St. Thomas – July 3

 Originally posted on this blog on April of 2002 by Michael Dubruiel

This Sunday which now is the Feast of Divine Mercy is also the Sunday where we hear the story of the so called doubting Apostle Thomas. The lone Apostle who is not locked in the Upper Room with the other surviving Apostles. It strikes me that he always gets a bad rap, undeservedly so, I would say.

Remember on the way to Jerusalem, one of the Apostles pointed out to Our Lord that a certain death awaited Him if He went to Jerusalem.

Jesus undeterred continues to journey toward Jerusalem.

It is then that John’s Gospel records the Apostle Thomas as saying, “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” (John 11:16). These are the words not of a doubter (in the mission of the Lord) but rather a proclamation of a believer, ready to take up his cross and to die with and for Jesus Christ.

As they journey along and Jesus says, “You know the way that I am going,” and Thomas doesn’t understand Jesus he says so, “Lord we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” (John 14). Jesus replies, “I am the way.”

So now we reach the moment after the crucifixion has passed when Scripture tells us, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews,” (John 20:19). We find that Thomas is not with them.

Why not?

Remember that the Apostles were in the room for “fear” of the Jews, they were afraid that the same ones who had handed Jesus over to death might come after them next, but Thomas had said “let us go to die with him.” He was not afraid, he was out and about his business, if they came after him…so be it!

Is it any wonder then that when he returns to enconter the disciples still locked in the room, that he does not believe them. Why should he? If the Lord were alive, why were they so filled with fear? If they really had experience the Resurrected Lord why weren’t they proclaiming it with their lives? Why weren’t they back out on the streets?

When Jesus appears to Thomas, he believes!

Our Lord tells him and us that “Blessed are those who have not seen and believe.”

It is very easy to doubt that the Lord lives when we see modern day Apostles locked behind clerical doors for fear of the press, or scandal, or law suits, or the laity. It is easy to wonder if they really believe in the power of the risen Lord.

But what about us? Are we out in the streets ready to die with Him or are we too locked behind our own fears?

Saint Thomas, pray for us!

Lord have mercy on us!

MIchael dubruiel

73 Steps to Communion With God – 5c

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


Step # 5 of the 73 – part three


5. Not to steal…


We reason that someone is wealthy and they won’t miss this or that item so we take it as though our attitude about someone else is reality. We reason that we have paid a just fee and that entitles us to more than what we know it does. All of our reasons are aimed at justifying something that we know is wrong and the very act of trying to rationalize our behavior makes us less not in God’s eyes but in our view of ourselves.

It is useful to remember that the men nailed next to Jesus on the cross are often referred to as thieves. The so-called good thief acknowledges that his sin has merited so horrible a death. There was something of the presence of Jesus that made him realize that. If we put ourselves into the presence of God we will come to the same conclusion that taking what does not belong to us is wrong.

Michael Dubruiel

73 Steps to Communion With God: 5b

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


Step # 5 of the 73 – part two


5. Not to steal…


That night the abbot did as the holy man had instructed, when the last of the monks had taken their place in the room, the abbot arose and announced to the gathered assembly, “The holy hermit has announced to me and asked me to inform you that God has revealed to him that the messiah is in our midst.” Afterwards the monks treated each other with great respect, wondering and not knowing if the monk they were dealing with might be the messiah.

The way we treat others and their property is largely based on how much we respect and hold them in awe. If we had a deep sense of love, respect and awe of each and every person we would never take anything from them. But too often we lack this basic sense of dignity that others deserve from us.

Michael Dubruiel

73 Steps to Communion With God: 5a

 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.


Step # 5 of the 73 – part one


5. Not to steal…

It may seem strange that stealing is so high on St. Benedict’s list, but there is nothing more destructive in communal living than mistrust and there is nothing that can destroy trust like living with thievery. Once something no matter how insignificant is stolen everyone around becomes the potential thief.

There is a story I have heard so many times and so many versions of that I am not even sure where it is originally from but it goes something like this: An abbot of a monastery had become very disenchanted with the way the monks in his monastery treated one another. He ventured off to seek out the advice of an holy monk who lived as a hermit deep in the woods.

After the holy monk had listened to the abbot’s concern, he raised his hand and asked the abbot to wait while he prayed about this situation. Several hours passed and finally the hermit reappeared in the cell and made his solemn announcement to the abbot. “When you go back to the monastery tonight gather all of the monks into chapter and then announce to them what I have to tell you.” He then revealed what he had learned in prayer to the abbot.

michael dubruiel

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis – part 7

  

"michael dubruiel"

Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 – almost twenty years ago. 

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed–I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you’ll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.


(7) Meditate on the Work of the Enemy in the Church 
Since the devil is hardly ever discussed in the Church, it should not surprise us that we find it so hard to explain blatant evil that exists, when faced with it, as we are in the present situation. 
Read the Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter13:24-30. Notice that in Jesus’ parable that the Kingdom of Heaven is not exempt from the work of the evil one. As the farmer sows good seed, the enemy sows bad. Both are allowed to grow side by side until the harvest. 
Contrary to our expectations the master (God) does not have his slaves go out and rip the bad from the good–out of concern for the good. In the end though the bad will suffer eternal fire. There are two reasons it is good to meditate on this parable. One, it shows that Jesus from the very start knew that the good that he would do, would be matched by the evil that would be worked from within. 
Secondly, it counsels us to be patient and turn again to God who will take care of them in good time. We must believe in God and avoid the temptation to search for him elsewhere. 

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis – part 6

  

"michael dubruiel"

Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 – almost twenty years ago. 

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed–I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you’ll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.


(6) Let Go of Your Plan for the Church 
In the midst of the current crisis, everyone has a plan. 
In fact most of us always have a plan for how to make the Church, heaven on earth. Let go of it… 
The disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) had just witnessed the crucifixion and now on the third day they had also heard of an empty tomb and the presence of angels. All of this disturbed them a great deal, to such a degree that when the Risen Lord, who they mourned, joined them on the road they did not recognize him. When they told him what they were discussing, he opened the Scriptures up to them, and told them that all of these things that they had witnessed “had to happen”.
 Most of us suffer a crisis of faith because we believe just the opposite that “things didn’t have to be that way.” Jesus comes to us as a stranger in the midst of our lives and tells us just the opposite. It had to be.
 If for a second, you and I stop and think about that, applying it to our lives as they have been lived up to now, how does it make us feel? Do we not want to protest, no it should have been otherwise? But it was not and is no other way, than what it has been. 
Can God save us? 
Remember the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph has a dream. The dream leads to his persecution. He is sold into slavery. He is falsely accused. He is sent to prison. He is there when two of Pharaoh’s servants are arrested. He interprets their dreams. The one who lives some years later remembers the Hebrew slave in prison who interpreted his dream. Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream correctly. Pharaoh makes Joseph master over his house. Joseph’s brothers are sent to Egypt by their father during the famine. Soon his family is reunited. 
At the end of the story the brothers tell Joseph that their father told them to tell Joseph to forgive them for what they had done to him. He says, “Who am I God? What you did to me you meant for evil, but God meant it for good–for the salvation of the many.”
 Many people do evil things, but God is all powerful. He can give life to those whose lives are taken from them by evil people. He can bring healing to those who are sinned against. The lesson for the disciples on the road to Emmaus and the lesson of Joseph in Genesis is to trust in God’s plan. 

Our Lady of Perpetual Help June 27

 An article by Michael Dubruiel, here:

The icon features the child Jesus fleeing into his Mother’s protective arms as the Archangels Michael and Gabriel show Him the instruments of crucifixion. The Greek letters spell out the first letters of Mary and Jesus’ names.

The icon arrived in Rome in the 15th century after a merchant who had heard about a miraculous image on the island of Crete went to the island and stole it. When he arrived in Rome with the icon among his wares, he fell very ill. As he lay dying, he ordered that a friend place the icon in a church, perhaps hoping that it would alleviate his suffering. The friend took the icon to his own home, where his wife hung it in their bedroom.

The Virgin evidently was not pleased with this arrangement, and several times appeared to the man and told him that she wished for her image to be placed in a church. The man, despite the miraculous visitation, was not moved to relinquish control of the image. The Blessed Virgin next appeared to the man’s daughter and asked that the icon be enshrined in a church between the two very large churches of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. The daughter communicated this to her father and he relented, and so the icon was enshrined in 1499 in St. Matthew’s, the church that lies between the two larger edifices.

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis – part 5

 

"michael dubruiel"

Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 – almost twenty years ago. 

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed–I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you’ll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.

(5) Practice the Prayer “God Alone” 

On the right hand column of this blog is a picture of the entrance to the cloister of Gethsemane, most known by people in this country for having been the monastery where Thomas Merton was a monk. Over the gate are simple words that the monk would encounter as he makes his way into the cloister. They are also words, that the visitor to the chapel also encounters. They have left a mark in my consciousness.

 In my better moments they haunt me. It is a good thing. Too often we create idols that interfere with our worship of God. Often these idols come crashing down around us. Jesus told the rich young man that the greatest commandment was to, “Love God with your whole heart, mind and soul.” The rich young man went away sad, because his “possessions” were many. 

Our possessions, the things that we either possess or possess us can keep us from God. All it takes is a blow to our health, the suffer of some financial loss, or some other malady to befall us for us to be faced with the truth of which they all are for us–items we own or are owned by. 

The practice of keeping “God Alone” always before us, can keep us focused on what really matters. It can help us to treat our fellow human beings with the dignity that they deserve, it can help us to see meaning in what other wise seem meaningless events. If we focus on the strength of the winds, the enormity of our problems we will sink. If we focus on “God Alone” nothing can defeat us.

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis – part 4

Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 – almost twenty years ago. 

"michael dubruiel"

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present CrisisThe items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed–I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you’ll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.

(4) Visit a Catholic Church 
Step into the Church at a time when nothing is going on, when you can sit in silence; just you and Our Lord in the Eucharist. Pour out your heart to him, and then sit and listen. 
Bishop Sheen once commented, that most of the conversion he was credited with, came about from the practice of pointing people (non-Christians and former Christians) to this practice. 
I have a close friend who was born in Jerusalem, and later studied to be a rabbi in Brazil. While engaged in rabbinical studies, he became interested with what he heard from some Christian fundamentalists, that he encountered in the streets of San Paulo, one day. Considering himself a searcher for the truth, he walked into the first Christian Church that he came across on his way home. It happened to be a Catholic Church. Walking in, he told me, he encountered a huge crucifix. He went up to the front of the church and standing in front of the crucifix he looked up at the image of the crucified Jesus and said, “If it is true, that you are the messiah, tell me.” 
“What did he tell you?” I would ask my Jewish friend and always receive the same response, from my friend who now is a Catholic priest–“Well, I’m here now.”
 This same friend who experienced total alienation from his family and friends to follow Jesus, joined the Catholic Church because of what he heard that day alone with Jesus in the Church. 
Once when I asked him about the Catholic Church in Brazil, where it was highly rumored that priests openly lived with women and some were even openly married, he replied, “Yes, what you say is true, but in Brazil they say of the United States that the priest live with men.” 
Neither of these experiences dissuaded my friend, who endured many hardships from within and without the Church before being ordained a priest. His faith was based on the answer God had given him to a simple question and nothing else mattered. Take your doubts with you into the presence of God and let him answer them. 

June 24 – Nativity of John the Baptist

GospelLK 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,                
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis – part 2

 

"michael dubruiel"

Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 – almost twenty years ago. 

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis

The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed–I have remained a Roman Catholic.


Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you’ll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.


2) Read the Gospel of Mark 
We have a tendency to think of the early Church as a pristine time when everyone believed and their were no problems. Although we may accept the fact that among Jesus’ followers there was a traitor–Judas, we often forget how frustrated Jesus was with his Apostles. If it was that way when he was with them physically, why should we expect perfection from the successors to the Apostles today?
 The Gospel of Mark brings out the deficiencies of the Apostles in a remarkable way. 
Traditionally it has been held that the author of Mark’s Gospel was John Mark, who first accompanied Paul and Barnabas, but left them during one of their missionary journeys. Later when John Mark wished to return to the ministry, Paul forbade him. Paul and Barnabas had a falling out over this and tradition has it that John Mark ended up with the Apostle Peter, and served as the Galilean fisherman’s interpreter on his journeys. 
The Gospel of Mark, is then thought to be Peter’s remembrance of Jesus’ interaction with the Apostles, and has the marks of someone who had failed his Lord at the crucial moment and remembered well that this was not a solitary occurence. The Gospel of Mark is short and in it we see the Lord who is frustrated time and again with the lack of faith and understanding that he encounters from those closest to him.
 

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis – part 1

"michael dubruiel"

Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 – almost twenty years ago. 

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis

The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed–I have remained a Roman Catholic.


Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you’ll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.


(1) Do not deny that there is a problem

This is the usually the first sign that someone is losing their faith, when they can’t face reality. They want to make believe problems either don’t exist or are being made up. Sort of like the famous scene in the Gospels where Peter says after the crucifixion, “I’m going fishing”.

Whenever I post anything unpopular on here (like the sins of a founder of a conservative order or the reported homosexuality of a famous bishop), I receive a lot of email from angry readers. Why are they angry? Because they cannot believe that so and so might have sinned and sinned seriously.

Reflect on this:

 

If we say, “We are free of the guilt of sin,” we deceive ourselves; the truth is not to be found in us. But if we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us of every wrong. If we say, “We have never sinned,” we make him a liar and his word finds no place in us. 1 John 9-10

 We can apply this passage to ourselves, everyone else in the church and indeed the Body of Christ (the Church-minus the head of the Church–Jesus and of course his mother Mary).

We deceive ourselves if we think of anyone besides Christ as sinless and often reveal something of idol worship in the process.

 The true apostles whose sins are for all to see in the Gospels, did not for a minute allow the early church to worship them when they carried the healing power of Jesus with them. They reminded the people that they were mortal men just like the rest. 
 We must remind ourselves that there is only one God and that the founder of a religious order or bishop is not him. Many of the leaders of the Church need to be reminded of that too and not allow people to worship or pay them undue respect which is the command of Christ himself in the Gospel.

Have you worshipped an individual within the church in the past? Has your faith been shaken in that individual? Good–there is one God, him alone shall you worship!

 

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 3b

 "michael dubruiel"

Here is a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict’s Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.

This is part two of step 373 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 3a

The Third Step of the 73 by Michael Dubruiel

3. Then, not to kill…


This counsel follows after the first two; love God and love your neighbor. Now we are told not to kill. God is the source of all life and the Scriptures make it clear from the first pages of Genesis that to take back the spirit of Life is the domain of God and that blood spilt cries out to heaven.

It is also clear that in the first pages of Genesis that our neighbor is not only the people that surround us but every being in creation. We should respect all of creation in the same manner.

The hippie who allowed the fly to live on that vacation day in New Hampshire does not remain in my memory as some nut but rather as a prototype of a holy man who understands this fundamental truth. If you and I want to grow in holiness then we must reverence the life force that God has placed in all of creation.

“Not to kill” also extends beyond physical murder. We are to be a life force in God’s creation. Building up rather than tearing down. Uplifting rather than destroying.

I remember a friend in school who was fond of bringing up in the midst of conversations that were less than charitable about others a simple question, “How is this building up the body of Christ?” It really ticked off everyone at the table but like the hippie with the fly it has remained in my memory whereas the topics of our table conversations have long passed on into obscurity.

There are many ways to kill without actually taking someone’s physical life. Unfortunately there are too many walking dead in our midst who have had their spirit killed by those who were not careful in their speech or their judgments.

How to draw closer to God – Part 2a

 "michael dubruiel"

Here is the second  posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict’s Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.

2a. Love one’s neighbor as one’s self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).

It is ironic but the way we treat our neighbor in many ways reveals what we think about ourselves. Whenever I run into a parent berating the child I always find myself equally feeling as sorry for the parent as the child. Negative views of oneself often lead to a negative view of others. This maxim follows the first that we love God above all things. It is from that maxim that a true sense of ourselves flows.

If I believe that God has a mission for me, then it is only a short distance of thought to believe that he has a mission for everyone else on the planet.

Daily we encounter opportunities to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The other day a woman carrying a bag of groceries bumped into me rushing to her car. She apologized and I immediately had the uncharitable thought of what in the hell is your hurry? But then I started to list the reasons for why she might have been in a hurry in my mind. Perhaps she was late for an important appointment or there was someone in dire need of something that she had just purchased at the store. In other words I strove to think of why I might be in a hurry and to afford her the same privilege.

Love our neighbor as ourselves ultimately means wishing them success. Success in their mission in life means success for us all. In the same way that loving God is foundational to the Spiritual life, so too is the love of neighbor. They all are pieces that fit into the same puzzle.

What of the most despicable people on the earth, how can we love them? What about those who ________ and __________(fill in the blanks with your favorite unforgivable sins)?

The answer is simple, we love them in the same way as we would if they were are own child.

I remember when the serial murderer Theodore Bundy was being executed in the State of Florida that his mother was interviewed. She was asked the question, “Do you still love your son?”

She answered, “Yes, I don’t like what he has done, but I still love him.”

I think it is easy to understand why she would. No matter what anyone of us do in our lifetime there is a part of us that is deeply lovable. No matter how hateful we are or what terrible things we do for whatever God known reason, there is a part of us that God has created and that is good, call it the “true self.”

The true self might be likened to that part of us that is the plan of God for each of us. It is that true self that we love in our neighbors and ourselves, because it is most truly who we are.

I remember a man who had undergone a conversion experience telling me in front of his family that he had never been that bad of a guy even before his conversion.

His daughters disagreed, as they in unison cried out, “yes your were dad, you were horrible!”

He then went on to explain how before his conversion he had “acted” in a way that he thought he had to, to be accepted; since his conversion he was truly himself.

I can think of no finer testimony of what life immersed in God’s love is like. We no longer “act” but we are who we are. It’s as simple as that.

Loving others can be difficult but doing so teaches us a lot about ourselves and who we truly worship as God.

How to be close to God – Part 1A

"michael dubruiel"

 Here is the first posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict’s Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.

This is part two of step one:

(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength…

…..

The attitude we have toward God is all-important if we are to love God with our whole being. We must believe that God loves us first and want what is best for us. It is hard to do anything but love God with our whole being if we believe that God loves us. In an older translation of the New American Bible the words of Jesus are applicable here, “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” The words of the supplicant must be our words also, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.”

It may seem obvious that the first step that anyone would make toward perfect communion with God is to place God at the very center, but how many times we look everywhere else for the way? If we wish to have communion with God we must enter into God’s presence and offer our entire being to God.

Most of us have given the allegiance of part of our being to God but not the whole. I can say that intellectually I have always believed in God and placed my soul in varying degrees to the love of God, but my heart well that is another story. There have been countless times that what my heart has desired has been anything but God. I have thought that this or that would make me truly happy and I have gone down many paths ignoring God in the process.

If I believe that God has created me and knows me best and what is in my ultimate interest, I will seek God above all things.

I still remember the first time I encountered the simple engraving over the entrance of the Monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemane in Kentucky. I stood there for some time looking at the simple words etched in stone that seemed bigger than life, “GOD ALONE.” There was something shocking about the simplicity of the statement, but at the same time a truth that touched me deeply.

In the end when our life is failing nothing else will matter. If we can acknowledge that at this point why not see the wisdom of putting God first in everything today? The message of Benedict’s first step is to put God first in all things and to do so lovingly.

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