How to draw closer to God – Part 2a

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.

Matthew 25 Gospel

The genesis of this book was inspired by a set of talks that Father Benedict J. Groeschel C.F.R., gave several years ago in the Diocese of Manchester, NH. At the time while researching material for a project I was working on I came across an advertisement for the talks and found both the title and topic striking. The topic seemed to fit Father Benedict’s lifetime of working among the poor and raising money to help their plight. I approached him, shortly after listening to the tapes and asked him to consider doing a book version. He liked the idea but was reluctant to pursue the project alone due to the shortage of time available to work on it.

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Unwilling to let go of the project, I approached another friend of the poor, Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Diocese of Charleston. I knew that Bishop Baker’s priestly ministry had been devoted to finding Christ in the poor and with a wealth of experience he had in this area that if I could join his thoughts with Fr. Groeschel’ s we would have a book that would be of great benefit to the rest of us. After approaching Bishop Baker with my request he agreed and then Father Benedict agreed to collaborate on this book.

While the Bishop and Father Benedict were working on the written text of the book I came across a stunning work of iconography one day while visiting an Eastern Catholic church. On the back wall of the church was an icon of the Last Judgment taken from Matthew 25. I found that the great iconographer Mila Mina had written the icon. I immediately contacted Mila and asked if the icon might be used as an illustration for this book, her response was “anything to make the Gospel known!” Thanks to Mila and her son Father John Mina for allowing Joyce Duriga and David Renz to photograph the icon at Ascension of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church, Clairton, PA.

Fr. Groeschel has written the introductory text that begins each section as well as the final “What Should I Do?” at the end of the book, and Bishop Baker has written the individual meditations and prayers contained in each of the six sections.

While this book was being written, Father Benedict was involved in a horrific accident that nearly took his life. At the time of the accident the text he was working on was in his suitcase. He had just finished the introduction to “When I was a stranger…” as you read over the text for that section you might sense that he was having a premonition of what was about to happen in his life-where he would soon be in an emergency room under the care of doctors, nurses and as well as his family and religious community.

You will find that this book provides you with keys to finding Our Lord in the poor, and to overcoming the fears and obstacles (represented by the seven deadly sins in each section) that prevent you from responding to His call.

Michael Dubruiel Interview

You can listen to an interview program with Michael Dubruiel about his book, The Power of the Cross. The interview is with Kris McGregor of KVSS radio.

Episode 4 –

The Cross of Christ unites…

– Michael discusses:

Day 15 – How We Worship Day

16 – How We See Jesus Day

17 – How We Forgive Day

18 – Law and Love Day

19 – Our Lives Day

20 – Our Priorities

Day 21 – How We See Ourselves

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You can find out more about The Power of the Cross here, including a free download of the book.

Free Catholic Book

When we think of doing great things for Christ, we need to be
careful that it is not Satan’s suggestion. Jesus has given us an
example of service to follow. It may seem a little too commonplace
for most of us, who, like St. Peter, prefer to proclaim the
greater things we can do—such as laying down our lives for him.
And like the apostle, we are apt to fail miserably, even deny that
we know the Lord. Perhaps we should start—and even finish—
with less lofty goals, for God’s ways are not our ways.

The cross of Christ reveals the love God has for us; to follow
Jesus is to imitate his example, to do as he has done for us to others.
Sometimes that means offering a glass of water to a little one.
Sometimes it means picking up a broom and sweeping a dirty
hallway. Sometimes it means taking note of someone that others
are passing by. These are small things in the eyes of the world,
but the actions of great saints in God’s kingdom.

Having the mind of Christ and accepting his cross means
turning away from the tree of temptation, where Satan is enticing
us to eat so that we might be like God, and turning toward
the tree of the cross, where we find what being like God is really
like. Jesus told his disciples that the pagans liked to lord it over
each other but it wasn’t to be that way with them. Two thousand
years later, have we learned that lesson? Whose feet are we washing,
beside our own?

From The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel , available as a free download by clicking the cover below:

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Easter Season Meditation

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.”

-The Power of the Cross  by Michael Dubruiel

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How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist

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.

I am the Bread of Life

The past week  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