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 60b

  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 2:

Michael Dubruiel

(60) To hate one’s own will:

To fight “our will” does not mean going off into another direction but rather facing reality. Our “will” often pulls us away from what most needs our attention. We often will to be somewhere other than where we are, to be doing something other than what needs to be done and to be with someone other than the one we are with at the present moment. These are exactly the moments when we are to “hate” our own will and seek to do the will of God.

God had placed us where we are right at this very moment. He has also placed us in a situation that demands our attention at this moment. The person who is before us has been placed there by God. Being attentive to all that God has placed in our midst will bring a contentment that we will never find if we are constantly seeking to flee from the cross.

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.

Thanksgiving

 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. 
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.

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 57b

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 2:

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

To pray continually was an injunction of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, “pray constantly,” (1 Thess. 5:17) and if we understand that prayer is communicating with God, we can see that there is nothing more important if we are to be in communion with God.

Every moment of our day is an opportunity for prayer. There is nothing that we do in life that can not be brought to God. But it is important also to set aside time where we are not active and God is the focus of our undivided attention. Ideally this will happen as least seven times a day. Traditionally this would be when we arise in the morning, in the mid-morning, at noon, in the mid-afternoon, in the evening, when we retire and in the middle of the night. Of course the last one, in the middle of the night may seem the hardest but if you find yourself awakened in the middle of the night-there is perhaps no time when you can give God more of your undivided attention. The early Fathers felt that in the night (vigils) the spirit world was more visible and there was less to distract us.

Be creative in finding ways to pray throughout the day. Take the Scriptures with you wherever you go. While waiting in traffic read a few verses, standing in line recite prayers, turn idle moments into opportunities for spiritual growth.

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!

Learn about the Catholic Mass

The How To Book of the Mass by Michael Dubruiel is also a great resource for inquirers and RCIA sessions.

You can find more information at this page. 

"amy welborn"

In this complete guide you get:

  • step-by-step guidelines to walk you through the Mass
  • the Biblical roots of the various parts of the Mass and the very prayers themselves
  • helpful hints and insights from the Tradition of the Church
  • aids in overcoming distractions at Mass
  • ways to make every Mass a way to grow in your relationship with Jesus

If you want to learn what the Mass means to a truly Catholic life—and share this practice with others—you can’t be without The How-To Book of the Mass.Discover how to:

  • Bless yourself
  • Make the Sign of the Cross
  • Genuflect
  • Pray before Mass
  • Join in Singing the Opening Hymn
  • Be penitential
  • Listen to the Scriptures
  • Hear a Great Homily Everytime
  • Intercede for others
  • Be a Good Steward
  • Give Thanks to God
  • Give the Sign of Peace
  • Receive the Eucharist
  • Receive a Blessing
  • Evangelize Others
  • Get something Out of Every Mass You Attend

“Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the risen Jesus with his disciples? Walking with them he explained the Scriptures to them; sitting with them at table ‘he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.”1347, Catechism of the Catholic Church

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.

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