Monday, November 30, 2020

Daily Advent Meditation - Monday First Week of Advent

 These were written by Michael Dubruiel many years ago. 



Monday of the First Week of Advent

We say the words of the Centurion before communion everytime we go to Mass but do we really mean it? "Lord, I am not worthy..."
Most of us probably think there are times when we aren't worthy but plenty of other times that we are. The truth is that we are never worthy. The more we can foster that notion the less likely we are to sit in judgment of others, the less likely we are to ever think we know better than God.

If we are to truly look forward to the coming of Christ we have to foster within us a deep sense of our own unworthiness that creates space for Christ to enter into our lives. The Centurion realized that a mere word from the savior could save his servant. In faith we should open the Scriptures with the same belief and expectation.


Michael Dubruiel

Sunday, November 29, 2020

First Sunday of Advent

 These were written by Michael Dubruiel many years ago. 


First Sunday of Advent

My memories of growing up in New England are filled with examples of what ideally we all might do if we were to celebrate Advent in response to Jesus' admonition in the Gospel of Mark. Gathering on the Sunday after Thanksgiving for the lighting of the village Christmas Crèche, caroling throughout the streets of the small town, and the general mood of good cheer that permeated the cold wintry landscape warms me even now. Everyone seemed to make an extra effort to notice everyone else.
What does this have to do with the readings you ask?
Jesus tells his disciples to "watch," to be alert, for they do not know when the time will come. Last Sunday we had the end portrayed and indeed the gathered people (the sheep and goats) are surprised that they had already either helped the Lord or refused him when they had reached out to those in need. If we are truly vigilant we will greet everyone we meet today as though it could be the Lord himself coming into our midst.
There are no unimportant visitors for the Christian. Advent is a time of expectation of the Lord's coming, not on our terms but in whatever way He chooses to come to us today. Be vigilant!


The way we celebrated before Christmas when I was growing up seemed to capture this spirit, people genuinely became other focused. If we truly believe that the Lord might be lurking in the stranger that we meet how might we treat Him differently. The Lord commands us to "Watch!" There is no better way to celebrate Advent than this intense watching, vigilance for the unexpected arrival.



Michael Dubruiel

Saturday, November 28, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 60b

   This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 60th step, part 2:


Michael Dubruiel





(60) To hate one's own will:





To fight "our will" does not mean going off into another direction but rather facing reality. Our "will" often pulls us away from what most needs our attention. We often will to be somewhere other than where we are, to be doing something other than what needs to be done and to be with someone other than the one we are with at the present moment. These are exactly the moments when we are to "hate" our own will and seek to do the will of God.





God had placed us where we are right at this very moment. He has also placed us in a situation that demands our attention at this moment. The person who is before us has been placed there by God. Being attentive to all that God has placed in our midst will bring a contentment that we will never find if we are constantly seeking to flee from the cross.

Friday, November 27, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 60a

  This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 60th step, part 1: 


Michael Dubruiel





(60) To hate one's own will:



Someone who seeks to be in communion with God has to learn to subject themselves entirely to God's will. Jesus who was the Son of God still prayed in His humanity that "not his will be done but the Father's." We all have "our way" of looking at life and "our way" of doing things and the Scriptures are quite clear that "our way is not God's way."



We all suffer because we believe that happiness lies in fulfilling our will. But if we have the gift to reflect on our past, we quickly come to the realization that much of what we "will" does not bring us happiness and in fact is quite fleeting and arbitrary--changing with the wind.




Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving

  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.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 59b

  This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 59th step part 2:


Michael Dubruiel




(59) Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).





Contrast the works of the flesh with the desires of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control," (Galatians 5:22). Notice the first three are all what the "desires'" of the flesh are motivated by, the desire to experience love, joy and peace, but of course they never lead to that, so we should strive to live by the Spirit.





How can w do it? St. Paul tells us, "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit," (Galatians 5: 24-25). We need to subjugate ourselves to Jesus and to trust in the Holy Spirit at every moment of everyday, so that we seek to fulfill the will of God and not of our flesh.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 59a

 This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 59th step part 1: 


Michael Dubruiel




(59) Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).



This counsel of St. Benedict's is a quote from St. Paul's letter to the Galatians, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh," (Galatians 5:16). St. Paul saw the flesh and the Spirit at war with one another and one would suspect that so would St. Benedict. The flesh for Paul was an obstacle to being the person God had created us to be.



But less we project all of our own ideas about what the "flesh" means, let us look at what St. Paul means when he speaks about the "flesh": "Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God," (Galatians 5:19-21). If one peruses the list one will find that the "desires" of the flesh are all the ways that our desires can go mad and lead to our own destruction.


Monday, November 23, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God

  This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. by Michael Dubruiel The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. 




(58) To confess one's past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.



One of the areas of spirituality, which has been under attack for the past forty years, is the "emphasis on sinfulness" that seems to have dominated spirituality of all religions from the beginning of time. Those who have bought into this notion have found that after awhile God seems to slip further and further from the picture.



Sin essentially is anything that breaks my relationship with God. Remove sin from the picture and you are essentially removing God from the picture--because you are admitting that it really doesn't matter if you are offending God or not. It would be like being in a relationship with your spouse and refusing ever to admit any wrongdoing or to even consider that you are ever wrong (I've been accused of this before but I humbly submit that I am almost always wrong when it comes to my faults in my relationship with my wife), one would expect such a relationship to be in grave trouble.



Admitting that we are not living up to our part of the relationship is a healthy practice of constantly trying to stay in communion with God. Doing it with "sighs and tears" means that we are not just doing some per forma but rather are emotionally feeling what we are saying. St. Ignatius of Loyola would have retreatants pray for the gift of tears when they meditated on their sinfulness and this is a practice that should be restored.
Michael Dubruiel

Sunday, November 22, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 58 Part 2

 Michael Dubruiel

 



This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. by Michael Dubruiel The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 58th step: Part 2




(58) To confess one's past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.




I remember during a pilgrimage to Medjugordje in what is now Bosnia in the late 1980's standing in a confessional line and watching people emerge from the outside confessional stations (a chair with a priest, while the penitent knelt beside him) wiping tears away. It was touching, because it gave me the sense that these weren't just a listing off of faults but a heart felt conversion from a life without God to a life that the penitent truly wanted to live with the help of God. We should all pray for the gift of tears for our failings.



My great-grandfather would always be wiping tears away when he returned from receiving communion. I found this deeply significant as a child and it is something I've never forgotten. Involving our emotions in our relationship with God is a great grace that we should strive to have in our relationship with Him.





The final part of Benedict's maxim is to amend our lives. Real contrition for our sins involves a firm resolve to involve God in those parts of our lives that we have excluded Him in the past. By being aware of God's presence at all times we likely will amend our lives in the future.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 58 Part 1

  This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. by Michael Dubruiel The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 58th step: Part 1




(58) To confess one's past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.



One of the areas of spirituality, which has been under attack for the past forty years, is the "emphasis on sinfulness" that seems to have dominated spirituality of all religions from the beginning of time. Those who have bought into this notion have found that after awhile God seems to slip further and further from the picture.



Sin essentially is anything that breaks my relationship with God. Remove sin from the picture and you are essentially removing God from the picture--because you are admitting that it really doesn't matter if you are offending God or not. It would be like being in a relationship with your spouse and refusing ever to admit any wrongdoing or to even consider that you are ever wrong (I've been accused of this before but I humbly submit that I am almost always wrong when it comes to my faults in my relationship with my wife), one would expect such a relationship to be in grave trouble.



Admitting that we are not living up to our part of the relationship is a healthy practice of constantly trying to stay in communion with God. Doing it with "sighs and tears" means that we are not just doing some per forma but rather are emotionally feeling what we are saying. St. Ignatius of Loyola would have retreatants pray for the gift of tears when they meditated on their sinfulness and this is a practice that should be restored.
Michael Dubruiel

Friday, November 20, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 57b

  MIchael Dubruiel

 This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel.The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 57th step part 2:




(57) To apply one's self often to prayer.






To pray continually was an injunction of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, "pray constantly," (1 Thess. 5:17) and if we understand that prayer is communicating with God, we can see that there is nothing more important if we are to be in communion with God.



Every moment of our day is an opportunity for prayer. There is nothing that we do in life that can not be brought to God. But it is important also to set aside time where we are not active and God is the focus of our undivided attention. Ideally this will happen as least seven times a day. Traditionally this would be when we arise in the morning, in the mid-morning, at noon, in the mid-afternoon, in the evening, when we retire and in the middle of the night. Of course the last one, in the middle of the night may seem the hardest but if you find yourself awakened in the middle of the night-there is perhaps no time when you can give God more of your undivided attention. The early Fathers felt that in the night (vigils) the spirit world was more visible and there was less to distract us.





Be creative in finding ways to pray throughout the day. Take the Scriptures with you wherever you go. While waiting in traffic read a few verses, standing in line recite prayers, turn idle moments into opportunities for spiritual growth.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 57 a

 MIchael Dubruiel

 This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel.The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 57th step part 1:




(57) To apply one's self often to prayer.



The word that is translated "to apply" can also mean to fall down in adoration (prostration). It is worth mentioning because if anything has been lost in modern Christianity it is the sense of adoration that preceded or indeed was a part of prayer in previous ages. One can still see the ancient method most noticeably in the prayer or Moslems who fall down bowing their heads to the ground whenever they pray.



This reflects the way Christians would have prayed during the time of Mohammed. It has been noted in several biographies of Pope John Paul II that when no one is around that he also prays using this posture. Yet most Catholics have been taught that "standing" is the ancient method of prayer (which quite frankly is nothing short of a lie).



Anyway, "applying" oneself in this manner involves the body in a way that forces one to "pay attention" to what you are doing (also causes the blood to flow to your head). The early Church Fathers recommended this posture whenever anyone was having trouble praying and later St. Ignatius of Loyola instructed pray-ers to find some way to acknowledge that they were in God's presence at the beginning of every prayer period.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

First Sunday of Advent - November 29

  Be Vigilant: Daily Meditations for Advent by [Dubruiel, Michael, Welborn, Amy]






These brief daily meditations will help you focus on the spiritual side of Christmas. Author Michael Dubruiel died in February 2009. His wife, Amy Welborn, prepared these meditations for publication.

From a reader review:

This is my fourth year to go through this Advent devotional, and it has been truly a blessing to me and contributed to my Advent experience. The devotionals correlate with the USCCB daily readings, so it is best to read the readings and then read the devotional for the day. I myself am not Catholic, but I still get great insight out of these passages, and I can see that the author was a true follower of Christ and loved Christmas. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an Advent devotional. The book was free when I purchased it three years ago, but 99c is still a great value for this!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 56b

  This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel.The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 56th step part 2:


Michael Dubruiel





(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.





If we want to hear God speak to us, there is no surer way for this to happen than to listen intently to the word of God proclaimed at Mass. Perhaps we are afraid of what God might say to us--so we intently do not listen. That is a shame if it is the case.



If you want to be in communion with God listen intently to what He has to say to you when the Scriptures are read.

Monday, November 16, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God 56a

  This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel.The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 56th step, part 1: 


Michael Dubruiel





(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.



Another translation of this counsel has "to listen intently," both are correct but for a culture where "will" is a weak term, "intent" probably communicates the sense of the counsel better. St. Benedict was referring to the daily table reading that would be done and the fact that one has to be counseled to "listen intently" shows that even a monk's mind isn't freed from the clutter that we all find our minds filled with.



We all listen to holy reading every time that we attend Mass and there perhaps is no better counsel then to listen intently to the reading of the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures are "living word" unlike much of what we read which consists of words that communicate a truth and usually little more. The Scriptures have the power to transcend their original purpose and to speak to us directly--if (and this is a big IF) we listen.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

73 Steps to Communion with God - 55

 This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel


MIchael Dubruiel



The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 55th step:
(55) Not to love much boisterous laughter.

Written in the context of rules for monastic living this one is easily understood by anyone who has ever visited a good monastery. There is an atmosphere of silence that permeates the monastic environment and loud boisterous laughter would destroy such an atmosphere.
The maxim is not to "love much" explosive laughter. Again there is no prohibition against humor here but rather there is a caution of making a show of it. If one has ever been around someone who regularly explodes with loud laughter there is something rather unsettling about it--making one wonder about the sanity of the individual displaying it.
Loudness of any sort displays an excessive ego, "look at me I'm laughing." A good laugh is good for everyone, but the one who explodes in laughter is someone who is overdoing it. Parents often have to caution their children against this, it is even more embarrassing in an adult.
The obvious fault with this type of loudness is that it intrudes upon the space of those outside our immediate circle. The joy that we feel and those we are speaking to may share may not be shared by those who are loud laughter will inflict itself upon at a distance.
To not love explosive laughter can save us from much embarrassment and also preserve the decorum of respect of the people we live with.
There are those who will think that this injunction is not in keeping with the New Testament but read what the Letter of James says: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you," (James 4:7-10).
The genius of the maxims of St. Benedict is that they embrace all of Scripture, while most of us choose to only exchange a handshake with the word of God.

Learn about the Catholic Mass

 The How To Book of the Mass by Michael Dubruiel is also a great resource for inquirers and RCIA sessions.


You can find more information at this page. 

"amy welborn"

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

Friday, November 13, 2020

St. Francis Cabrini - November 13

 


A novena to Mother Cabrini is included in The Church's Most Powerful Novenas by Michael Dubruiel

The Church's Most Powerful Novenas is a book of novenas connected with particular shrines.  Michael Dubruiel wrote in the introduction to this book he compiled:


A novena to Mother Cabrini is included in the book

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his Apostles to stay where they were and to "wait for the gift" that the Father had promised: the Holy Spirit.  The Apostles did as the Lord commanded them. "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:14). Nine days passed; then, they received the gift of the Holy spirit, as had been promised. May we stay together with the church, awaiting in faith with Our Blessed Mother, as we trust entirely in God, who loves us more than we can ever know. 

"michael Dubruiel"









Thursday, November 12, 2020

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 54

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 54.



(54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.



Benedict has a great concern for the choice of our speech, reflecting Our Lord's injunction in the Gospel to "let you no mean no and your yes mean yes." Most of us suffer from an endless chatter that means little and lessens the effectiveness of our speech in general. There is a further clarification here and we are warned not to "provoke laughter."



Is Benedict condemning humor or is this a warning not to appear silly to others? I think it is the latter.



Someone who talks endlessly might make others laugh at him or her but they probably will not be taken seriously. The danger here is that speech exists to communicate the truth and when it is not used specifically for that we misuse this great gift.



Benedict warns us not to use "useless words." Words are powerful weapons and gentle comforters if they are used correctly. But when speech is misused it lessens its effective use at anytime.



Another way of stating this maxim might be, "choose your words carefully and sparingly."





The Gospel of John identifies Jesus as the "Word made Flesh." There is a connection here with all the words that come from our mouth too. We should ever be mindful of The Word when a word comes to our lips.



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

St. Leo the Great - November 10

  -Michael Dubruiel, 2005


I attended an early mass at St. Leo the Great's tomb one morning while in Rome and as I read the office of readings for today by him, I thought how death makes this even more apparent.

St. Leo, pray for us!

-Michael Dubruiel

From the Office of Readings:

Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of
members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists
as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: We are all one in Christ. No
difference in office is so great that anyone can be separated, through
lowliness, from the head. In the unity of faith and baptism, therefore, our
community is undivided. There is a common dignity, as the apostle Peter says in
these words: And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy
priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through
Jesus Christ. And again: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, a people set apart. For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by
the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy
Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all
spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers
in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find
yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And
what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer
him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart? Because, through
the grace of God, it is a deed accomplished universally on behalf of all, it is
altogether praiseworthy and in keeping with a religious attitude for you to
rejoice in this our day of consecration, to consider it a day when we are
especially honoured. For indeed one sacramental priesthood is celebrated
throughout the entire body of the Church. The oil which consecrates us has
richer effects in the higher grades, yet it is not sparingly given in the lower.
Sharing in this office, my dear brethren, we have solid ground for a common
rejoicing; yet there will be more genuine and excellent reason for joy if you do
not dwell on the thought of our unworthiness. It is more helpful and more
suitable to turn your thoughts to study the glory of the blessed apostle Peter.
We should celebrate this day above all in honour of him. He overflowed with
abundant riches from the very source of all graces, yet though he alone received
much, nothing was given over to him without his sharing it. The Word made flesh
lived among us, and in redeeming the whole human race, Christ gave himself
entirely
.-Michael Dubruiel

Monday, November 09, 2020

St. John Lateran - November 9

  


A visit to St. John Lateran, from 2006, by Michael Dubruiel:


After a quick lunch (pizza, what else?)we headed toward the Metro station to catch the A Train to St. John Lateran's to meet up with Zadok who had so generously agreed to give us a tour of two of Rome's greatest Churches. We were still pretty green when it comes to the whole Metro system and walked (rather than took a bus) to the station, so by the time we finally arrived we were late and Zadok was nowhere to be seen (at least not at the Metro station where Amy had thought he had said he was going to meet us). So Amy went out the other possible exits and Katie, Joseph, the baby (on my back) and I went a bit further and bought a bottle of water. When Amy came to say that he could not be found, we decided to go on further to the Church and see if he might have gone on there when we had not arrived on time. Sure enought there he was...
I should mention that at this point we had already walked quite a bit (given two treks through St. Peter's, a good half mile to the Metro and another two or three blocks from the Metro to St. John's) while we stood and listened to Zadok's interesting history of the surrounding landmarks, Joseph sat. And even looking at the front of the Church's pavement now, makes me tired to think about even walking that distance. Most people think that St. Peter's is the Cathedral Church of Rome, but it isn't--St. John Lateran's is. While the chair of Peter is in St. Peter's, the Bishop of Rome's chair is at St. John Lateran's and this is the central feature of the apse of the Church, now that I think of it in a similar way to the way that the Chair of Peter is in the apse of St. Peter's. When St. Francis of Assisi came to Rome to see the Pope, he came here to the Lateran and their are large statues of Francis and his crew directly across from St. John's that seem to be in communication with the large statues that are on the facade of St. John's. After his election as pope last April, Pope Benedict XVI came here to the Lateran to be formally installed as the Bishop of Rome (ever wonder why the Bishop of Rome isn't an "archbishop"?).
St John's has it's own Egyptian obelisk (just like St. Peter's) and a very impressive Baptistry which next to the Pope's chair is what I remember most about this part of our tour. The Baptistry was huge (I had seen one at the ruins of St. John's in Ephesus twenty-seven years earlier that was quite small in comparison). There was some type of festival going on outside of the Church that seemed to be a "Mardis Gras" or "Carnivale" type of celebration, remember this was just before the beginning of Lent. So next to the obelisk were booths, screaming kids and some people dressed in costumes giving the "pope's church" the feel of a regular parish back home.
Across the street we visited the Scala Santa--the holy stairs, said to have been brought to Rome by St. Helena the mother of Constantine and to have been the stairs that Jesus would have walked on during his Passion when he came before Pontius Pilate. The faithful climb up them on their knees and as this picture will attest--there were no shortage of takes on the day we were there, in fact there were so many that it was really impossible to get near the steps to see them.
We walked up the side steps to another chapel called the Holy of Holies because it contained many holy relics and an image of Christ reported to have been painted by St. Luke entitled "picture painted without hands"....any student of Catholic piety knows there are many images reported to have been painted by St. Luke (Our Lady of Czestochova being one example). I had never thought about it much before, but I wonder if another meaning might be that Luke's Gospel inspired the works? I doubt the people working their way up on their knees think so..
Around the other side of the Holy Stairs was the remains of the Papal dining hall and an impressive mosaic, as we were viewing this site a woman begging rather aggressively started coming at us, and we moved on toward the Church in the distance...St. Mary Major.
Walking along Zadok shared his knowledge of another area of his expertise the Irish Catholic Church begining with the Irish College, its history and various locations. We talked about the contributions the Irish priests had made to the world at large, Africa in particular and the United States (anyone who lives in the South knows the debt the Catholic Church owes to the Irish priests). What a marvel that where the Church is most vibrant right now is where the Irish planted the Faith. Pray for the Catholics in Ireland.
At this point I became very tired, I think the baby might have fallen asleep on my back and as we learned this made him very heavy. So we stopped and Zadok, Amy, Katie and Joseph had gelato. I sat.
Then up and at it again. A short visit into the Redemptorist Church where the original Our Lady of Perpetual Help is enshrined--a modern enshrinement, simple and I must say not much to my liking. Mass was being said so we weren't able to really get close.
Next to Saint Prassede, a very interesting Church decorated in a more Byzantine style with beautiful mosaics. This church contained the column that Christ was bound to when he was scourged.
Evening was falling as we arrived at Saint Mary Majors, built on the spot where snow fell one August after Pope Liberius had dreamed that this would be a sign for him to build a church dedicated to Our Lady. As we entered the Church, the chanting of Vespers could be heard. My back was aching from the baby on it and I stole away from our tour to go into the side chapel and join in the praying of Evening Prayer. I grabbed a book and went to the first empty seat I could find which was in the front where I sat next to Cardinal Bernard Law. In spite of the comotion that I created, he did not even seem to notice. I fumbled around in the book trying to locate the point the prayer was at, but to little avail and after about five minutes Michael the baby decided to join in speaking loudly his own version of chant--at which point I made my exit. We toured the church and then started making our way back to the Metro station, thanking Zadok for his time and well presented tour.
When we arrived back on Borgo Vitorio we stopped at a restaurant that Amy had spied the evening before. It was in the cellar and proved to be an excellent choice. We had a meal where everyone had what they wanted, for me it was a pasta with cheese and pepper and it was great,Joseph had a cheese pizzza, Katie a giant calzone, Amy another pasta dish, the baby had some of it all.
Evening came, the second day.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 53c

  This is a continuation of the the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruielthe previous posts are available in the archives to the right. This is step 53 part 3




(53) Not to love much speaking.




Why? Too often when we speak much we say things that might better be left unsaid. If Benedict were writing today, he might also add not "to love too much blogging" which could easily be a modern equivalent to "too much speaking." Bloggers know that writing what you are thinking can come back to bite you sometimes.



God first, everything else second. We are to pray always, even before we speak. "God is this going to build the person up?" "Lord is this your will?" All should proceed what might flow too quickly from our lips and not be according to God's will for us.



The flip side of course is that someone who loves to talk will hardly make a good monk. Since monks thrive on silence (and we should nurture ourselves with this too), someone who loves to talk obviously would be miserable in such a setting.





But the counsel is beneficial to all of us. "Think before you speak," becomes "Pray before you speak."


Michael Dubruiel

Saturday, November 07, 2020

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 53b

  This is a continuation of the the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruielthe previous posts are available in the archives to the right. This is step 53, part 2




(53) Not to love much speaking.





I was seated with a monk who I had meant several times before, Father Louis, in his late 70's he still leads a very busy life wearing a number of "hats" at the monastery not the least of which is to entertain guests. He told me that two of his heroes were fallen and that made him sad.



"Who were they?" I asked.



"President Clinton and Archbishop Weakland." He responded.



He went on to say that Clinton had been for the poor and for the life of me I can't remember what Weakland had done that enamored him to Father Louis, although Weakland was also a Benedictine monk so that probably had something to do with it.

We carried on a conversation about current projects that I was working on and Father Louis weekend parish work. It was an ironic visit, because we were both doing the very thing that Benedict counsels the monk not to do "to love much speaking."
Michael Dubruiel

Friday, November 06, 2020

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 53a

  This is a continuation of the the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruielthe previous posts are available in the archives to the right. This is step 53, part 1.




(53) Not to love much speaking.



Recently while a guest at the monastic table of a monastery I was privileged to be there on a night when talking was allowed in celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Normally meals are taken in silence at this monastery, while a monk reads from the Rule of St. Benedict, the martyrology and usually a book that would be of interest to the monks (this final selection could be a current bestseller).



So on this night, after the blessing was said and we were seated there was a few minutes of silence while the lector read from the Rule and the martyrology before the abbot rang a bell signaling that we could speak. The one line that was read from the Rule was "not to love much speaking."


Michael Dubruiel

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Sacred Heart of Jesus

 




The promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of
My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall
have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

Michael Dubruiel

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

November Devotional Reflection

 Standing up for truth.


Pope Benedict XVI recalls his own youth and a lesson:
My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion – before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.

Let us thank God that today many people of your generation are able to enjoy the liberties which have arisen through the extension of democracy and respect for human rights. Let us thank God for all those who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek what is right and just.

The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. This is the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians; and the Church recalls this most dramatically during the Easter Triduum and celebrates it with great joy in the season of Easter! The One who shows us the way beyond death is the One who shows us how to overcome destruction and fear: thus it is Jesus who is the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi, 6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father “you have restored us to life!” (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday). And so, just a few weeks ago, during the beautiful Easter Vigil liturgy, it was not from despair or fear that we cried out to God for our world, but with hope-filled confidence: dispel the darkness of our heart! dispel the darkness of our minds! (cf. Prayer at the Lighting of the Easter Candle).

What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation – especially of girls and women. While the causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects ─ a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other hands – your hands – reaching out. I encourage you to invite others, especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way of goodness and hope.

The second area of darkness – that which affects the mind – often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy. The fundamental importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded. It is no surprise then that numerous individuals and groups vociferously claim their freedom in the public forum. Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.

Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth’s place – or better said its absence – an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a “freedom” which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).

-Michael Dubruiel 

Monday, November 02, 2020

All Souls Day - November 2

 


One time in the late 80's I was traveling with another friend of mine, Brian, on our way to Chicago. The first night we stopped at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA about twenty miles east of Atlanta.

Fr. Francis (originally a monk at Gethsemani and one of the founding monks of Holy Spirit, then in his 80's) met us at the Guest House door, "Will you stay?"

Anyone who has read Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain knows this is what you expect to hear when you arrive at a Trappist monastery. There is a double meaning to the question..."Will you stay?" and join our community, "Will you stay?" in the guest house and finally since in the Rule of St. Benedict the stranger is to be welcomed as Christ...Will you stay? Lord as in "Stay with us Lord for the day is far spent."

We answered "yes" as in yes we'll stay in the guest house tonight, which we did and attended prayers and Mass--then left the next morning on our way to Gethsemani. We arrived in Gethsemani that afternoon (about seven hours later). No one greeted us or asked us if we would stay. There were a few other pilgrims wandering around but no monks visible. We were settled in the chapel for Vespers when the first monks began to emerge from the cloister and enter into the chapel. Brian leaned over to me and whispered, "Its the same guys."

Well not exactly. Driving toward Birmingham and away from Gethsemani I thought of my friend Peter who has been a big fan of the Trappists from way back. I knew that he had thought about entering the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit at one timea and still made visits there frequently--I also knew that he had visited Gethsemani several times. His experience and mine of both monasteries knew that one welcomed strangers and the other saw them as an intrusion and to be fair because of Thomas Merton Gethsemani got a glut of strangers.

When I first stayed at Gethsemani the beds were very Trappist--really nothing more than a pallet with a two inch mattress on it. Years laters a beautiful, state of the art guest house was built that was more along the lines of mid range hotel. Now the Welcome Center--the times they are a changing.

I called Pete to share my views about the Welcome Center and I share them here because for the most part they were inaccurate as my return trip proved but they say a lot about how our minds process religious experiences. I told Pete:

"The first thing you notice when you walk in through the cloister wall and into the building is a coffin...it is open but empty. In some ways it is symbolic of immediately reminding you of your final end and asking you the question what am I here for? Several monks were available to answer the question."

"Over the PA system there was an incessant crackling of flames--they made me think of the flames of Hell (another of the Last Things), when in fact a peak into the room to the left of the entrance showed that it was the Easter Fire being prepared and the flames providing the fire to illuminate the Easter Candle--symbolic of the light of Christ illuminating the darkness. The video featured the changing seasons...the crackling flames were replaced with crackling dead leaves falling from the trees surrounding the monastery, the barren trees introduced the funeral of a monk with living monks keeping vigil reading the psalms all night before the burial of their brother."

I told Pete that all of this left me with the impression that the Welcome Center was designed as a sort of funeral parlor and that unconsciously the monks were providing the guest with a modern morality play that the visitor was the staring player. Walking out of the Welcome Center I made my way toward the Chapel for Vespers--passing by another gate where the words "God Alone" were engraved. Long time readers of this blog will remember that this gate once graced the right hand column of this blog...the Gospel in two words, a reminder that after death all that matters will be God Alone...a reminder that in this life ultimately what matters is God Alone.

Then the Chapel and monks bending in unison at the waist singing "Praise to the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit both now and forever, until the end of the ages." punctuating the Psalms of praise and thanksgiving.

Death, Hell, Purgatory and Heaven all in a few minutes of each other. "Will you stay?"

No, not here anyway.

(Later my return to Getsemani later in the week and a more accurate description of the Welcome Center).

-Michael Dubruiel


Sunday, November 01, 2020

All Saints Day - November 1

 


Tuesday, November 1, 2005


A Moment Frozen in Time - Michael Dubruiel

We spent part of last week attending the National Catholic Youth Conference in Atlanta. One moment from all that I experienced continues to stay with me, perhaps I might say even to haunt me. While Joseph, Katie and I were walking back toward the exhibit area where Amy and Michael were, we suddenly notice a quiet and people stopping (in an environment that was much like walking through midtown Manhattan on a weekday). Then enmasse young and old dropped to their knees.

Advancing were youth holding signs "Silence and Kneel"…everyone obediently did so as cassocked men holding candles, one swinging incense advanced in front of a coped priest with humeral veil wrapped around the base of a monstrance held the Eucharistic Body of Our Lord aloft.

Those who have seen the movie "The Mission" with one of the best scenes ever filmed about the spiritual life will remember Jeremy Irons playing a priest holding the monstrance in the midst of battle all around him, himself falling and an indigenous man picking up the monstrance and continuing the procession. That is what popped into my mind as I instructed young Joseph to make the sign of the cross as Jesus passed in our midst.

I'll bet that when all is said and done, I'm not alone in this being a moment that will be remembered by all. What is more I have realized that these Catholic prayer moments are the solid foundation that most Catholics never forget--long after they have forgotten most of what they were taught.

There is a lesson here for those of us who try to pass on the faith to our children--introduce them to Christ, like disciples on the road to Emmaus let Christ the stranger teach them, open the Scriptures to them so that they might recognize him in the breaking of the Bread--that they may pick up his Presence and carry it through the streets of life where a battle wages.

Such catechesis is the lesson plan of saints--may all the saints pray that we might take up that charge!