Friday, August 18, 2017

How to Receive Communion at a Catholic Mass


When our Lord gave the disciples on the road to Emmaus the bread that He had blessed and broken, "he vanished out of their sight" (Luke 24:31). It was then that they recognized Him. We receive the Lord as they did in receiving the Eucharist. Now, at the moment that He is within us, we too should reflect, as they did, on the Scriptures that He has opened to us during this Mass, especially on what has made our "hearts burn."

In our consumer-minded society, we can miss the treasure that we receive if we treat it like one more thing to "get" and then go on to the next thing. Our Lord is not a "thing." He is God, who has deigned to come intimately into our lives. We should reflect on His Presence within us and ask what He would have us do.

More on The How to Book of the Mass here. 



"michael dubruiel"

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Brief Guide to the Catholic Mass

The Gospel readings at Mass during this time are focusing on the Eucharist via John, chapter 6.  Why not follow the Church's lead and learn more about the Mass during this time?

From Michael Dubruiel, in 2007:

I have written a lot about the Mass--without ever really intending to do so. First, I wrote about the Mass in The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You--this book has done so well that I was asked to write a follow-up to it. That book How To Get The Most Out Of The Eucharist, probably should have been titled "How to Offer Your Sacrifice at Every Mass." Then this year, A Pocket Guide to the Mass, which is part of the "A Pocket Guide" series. Each book is different and offers a slightly different way to open oneself up to the riches that are being bestowed upon us by fulfilling the Lord's command to "Do this." Thanks to everyone who has read any of the three and offered very positive reviews of them.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Feast of the Assumption - August 15

The Feast of the Assumption is today, August 15.   The Assumption is, of course, one of the mysteries of the Rosary, and so it's appropriate to talk about the Rosary as we contemplate the feast. Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

Monday, August 14, 2017

St. Maximillian Kolbe - August 14

Today is the Feast of St. Maximillian Kolbe

From a letter he wrote, from theOffice of Readings:

It is sad to see how in our times the disease called “indifferentism” is spreading in all its forms, not just among those in the world but also among the members of religious orders. But indeed, since God is worthy of infinite glory, it is our first and most pressing duty to give him such glory as we, in our weakness, can manage – even that we would never, poor exiled creatures that we are, be able to render him such glory as he truly deserves.

Books by Michael Dubruiel

Friday, August 11, 2017

73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God - 46 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 46:



(46) To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.



I think that this is one of those maxims that would have been a given in previous ages. But now it seems that no one is brought up with a great "desire" for eternal life with all spiritual longing.



I remember as a child listening to a visiting priest preach about the importance of eternity in light of the present moment. It left a deep impression on my young mind and from that day forward every action that I undertook was charged with "eternal" implications.



The type of "longing" that St. Benedict counsels us to have is "spiritual" longing. This is a little more complicated that the normal type of longing but it is an important distinction. Too often people in the past approached their desire for eternal life with an earthly register--keeping track of their good acts, performing prayers with certain types of indulgences--all with a keen eye on where they were on the spiritual maturity meter. This is all the stuff of this life and a pretty sad indication that one really doesn't trust in God at all.



A spiritual longing is much more focused on God and less on self. St. Paul desired eternal life with this type of longing when he wished if for his fellow men to the point that he himself would forgo it, if it would save them. Spiritual longing is always sacrificial and somewhat paradoxical.



Our Lord said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing." There is great wisdom in meditating on these words in light of St. Benedict's maxim to "desire eternity with a spiritual longing." We long to cleave to Christ, to imitate Him and to be united with Him, so to live with Him for all eternity.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Feast of St. Dominic - August 8 by Michael Dubruiel

Today is the Feast of Saint Dominic

From the Office of Readings:

Frequently he made a special personal petition that God would deign to grant him a genuine charity, effective in caring for and obtaining the salvation of men. For he believed that only then would he be truly a member of Christ, when he had given himself totally for the salvation of men, just as the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of all, had offered himself completely for our salvation. So, for this work, after a lengthy period of careful and provident planning, he founded the Order of Friars Preachers.

In his conversations and letters he often urged the brothers of the Order to study constantly the Old and New Testaments. He always carried with him the gospel according to Matthew and the epistles of Paul, and so well did he study them that he almost knew them from memory.

Two or three times he was chosen bishop, but he always refused, preferring to live with his brothers in poverty. Throughout his life, he preserved the honour of his virginity. He desired to be scourged and cut to pieces, and so die for the faith of Christ. Of him Pope Gregory IX declared: “I knew him as a steadfast follower of the apostolic way of life. There is no doubt that he is in heaven, sharing in the glory of the apostles themselves”.


Books by Michael Dubruiel

Monday, August 07, 2017

RCIA Resource




Michael Dubruiel

The How-To Book of the Mass by Michael Dubruiel 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.

More about Michael Dubruiel here. 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Transfiguration - August 6

From Pope Benedict's Angelus:

“On the transfigured face of Jesus shone a ray of the divine light that He guarded within. This very light radiates on the face of Christ on the day of the Resurrection. Thus, the Transfiguration is like an anticipation of the Paschal mystery... The... Resurrection overcame once and for all the power of the shadow of evil. With the risen Christ, truth and love triumph over deceit and sin. In Him, the light of God now illuminates the life of men and the path of history permanently. ‘I am the light of the world,’ He says in the Gospel. ‘Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ (Jn 8:12).”

Books by Michael Dubruiel 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Fulton Sheen Book

Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton J. Sheen by Michael Dubruiel

This is an excerpt from one of my books, "Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton J. Sheen". This entry is from Part I under the heading "The Sanctification of the Present Moment." I quote this because I noticed somewhere online today the popularity of a spiritual guru who Oprah is promoting, Eckhart Tolle (I think it helps to have an estoteric name in the modern world) who's "Power of Now" is quite the rave. There is nothing new in what Tolle is promoting and any serious student of spirituality can find it in Catholicism. Fulton Sheen was preaching this years ago and as I point out in this entry from the book a very famous work of Christian Spirituality also does:

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?

Prayer
Lord, 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.



Friday, August 04, 2017

73 Steps to Closer Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 45

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 45:



(45) To be in dread of hell.



I think it is helpful to personally design our own notion of Hell. Jesus used Gehenna to describe it to the people of His day. "Gehenna" was the local dump (landfills were a long way into the future) for the city of Jerusalem. So when Jesus described Hell to the people they would have thought of Gehenna where a smoldering fire burned incessantly consuming the refuse of the people of Jerusalem.



Designing your own notion of Hell merely insists of imagining what the would be the worst possible experience that could happen to you and magnifying that by eternity. For most of this would involve pain and suffering that would never cease, but for some it might be an embarrassing situation. Sadly for many it might be an actual moment in their life that they play over and over again in their minds.



The point is that once you have some understanding of how horrible Hell would be for you that you should foster a "dread" of it. The only way we can end up in this eternal place of damnation is by rejecting the gift of salvation that comes to us from Jesus Christ. Accepting or rejecting that gift is a moment by moment yes or no, manifest by our actions.



Dread is a fairly good motivator. Most of us seldom do anything we dread. We keep putting it off. That is why so many people still mail in their tax statements on April 15th close to the stroke of midnight. To dread what is "really" evil is healthy. And what is really evil is "separation from God" which is the best definition of what Hell is.



It is true that if you take your own notion of what Hell is like and then place God in the picture that it become Heaven. I can imagine being quite happy in Gehenna if I was there with Jesus watching people dump their garbage. In fact I can imagine enduring the worst that life can give and being okay with it if I had a strong sense that God wanted me there.





We should dread anything that will separate us from God's love and Hell is the final separation. Fostering this dread will increase our appreciation for the availability of God's love in the present moment. The final judgment has not happened for us yet, there is still time. Time to confess and let go of past sins. Time to reform our lives and live in the grace of God in the future. Time to dread the fires of Hell and to live for the glories of Heaven.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 44 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel, the previous posts are available in the archives to the right. This is step 44.



(44) To fear the day of judgment.



A recent visit to a large Midwestern city was filled with moments where I paused to think about the tragedies of September 11, 2001 and what could happen again or as the United States government often relates-something worst. One of the buildings in this city, that towers over all the rest is especially impressive and the thought of it tumbling like the World Trade Centers was almost incomprehensible. Milling around the streets with thousands of others it was hard to envision some nuclear attack suddenly wiping out a million people in an instance.



Although the sun shone and it was a beautiful day there was a hint of an impending storm that post-9/11 seemed to hang heavy in the air. It made me think of the words of Our Lord when his disciples marveled at the size of the Temple in Jerusalem and its beauty (it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down," (Luke 21:7).



Driving home past abandoned motels and gas stations, I thought of the transitory nature of life. People that I once admired now lie cold in tombs, amusement parks that delighted me as a child now lie dormant, everything has a judgment day, everything!



St. Benedict says we should "fear" the day of judgment. It should be something ever on our minds. To keep "our" final end in sight has always been an important practice because it helps us to "order" our lives to that end. Most of us can point to our greatest lapses or sins as times when we had lost sight of our purpose in life.



Fear can be a horrible motivator or it can be a great one. When I was in basic training in the Army some years ago, I remember an incident where one of my fellow trainees was having difficulty producing urine for some medical procedure. He came out to the drill sergeant holding the empty container. The drill sergeant in response yelled in his face, "Go!" And he did, as the front of his fatigues darkened. I saw him a few minutes later squeezing what he could out of his pants into the container.





But Jesus also said, "Fear is useless, what is need is trust," and while fearing judgment day can help us to refocus on what truly matters and what the right thing to do is in any situation, ultimately it should always lead us back to placing our trust in God. Fearing judgment should always drop us to our knees and reconnect with God. Every moment is an invitation to prayer and every second has its own needs that require that special help from God.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 43

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 43rd step:



(43) But as to any evil in himself, let him be convinced that it is his own and charge it to himself.



This counsel follows from the previous one. If God has created us as "good" then any evil is from our free choice to do other than what God wills for us. We should understand that what is "evil" is bad for us, to the point that if we persist in evil it leads to our self-destruction.



If God has created us as good, then anything that is not good can not be from God, it must have another source, St. Benedict concludes rightly that it must come from ourselves.



There are many maladies in life that may seem evil but really are not. Someones genetic makeup may make the prone to an early death and on the surface that may seem like an "evil" but in fact it is only our perception again of what our idea of "good" is. A person whose life is limited by their genetic or physical condition still has been put on this earth by God and still has a mission. They can do much good with the talents that God has given them. To bury the talents because of their perceived bad condition is to squander the good.



A woman born in a physical condition that gave her little chance to live beyond her twenties, described an incident that she says happened to her on the day of her birth. "God," she says, "asked me if I wanted to do something special for Him." She says that she responded, "Yes."



Virginia Cyr spent her short twenty-something years praising God in a body racked with pain, in and out of orphanages after her mother abandoned her, sexually abused by a drunken priest who took advantage of her physical condition which prevented her from running away--through it all she thanked God for the mission, He had blessed her with on her day of her birth.



Now this Indiana woman lies waiting the resurrection in a grave in Lafayette. The orphanage where she lived in Fort Wayne, no longer is there. Perhaps an answer to some prayer that God answered because she had so faithfully carried out His mission.



No matter what, evil is our choice and the good is God's blessing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 42

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 42nd step:



(42) To refer what good one sees in himself, not to self, but to God.



If we have lived long enough, and are in touch with what motivates us, I think we will come to see the truth that there is a great good that is essential to who we are at our deepest core. God created us and as God says in the Book of Genesis when he looked upon his creation-He saw that it was "good."



God is responsible for the goodness that is at the core of every human being. It is there and we can both see it in others and in ourselves.



When God became Man, He had no problem recognizing the "good" that was in all of creation. Where some saw prostitutes or tax collectors, the Son of God saw precious creatures that had the same basic goodness as all who have been created by God.



When the rich young man called Jesus, "Good teacher," Jesus corrected him, "Why call me good? Only God is good." Here we have an application of this counsel by Jesus Himself.



Yes, only God is good, but He has shared that goodness in His creation. We are part of God's creation. Therefore when we worship Him, we come to know ourselves as we truly are and we come to see the goodness that is at the heart of who He has created us to be.



This original goodness has been marred by Original Sin, sadly people do not realize the great value that they possess. Often they are confused about their purpose in life and unfortunately many waste the talents that they have been blessed with because they take the definition of who they are from other people or from some other ideal of who they should be.



Jesus' death and resurrection make it possible for us to understand that God loves us. By being baptized the original goodness that is in us can come to the fore.





We are "good" because God created us. Our actions are good as much as we act out of the self that God created us to be. All is from God and God deserves all the praise both for who we are and the good that we do.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 41

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 41th step:



(41) To put one's trust in God.



As if to remind us what all this is about, in the middle of these counsels, Saint Benedict gives this counsel that refocuses on the real issue here. Going through the counsels we can lose sight again that almost everything that is negative, not to do this or not to be this is all about a positive to "do this," to put our trust in God.



Most of us probably would say that we put our trust in God. But our reaction to all of these counsels of Saint Benedict is like a giant mirror that reveals whether we really do or not.



There is a story that I have heard so many times that it has lost it's punch for me, but perhaps not for you-so here it is. A man is walking along a mountainside when suddenly he hits some lose soil and goes tumbling over a steep precipice. Luckily he grabs on to a tree branch as he falls down.



Looking down, he sees that if he hadn't grabbed the branch he would have fallen to a certain death. But looking up he can see no way to reach the safety of the path again, and he realizes that he can't hold on forever. He yells for help, "Is anyone up there?"



A voice booms, "I'm here, it's God."



The man says, "Thank God! Can you save me?"



"Of course," God says, "but you have to do exactly what I tell you."



"Okay," the man says, "what do I need to do?"



"Let go," says God.



"Is anyone else up there?" The man screams.





Putting our trust in God means more than just giving lip service to Him. It means, "letting go," and whether we do or not ultimately decides whether we live or die-forever.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Free Catholic Book

St. Paul tells us that we are to “cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light”—we are to conduct ourselves as
people of light. Too often people try to escape or reject their cross;
they flee to the darkness, escape in alcohol or sex, or immerse
themselves in anger, all because things have not gone their way.
Without the grace of God, this is our fate as well. Yet when we
are handed a cross, if we abandon ourselves and trust in God as
Christ did, what seems like defeat is in fact a victory! The evil that
is done to us, God can mold into good. Then we can sing
Hosanna to God in the highest, because the light of God will live
in us and we will see everything in his light.
"michael dubruiel"

Sunday, July 23, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 40 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 40th step:



(40) Not to be a detractor.



The Christian is to be someone who builds people up, not someone who tears others down. Often detraction is a sign of our own insecurity or feelings of inadequacy.



Someone who puts God first in their lives will recognize their own self in an entirely new light as well as all others.

If we see someone who seems less in our eyes, it is we who have the problem not them.



This of course does not mean that we turn our eyes from those who commit grievous sins against others. They should be confronted, and if personal confrontation does not work as Jesus said, the matter should be brought before the whole Church, and if that doesn't work they should be treated like a tax collector. Of course Jesus--welcomed tax collectors, so there is irony in the last part of his counsel.





Christianity is not a religion of castes. In Christ there is neither Greek or Jew, male or female--all are one. In order for that to be a lived reality we must see the importance of each individual and seek to build them up. In doing so we are aiding the Holy Spirit's work of building the Kingdom of God.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 39

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel.  The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 39th step:



(39) Not to be a murmurer.



I like how the dictionary defines a murmur, "a confidential complaint." Of course the complaint being offered confidentially is never directed at the person who is responsible for the complaint.



There are murmurers in the Gospel. When Jesus says to the paralytic "your sins are forgiven" the people present begin to murmur amongst themselves about what they perceive to be the presumption of Jesus to do something that is reserved to God alone, (this brings to mind the modern tendency for everyone to forgive sins or at least dismiss them as not really all that serious). Jesus hears the murmurs and addresses them directly.



If you have ever been caught murmuring by the person you are murmuring about--you probably know how they felt.



We should not murmur because we are not addressing the people that should be addressed. We should however speak out "unconfidentially" against injustices, against wrongdoing that harms others. But sometimes the things we complain about in whispered tones hardly rise to that level.



If God is God for us, there is less to murmur about. Many of the events of life that we might normally complain about will be seen to be part of a plan that is much larger than us. What we might perceive as the "wrong way of doing things" might actually lead to "God's way of doing things" being done in the long run.



Again the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis provides an excellent meditation for us on this issue.



Feel like complaining, go to the chapel instead and complain to the boss. He can do something to remedy the situation while your co-worker will only add to your misery.

Friday, July 21, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 38

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 38th step:



(38) Not to be slothful (cf Rom 12:11).



The scripture passage that St. Benedict quotes from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans. I expected it to be the passage "if a man doesn't work, he shouldn't eat," but its not that. The passage he quotes is "Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord."



Again, like in all previous counsels the motivation to not be slothful is to be animated by God's Holy Spirit. How do we receive this Spirit, by serving the Lord (I like to think of this as "working for the Lord").



Just as one might take a job with a certain company and enjoy certain benefits that the company offers, so too for the person who "works" for the Lord. The chief benefit that God provides to those who serve Him is that He gives them the power to fulfill the job. He also fills His workers with the desire and zeal to do the work.



Being lazy, or slothful is a sign that we have turned in on ourselves again; that we are "serving" ourselves and our own desires. So it is easy to see how this would stop us from being in communion with God.



What then of all the lazy Christians? Remember Benedict wrote these counsels for monks, men who had left everything to follow Christ in the life of the Monastery. But as Jesus prophesied the the "love of many will grow cold," so too in religious life, people can lose sight of the great need that they have for God and start slacking off in prayer.





Which brings us to the greatest danger of being slothful--neglecting prayer. Communicating with God is essential if we are to live--we must never give up prayer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 37

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 37th step:



(37) Not to be drowsy.



Several years ago, Amy and I attended the Easter Vigil Mass at a monastery. We arrived at the Abbey Church on Holy Saturday night at 9 when it began. The Blessing of the Fire was done, the Easter candle carried in procession, the Exsultet sang, and the readings began. Then they stopped after the fourth one.



There was an announcement. The readings would resume at 4 A.M. We both looked at each other. We were staying at a hotel about a half hour away. It was already 10:30. We rushed out the door and headed back to the hotel and after leaving a wake up call for 3 A.M. at the desk went to sleep.



Like zombies we took are place in the Church again at 3:45 A.M. The monks were all there, psalms were being read. They looked well rested, alert-awake. I was not, I was drowsy.



Monks get up at 4 A.M. every morning. Most of us do not but sleep is essential for all of us. St. Benedict's counsel reflects the rigors of monastic life but applies to us as well. We need sleep in order to give our full attention to life's demands.



There also is the memory of the Apostles and their failure to stay awake at the crucial moments of Our Lord's agony, "And he came and found them sleeping," (Mark 14:37). And of course the warning that he is coming again and how will Our Lord find us, "Watch therefore-for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning-lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch," (Mark 13:35).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 36

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 36th step:



(36) Not to be a great eater.



Food exists to nourish the body, but I think that no one would be surprised to find that St. Benedict includes this in his counsels. Too often food can become an obsession for those who want to "bury" something that makes life unbearable for them.



Saying a blessing over the food that we are about to eat. Eating slowly and allowing our bodies to be nourished is good. Eating as though nothing can satiate our hunger points to a deeper problem.



I remember that once a friend of mine who is a counselor told me that he had noticed that the most difficult people to counsel that he encountered were those who were overweight. He drew no conclusion as to why this was the case but thought it might have something to do with a displaced focus on food as a remedy to all their ills.



Putting aside genetic dispositions for a second, we should ask ourselves how we approach meals. Are we like an animal who will continue to eat anything put before us with no regard to what we really need?





We should examine the true source of our hungers in life and turn to God. We should be great pray-ers, not great eaters.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 35

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 35th step:



(35) Not to be given to wine (cf Ti 1:7; 1 Tm 3:3).



Have you ever said and meant, "boy I need a drink"? This is exactly what St. Benedict is counseling us not to be given to…needing a drink. Benedict and of course Jesus both drank wine. It was a part of the daily meals of both. But what Benedict is counseling us against is feeling that we "need" an alcoholic drink to get by. Of course if we follow this counsel than what do we do, when we are having one of "those days"?



Turn to God. The very elements of a day that leaves us stressed out, are the items that we need to let go of in our prayer. Of course we need to turn to God before our day ever gets to the point of "needing a drink" to anesthetize ourselves.



Everything is given for our use in life and has a purpose. Wine has been shown to be a very healthy part of the diet of people who drink in moderation on a regular basis. But like every good, too much is not good.



If God is the Supreme Being, then we will approach the goods of this life with the right attitude. This would apply to all beverages from coffee, colas, and beer.





In regard to wine, which in the Eucharist becomes the Blood of Christ--we should ever desire to quench our thirst from the True Vine.

Monday, July 17, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 34

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 34th step:



(34) Not to be proud...




I do not think that it is a mistake that pride is mentioned right after persecution. There are tales that at the times in the early Church, when persecution was waged against the church, that some Christians actively sought to be persecuted and martyred. This was against Our Lord's command: "When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next," (Matthew 10:23), and here St. Benedict cautions us not to be proud.



This is a fundamental principle to the Spiritual Life. You can not be proud. Once you start to gloat over the spiritual gifts that you are blessed with, or how well you are doing in prayer, or how much better you are, or how high you are up on the spiritual ladder---you are right back at the bottom of the pit. Your ego has won again and God is very distant from you.



There is a prayer to pray when you feel "proud " of your spiritual accomplishments. Not surprisingly it comes from God Himself in the person of Jesus. Jesus tells his disciples, "when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty,'" (Matthew 17:10).





We must avoid pride, because it is a great obstacle to be open to our great and unrelenting need for God. Pride at its root seeks to cut God out of the picture. It goes without saying then that pride is the greatest enemy to our communion with God, but it also needs to be said that it is a great temptation when we find our lives becoming so much better because of our communion with Him.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 33 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 33th step:



(33) To bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt 5:10).



St. Benedict references one of the Beatitudes for this counsel, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 5:10). If we are just and right in what people choose to persecute us for, then we should bear it patiently.



Many people suffer persecution for doing what is right and unfortunately often at the hands of religious people. Our Lord told his disciples that, "indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God," (John 16:2). One have only to open the papers and to read of crimes against human beings committed by people of every religious belief out of conviction that they are doing the will of God.



Jesus promised his followers, " Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you," (John 15:20). Therefore, again in imitation of Our Lord we should bear persecution when we are not at fault with patience.



One of the greatest examples of this patient endurance of persecution in our own day is the nonviolent civil rights movement of the late 1950's and 1960's. There are memorials and historical markers where horrible persecutions took place in various cities through the south. The test of time has proved the righteousness of the cause, but those who stood up suffered horribly at the time. They took their example from the Scriptures.



In more recent times those who have bravely protested nonviolently in front of abortion clinics, silently praying the rosary, are great examples of the just who are persecuted for righteousness sake!





We should do the same. When we stand up for what is right and just we should not expect accolades; in fact we should be weary of the applause. What is right is seldom popular; people seem to slip into a collective hypnosis from time to time that blinds them from recognizing the truth. But God is the truth and living a lie can only distance us from Him.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15 - St. Bonaventure

From TheUniversalis: Office of Readings:



"Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert.



There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.



For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.



If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God?s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ"


Books by Michael Dubruiel

Thursday, July 13, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 30

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 30th step:



(30) To do no injury, yea, even patiently to bear the injury done us.



Injury literally means "injustice." Giving that as a backdrop to this counsel, I think we see that it has a wider application than simply commanding us not to physically hurt someone. To do no 'injustice" and to even to bear the injustice done to us is nothing more than perfectly imitating Our Lord.



The Christian has the life of Christ within them by the grace of their baptism, but for many of us that life is dormant, asleep. We do not call on Christ at every moment of the day to aid us and to help us in our dealings with others and the way that we view our own treatment from the hands of others.



Like every counsel before it and to come--this one calls us to conversion. We are to treat everyone with the utmost respect, not injuring them physically or emotionally, nor showing treating them with any injustice. At the same time when someone treats us harshly, whether physically or emotionally, even unjustly--we are to "grin and bear it."



Our guide is Christ. Who stood before Pilate and did not say a word to defend himself even though he was being accused of crimes he had not committed. He pointed out the Pilate that Pilate himself had no power at all except that God was allowing this to happen.



Ultimately this counsel is about faith. The first part of it deals with our faith that God has created everyone on the face of the earth and they each have the image of God within them. To harm them is to harm God Himself.



The second part is faith in God's providence that whatever mortal princes can do to us--God ultimately will reign victoriously. Jesus told his disciples not to fear those who could harm our bodies, but rather to fear He who could throw us into Gehenna. By bearing injustices committed against us patiently we show our faith in God's power to overcome all evil.





The First part of the counsel also commands us to speak out and to stop the injury that may be suffered by someone else. If we are to bear wrongs done to us patiently, we are not to bear the wrongs done to others patiently--in such a case our lack of action would make us part of the problem.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 29

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 29th step:



(29) Not to return evil for evil (cf 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9).



St. Benedict references two Scripture passages with this counsel. The first is from Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians, "See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all," (1 Thess. 5:15). The next is from the First Letter of Peter, "Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing," (1 Pet. 3:9).



The motivation for this is clearly stated in Peter's letter when he says that the Lord is against those who do evil. Get it?



If we return evil for evil, then we are evildoers.



If we are in God, then we will only have love and peace to give. Like Christ we will forgive our enemies, we will return their hatred with God's love.



Doesn't it sound humanly impossible to do this? It is, but for God all things are possible.



These steps continually make us aware, like a mega examination of conscience that we need to pray continuously. Prayer is essential because in order to live out the Gospel message, God must be in our every breath.



Our prayer should always be for the other's good.



Is there anyone that could make heaven hell for you? Then you'd better pray for that person. Pray that good will happen to them, that their heart will be touched, and that in the process your heart may also be changed to accept them.



Often love and hate are flip sides of the same coin.





Our Lord's cross is for a sign of victory, for the world it is a sign of defeat. Jesus told his disciples that he has overcome the world, how we respond to evil in our lives shows who we belong to---Jesus or the world.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

June 11 - Feast of St. Benedict

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 28th step:



(28) To speak the truth with heart and tongue.



St. Benedict's counsel here is geared toward a conversion of feelings, so that the truth I speak with my mouth, I also feel in my heart. Of course, such truth will be spoken with conviction.



Many of us know instinctively what is true, we just don't feel like paying any attention to it. Conversion of "feelings" is an important part of opening oneself to God.



If you don't feel like converting to the truth, it is because some untruth has grabbed your heart. Opening your heat to God's love will have a surprising result--you will literally feel the truth.



Too often we look toward those who should model religious faith but instead wear their faith for all to see. Jesus condemns the Pharisees and hypocrites of his day because they keep the tax collectors and prostitutes from coming to the Kingdom of God by their example. In other words they make religious belief in God seem unattractive.



Our eyes should always be focused on Christ. We shouldn't look to anyone else.



The people who encountered Him were drawn to Him. So will we be.





Then speaking the truth will be a matter of allowing the tongue to proclaim what the heart feels.

Monday, July 10, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 27 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 27th step:



(27) Not to swear, lest perchance one swear falsely.



To "swear" in this case means to take a vow. St. Benedict warns in this counsel that we should not take oaths out of fear that we might do so falsely. Why would this be the case?



Jesus commanded his disciples not to swear. In the Gospel of Matthew, he says, " But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil," (Matthew 5:34-37).



Our Lord knows well that we do not know ourselves very well. When He told his disciples that one of them would betray him, they all denied it. Peter spoke the loudest and Our Lord warned him that he would betray him before the cock crowed twice. Notice what Peter does at the crucial moment:

"Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, 'I do not know the man.' And immediately the cock crowed," (Matthew 26: 74). He swears falsely.



Unfortunately people continue to swear oaths that they may humanly incapable of fulfilling. It is interesting that within Christianity this command of Jesus has slowly been abrogated. But the truth of what Jesus said and here St. Benedict counsels remains.





None of us knows what the future holds. None of us knows if we will be able to fulfill any vow five or ten years from now. We can promise, ask God's blessing upon our promise and go where God leads us. But as Jesus says anything else is from the evil one.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 26

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 26th step:





(26) Not to forsake charity.



There are times when our hearts can grow cold and we can close ourselves off from either accepting love or giving it. Often this is because of some evil that we have either had done to us or have experienced in some way.



No matter how bad it gets, St. Benedict here wisely counsels us to never forsake charity--love.



When our hearts grow cold, we need to open the door to the Lord's love and ask him to burn away anything that keeps us from being vessels of his charity both to ourselves and to others. It is His Love that conquers all and it ultimately is His Love that heals all wounds.



If we feel at anytime that we really do not feel like being loved or loving--we need to examine ourselves and to see what has crept into our lives and is taking the place of God. A coldness of heart is always an indication that we have put something else in God's place in our lives.



"Not to forsake charity" applies in all circumstances in life. Charity as a translation for caritas, which can also be translated "love", is a good way to remind us that love is always requires "giving." When we do not wish to give, it is often because we feel we have nothing to give. But if we allow ourselves to be filled with God's love, we will always have more than enough.



One need only think of a Mother Teresa, frail and old, walking and greeting all that cross her path. Or a Pope John Paul II bent over with age, ignoring no one. It is not physical strength that allows a person to act in this manner but Divine Love.



It is available to you, in the same way as it is available to them.





Do not forsake this great gift that God wishes to give you, nor to share it with all who cross your path this day.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 25

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. by Michael Dubruiel The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 25th step:



(25) Not to make a false peace.



This may catch us by surprise. We might reason, wouldn't some semblance of peace be better than war. But, again if we think about the ramifications of someone who we think is at peace with us but really isn't, we can see how damaging this "show" of peace can be in the long run.



St. Benedict isn't saying that we shouldn't be at peace with everyone, he is telling us not to make a "false" peace with anyone.



We are to be honest, as the previous counsel has instructed us. We are to make peace with our brother or sister that is genuine this step counsels us.



But what if we find ourselves incapable of being at peace with someone?



We must bring our warring heart to God.



People, from a distance, often are amazed at how certain groups of the same people can foster hatred toward one another over so many years. Sometimes it is religious belief (in the case of most religions, it is against the very belief that they fight over) that keeps people enemies. Military might is often used, sometimes by a third party to keep the peace. But as history proves time and again such peace is no peace at all. Soon the parties are warring with one another again often with a conflict that has inflamed while it was dormant.



What then?



If we hold peace with each other as a goal, then we must use every means to achieve that goal. Most of the time peace is achieved by simply acknowledging the others right to exist with dignity and to acknowledge their right to believe differently. What this requires for both parties to reach this goal mutually, is for both of their egos to die.



For the follower of Christ this is not an option.



"Love your enemies." "If they press you to go one mile, go two." "If they strike you on one cheek, offer the other." "Forgive seventy times seven."



Amazing how anyone who follows Christ could ever set out to make anything other than true peace.



Our Lord's parting words to His disciples was, "My peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give." He was probably referring to the fact that at the time (and even today in Israel) that people didn't say "Goodbye" but rather they said "Peace." The Romans said Pax Vobiscum, the Israelites said  Shalom.



But did they mean it? It was a convention and very well often was said with no conviction.



Our Lord's peace is not a convention, it is true. We should follow His example and make true peace with all we encounter.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 24 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 24th step:



(24) Not to entertain deceit in the heart.



Our Lord is the way, the truth and the life. Anything that tempts us toward falseness is not of Him. Again, St. Benedict warns us not even to "entertain" the idea of deceit in our emotions, symbolized by the heart.



Everyone deserves the truth. As Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and it shall set you free."



Unfortunately many people do not believe that the truth is helpful to others. To quote a phrase from the movie A Few Good Men, that was a favorite of students that I once taught Ethics to, "You can't handle the truth," seems to be most people's guiding principle.



Doctors are not honest with patients who come to them expecting honesty. Parents, sometimes keep the truth from their children, leading them to search for it elsewhere. Even bishops now are not known for standing for the truth but rather hiding and trying to conceal it.



The result of such deceit lives with us for years. It destroys our capacity to trust. One can see how it could destroy a tight knit community like a monastery, but we should not let that excuse us.



A meditation on the effects of deceit that we have been on the receiving end might help us to appreciate why as St. Benedict counsels us, we should not even entertain the idea of being that way to anyone.



Everyone deserves the truth. The truth is a good and valuable commodity. Whatever perceived good we might think that hiding the truth from someone might bring, usually back fires.



St. Thomas Aquinas argued that the natural purpose of speech is to communicate the truth. Can you imagine a bird warning of an intruder to another bird , if in fact there is no intruder? A dog barking out lies to another dog?



Yet we humans can abuse this gift of speech that we have at our disposal.



Ultimately, it is a choice to reject God and to make something else a god in our lives. Whatever we feel is more important than telling the truth is what we really believe in. Our reputation, our pride or our sins all can keep us from fulfilling this counsel.



The confessional, then is a good place to begin. Opening our hearts to God and not even entertaining the thought of deceiving Him. As St. Paul says, "God will not be mocked."





God not only can handle the truth about us, He can teach us the truth about ourselves. Something usually hidden from the deceitful person.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 23 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 23rd step:



(23) Not to foster a desire for revenge.



One of the genius' of St. Benedict's steps is that he teaches the monk to pay attention to what it in his heart. In the previous step it was anger that he counseled we should not give "way to, now it is revenge that we should not "foster a desire" for. If you have been hurt by someone you have a choice how you will respond to that hurt. Our Lord counseled us to forgive, forgive, forgive.



Forgiveness is more than just saying, "I pardon you," to those who hurt us. It also requires an act of the heart that we actually wish the best for our enemy--who may very knowingly and willfully have hurt us.



This usually shocks people.



"Why should I?" "Isn't doing so, making what they did to me right?"



No, in doing so you are not making them or what they did "God" in your life.



Too often we are motivated by anger and desires that have nothing to do with God but everything to do with what other people have done to us. We are not free as a result, but merely puppets of those who have hurt or harmed us in the past.



Not fostering a desire for revenge may seem impossible in some cases--but everytime that we are faced with a task that seems impossible to us--there is a new opening to our great need for God.



That's why these are "steps" toward communion with God, because they make us face our great need for Him at every twist and turn of our lives.





In the same way that "lust" can lead one to commit acts of infidelity--so too in this case fostering a desire for revenge can only lead to the victim becoming the perpetrator of an evil act themselves. Better to cut the growth of something evil at the very roots and "fostering the desire" of something evil is the root of an evil act.

Monday, July 03, 2017

;St. Thomas - July 3

Originally posted on this blog on April of 2002 by Michael Dubruiel

This Sunday which now is the Feast of Divine Mercy is also the Sunday where we hear the story of the so called doubting Apostle Thomas. The lone Apostle who is not locked in the Upper Room with the other surviving Apostles. It strikes me that he always gets a bad rap, undeservedly so, I would say.

Remember on the way to Jerusalem, one of the Apostles pointed out to Our Lord that a certain death awaited Him if He went to Jerusalem.

Jesus undeterred continues to journey toward Jerusalem.

It is then that John's Gospel records the Apostle Thomas as saying, "Let us also go, that we may die with him," (John 11:16). These are the words not of a doubter (in the mission of the Lord) but rather a proclamation of a believer, ready to take up his cross and to die with and for Jesus Christ.

As they journey along and Jesus says, "You know the way that I am going," and Thomas doesn't understand Jesus he says so, "Lord we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?" (John 14). Jesus replies, "I am the way."

So now we reach the moment after the crucifixion has passed when Scripture tells us, "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews," (John 20:19). We find that Thomas is not with them.

Why not?

Remember that the Apostles were in the room for "fear" of the Jews, they were afraid that the same ones who had handed Jesus over to death might come after them next, but Thomas had said "let us go to die with him." He was not afraid, he was out and about his business, if they came after him...so be it!

Is it any wonder then that when he returns to enconter the disciples still locked in the room, that he does not believe them. Why should he? If the Lord were alive, why were they so filled with fear? If they really had experience the Resurrected Lord why weren't they proclaiming it with their lives? Why weren't they back out on the streets?

When Jesus appears to Thomas, he believes!

Our Lord tells him and us that "Blessed are those who have not seen and believe."

It is very easy to doubt that the Lord lives when we see modern day Apostles locked behind clerical doors for fear of the press, or scandal, or law suits, or the laity. It is easy to wonder if they really believe in the power of the risen Lord.

But what about us? Are we out in the streets ready to die with Him or are we too locked behind our own fears?

Saint Thomas, pray for us!

Lord have mercy on us!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 22

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 22nd step:



(22) Not to give way to anger.



Whenever Christians think of anger, they usually think of Jesus cleaning house in the Temple. If Jesus got angry, then why is anger a bad thing, most reason? I could add a few more scenes from the Gospel. When Jesus' disciples awaken him during a storm, he stills the storm and then reacts in anger--rebuking his disciples for their lack of faith (this should not be lost on anyone who has ever been awaken from a sound sleep--which obviously Jesus was enjoying and is a sign of his deep trust in God). When Jesus confronts the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the religious leaders of the time, he does not refrain from reacting angrily to what they say and do.



So it is obvious that anger has a place in the perfect human life of which Our Lord's is an example. There are times when anger is the right reaction. When we see someone being abused or misled it is appropriate and even holy to be angry--as long as we do something about the anger. It should motivate us to act out in a righteous way.



But "to give way" to anger is another way of saying "to let it fester," or "to let it take over". We do nothing about it, but rather let it eat away at us. We allow it to grow into resentment and skepticism. This is neither healthy nor spiritual.



There is a certain school of spirituality that often counsels us to remain silent. Not to speak out but rather suffer silently. Of course, there is some truth to this and Our Lord's example before Pontius Pilate is an example of when such a practice is right. But there are other times when such silence would be sinful, not spiritual.



The early Christians called their movement not Christianity but "the Way." Jesus had given his followers a new path to walk. This path is a way of truthfulness and life. Reflecting on the previous step, "to prefer nothing to the love of Christ," in this step we reject making "anger" the way.



Anger has a place in creation, it was created by God for a purpose, but it's purpose is not to control us but to motivate us to act.





The imitation of Christ is the sure "way" to making sure that we do not give "way" to anger.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 21

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 21st step:



(21) To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.



This is without a doubt the most quoted counsel of St. Benedict.



It an excellent guide for the spiritual life-- to prefer nothing to the love of Christ.



One might ask, are we to focus on being loved by Christ or the act of loving Him? I think it is both.



In Mark 10:21 we have the account of the rich young man. The Gospel says that Jesus, " looking upon him loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."



Notice that when Christ loves the rich young man, He points out what the young man lacks. It is out of love, that Jesus tells him to get rid of all his possessions.



Being loved by Christ will reveal similar deficiencies in us.



Our Lord looks upon us and recognizes what we really need. We often come to him with our own ideas about what we need.

If we prefer our ideas to the love of Christ, we too will join the rich young man who walks away sad "for his possessions were many." We may possess the world, but without Christ it is nothing!



In John 8:42, Jesus is engaged in a heated argument with those who oppose him. He says to them "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me."



This takes us back to the first counsel of St. Benedict, to love God. Jesus is God and so we should prefer nothing to God and His love that Jesus has revealed to us perfectly.



How do we know if we truly love Our Lord? He addresses this in John 14:23-24 " "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."





A concrete way to always prefer the love of Christ throughout the day when faced with countless other choices might be to adopt the phrase that Jesus spoke to Peter and to hear it addressed to ourselves--continuously: "Do you love me more than these? (John 21:15)"

Friday, June 30, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel 20

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 twentieth step:



(20) To hold one's self aloof from worldly ways.



If you are like me, you can readily come up with a list of what "worldly ways" means, but too often this list have very little to do with what most spiritual masters mean when they use the term.



St. Benedict, again is writing these counsels for monks. Monks take a vow of obedience to an abbot. The abbot, a term that could be translated "father", watches over the monks and assigns them various tasks for the good of the monastery.



About a year ago, I visited a monastery where the abbot invited me to join the monks for dinner. During the meal taken in silence, while a monk read from one of the Fathers of the Church, several monks had to kneel in front of the abbot's table. They were being punished for some infraction of the rule that they had committed during the day (one monk told me that he had forgotten to put his napkin back in its holder).



As I sat there, in my forties, and witnessed the grown men who were around sixty years old, I momentarily thought of the ways of the world and how foolish this all seemed. But then, I remembered the counsel of Our Lord, "Unless you become like a child, you can not enter the Kingdom of God."



All of us must be like children in God's kingdom. Worldly ways might best be defined as acting in a way of a "self made man."



There is a story of a man's employer coming to the man's home for dinner one night. The employer was brash, rude and made inappropriate comments throughout the meal. All the while the young son of the employee stared at the man. Finally, the boy spoke, "my dad says that you are a self-made man."



The employer beaming, said, "Well, yes son I am."



"Why did you make yourself so bad?" The young boy asked.



Keeping aloof of worldly ways, means leaving behind any notion that we are ultimately in charge of our lives. It requires total surrender to God.



Jesus lays out the best commentary for this counsel in Matthew's Gospel, "do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and body more than clothing?…So I do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil, (Matthew 6:25, 31-34)."





I like to carry the image of those monks, all dressed in black, sitting and silently eating and drinking while they listen to someone proclaim the Kingdom of God to them, as I go about my dealings everyday--never allowing myself to be drawn away from our true purpose here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel 19

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 ninteenth step:



(19) To console the sorrowing.



Those who sorrow at the loss of a loved one can often seem inconsolable. In fact the Scripture passage related to the slaughter of the innocents comes to mind, "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more (Matthew 2:18)."



It is important to remember that death is not part of God's original plan. When God creates Adam and Eve, he warns them not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or they will die. Death, is the result of original sin and indeed there is nothing that could console Rachel at her loss when the knowledge that death was eternal separation.



But for the Christian--there is Christ!



Death no longer is the final word. Jesus has overcome death and has opened up the possibility that all of us, if we believe in him, can share in his resurrection. The key, it would seem then to consoling the sorrowing, would be to remind them of the fruit of salvation and to point them to the mercy of God.



Yet having been there, many times, during the sad losses that people suffer--this is seldom the case. Instead, what usually occurs is the arrival of many well meaning people who announce loudly that it was God's will that the child or adult die.



It is never God's will that anyone die! Death entered the world because of sin-separation from God. God desires the salvation of all people. The angel of death that passes over the Egyptians is not a "good" angel but one who reaps the evil crop that had been sown by the Egyptians in the Book of Exodus.



Francis MacNutt and his wife Judith once presented a more accurate picture of God's place in someone's death. Speaking of how to console a sorrowful mother who has lost her child, they counseled the consoler speaking the following truth, "Death has taken your child, but God will take your child from death!"



To console, we need faith. Faith that in Christ, death is not the end.





Old churches still show forth the truth of the communion of saints, those who have died but are still very much alive and present. Most people intuitively grasp that their loved one is still alive, though not physically present. To console is to bring God's truth to the situation, God's message of salvation to the horror of a world steeped in sin.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 18

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 eigthteenth step:



(18) To help in trouble.



St. Benedict counsels us to be “helpers” something that no doubt was implanted in most of us from our youth. How can we best help others and what might keep us from reaching out to others?



When Our Lord was thirsty he asked the woman at the well for a drink. Jesus needed help. The woman rather than just giving him a drink gave him a lot of excuses. First it was racial—“You’re a Jew.”



Funny how little our reasons for not helping others changes. Our excuse might be, “You’re not family” or “You’re not Catholic” or “You’re not American” or “You’re not the same race as I.”



If God is “Our Father” who is not our brother and sister?



Saint Benedict’s counsel is simple and indeed it is the Gospel message that we are to help those in trouble. If we use excuses as a buffer to exonerate us from our duty then we risk missing out with an encounter with Our Lord who comes to us often in the guise of the poor.





The Samaritan woman’s excuse, might have kept her from meeting Jesus, had Our Lord not persisted in his desire. If our desire is to help those in need, we will not miss meeting Our Lord throughout the day.