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The human race has been fighting the battle against pride

since the Fall. Discontent with the lofty position God had given

them, they wanted to be just like God—but independent of

him. This disordered desire continues to be at the heart of human

nature. Only when God’s spirit lives within us to the fullest are

we able to be most fully human. And the only way to be filled

with God’s spirit is to empty ourselves of any false sense of who

we are, or who we think we have to be. This is the way of humility,

what St. Paul calls having “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians

2:16).

In the gospels, Jesus warns his disciples against desiring titles

and lofty honors. If we achieve greatness in life, as Cardinal del

Val did, we must guard against becoming attached to the position

or to the glory attached to it. Cardinal del Val gave the following

spiritual advice often to those who came to him for

counsel:

Have a great devotion to the Passion of Our Lord.

With peace and resignation, put up with your daily

troubles and worries. Remember that you are not a disciple

of Christ unless you partake of His sufferings and

are associated with His Passion. The help of the grace

of silence was the only thing that enabled the saints to

carry their extremely heavy crosses. We can show our

love for Him by accepting with joy the cross He sends

our way.

The cross sheds light on the way of humility; it is the path

that Christ took and the surest path for us to receive all the blessings

that Christ wishes to bestow upon us.

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Michael Dubruiel

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How to Pray a Novena

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. 

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Daily Devotional by Michael Dubruiel

How do we die to ourselves? The cross extends the invitation

again and again. We nail our failures and our successes, we make

no judgments—like Christ, we abandon ourselves in trust to the

Father. We keep “watch” with Christ and live in the expectation

of his coming at every moment. Our death on the cross with

Christ—something that our Baptism signified but we must daily

reclaim—gives us the power to love as Christ did because Christ

is within us, when we allow him to be all in all.

The Power of the Cross  – Free book available at the link.

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Michael Dubruiel

Bible Reflection

When St. Peter heard that Jesus was going somewhere, he wanted

to follow the Lord. Jesus refused, and told the apostle that he

would follow later. Peter protested: He was willing to lay down

his life for Jesus (again something that he ultimately would do

later). Then Jesus dropped a bombshell: That very night, Peter

would deny him three times.

The final battle to following Jesus is the battle of self. No matter

how pure our motives may seem, until we trust in God more

than we trust in ourselves, we are doomed to fail. To truly follow

Jesus, we must unite ourselves with him and trust him totally.

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Free Catholic Book by Michael Dubruiel

The Cross of Christ Transforms. . . How We See Jesus

Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 PETER 2:4–5 


They rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them he went away. LUKE 4:29–30 

A Benedictine monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey, Father Cyril Vrablic, always began his homilies with the following quip, “Someday, I’m going to write a book. I haven’t written any of the pages yet, but I do have a title and some of the chapters.” He would then list off the title and chapters of his mythical book. One title I can still remember some twenty years after first hearing it: “Saints in heaven have all the glory; saints on earth, that’s a different story.” This title got a lot of laughs because of its simple truth: While we admire people of great sanctity once they are no longer around, they can get on our nerves while they still live among us.

Jesus, Scriptures tell us, could work no miracles in his hometown because of the lack of faith he encountered among them. When he arose to preach in his local synagogue, the local folks saw only the carpenter’s son. They were impressed by his eloquence, but his other claims enraged them to the point that they wanted to kill him. Only then did he work a miracle of sorts, passing through their midst and leaving town.

I Call You Friends 

Where Father Cyril preached, there was a large image of Christ the Teacher. This image of Jesus appears lofty, severe, and royal. It is hardly the image of Jesus that most of us would have living in the twenty-first century. Since Vatican II, Jesus is most often presented—to both children and adults—as our friend. Jesus called his disciples friends (see John 15:13–15); they called him “Lord” and “Master.” I wonder if this isn’t what we ought to be doing. There is something about making Jesus our “friend” that seems to rob him of his divinity and robs us of the power of his presence.

We tend to compartmentalize our friends. When we need something, we tend to go to the friend that is most likely to be able to help us. By making Jesus our “friend,” the tendency would be for us to approach him in the same way, to invite him only into areas of our lives that we deem “spiritual.” The trouble is, most of us equate “spirituality” with angels and church, not with everyday life. So it is no wonder that, as with the people of Nazareth, the Lord doesn’t work any miracles in our midst; we have no trust in him. Jesus taught his disciples that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (check your spice rack to see how small a mustard seed is) they could do great things. But it is very likely that our faith, our trust in Christ isn’t even that big. We think we know Jesus, when in reality we know only our own image of him.

It saddens me when someone who has been raised a Christian without actually embracing the faith experiences the power of God as an adult through some other means, often through a different faith community that is not united with the Church that Christ established while he was here on earth. The first apostles turned the world upside down, healing and preaching and raising the dead in the name of Jesus Christ. How is it that the power of Christ is not so easily recognized in our churches today?

Power Transformed 

The Jesus that we encounter in the Gospels is amazing. Confronted with sickness, he heals the sick. Confronted with death, he raises the dead. Confronted with opposition, he silences his opponents. Then comes his Passion. Suddenly, with the exception of curing the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus reveals a different way of exercising his almighty power—through weakness! He accepts the cross, along with all the punishment and abuse thrown at him, until all is finished and he commends himself to the Father. After he rises from the dead, the only miracles recorded in the Scriptures are his ability to materialize and disappear from the midst of his disciples. What happened to the power Jesus exhibited during his ministry? He gave those powers to his disciples. Reading the Acts of the Apostles, you find the disciples of Jesus doing the very same things Jesus did in the Gospels, to the point of powerfully accepting death, exhibited in the stoning of Stephen. The history of the church is filled with examples of the power of Christ working through those who placed their belief in him. The stories that surround the saints tell of people being healed and of martyrs bravely facing death. Even in our own times, in the United States, there are shrines that exhibit crutches left behind after people were healed by the power of Christ.

Time of Unbelief

Our present time is one of unbelief. The modern church has become like the town of Nazareth. We think we know Christ, and as a result he can work no miracles in our midst. It is time to admit our ignorance of Christ. We should ponder the words, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (John 6:42). Is the Jesus we believe in the same Divine Person revealed to us in Scripture, or have we created a “kinder, gentler” version? Jesus says to us, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me” (John 7:28–29). Do we worship the Son of God of Scripture, or a false imposter, a pseudo-Christ? The Jesus rejected by men is the cornerstone of our faith. Without the real Jesus our faith is weak and powerless; with Jesus the Christ, we are powerful in our weakness. We become living stones—animated by the power of Christ, the Son of the all-powerful God.

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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The Jesus Prayer – by Michael Dubruiel

Since the time of early Christianity, there have been forms

of prayer that use breathing as a cadence for prayer. The Jesus

Prayer and the Rosary, along with various forms of contemplative

prayer, are all variations of this type of prayer. The real prayer

behind all of these methods is the prayer of surrender: “Into

your hands I commend my spirit.” This was the prayer that Jesus

prayed to the Father from the cross.

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

-The Power of the Cross  by Michael Dubruiel

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Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ

From 2008, on Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ – Michael Dubruiel


I thought it did a great job in portraying the cultic action of the Jewish priesthood offering the “lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. God is the supreme actor in the Passion as Jesus reminds Pilate, and I did hear what Jesus says to Pilate (that is from the Scripture) in a way that I never heard before…”what do we do with the power that God has given us?”




I’ve heard a ton of talk about the movie since I’ve seen it. Rabbi Marc Gelman liked it and thought it resurrected a “real” portrayal of the roots of Christianity in a day when religion is often portrayed in a cartoonish way.




Other rabbi’s have condemned it, one saying that all the Jews had “bad teeth.” Since everyone in the movie was either a Jew or Roman and Jesus had great teeth, I’m not sure what movie he saw.




But perhaps that is the point about a movie like this, we see what we want to…we go to it looking for confirmation of our preheld views.




Some things that I liked in particular were:




Seeing the Passion from the view of the Blessed Virgin Mary…


Seeing the Eucharist from the view of John…


The interspersing of scenes that in someway made the gave additional interpretation to the events that were taking place.


Overall the movie serves as an excellent meditation on Christ’s passion and it’s lack of focus on the resurection (only hinted at) gives the viewer a way to apply the passion of Christ to their daily life.




Things that I think were weak:


The opening Garden scene I thought was poorly done. The focus was on the devil (another weakness…), the apostles after being told to stay awake–literally wake up and do watch Jesus (they don’t in Scripture–rather they go back to sleep), and Jesus is never sent an angel to strengthen him. I know that some aspects of Anne Catherine Emmerich’s vision has supplied this scene, but even her vision is more intersting as the devil displays before Christ all the misinterpretations of his message and the futility of his suffering on the mass of the future humanity–this could have placed the whole passion in context).


I thought there could have been more focus on the cultic action of the Temple and tied that in with Jesus’ passion and the hostility of the Jewish priests.


I would have like to have seen the “darkness” that overtakes the whole land to be more eerie than just an impending thunderstorm.




But overall, here is a Passion of Christ that portrays Christ as a man not a wimp, as someone entering a battle and fighting it courageously until it is finished.

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