73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 12

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. Here is the twelth Step:

(12) Not to seek after pleasures.

This is not a popular counsel in our culture. We may be the most pleasure seeking culture that has ever existed. Indeed it may well be that of all the maxims that St. Benedict gives us, this is the hardest. I suspect some will find it nearly impossible to accept even intellectually.

St. Benedict here is not counseling and individual to reject pleasure when it is experienced but rather he is saying that one should now seek after it.

Most of us actively look forward to experiences that we believe will give us pleasure based on our past experiences. As a child we looked forward to Christmas each year, because at an early age when gifted with presents that we had not expect, we were filled with pleasure. But something strange happens, when we start expecting the pleasure and actively seeking after it, the reality never seems to live up to our expectation.

The gift that we beg for arrives and quickly is seen for what it is–“a false advertisement”. The elusive relationship is finally gained but the reality never lives up to the fantasy.

The wise person learns this at an early age, but most of us become more creative in our explanations as to why our plans for pleasure are failing to pleasure us.When we seek after pleasure it become unattainable. Nothing ever lives up to our expectation. The act of seeking is a guarantee that we will not achieve the pleasure that we desire.

The longed after vacation, when it arrives, moves to quickly and is destroyed by the delays in travel, the lousy weather, etc.

If we are wise we will find that pleasure comes when we do not desire it but simply are present to the events of the present moment.

Our expectation is that God can come to us at any moment and this expectation will lead to pleasures and joy that we can not dream of.

The seeker lives in the past. He or she is trying to recreate the unplanned moment when everything seemed to be right. If only the moment could be recreated the pleasure would once again be experienced. But the reality is that that moment is past.

The reality is also that the future is ahead with all of its unexpectedness. “Seek first the Kingdom of God!” is the counsel of Jesus. Everything else is secondary. Everything else is illusion.

If I make it my goal to be totally present to the reality of the moment, rather than to be focused on some illusory happiness that lies in the future, I will find true joy right now.

The radical nature of this claim will find it’s confirmation when I am stuck in traffic or sitting in the waiting room of the doctor or dentist and I thank God for the extra time I have been given to relax, to read a magazine that I usually don’t have time for, to gently reflect on where God has led me in the past and how futile our my plans for anything without God’s co-operation.

“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the labors labor.” The future is ours only in so far as it is the Lord’s also. The pleasure seeker, seeks pleasure because they feel none in the present moment. In the seeking they suffer from their want.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 10 b

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. Here is the tenth Step part two:

(10) To deny one’s self in order to follow Christ (cf Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23).




None of us has to battle such odds. We are not God, but as the fruit of original sin we have all inherited the notion that we are supposed to be God. So most of us spend our lives not exercising the talents and gifts that God has blessed us with because we fear that we will fail to use them perfectly.

I wonder how many there are who have been graced with the gift of healing the sick but who never reach out to the sick because they fear the embarrassment that might come their way? Or how many talented leaders stand idly by while those not gifted lead?

Denying oneself means letting go of the fears that we do not possess abilities of god proportions and stepping out in faith knowing that God will provide what is lacking to our talents as we exercise them for the good of humanity.

Perhaps the most commonly told parable by Jesus about the Kingdom of God is that of the King or landowner who passes out talents before taking a trip. Those who invest in their talents are praised upon the Master’s return whereas the one who buries his talents is condemned.

Why did the servant bury his talents? Because he was afraid.

Why does Jesus tell the parable? So his followers will not fall into the same predicament. Yet how many Christians will hear the words, deny yourself and immediately interpret the Lord’s words as though he were advocating burying one’s talents? Unbelievable!

Deny the fear of making a mistake, taking a risk of what might happen if you follow Our Lord to Jerusalem. The disciples told Jesus that if they went to Jerusalem he certainly would be killed, did he not fear for his life? Thomas often cast as the doubter but in fact probably the supreme believer says, “let us go to die with him!”

When we let go of the fear of what others think about us when it comes to using the talents and abilities that God has given us then we will truly build the Kingdom of God. Denying that part of ourselves that would bury our talents our of fear is true humility.

The Election Polls

The most accurate poll prior to the 2004 election continues to report a vastly different picture for the 2008 election, with a wealth of data–including the Catholic vote and McCain.  From IBDeditorials:

McCain has cut into Obama’s lead for a second day and is now just 1.1 points behind. The spread was 3.7 Wednesday and 6.0 Tuesday. The Republican is making headway with middle- and working- class voters, and has surged 10 points in two days among those earning between $30,000 and $75,000. He has also gone from an 11-point deficit to a 9-point lead among Catholics.

Whose Image Do You See?

Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life

In the throes of the election season, Archbishop Chaput’s book Render Unto Caesar had become a Catholic “must read.” Speaking as a former editor, the book bears the marks of having been authored by a number of people, which at times gives it an uneven feel–but the final chapters of the book, from Chapter 10 “What Needs to Be Done” on, the book hits high gear and hits its stride. It is the ending of the book that made its mark on my, redeeming some of the earlier chapters which seemed less focused.

What Archbishop Chaput has done in this book is to provide the Catholic reader with history, commentary, and Catholic critique of what it means to be a citizen of the United States and a follower of Christ–and I would say that often their is confusion that is felt not only by Catholics, but evangelical Christians as well as to how one is engage in the world, while not being “of” it.

This book would make an excellent item for a reading group looking to examine and study this issue–then discussing it. Hopefully the publisher Doubleday will provide a reading guide for this purpose. The central issue of this book won’t go away any time soon.

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