Monday, July 31, 2017

St. Ignatius Loyola - July 31 by Michael Dubruiel

He says it all right here...

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this
means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are
created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he
is created.
From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help
him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as
to it.
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created
things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not
prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness,
riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short
life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive
for us to the end for which we are created.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

MIchael Dubruiel Interview

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


Episode 2 – The Cross of Christ teaches us…

– Michael discusses:

 Day 1 – Our Mission Day
2 – To Live the Gospel Day
3 – How to Pray Day
4 – About Repentance Day
5 – How to Trust and Give Thanks Day
 6 – Reconciliation Day
7 – How to Love
"michael Dubruiel"




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

Friday, July 28, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 44

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



(44) To fear the day of judgment.



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



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



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



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



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



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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

St. Ignatius Loyola novena




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"

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 43 by Michael Dubruiel

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 42 by Michael Dubruiel

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Monday, July 24, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 41

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



"Let go," says God.



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





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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

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

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



(40) Not to be a detractor.



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



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

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



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





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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 39

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



(39) Not to be a murmurer.



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

Friday, July 21, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 38

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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 37

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



(37) Not to be drowsy.



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



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



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



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



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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 36

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



(36) Not to be a great eater.



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



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



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



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





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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 35

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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Monday, July 17, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 34

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



(34) Not to be proud...




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



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



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





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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15 - St. Bonaventure

From TheUniversalis: Office of Readings:



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



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



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



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


Books by Michael Dubruiel

Friday, July 14, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 32

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



(32) Not to curse them that curse us, but rather to bless them.



There is an image that comes to mind when I read this counsel. It is the image of a bishop (no one in particular) walking up the aisle in procession at the beginning of Mass or at the conclusion of Mass, turning from side to side and blessing all those in attendance. What he is doing at that moment (no doubt every bishop has more than their share of people who are cursing them), is what we are all to do--at every moment of everyday.



I'm not real good at this, as anyone who knows me well will tell you, I'm more apt to criticize those who curse me, not bless them. So I certainly need God's help in this regard.



One might wonder what benefit blessing those who curse us could possibly have. Here is a hint from Scripture. In the Second Book of Samuel, when David had been overthrown by his son Absalom and is fleeing the city of Jerusalem, a man comes out and curses him. Shimei, throwing stones and "saying as he cursed: 'Away, away, you murderous and wicked man! (2 Sam. 16:7). In response to this outrage one of David's guards says to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, please, and lop of his head," (2 Sam. 16:9)



David's response to this is interesting and not at all what one would expect (if you are an avid reader of the Old Testament that is). Here is David's response, "Suppose the LORD has told him to curse David; who then dare to say 'Why are you doing this?' (2 Sam. 16:10). So they went on and Shimei "kept abreast of them on the hillside, all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went," (2 Sam.16:13).



"Perhaps the LORD is telling him to curse me." An interesting thought, and again one that can only lead to a deeper relationship with God. To at least admit to seeing God's hand in all things.



Most of the curses that I receive are from those who don't like the way I drive (and they are usually right to offer a gesture of displeasure) or those who don't like what I write (again they are often right--things are seldom one way or another but grayer). May I bless them all.





A blessing is only possible when we see ourselves as blessed by God, then we share the abundance of what God has given us with those who wish us evil. We acknowledge God as the final judge and we are selves are not to quick to judge (as David wasn't in the above). Interestingly, when David is restored to the throne in Israel, Shimei (the cursing stone thrower) is brought before the king and does have his head lopped off.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 30

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 29

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 11 - Feast of St. Benedict

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Monday, July 10, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 27 by Michael Dubruiel

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



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



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



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



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

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



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





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

Sunday, July 9, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 26

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





(26) Not to forsake charity.



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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Saturday, July 8, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 25

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



(25) Not to make a false peace.



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



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



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



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



We must bring our warring heart to God.



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



What then?



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



For the follower of Christ this is not an option.



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



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



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



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



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

Thursday, July 6, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 24

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



(24) Not to entertain deceit in the heart.



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 23

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



(23) Not to foster a desire for revenge.



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



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



This usually shocks people.



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



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



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



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



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





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

Monday, July 3, 2017

;St. Thomas - July 3

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

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

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

Jesus undeterred continues to journey toward Jerusalem.

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

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

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

Why not?

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

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

When Jesus appears to Thomas, he believes!

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

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

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

Saint Thomas, pray for us!

Lord have mercy on us!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 22

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous are posted below among the other posts and last week's archives. Here is the 22nd step:



(22) Not to give way to anger.



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 21

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous are posted below among the other posts and last week's archives. Here is the 21st step:



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



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



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



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



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



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



Being loved by Christ will reveal similar deficiencies in us.



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

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



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



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



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





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