Wednesday, June 30, 2021

73 Steps to Communion with God - 9a

 This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous are posted below among the other posts and last week's archives. Here is the ninth Step, part one:




(9) And what one would not have done to himself, not to do to another (cf Tob 4:16; Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31).



The Golden Rule is well known across cultures. At an early age we are taught to treat others in the same way that we wish to be treated. Has this rule fallen on deaf ears though in our time?



Could it be that we no longer think about others or care about them? What is it that has desensitized us from the needs of others?



Forty years ago people marched upon the towns and villages of the south to protest the way people of color were still being treated; almost a century since the cessation of slavery. Something of the Golden Rule motivated those marches and when television cameras broadcast those images to the rest of the nation soon others changed their opinions too.



But forty years later it seems that the multiplicity of those images along with the dramatization of similar images has lessened the impact of reality. Like a collective hypnosis we seem not to be affected by the plight of our fellow human anymore. Like a callous that develops from constant friction, the flood of images of suffering and hurting individuals has dampened our ability to care.

MIchael dubruiel





Tuesday, June 29, 2021

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 7

 This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous are posted below among the other posts and last week's archives. Here is the Seventh Step:






7. Not to bear false witness (cf Mt 19:18; Mk 10:19; Lk 18:20).



Lying about what we witness in life, is one of those sins that always has the appearance of not being all that serious, until it continues to escalate like a snowball growing bigger and bigger; until we are no longer sure of what the truth is. It is not in our interest or anyone else’s to not tell the truth.



Jesus identified himself with the Truth. If we are in communion with Jesus then we too will be fountains of the truth. But the temptation to choose other than the truth is a large one and it almost always has as an underpinning the sense that to do so is in our best interest.



It is not.



Many times our inability to tell the truth reveals a deep spiritual void within. We bear false witness because somehow it will make us appear better, which at it’s heart means that we feel that there is something wrong with us to begin with. The temptation to bear false witness about another or an event I have witnessed is an invitation for me to ask, “What do I feel is wrong with myself?”



Why do I feel the need to speak about an event or a person in an untruthful way? The answer is more self-revelatory than illustrative of any real happening outside of myself? My answer allows me to peer into the hole within my soul.



Oh God help me to see myself as a valuable part of your creation. Allow me to see that the life I experience is alive with your presence and that others will always benefit from it.



But what about the other reasons, like, I don’t want to hurt someone?



Does the truth ever hurt? The answer is a loud and thunderous, yes it can hurt terribly. But is that bad?



Pain is a fact of life and to try to avoid it only delays the pain. Confronting it and accepting it leads to resurrection. The cross is a daily visitor to everyone. The choice is often whether we love people enough to be honest with them not hurt them but to help them to face reality in life.



Perhaps there is nothing more definitive about salvation than the one word--reality. A person who experiences the saving grace of God lives in reality, the world as it is.



The unsaved person lives a lie, perhaps it is a world of their creation. It is their fiction. It is impossible for others to be invited into this world of theirs because it is a non-existent place that they themselves do not even exist in. There is nothing sadder then to experience this firsthand, but it is the lot of those who refuse to accept the pain of daily life.



There is the obvious consequence of bearing false witness that I have purposely left to the end. Consequences are of little matter here, but for many they are the guiding force of their daily actions. St. Benedict did not counsel in his maxim—“consider the end when giving a witness.” He did not do so because he has already laid out for us what the end-(the consequence of every action is)—it is God.



God is the consequence for anyone who sets out on this path. My concern is for doing what God commands. True compassion results.



All of our excuses and reasons for not doing so—usually rationalized from a concern for consequences, are derived from a lack of respect for others (Benedict’s second maxim). We do not believe in our neighbor’s right to “handle” the truth. This is very sad.

MIchael Dubruiel

Monday, June 28, 2021

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 6b

 This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous are posted below among the other posts and last week's archives. Here is the Sixth Step, part two:




6. Not to covet (cf Rom 13:9).


Doesn’t our desire or coveting rather blind us to achieving our goals, creating a false sense of what is needed to make us happy? What if we were to live each day with a sense of purpose but instead of being concerned about our plan we primarily were focused on God’s will for us.



This may seem too idealistic and we might retort, “How can I know God’s will for me today?” The spiritual writer Jean-Pierre De Caussade in his great spiritual work Abandonment to Divine Providence gave a simple guide to answering the question. The will of God can best be discerned by a simple acceptance of whatever the day brings and to a focus on that.



My spiritual director Benedictine Father Lambert Reilley once mirrored this thought when I complained about all the distractions that I was suffering from. “People keep showing up and interupting the work that I am trying to get done.”



“Why look at them as distractions?” Father Lambert asked me. “Instead see them as people that God is sending to you.” What Father Lambert (who now is Archabbot Lambert) was saying to me was mirrored in the Rule of Saint Benedict’s injunction that the monks were to welcome the stranger as though Christ himself were arriving at the monastery.

Michael Dubruiel


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Our Lady of Perpetual Help June 27

 An article by Michael Dubruiel, here:


The icon features the child Jesus fleeing into his Mother's protective arms as the Archangels Michael and Gabriel show Him the instruments of crucifixion. The Greek letters spell out the first letters of Mary and Jesus' names.

The icon arrived in Rome in the 15th century after a merchant who had heard about a miraculous image on the island of Crete went to the island and stole it. When he arrived in Rome with the icon among his wares, he fell very ill. As he lay dying, he ordered that a friend place the icon in a church, perhaps hoping that it would alleviate his suffering. The friend took the icon to his own home, where his wife hung it in their bedroom.

The Virgin evidently was not pleased with this arrangement, and several times appeared to the man and told him that she wished for her image to be placed in a church. The man, despite the miraculous visitation, was not moved to relinquish control of the image. The Blessed Virgin next appeared to the man's daughter and asked that the icon be enshrined in a church between the two very large churches of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. The daughter communicated this to her father and he relented, and so the icon was enshrined in 1499 in St. Matthew's, the church that lies between the two larger edifices.





Saturday, June 26, 2021

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 6a

 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 Sixth Step, part one:




6. Not to covet (cf Rom 13:9).


St. Benedict attaches a scripture passage to this maxim which in many ways points to where he has obtained the previous four. In Romans 13:9 the Apostle wrote, “The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself, (Romans 13:9, NIV).”



The simple rendering not to covet is intriguing. We probably are used to the formulation that we should not covet our neighbor’s goods or our neighbor’s wife, but here there is just the simple injunction not to covet. There is nothing more difficult in the culture that we live in than to rid ourselves of desire.



Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha (enlightened one), based an entire religion on ridding ourselves of what he discovered was the source of all ill. In his four noble truths he stated, that all life is suffering, the cause of suffering is desire, the way to rid the world of suffering is to extinguish desire, that experience is Nirvana.



I remember teaching basically the same truth to teen boys in high school, and receiving a predictable response—“if you rid yourself of desire you wouldn’t move—you would just lie on the couch.” They, mirroring the culture that we live in, saw desire or coveting as a good thing. It is the very fuel that propels one to have great goals and to achieve great success.



But is it?

Michael Dubruiel


Friday, June 25, 2021

73 Steps to Communion With God - 5c

 This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous are posted below among the other posts and last week's archives.


Step # 5 of the 73 - part three


5. Not to steal...


We reason that someone is wealthy and they won’t miss this or that item so we take it as though our attitude about someone else is reality. We reason that we have paid a just fee and that entitles us to more than what we know it does. All of our reasons are aimed at justifying something that we know is wrong and the very act of trying to rationalize our behavior makes us less not in God’s eyes but in our view of ourselves.





It is useful to remember that the men nailed next to Jesus on the cross are often referred to as thieves. The so-called good thief acknowledges that his sin has merited so horrible a death. There was something of the presence of Jesus that made him realize that. If we put ourselves into the presence of God we will come to the same conclusion that taking what does not belong to us is wrong.

Michael Dubruiel

Thursday, June 24, 2021

June 24 - Nativity of John the Baptist

 

GospelLK 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,                
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

73 Steps to Communion With God: 5b

 This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous are posted below among the other posts and last week's archives.


Step # 5 of the 73 - part two


5. Not to steal...


That night the abbot did as the holy man had instructed, when the last of the monks had taken their place in the room, the abbot arose and announced to the gathered assembly, “The holy hermit has announced to me and asked me to inform you that God has revealed to him that the messiah is in our midst.” Afterwards the monks treated each other with great respect, wondering and not knowing if the monk they were dealing with might be the messiah.



The way we treat others and their property is largely based on how much we respect and hold them in awe. If we had a deep sense of love, respect and awe of each and every person we would never take anything from them. But too often we lack this basic sense of dignity that others deserve from us.

Michael Dubruiel

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

73 Steps to Communion With God: 5a

 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.


Step # 5 of the 73 - part one


5. Not to steal...

It may seem strange that stealing is so high on St. Benedict’s list, but there is nothing more destructive in communal living than mistrust and there is nothing that can destroy trust like living with thievery. Once something no matter how insignificant is stolen everyone around becomes the potential thief.



There is a story I have heard so many times and so many versions of that I am not even sure where it is originally from but it goes something like this: An abbot of a monastery had become very disenchanted with the way the monks in his monastery treated one another. He ventured off to seek out the advice of an holy monk who lived as a hermit deep in the woods.



After the holy monk had listened to the abbot’s concern, he raised his hand and asked the abbot to wait while he prayed about this situation. Several hours passed and finally the hermit reappeared in the cell and made his solemn announcement to the abbot. “When you go back to the monastery tonight gather all of the monks into chapter and then announce to them what I have to tell you.” He then revealed what he had learned in prayer to the abbot.

michael dubruiel

Monday, June 21, 2021

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis - part 7

  

"michael dubruiel"
Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 - almost twenty years ago. 


How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed--I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you'll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.

(7) Meditate on the Work of the Enemy in the Church 

Since the devil is hardly ever discussed in the Church, it should not surprise us that we find it so hard to explain blatant evil that exists, when faced with it, as we are in the present situation. 

Read the Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat in Matthew's Gospel, Chapter13:24-30. Notice that in Jesus' parable that the Kingdom of Heaven is not exempt from the work of the evil one. As the farmer sows good seed, the enemy sows bad. Both are allowed to grow side by side until the harvest. 

Contrary to our expectations the master (God) does not have his slaves go out and rip the bad from the good--out of concern for the good. In the end though the bad will suffer eternal fire. There are two reasons it is good to meditate on this parable. One, it shows that Jesus from the very start knew that the good that he would do, would be matched by the evil that would be worked from within. 

Secondly, it counsels us to be patient and turn again to God who will take care of them in good time. We must believe in God and avoid the temptation to search for him elsewhere. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis - part 6

  

"michael dubruiel"
Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 - almost twenty years ago. 


How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed--I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you'll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.

(6) Let Go of Your Plan for the Church 

In the midst of the current crisis, everyone has a plan. 

In fact most of us always have a plan for how to make the Church, heaven on earth. Let go of it... 

The disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) had just witnessed the crucifixion and now on the third day they had also heard of an empty tomb and the presence of angels. All of this disturbed them a great deal, to such a degree that when the Risen Lord, who they mourned, joined them on the road they did not recognize him. When they told him what they were discussing, he opened the Scriptures up to them, and told them that all of these things that they had witnessed "had to happen".

 Most of us suffer a crisis of faith because we believe just the opposite that "things didn't have to be that way." Jesus comes to us as a stranger in the midst of our lives and tells us just the opposite. It had to be.

 If for a second, you and I stop and think about that, applying it to our lives as they have been lived up to now, how does it make us feel? Do we not want to protest, no it should have been otherwise? But it was not and is no other way, than what it has been. 

Can God save us? 

Remember the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph has a dream. The dream leads to his persecution. He is sold into slavery. He is falsely accused. He is sent to prison. He is there when two of Pharaoh's servants are arrested. He interprets their dreams. The one who lives some years later remembers the Hebrew slave in prison who interpreted his dream. Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dream correctly. Pharaoh makes Joseph master over his house. Joseph's brothers are sent to Egypt by their father during the famine. Soon his family is reunited. 

At the end of the story the brothers tell Joseph that their father told them to tell Joseph to forgive them for what they had done to him. He says, "Who am I God? What you did to me you meant for evil, but God meant it for good--for the salvation of the many."

 Many people do evil things, but God is all powerful. He can give life to those whose lives are taken from them by evil people. He can bring healing to those who are sinned against. The lesson for the disciples on the road to Emmaus and the lesson of Joseph in Genesis is to trust in God's plan. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis - part 5

 

"michael dubruiel"
Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 - almost twenty years ago. 


How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed--I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you'll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.


(5) Practice the Prayer "God Alone" 


On the right hand column of this blog is a picture of the entrance to the cloister of Gethsemane, most known by people in this country for having been the monastery where Thomas Merton was a monk. Over the gate are simple words that the monk would encounter as he makes his way into the cloister. They are also words, that the visitor to the chapel also encounters. They have left a mark in my consciousness.

 In my better moments they haunt me. It is a good thing. Too often we create idols that interfere with our worship of God. Often these idols come crashing down around us. Jesus told the rich young man that the greatest commandment was to, "Love God with your whole heart, mind and soul." The rich young man went away sad, because his "possessions" were many. 


Our possessions, the things that we either possess or possess us can keep us from God. All it takes is a blow to our health, the suffer of some financial loss, or some other malady to befall us for us to be faced with the truth of which they all are for us--items we own or are owned by. 


The practice of keeping "God Alone" always before us, can keep us focused on what really matters. It can help us to treat our fellow human beings with the dignity that they deserve, it can help us to see meaning in what other wise seem meaningless events. If we focus on the strength of the winds, the enormity of our problems we will sink. If we focus on "God Alone" nothing can defeat us.

Friday, June 18, 2021

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis - part 4

  

"michael dubruiel"
Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 - almost twenty years ago. 


How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed--I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you'll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.

(4) Visit a Catholic Church 

Step into the Church at a time when nothing is going on, when you can sit in silence; just you and Our Lord in the Eucharist. Pour out your heart to him, and then sit and listen. 

Bishop Sheen once commented, that most of the conversion he was credited with, came about from the practice of pointing people (non-Christians and former Christians) to this practice. 

I have a close friend who was born in Jerusalem, and later studied to be a rabbi in Brazil. While engaged in rabbinical studies, he became interested with what he heard from some Christian fundamentalists, that he encountered in the streets of San Paulo, one day. Considering himself a searcher for the truth, he walked into the first Christian Church that he came across on his way home. It happened to be a Catholic Church. Walking in, he told me, he encountered a huge crucifix. He went up to the front of the church and standing in front of the crucifix he looked up at the image of the crucified Jesus and said, "If it is true, that you are the messiah, tell me." 

"What did he tell you?" I would ask my Jewish friend and always receive the same response, from my friend who now is a Catholic priest--"Well, I'm here now."

 This same friend who experienced total alienation from his family and friends to follow Jesus, joined the Catholic Church because of what he heard that day alone with Jesus in the Church. 

Once when I asked him about the Catholic Church in Brazil, where it was highly rumored that priests openly lived with women and some were even openly married, he replied, "Yes, what you say is true, but in Brazil they say of the United States that the priest live with men." 

Neither of these experiences dissuaded my friend, who endured many hardships from within and without the Church before being ordained a priest. His faith was based on the answer God had given him to a simple question and nothing else mattered. Take your doubts with you into the presence of God and let him answer them. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis - part 3

  

"michael dubruiel"
Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 - almost twenty years ago. 


How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed--I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you'll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.

(3) Pray Psalm 73 

The psalms are prayers that are experiential. They bless and curse, express faith and doubt. They were prayed by Jesus (and are often quoted by Him in the Gospels). Psalm 73 puts everything in perspective, it paints the picture of the world we see but then brings us into the Sanctuary of God's presence and reminds us of the real situation. It is easy to be distracted by the apparent success of the sinful--praying Psalm 73 reminds us to keep the end in mind, when the present seems bleak. 

Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 

For they have no pangs; their bodies are sound and sleek. They are not in trouble as other men are; they are not stricken like other men. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes swell out with fatness, their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.

Therefore the people turn and praise them; and find no fault in them. And they say, "How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?" Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken, and chastened every morning.

 If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have been untrue to the generation of thy children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. Truly thou dost set them in slippery places; thou dost make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes, on awaking you despise their phantoms. 

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was stupid and ignorant, I was like a beast toward thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee; thou dost hold my right hand. Thou dost guide me with thy counsel, and afterward thou wilt receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. 

For lo, those who are far from thee shall perish; thou dost put an end to those who are false to thee. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all thy works. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis - part 2

 

"michael dubruiel"
Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 - almost twenty years ago. 


How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed--I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you'll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.

2) Read the Gospel of Mark 

We have a tendency to think of the early Church as a pristine time when everyone believed and their were no problems. Although we may accept the fact that among Jesus' followers there was a traitor--Judas, we often forget how frustrated Jesus was with his Apostles. If it was that way when he was with them physically, why should we expect perfection from the successors to the Apostles today?

 The Gospel of Mark brings out the deficiencies of the Apostles in a remarkable way. 


Traditionally it has been held that the author of Mark's Gospel was John Mark, who first accompanied Paul and Barnabas, but left them during one of their missionary journeys. Later when John Mark wished to return to the ministry, Paul forbade him. Paul and Barnabas had a falling out over this and tradition has it that John Mark ended up with the Apostle Peter, and served as the Galilean fisherman's interpreter on his journeys. 

The Gospel of Mark, is then thought to be Peter's remembrance of Jesus' interaction with the Apostles, and has the marks of someone who had failed his Lord at the crucial moment and remembered well that this was not a solitary occurence. The Gospel of Mark is short and in it we see the Lord who is frustrated time and again with the lack of faith and understanding that he encounters from those closest to him.

 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis - part 1

"michael dubruiel"
Following is a series of posts originally written and published by Michael Dubruiel in 2002 - almost twenty years ago. 


How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis The items that are filling the newspapers daily now, are the same items that I had to deal with daily almost twenty years ago when I was involved in the daily life of the church. I came very close to losing my faith. I contemplated joining the Orthodox Church among other things, but ultimately through a very trying period, that tested the very core of everything that I had been taught and believed--I have remained a Roman Catholic. Now, it is like reliving a nightmare, only everyone is in on it this time. I would like to share some points to contemplate on if you, like me, find yourself at a loss in the present situation in the Church. None of them by themself will convince you to stay, but I think if you try most of them you'll find that God has a mission for you; to rebuild and to enliven the Church, that as St. Francis was told years ago by Christ, is falling into ruin.

(1) Do not deny that there is a problem This is the usually the first sign that someone is losing their faith, when they can't face reality. They want to make believe problems either don't exist or are being made up. Sort of like the famous scene in the Gospels where Peter says after the crucifixion, "I'm going fishing". Whenever I post anything unpopular on here (like the sins of a founder of a conservative order or the reported homosexuality of a famous bishop), I receive a lot of email from angry readers. Why are they angry? Because they cannot believe that so and so might have sinned and sinned seriously. Reflect on this:

  If we say, "We are free of the guilt of sin," we deceive ourselves; the truth is not to be found in us. But if we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us of every wrong. If we say, "We have never sinned," we make him a liar and his word finds no place in us. 1 John 9-10

 We can apply this passage to ourselves, everyone else in the church and indeed the Body of Christ (the Church-minus the head of the Church--Jesus and of course his mother Mary). We deceive ourselves if we think of anyone besides Christ as sinless and often reveal something of idol worship in the process.

 The true apostles whose sins are for all to see in the Gospels, did not for a minute allow the early church to worship them when they carried the healing power of Jesus with them. They reminded the people that they were mortal men just like the rest. 

 We must remind ourselves that there is only one God and that the founder of a religious order or bishop is not him. Many of the leaders of the Church need to be reminded of that too and not allow people to worship or pay them undue respect which is the command of Christ himself in the Gospel. Have you worshipped an individual within the church in the past? Has your faith been shaken in that individual? Good--there is one God, him alone shall you worship!

 

Monday, June 14, 2021

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 3c

 "michael dubruiel"

Here is a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict's Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.



This is part three of step 3

The Third Step of the 73 by Michael Dubruiel



3. Then, not to kill...

Lifting up these poor souls, reversing the damage done is a way to positively live out this injunction. It is not simply a matter of what not to do but to have an attitude of doing the opposite. The person who puts God first will carry with them an imitation of God who “breathes life” into inanimate clay.





What will this day be like if in every instance I put God first, treat all those who inhabit my environment with the attitude that I want to be a life giving force, a person of affirmation? Without God this is impossible and that is why prayer is something that is a 24/7 activity. We need to constantly turn to God, at every moment, in every encounter; to be silent until God is brought into the moment and then to be life giving as God is.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 3b

 "michael dubruiel"

Here is a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict's Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.



This is part two of step 373 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 3a

The Third Step of the 73 by Michael Dubruiel




3. Then, not to kill...





This counsel follows after the first two; love God and love your neighbor. Now we are told not to kill. God is the source of all life and the Scriptures make it clear from the first pages of Genesis that to take back the spirit of Life is the domain of God and that blood spilt cries out to heaven.



It is also clear that in the first pages of Genesis that our neighbor is not only the people that surround us but every being in creation. We should respect all of creation in the same manner.



The hippie who allowed the fly to live on that vacation day in New Hampshire does not remain in my memory as some nut but rather as a prototype of a holy man who understands this fundamental truth. If you and I want to grow in holiness then we must reverence the life force that God has placed in all of creation.



“Not to kill” also extends beyond physical murder. We are to be a life force in God’s creation. Building up rather than tearing down. Uplifting rather than destroying.



I remember a friend in school who was fond of bringing up in the midst of conversations that were less than charitable about others a simple question, “How is this building up the body of Christ?” It really ticked off everyone at the table but like the hippie with the fly it has remained in my memory whereas the topics of our table conversations have long passed on into obscurity.



There are many ways to kill without actually taking someone’s physical life. Unfortunately there are too many walking dead in our midst who have had their spirit killed by those who were not careful in their speech or their judgments.




Saturday, June 12, 2021

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 3a

 "michael dubruiel"

Here is a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict's Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.



This is part one of step 3

The Third Step of the 73 by Michael Dubruiel



3. Then, not to kill...





I still remember vividly an incident that happened when I was a child and my family was on vacation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. On a particular day we had just arrived at the summit of the mountain where the “Old Man of the Mountains,” a natural rock formation is located (it is on the New Hampshire quarter). We were sitting on some rocks and nearby was a long haired bearded guy—a hippie.



There were plenty of hippies in New England in the 1960’s, so there was nothing novel about that, but the action of this one was very memorable. He kept brushing away flies that were surrounding him. The more they continued to land on him, the more he would gently urge them to find another place to alight. His gentle tone and the words he spoke to the pests made it clear that he did not want to harm them.



My mother bent down to say that she had figured out that he felt that it was wrong to kill even a fly. Later I would read about people of various Eastern religions that shared this belief, “that all life was sacred," which of course is what we believe too--but we usually make endless distinctions.



St. Benedict’s counsel is simple. He does not elaborate about who or what we are not to kill. He keeps it simple and allows us the simple injunction to simple “not kill.”



Friday, June 11, 2021

How to draw closer to God - Part 2c

 "michael dubruiel"

Here is the second  posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict's Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.

2c. Love one's neighbor as one's self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).





I remember a man who had undergone a conversion experience telling me in front of his family that he had never been that bad of a guy even before his conversion.



His daughters disagreed, as they in unison cried out, “yes your were dad, you were horrible!”



He then went on to explain how before his conversion he had “acted” in a way that he thought he had to, to be accepted; since his conversion he was truly himself.



I can think of no finer testimony of what life immersed in God’s love is like. We no longer “act” but we are who we are. It’s as simple as that.





Loving others can be difficult but doing so teaches us a lot about ourselves and who we truly worship as God.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

How to draw closer to God - Part 2b

 "michael dubruiel"

Here is the second  posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict's Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.

2b. Love one's neighbor as one's self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).







What of the most despicable people on the earth, how can we love them? What about those who ________ and __________(fill in the blanks with your favorite unforgivable sins)?



The answer is simple, we love them in the same way as we would if they were are own child.



I remember when the serial murderer Theodore Bundy was being executed in the State of Florida that his mother was interviewed. She was asked the question, “Do you still love your son?”



She answered, “Yes, I don’t like what he has done, but I still love him.”



I think it is easy to understand why she would. No matter what anyone of us do in our lifetime there is a part of us that is deeply lovable. No matter how hateful we are or what terrible things we do for whatever God known reason, there is a part of us that God has created and that is good, call it the “true self.”



The true self might be likened to that part of us that is the plan of God for each of us. It is that true self that we love in our neighbors and ourselves, because it is most truly who we are.



Wednesday, June 09, 2021

How to draw closer to God - Part 2a

 "michael dubruiel"

Here is the second  posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict's Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.

2a. Love one's neighbor as one's self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).



It is ironic but the way we treat our neighbor in many ways reveals what we think about ourselves. Whenever I run into a parent berating the child I always find myself equally feeling as sorry for the parent as the child. Negative views of oneself often lead to a negative view of others. This maxim follows the first that we love God above all things. It is from that maxim that a true sense of ourselves flows.



If I believe that God has a mission for me, then it is only a short distance of thought to believe that he has a mission for everyone else on the planet.



Daily we encounter opportunities to love our neighbor as ourselves.



The other day a woman carrying a bag of groceries bumped into me rushing to her car. She apologized and I immediately had the uncharitable thought of what in the hell is your hurry? But then I started to list the reasons for why she might have been in a hurry in my mind. Perhaps she was late for an important appointment or there was someone in dire need of something that she had just purchased at the store. In other words I strove to think of why I might be in a hurry and to afford her the same privilege.



Love our neighbor as ourselves ultimately means wishing them success. Success in their mission in life means success for us all. In the same way that loving God is foundational to the Spiritual life, so too is the love of neighbor. They all are pieces that fit into the same puzzle.



What of the most despicable people on the earth, how can we love them? What about those who ________ and __________(fill in the blanks with your favorite unforgivable sins)?



The answer is simple, we love them in the same way as we would if they were are own child.



I remember when the serial murderer Theodore Bundy was being executed in the State of Florida that his mother was interviewed. She was asked the question, “Do you still love your son?”



She answered, “Yes, I don’t like what he has done, but I still love him.”



I think it is easy to understand why she would. No matter what anyone of us do in our lifetime there is a part of us that is deeply lovable. No matter how hateful we are or what terrible things we do for whatever God known reason, there is a part of us that God has created and that is good, call it the “true self.”



The true self might be likened to that part of us that is the plan of God for each of us. It is that true self that we love in our neighbors and ourselves, because it is most truly who we are.



I remember a man who had undergone a conversion experience telling me in front of his family that he had never been that bad of a guy even before his conversion.



His daughters disagreed, as they in unison cried out, “yes your were dad, you were horrible!”



He then went on to explain how before his conversion he had “acted” in a way that he thought he had to, to be accepted; since his conversion he was truly himself.



I can think of no finer testimony of what life immersed in God’s love is like. We no longer “act” but we are who we are. It’s as simple as that.





Loving others can be difficult but doing so teaches us a lot about ourselves and who we truly worship as God.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

How to be close to God - Part 1A

 "michael dubruiel"

 Here is the first posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict's Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.



This is part two of step one:



(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength...

.....



The attitude we have toward God is all-important if we are to love God with our whole being. We must believe that God loves us first and want what is best for us. It is hard to do anything but love God with our whole being if we believe that God loves us. In an older translation of the New American Bible the words of Jesus are applicable here, “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” The words of the supplicant must be our words also, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.”



It may seem obvious that the first step that anyone would make toward perfect communion with God is to place God at the very center, but how many times we look everywhere else for the way? If we wish to have communion with God we must enter into God’s presence and offer our entire being to God.



Most of us have given the allegiance of part of our being to God but not the whole. I can say that intellectually I have always believed in God and placed my soul in varying degrees to the love of God, but my heart well that is another story. There have been countless times that what my heart has desired has been anything but God. I have thought that this or that would make me truly happy and I have gone down many paths ignoring God in the process.



If I believe that God has created me and knows me best and what is in my ultimate interest, I will seek God above all things.

I still remember the first time I encountered the simple engraving over the entrance of the Monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemane in Kentucky. I stood there for some time looking at the simple words etched in stone that seemed bigger than life, “GOD ALONE.” There was something shocking about the simplicity of the statement, but at the same time a truth that touched me deeply.





In the end when our life is failing nothing else will matter. If we can acknowledge that at this point why not see the wisdom of putting God first in everything today? The message of Benedict’s first step is to put God first in all things and to do so lovingly.

Monday, June 07, 2021

How to be close to God

 "michael dubruiel"

Here is the first posting of a series that Michael Dubruiel wrote entitled 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. These steps are drawn from Saint Benedict's Rule, the reflections are his own. Originally published in 2003.



This is the first part of step one:



(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength...



Benedict begins what will be a list of simple practices with one that is above all others, the practice of a complete love of God. A love that is one that desires only God, symbolized by the heart; a love that meditates only on God symbolized by the soul; and a love that focuses all of its energy on exhibiting this love of God symbolized by my strength.



If we are honest, this is exactly what we all fear the most, an unconditional surrender of all to God.



I remember when I taught high school theology at a Jesuit School the response that I would always receive from my students whenever I would present to them Saint Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation which teaches that the purpose of our lives is to know, love and serve God and that everything else is secondary and is here to help us attain that purpose. Most of the Catholic students would become outraged, usually a few non-Catholic students in some cases nonbelievers would say it made perfect sense to them.

The issue of acceptance of this foundational attitude in spirituality is one of trust. Do we trust that God wants what is best for us. In our fears is an agenda that thinks that God will only get in the way of our happiness. Unfortunately it takes a long time for most of us to realize that what we think we want changes almost hourly.



We need direction in our lives. Our lives need to be oriented in some direction. The question is where will we seek that guidance?

The map pocket of my car is full of maps. The maps are only helpful to me if I know what my ultimate destination is and if I know where I am at the present moment. Recently while driving in a strange city with the map opened to that city, I knew where I wanted to go but had no idea where I was. Someone in the neighborhood I was in had torn down all of the street signs. I continued to travel up the street until finally I was able to locate a street sign.



Our lives can be the same confused mess that I felt on that day driving aimlessly up and down a city street. Who are we? Why are we here?



The Baltimore Catechism gave us a simple answer. We are here because God loves us. That is the starting point of the spiritual quest is to believe wholeheartedly that we are loved. A subtle but key ingredient to the fear that we feel in surrendering to God is that we do not believe that we are loved but fear that we are hated.



I remember as a child whenever I would be on my way to confession on a Saturday afternoon secretly fearing that God would try to see to it that I was killed before I arrived there. Where this fear came from I do not know, but it was real and it was only much later that I finally realized that God was the redeemer not the enemy.



The attitude we have toward God is all-important if we are to love God with our whole being. We must believe that God loves us first and want what is best for us. It is hard to do anything but love God with our whole being if we believe that God loves us. In an older translation of the New American Bible the words of Jesus are applicable here, “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” The words of the supplicant must be our words also, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.”



It may seem obvious that the first step that anyone would make toward perfect communion with God is to place God at the very center, but how many times we look everywhere else for the way? If we wish to have communion with God we must enter into God’s presence and offer our entire being to God.



Most of us have given the allegiance of part of our being to God but not the whole. I can say that intellectually I have always believed in God and placed my soul in varying degrees to the love of God, but my heart well that is another story. There have been countless times that what my heart has desired has been anything but God. I have thought that this or that would make me truly happy and I have gone down many paths ignoring God in the process.



If I believe that God has created me and knows me best and what is in my ultimate interest, I will seek God above all things.

I still remember the first time I encountered the simple engraving over the entrance of the Monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemane in Kentucky. I stood there for some time looking at the simple words etched in stone that seemed bigger than life, “GOD ALONE.” There was something shocking about the simplicity of the statement, but at the same time a truth that touched me deeply.





In the end when our life is failing nothing else will matter. If we can acknowledge that at this point why not see the wisdom of putting God first in everything today? The message of Benedict’s first step is to put God first in all things and to do so lovingly.


Sunday, June 06, 2021

Feast of Corpus Christi Michael Dubruiel

 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. 

Michael Dubruiel


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.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Do Miracles Happen Today?

 There are those who believe that we live in an age when miracles

have ceased, but I know better. Miracles abound—we just
don’t always recognize them. Those cured of physical blindness
perceive the world to be made of light; the same is true of those
cured of spiritual blindness. What seemed dark and hopeless
suddenly becomes a path to glory. The psalmist reflects this spiritual
vision when he prays in perhaps the best-known psalm,
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil; for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).

Today there are eye surgeries that allow people to see clearly
without corrective lenses. We need the “surgery of the cross” to
restore our vision, allowing us to see the world as God sees it. The
person filled with the Light perceives light, even in apparent
total darkness. As we read in the Gospel of Matthew: “The eye
is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body
will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body
will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how
great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22–23).
Lord Jesus, touch our eyes that we might see!


Friday, June 04, 2021

How to Go to Confession by Michael Dubruiel

 For a brief, pointed and helpful guide,

This pocket guide is meant to serve as an aid to such a varied group as those who: Confess regularly
Are becoming Catholic
Are making their First Confession
Have been away from this sacrament for some time
Are waiting for a sign that God can forgive whatever horrible sin has been committed
You will find:
 Answers to basic questions about Confession
Helps to preparing to make a good Confession by examining your conscience and praying before you celebrate the sacrament
A walk through the sacrament
How to use the experience of the Apostle Peter as a model for your own ongoing conversion to Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Michael Dubruiel

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




Michael Dubruiel



Episode 3 – The Cross of Christ unites… – Michael Dubruiel discusses:
Day 8 – The Temporal and Eternal
Day 9 – Those Divided by Sin
Day 10 – In Humility
Day 11 – In Sin
Day 12 – Those Who Suffer For Justice
Day 13 – Us in the Work We Have to Do
Day 14 – God’s Mercy and Love

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Novena to the Sacred Heart

 


The Novena to the Sacred Heart continues




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"