easily understood by anyone who has ever visited a good monastery. There is an atmosphere of silence that permeates the monastic environment and loud boisterous laughter would destroy such an atmosphere.
The maxim is not to “love much” explosive laughter. Again there is no prohibition against humor here but rather there is a caution of making a show of it. If one has ever been around someone who regularly explodes with loud laughter there is something rather unsettling about it–making one wonder about the sanity of the individual displaying it.
Loudness of any sort displays an excessive ego, “look at me I’m laughing.” A good laugh is good for everyone, but the one who explodes in laughter is someone who is overdoing it. Parents often have to caution their children against this, it is even more embarrassing in an adult.
The obvious fault with this type of loudness is that it intrudes upon the space of those outside our immediate circle. The joy that we feel and those we are speaking to may share may not be shared by those who are loud laughter will inflict itself upon at a distance.
To not love explosive laughter can save us from much embarrassment and also preserve the decorum of respect of the people we live with.
There are those who will think that this injunction is not in keeping with the New Testament but read what the Letter of James says: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you,” (James 4:7-10).
The genius of the maxims of St. Benedict is that they embrace all of Scripture, while most of us choose to only exchange a handshake with the word of God.

St. Francis Cabrini – November 13

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 the book

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"

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 54

This is a continuation of the the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruielthe previous posts are available in the archives to the right. This is step 54.

(54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.

Benedict has a great concern for the choice of our speech, reflecting Our Lord’s injunction in the Gospel to “let you no mean no and your yes mean yes.” Most of us suffer from an endless chatter that means little and lessens the effectiveness of our speech in general. There is a further clarification here and we are warned not to “provoke laughter.”

Is Benedict condemning humor or is this a warning not to appear silly to others? I think it is the latter.

Someone who talks endlessly might make others laugh at him or her but they probably will not be taken seriously. The danger here is that speech exists to communicate the truth and when it is not used specifically for that we misuse this great gift.

Benedict warns us not to use “useless words.” Words are powerful weapons and gentle comforters if they are used correctly. But when speech is misused it lessens its effective use at anytime.

Another way of stating this maxim might be, “choose your words carefully and sparingly.”

The Gospel of John identifies Jesus as the “Word made Flesh.” There is a connection here with all the words that come from our mouth too. We should ever be mindful of The Word when a word comes to our lips.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 53c

 This is a continuation of the the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruielthe previous posts are available in the archives to the right. This is step 53 part 3

(53) Not to love much speaking.

Why? Too often when we speak much we say things that might better be left unsaid. If Benedict were writing today, he might also add not “to love too much blogging” which could easily be a modern equivalent to “too much speaking.” Bloggers know that writing what you are thinking can come back to bite you sometimes.

God first, everything else second. We are to pray always, even before we speak. “God is this going to build the person up?” “Lord is this your will?” All should proceed what might flow too quickly from our lips and not be according to God’s will for us.

The flip side of course is that someone who loves to talk will hardly make a good monk. Since monks thrive on silence (and we should nurture ourselves with this too), someone who loves to talk obviously would be miserable in such a setting.

But the counsel is beneficial to all of us. “Think before you speak,” becomes “Pray before you speak.”

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 53b

-Michael Dubruiel, 2005

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!
-Michael Dubruiel

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

%d bloggers like this: