May is Rosary Month – Part 4

  This reflection is from the early 2000’s. By Michael Dubruiel.

Rosary Walks


….


At the end of the trail I emerge upon the road lined with trees that leads back to the convent. I notice the deer’s head staring at me from across the road, his ears flicking. I imagine the deer thinking that I’m following him. I walk closer to him and he doesn’t move this time. Perhaps they feed him too, I think. I am now only five feet from the deer and I talk to him. He only cocks his head this way and that but doesn’t flee until I turn to continue my journey. The fourth luminous mystery–the Transfiguration, an invitation to encounter Jesus in the Old Testament I think meditating on the significance of Moses and Elijah the prophet.


The sun beats down mercilessly and the tar is soft under my feet. I look back and see the deer still peering at me watching to see if I really am going in a different direction. I am, my lunch time nears its end. The maintenance worker is mowing the grass. His plumb body hangs over the sides of the seat and his beard covers his chest. As I make my way to the parking lot I notice his license plate “Rode Kill” misspelled I reason because someone must have already had “road kill” in this state of connoisseurs of varmint meat. On the side of his truck he has a bumper sticker, “I love animals…they taste real good.” The fifth sorrowful mystery–the Crucifixion. In the way a sinner is attracted to the cross of salvation, I reason, perhaps this man with his desires was attracted to the environmental sisters.


So be it! Amen.

michael dubruiel

 

 

Feast of the Ascension

The first reading at Mass, from the Acts of the Apostles: 

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.
He presented himself alive to them
by many proofs after he had suffered,
appearing to them during forty days
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with the them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for “the promise of the Father
about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
When they had gathered together they asked him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”
michael dubruiel

Our Lady of Fatima – May 13

 Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

"Michael Dubruiel"

The Gospels show that the gaze of Mary varied depending upon the circumstances of life. So it will be with us. Each time we pick up the holy beads to recite the Rosary, our gaze at the mystery of Christ will differ depending on where we find ourselves at that moment.

Thereafter Mary’s gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14) [Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 10].


As we pray the Rosary, then, we join with Mary in contemplating Christ. With her, we remember Christ, we proclaim Him, we learn from Him, and, most importantly, as we raise our voices in prayer and our hearts in contemplation of the holy mysteries, this “compendium of the Gospel” itself, we are conformed to Him.


Mary and the Muslims – Fatima

From the National Rosary Crusade, written many years ago by the Servant of God Bishop Fulton Sheen:

MARY
The Qu’ran, which is the Bible for the Muslims, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Qu’ran believes in her Immaculate Conception, and also in her Virgin Birth. The third chapter of the Qu’ran places the history of Mary’s family in a genealogy which goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Qu’ran’s description of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal Gospel of the birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Mohammed very much depended upon the latter. Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of the mother of Mary. When, however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Qu’ran: “O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me.”

When Mary is born, the mother says: And I consecrate her with all of her posterity under thy protection, O Lord, against Satan!”

The Qu’ran passes over Joseph in the life of Mary, but the Muslim tradition knows his name and has some familiarity with him. In this tradition, Joseph is made to speak to Mary, who is a virgin. As he inquired how she conceived Jesus without a father, Mary answered:

Do you not know that God, when he created the wheat had no need of seed, and that God by his power made the trees grow without the help of rain? All that God had to do was to say, ‘So be it, and it was done.’

The Qu’ran was also verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying: “Oh, Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth.” In the nineteenth chapter of the Qu’ran there are 41 verses on Jesus and Mary. There is such a strong defense of the virginity of Mary here that the Qu’ran, in the fourth book, attributed the condemnation of the Jews to their monstrous calumny against the Virgin Mary.

FATIMA 
Mary, then, is for the Muslims the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: “Thou shalt be the most blessed of all women in Paradise, after Mary.” In a variation of the text, Fatima is made to say, “I surpass all the women, except Mary.”

This brings us to our second point: namely, why the Blessed Mother, in the 20th century, should have revealed herself in the insignificant little village of Fatima, so that to all future generations she would be known as “Our Lady of Fatima.” Since nothing ever happens out of Heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the blessed Virgin chose to be known as “Our Lady of Fatima” as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Muslim people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her divine Son too.

Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Muslims occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Muslim chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Muslims left, but even embraced the faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, the very place where our lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.

The final evidence of the relationship of Fatima to the Muslims is the enthusiastic reception which the Muslims in Africa, India, and elsewhere gave to the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Muslims attended the church services in honor of our Lady, they allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in Mozambique, the Muslims who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was erected.

May is Rosary Month – Part 1

 This reflection is from the early 2000’s. By Michael Dubruiel.

Rosary Walks


I spend my lunch time taking a walk at one of two places–one an active convent with beautiful grounds that include several nature trails and the other an abandoned Capuchin Friary where Solanus Casey once lived. Both offer me a variety of places to stop and reflect on the meaning of the mysteries of the rosary in the lived lives of both places–usually at the cemetery where I pause and reflect that surely one or two or more saints are buried who will join their prayers to mine.


Yesterday was a rather eventful day. I was at the convent and noticed police tape blocking the entrance to a path down a hill that includes a grotto of the resurrection and a downward path of the Stations of the Cross. A short walk under the tape and I discovered the reason why–a wall had tumbled down as the result of all the rain that we’ve had in this part of the country this Spring–a landslide. I think I was up the second joyful mystery–the visitation. I wondered what this act of nature might signify? I noticed that the display of the stations had not really been affected by the landslide but that the resurrection grotto had–it was as though the “removed stone” had been placed back at the entrance. I thought of the preoccupation of the women walking to the tomb “who will remove the stone?” and thought that this probably was the worry now of some of the nuns at the convent but probably only a few.

May 8 Fulton Sheen Birthday

 Today, May 8, is Fulton Sheen’s  birthday.


Bishop Sheen’s “Now-moment” corresponds to the thinking of the great spiritual writer Jean Pierre de Caussade. In Abandonment to Divine Providence, Fr. Caussade gives the reader a sure way of knowing the will of God at any moment—by simply confronting the present moment with all its reality. It seems simple, but if we reflect for a second most of us will find that we spend most of our lives avoiding the present moment.
A few years ago an English translation of the Father Caussade’s work appeared in the United States changing the original title to read “The Sacrament of the Present Moment.” This captures the essence of Father Caussade’s work and Bishop Sheen’s meditation that in the present time we are presented with an opportunity that is truly unique. Each moment is sacramental.
Most of us are capable of presenting ourselves with some amount of reflection as we celebrate the sacraments. If we celebrated the sacrament of Baptism as an adult certainly we came expecting to be changed by God. Each time we enter a confessional surely we have examined our conscience beforehand and are penitent expecting to be forgiven by God. Undoubtedly every time we approach the altar to receive the Eucharist we expect to encounter God. But what about the other moments of our lives?
As we awake in the morning, is our first thought of God? As we greet our brothers and sisters throughout the day do we expect that God might be present? Every moment of our lives is an opportunity to encounter God who is always present.
Spend some time reflecting on the following:
1. Go over the events of the present day and ask yourself where God might have been in each of them. Is there a consistent pattern to your day?
2. Reflect on the life of your favorite saint, and meditate on how he or she dealt with the people they met in their daily journeys. How could you imitate this saint? What enabled the saint to act in the way he or she did toward others?
3. Imagine as you leave from this time of prayer that God wishes to continue to be present to you as you go forth. How will you react to his presence in others?
PrayerLord, help me to search for you in the garden of life in the same way that St. Mary Magdalene did when she found your tomb empty. May my search be rewarded as hers was by knowledge of your abiding presence. Amen.

"michael dubruiel" "fulton sheen"

Easter Season Reflection by Michael Dubruiel

Easter Season Reflection by Michael Dubruiel

Coming to the tomb of Jesus that first Easter morning, the
women discovered an angel there, the rock rolled away. It was a
shocking and unexpected sight. The guards, who were there to

This is the power of
the cross for the follower
of Christ, no matter
what happens to us or can
happen to us we are not
defeated.
make sure that the disciples did not steal the body of the Lord,
were also witnesses to this. They were overcome with fear—to the
point of being “like dead men.”
One experience, two groups of people, two different reactions.
One group looks at the empty tomb and rushes to tell what
they have witnessed. The other group is paralyzed by the life
event. This wasn’t just something that happened thousands of
years ago; it happens every moment of every day. Those who see
the cross as the end of their life, meet death there; those who
believe and place their trust in God, find in the cross life and victory.

"michael dubruiel"

Easter Season Reflection by Michael Dubruiel

St. Peter Chrysologus (the “golden-worded”) was known for

his clear and simple style of preaching. About the angel’s appearance
at the tomb, he preached, “Pray that the angel would
descend now and roll away all the hardness of our hearts and
open up our closed senses and declare to our minds that Christ
has risen, for just as the heart in which Christ lives and reigns is
heaven, so also in the heart in which Christ remains dead and
buried is a grave.”
 
For those who do not believe, life unfolds as a series of accidents.
When a follower of Christ sees his life in exactly the same
way, Jesus calls that person foolish, slow to believe. Someone like
that needs to redirect his attention to the cross.

Michael Dubruiel

Mother’s Day is May 9

 

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"

I am the Bread of Life

During Easter season, we have heard the “Bread of Life” discourse from John’s Gospel, chapter 6. Learn more about the Mass in The How to Book of the Mass by Michael Dubruiel. 

Michael Dubruiel

The How-To Book of the Mass is the only book that not only provides the who, what, where, when, and why of themost time-honored tradition of the Catholic Church but also the how.
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

Pray the Rosary in May

 Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

"Michael Dubruiel"
Pray the Rosary in May

 

The Gospels show that the gaze of Mary varied depending upon the circumstances of life. So it will be with us. Each time we pick up the holy beads to recite the Rosary, our gaze at the mystery of Christ will differ depending on where we find ourselves at that moment.

 

Thereafter Mary’s gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14) [Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 10].

 


As we pray the Rosary, then, we join with Mary in contemplating Christ. With her, we remember Christ, we proclaim Him, we learn from Him, and, most importantly, as we raise our voices in prayer and our hearts in contemplation of the holy mysteries, this “compendium of the Gospel” itself, we are conformed to Him.

 

 

Catholic Sunday Gospel: Vine and Branches

The secret to obedience is given to us in John’s Gospel, when

Jesus teaches that he is the vine and we are the branches. Our life
depends upon remaining part of him—which we do by being
obedient to his commands and partaking in his Body and Blood
offered in the Eucharist. John in his letter says that we can tell if
we are “abiding” in Christ by our actions: Are they Christ-like?
The power to be like Christ, of course, comes from dying to
ourselves and allowing Christ to live within us. This requires
more than simply listening to or parroting the words of Christ;
this requires a complete abandonment to him.
Every day the official prayer of the Church begins the same
way, by praying Psalm 95: “Come, let us worship the Lord,”
echoes the refrain, inviting us to see our Savior, our Creator, the
God to whom we belong. With the invitation comes a warning:
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
"michael dubruiel"

St. Joseph the Worker – May 1

 O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.


“Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame,decided to divorce her quietly.” I suspect that most people gloss right over this passage at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel and today’s reading. We know that Joseph is not going to divorce Mary, in the same way that we know that Abraham ultimately isn’t going to sacrifice Isaac–so we gloss over the fact that Joseph, a righteous man who is unwilling to expose Mary to the possibility of being executed for adultery (since that would be the only plausible explanation for her pregnancy) decides to divorce her.
We could surmise from this that the Holy Family almost was a single parent family. We could also conclude that God fearing, righteous people sometimes divorce. But of course none of that comes to pass because Joseph is a spiritual man who pays attention to his dreams. And this is another important fact in the Gospel story–Joseph’s revelation comes to him in a dream–not a full fledged vision but a dream. A vision of an angel in a dream probably would be quickly dismissed by most of us.
“Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'”
So we are told that even Joseph had this intention when he had rationally looked at all the evidence, now God enters the picture albeit in a dream and says, “whoa Joseph! It is through the Holy Spirit.”
There are a lot of events in life that are confusing, troubling to good people. If we are truly open to God as St. Joseph was we might discern God’s hand in many events that seem at first to speak of God’s absence. As we await His coming let us open ourselves to the possibility that He might be in our midst, even at this moment.

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.

Catholics Returning to Mass

  Perhaps you know someone who is returned to the Church at Easter. The How to Book of the Mass  by Michael Dubruiel would be a great gift for them.

Michael DubruielThe How-To Book of the Mass is the only book that not only provides the who, what, where, when, and why of themost time-honored tradition of the Catholic Church but also the how.
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

Find more about The How to Book of the Mass here.

St. Catherine of Siena – April 29

Father Mark Reflects:

A Mystic of the Blood

It is evident, I think, that today’s feast of Saint Catherine of Siena is a further invitation, a pressing exhortation, to fix our gaze on the Blood of the Lamb, to adore that Precious Blood, to yield every impurity and sin of ours to the torrent that gushes from Christ’s pierced side, and to drink of the Chalice of Salvation. Saint Catherine is one of the great blazing mystics of the Blood. One could also speak of Julian of Norwich and, again, of Blessed Marie of the Incarnation. The Blood of Christ is sprinkled over every page of Catherine’s writings. The Blood of Christ opens and seals her correspondence. The Blood of Christ is on her lips and in her heart.

Divine Fire

For Catherine, that Blood is a Divine Fire. It is the remedy for every ill: medicine for a Church in crisis, purity for a priesthood fallen into the filth of the world, strength for the weak, hope for the despondent, healing for the sick. For Catherine, the Blood of Christ is the power by which lives are changed, by which sinners become saints, by which monasteries are reformed.

Cleansed in the Blood of the Lamb

The Blood of the Lamb is given us in the sacraments. In the Sacrament of Penance, the Blood of Christ is applied to the wounds of the soul. “The Blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7). The Blood of Christ bathes the soul, cleansing of it of every trace of sin and making it resplendent in the eyes of the Father.

Antidote for Every Poison

In the Most Holy Eucharist, the Blood of Christ is given us as the fountain of immortality, the antidote for every poison of body, mind, and soul, an infusion of divine joy in this valley of tears. This was the experience of Saint Catherine and, because it was her experience, it became her teaching. Even more, it became the cry of her heart to all who would listen.

The Mystery of the Precious Blood

The Precious Blood of Christ is among those heavenly mysteries “hidden from the wise and understanding and revealed to infants” (Mt 11:25). The mystery of the Blood is revealed to those who taste it with the palate of the soul, to those who approach the holy Chalice with the fear of God and with faith.

Take My Heart

One’s dying words are not improvised. They are the expression of a lifetime. Saint Catherine, having lived immersed in Blood of Christ, died with the Blood of Christ on her lips. On the January 30th before her death, she prayed for the Church, the Bride of Christ: “O Eternal God, accept the sacrifice of my life within this Mystic Body of holy Church. I have nothing to give but what you have given me. Take my heart, then, and squeeze it out over this Bride’s face.” For His Heart’s Blood, she gave her heart’s blood and, like her Bridegroom and Lord, she gave it for the Church.

Your Son’s Most Sweet Blood

Her last recorded prayer, uttered three months later, is this:

Lord,
you are calling me to come to you,
and I am coming to you —
not with any merits of my own
but only with your mercy.
I am begging you for this mercy
in virtue of your Son’s most sweet Blood.
Blood!
Blood!
Father,
into your hands I surrender my soul
and my spirit
.

From Michael Dubruiel, 2008.  

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