Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving

Eucharist means..."thanksgiving"

Michael Dubruiel wrote a book to help people deepen their experience of the Mass.  He titled it, How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist.  You can read about it here. 



How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist gives you nine concrete steps to help you join your own sacrifice to the sacrifice of Christ as you:
  • Serve: Obey the command that Jesus gave to his disciples at the first Eucharist.
  • Adore: Put aside anything that seems to rival God in importance.
  • Confess: Believe in God’s power to make up for your weaknesses.
  • Respond" Answer in gesture, word, and song in unity with the Body of Christ.
  • Incline: Listen with your whole being to the Word of God.
  • Fast: Bring your appetites and desires to the Eucharist.
  • Invite: Open yourself to an encounter with Jesus.
  • Commune: Accept the gift of Christ in the Eucharist.
  • Evangelize :Take him and share the Lord with others.


Filled with true examples, solid prayer-helps, and sound advice, How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist shows you how to properly balance the Mass as a holy banquet with the Mass as a holy sacrifice. With its references to Scripture, quotations from the writings and prayers of the saints, and practical aids for overcoming distractions one can encounter at Mass, this book guides readers to embrace the Mass as if they were attending the Last Supper itself.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Blessed Solanus Casey

Fr. Solanus Casey was beatified on November 18, 2017 in Detroit. This reflection is from the early 2000's. By Michael Dubruiel.

Rosary Walks


I spend my lunch time taking a walk at one of two places--one an active convent with beautiful grounds that include several nature trails and the other an abandoned Capuchin Friary where Solanus Casey once lived. Both offer me a variety of places to stop and reflect on the meaning of the mysteries of the rosary in the lived lives of both places--usually at the cemetery where I pause and reflect that surely one or two or more saints are buried who will join their prayers to mine.


Yesterday was a rather eventful day. I was at the convent and noticed police tape blocking the entrance to a path down a hill that includes a grotto of the resurrection and a downward path of the Stations of the Cross. A short walk under the tape and I discovered the reason why--a wall had tumbled down as the result of all the rain that we've had in this part of the country this Spring--a landslide. I think I was up the second joyful mystery--the visitation. I wondered what this act of nature might signify? I noticed that the display of the stations had not really been affected by the landslide but that the resurrection grotto had--it was as though the "removed stone" had been placed back at the entrance. I thought of the preoccupation of the women walking to the tomb "who will remove the stone?" and thought that this probably was the worry now of some of the nuns at the convent but probably only a few.


This convent is primarily interested in the environment. Nothing wrong with that. Trees are identified throughout the property and dedicated to various sisters. No Hunting or Fishing signs dot the landscape. It all makes for a very peaceful place at least from the perspective of violent people anyway. But nature is not really peaceful as the landslide near the fourteenth station demonstrates and the illusion has sometime been given that "man" is responsible for all the ills of nature--but indeed man is not the only creature that is fallen in Christian belief, rather it is all of creation.


Next I made my way to the graveyard. It is usually the place where I notice the most activity. New graves appear almost weekly as the rapidly dwindling numbers of nuns are laid to rest. There are a few stones from the 1980's that commemorate the missing bodies of nuns who gave their bodies to science but that fad seems to have passed now. On this day there were new deep holes burrowed into the earth for the placement of new grave-markers. The ten or so prepared last year are only one from being all used up. It is now the fifth joyful mystery the Finding of Jesus in the Temple--I wonder as I often do when I visit either of these sacred places (the abandoned friary and the soon to be abandoned convent) if Christ has been lost or is this just the natural cycle of religious communities?


Now I am on the trail of God's Splendid Creation as one of the sister's has entitled it on the sign that tells me the meandering path is .8 of a mile. Nature has ravaged this path also as the torrential rains have left huge piles of sand at the base of a hill that normally is very dry but now still wet weeks after the last rainfall. A deer is startled by my entrance into the forest and creates quite a stir as it flies over fallen trees and brush to make its way deeper into the forest. It is the first Luminous mystery--The Baptism of Jesus by John "I must decrease and he must increase," crosses my mind as I also think of the psalm "like a deer that yearns for running water so my soul thirsts for you my God!"


About half-way to the end of the path, the deer emerges again. Once again the sound of broken limbs under the weight of the deers landings, this time joined by squirrels scurrying in every direction. One squirrel winds his way around a tree and looks out at me with expectation of a treat--a little too tame for my liking. It is the third luminous mystery--Jesus preaching the Kingdom of God--"seek first the Kingdom of God" I think as I run past the tree where the squirrel lurches out from for some reason fearing that he will jump upon me and attack me for not having brought him any nuts. He does not and I go back to trying to seek God's dominion over me.


At the end of the trail I emerge upon the road lined with trees that leads back to the convent. I notice the deer's head staring at me from across the road, his ears flicking. I imagine the deer thinking that I'm following him. I walk closer to him and he doesn't move this time. Perhaps they feed him too, I think. I am now only five feet from the deer and I talk to him. He only cocks his head this way and that but doesn't flee until I turn to continue my journey. The fourth luminous mystery--the Transfiguration, an invitation to encounter Jesus in the Old Testament I think meditating on the significance of Moses and Elijah the prophet.


The sun beats down mercilessly and the tar is soft under my feet. I look back and see the deer still peering at me watching to see if I really am going in a different direction. I am, my lunch time nears its end. The maintenance worker is mowing the grass. His plumb body hangs over the sides of the seat and his beard covers his chest. As I make my way to the parking lot I notice his license plate "Rode Kill" misspelled I reason because someone must have already had "road kill" in this state of connoisseurs of varmint meat. On the side of his truck he has a bumper sticker, "I love animals...they taste real good." The fifth sorrowful mystery--the Crucifixion. In the way a sinner is attracted to the cross of salvation, I reason, perhaps this man with his desires was attracted to the environmental sisters.


So be it! Amen.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Fr. Solanus Casey Beatified

From 2004, by Michael Dubruiel

Taming the Wild



Solanus had also been cultivating a patch of wild strawberries which he told the friars he was "taming."

Father Solanus: The Story of Solnus Casey O.F.M. Cap. p.174






I had been making my lunch time pilgrimage for several months when I read a chapter from Cathy Odell's book on Solanus' time in Huntington. I had literally walked the fields and woods throughout but had never come across any wild strawberries. They must have perished when some of the land was plowed, I figured.


It was a beautiful sunlit day, not a cloud in the sky and very low humidity. I started out walking the perimeter of the property, as was my usual route, and began to pray the rosary. Normally this meant finishing the joyful mysteries by the time I reached the far forest where an Eagle Scout had cleared a trail through the woods. There I would begin the sorrowful mysteries reaching the Capuchin graveyard about the time I reached the third sorrowful mystery (the Crowing with Thorns) where I would prostrate in the direction of the simple wooden cross at the head of the graveyard and pray the prayer of St. Francis, "We adore thee O Christ and we praise Thee because by thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world." Then I would pray the third sorrowful mystery on my knees for the Friars and others buried there, at the same time asking for their intercession for my many needs.


Then I would retrace my steps backward in a slightly different path along the woods rather than through them. At about the same spot where I had discovered an apple tree left over from the orchard that Solanus had blessed, I looked down and spotted something red blooming. At first I thought they were small red flowers that had some how resisted the mowing the lawn had received recently. But on closer inspection I found wild strawberries almost ready to be harvested.


I thought of the irony of my discovery on the very day that I had first read about Solanus' "taming" of wild strawberries, then I thought of the whole aspect of "taming" the wild.


Looking over the property of what had once been a flourishing center of Catholic spirituality, I could not help but be struck by the apparent failure. What had been tamed here and once again become wild.


It struck me as an apt symbol for the state of Catholicism in the United States at the beginning of the Twenty-first century. The in-roads that the Church had made in converting and bringing Catholic Christianity to this country seemed to have reverted back to its wild state. Those who call themselves Catholic pick and choose what they believe and how they practice their faith. In many ways they mirror the environment they live in with very little to distinguish them from their non-Catholic neighbors.


Of course it also struck me that I suffered from this as much as anyone.


Picking up the wild strawberry, I saw how immature it was. No doubt Solanus' taming of the "wild" strawberries had resulted in them growing into substantial fruit that was enjoyed by the Huntington Capuchins. Now without that taming, the wild strawberry had once again returned to a small pitiful caricature of what it might have been.


Sadly this is what we also have become. Our influence in our culture is weak and we risk giving scandal to those who look to us as representatives of all that is Catholic. We are "wild" Cathlolics, in great need of being tamed by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fr. Solanus Casey Beatified

In 2009, Michael Dubruiel wrote about Fr. Solanus Casey in "The Priest Who Saved My Life."

A good and holy priest is the reason I am able to write this at the beginning of 2009. I owe my life to him. The strange thing about this priest is that he died in 1957, the year before I was born. However, in 2000 I was driving on an interstate in Southern Indiana in a torrential rain, when suddenly my Ford Explorer off the road by a sudden gust of wind. As I spun wildly toward the oncoming traffic in the West bound lane, I saw my life pass before my eyes. Then, almost as suddenly as the whole incident had unfolded, I found myself back in the East bound lane heading in the right direction. A holy card with the image of Father Solanus Casey stood in front of me—completely upright.

My legs were shaking as I tried to regain my composure, and the thought entered my mind that God had something for me to do—and that Father Solanus had interceded for me at that moment.

I first heard of Father Solanus Casey in 1985, while on retreat with Father Benedict Groeschel. Father Benedict spent his novitiate at St. Felix Friary in Huntington, IN back in the 1950’s. He had witnessed many miraculous events in Father Solanus’ presence. Years later when commenting on the skepticism of modern people, and sadly some scholars, about the miraculous incidents related in the Bible, Father Benedict commentedthat this was never a problem for him. Referring to the years he had lived with Father Solanus Casey he said, “I lived with the New Testament.”



Sunday, November 19, 2017

Free Catholic Book

I once read a personal essay written about attending Mass
where the writer advised the reader to get to church early to find
a pew where you will likely have no one sitting anywhere near
you to distract you. I confess there have been times that I have
felt this way too, but I can see how sinful such a view is—how
“separation” even in the name of God is not of God.

Jesus came to reunify all those separations brought about by
original sin—whether they be nationality, gender, or language. “For
by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks,
slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1
Corinthians 12:13). Our sinful self rebels against this notion; we
want to judge others rather than forgive in Christ. This is our cross!
If we hold it in front of us, we will have a constant reminder of the
One who died for the sins of the world—to save “them” and “us.”

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



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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Free Catholic Book by Michael Dubruiel

The Cross of Christ Transforms. . . How We Forgive

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. EPHESIANS 4:32–5:2 

“You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger, his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all of his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. MATTHEW 18:32–35


 A woman once shared with me that she had a problem accepting God’s forgiveness in her life. She was a merciful woman who willingly forgave others; she just could not believe that God could forgive her past sins. We met from time to time over the course of two years. After that long period of time, she was finally able to talk about what she had done, and why God couldn’t forgive her. What finally enabled her to reveal her sin was an experience she had that I would call a personal revelation. One night as she walked into her kitchen, stopping at the entrance, she witnessed
Jesus nailed to the cross. He raised his head and looked at her, then vanished from the room. That was it, no words, just a look. Yet that look conveyed love and forgiveness that flooded her heart.

 Those of us who grew up with a deep sense of sin may remember our early experiences of confession. In those early days when we were young we confessed that we didn’t always obey our parents and that we didn’t get along that well with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes we even argued and fought with them. As adults, we can smile at such youthful indiscretions. In adolescence we commit a different variety of sins. We tend to judge these more seriously because we take ourselves more seriously at this point in our lives. But what we don’t realize is that these sins are no different from those we committed as small children: We don’t obey our parent, God our Father, and we don’t get along with our brothers and sisters; every sin that we commit is in some way against God or neighbor.

Separation from God 

The consequence of all sin is spiritual death. We should hate all sin, but some sins can nearly destroy our earthly lives, or greatly alter the path God wishes for us to take. The woman that I mentioned at the beginning of this section had committed such a sin; it could have changed the course of her life and greatly hurt the people she loved. Yet by God’s grace, the sin never came to light to those who would have been most affected by it. Even so, her knowledge of that sin became a heavy cross that she carried for over forty years. In that sense, her sin did hurt those that she loved: Though they must have perceived the sadness in her soul, they were never able to relieve her inner pain. Catholics have always taught that there is a temporal punishment attached to sins, a punishment that remains even when God forgives that sin. In some cases it is easy to understand this  temporal punishment: If you rob a bank and get caught, even if God forgives you there will still be a price to pay. If you are caught in adultery and are sincerely sorry, God will forgive you but the damage done to your marriage will be real. Sin is evil because it does bad things to us; just as many physical behaviors can lead to the development of various cancers, so sin leads to our destruction. Eve looked at the forbidden fruit and it looked desirable, but partaking of that fruit made both Adam and Eve terminally ill. Relief Though confession alone does not remove the temporal penalty of sin, healing still is possible by God’s grace.
Prayer, reading the Scripture, giving alms, doing good works all are acts that have had indulgences attached to them by the Church. By obtaining an indulgence, the Christian receives healing from the temporal penalty of even the gravest sins, reducing or eliminating altogether the time of purification needed in purgatory (CCC 1471). Ideally, the Christian is motivated to perform these spiritual exercises not from fear of punishment but out of love for God. As we read in the preceding passage, St. Paul tells the Ephesians to offer themselves as a spiritual sacrifice with Christ, who has paid the debt of our sins. Seeing Christ on the cross and meditating on his love for us should help us to understand how much God loves us.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus thought of herself as an infant when she prayed. She saw God as her Father, bidding her to come up the stairs, something she made feeble attempts to do with little progress. Finally, she said, the Father would come down and carry her up the stairs. This is the perfect image of prayer: God carries us up to the heavens if we allow him to do so. Yet first we must admit our own powerlessness to achieve the heights to which he calls us, so that he might take us where we would not go. We need to confess our sins regularly, and accept absolution fully—trusting in God’s love more than our failings or our sins. Then we must extend that forgiveness to everyone else in our life, knowing that being forgiven is conditioned upon our forgiving in the same way (see Luke 6:37; Matthew 6:15). Failure to forgive means that we do not fully trust God’s forgiveness, as if God might change his mind down the road. Yet God’s love is everlasting.

The Ignorance of Sin 

The greatest example of forgiveness is that of Jesus, who from the cross forgave those who put him there: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” Who is the “them” to which Jesus was referring? The “them” is us. There is great ignorance in every sin willfully committed. If we truly understood the consequences of sin, none of us would have the courage to commit even one. In a moment of clarity we may come to our senses, and realize that by our actions we have “sold innocent blood.” Yet even when we have a deep sense of our own ignorance in the sins that we commit against others, we often are unwilling to extend that same possibility to those who sin against us. Forgiving others is an act of the cross. In the same way that a priest absolves us while making the sign of the cross over us— so it is necessary to trace the sign of God’s love in the direction of those who wrong us. By seeing them through the eyes of our  Savior, we may find the courage to offer them the forgiveness that he has offered to us.


The Power of the Cross is a book well-suited to daily reading during Lent. The book is available here in pdf version. Daily excerpts will be reprinted in this space during Lent.


"michael Dubruiel"

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Solanus Casey to be Beatified November 18

From 2004, by Michael Dubruiel

Taming the Wild



Solanus had also been cultivating a patch of wild strawberries which he told the friars he was "taming."

Father Solanus: The Story of Solnus Casey O.F.M. Cap. p.174






I had been making my lunch time pilgrimage for several months when I read a chapter from Cathy Odell's book on Solanus' time in Huntington. I had literally walked the fields and woods throughout but had never come across any wild strawberries. They must have perished when some of the land was plowed, I figured.


It was a beautiful sunlit day, not a cloud in the sky and very low humidity. I started out walking the perimeter of the property, as was my usual route, and began to pray the rosary. Normally this meant finishing the joyful mysteries by the time I reached the far forest where an Eagle Scout had cleared a trail through the woods. There I would begin the sorrowful mysteries reaching the Capuchin graveyard about the time I reached the third sorrowful mystery (the Crowing with Thorns) where I would prostrate in the direction of the simple wooden cross at the head of the graveyard and pray the prayer of St. Francis, "We adore thee O Christ and we praise Thee because by thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world." Then I would pray the third sorrowful mystery on my knees for the Friars and others buried there, at the same time asking for their intercession for my many needs.


Then I would retrace my steps backward in a slightly different path along the woods rather than through them. At about the same spot where I had discovered an apple tree left over from the orchard that Solanus had blessed, I looked down and spotted something red blooming. At first I thought they were small red flowers that had some how resisted the mowing the lawn had received recently. But on closer inspection I found wild strawberries almost ready to be harvested.


I thought of the irony of my discovery on the very day that I had first read about Solanus' "taming" of wild strawberries, then I thought of the whole aspect of "taming" the wild.


Looking over the property of what had once been a flourishing center of Catholic spirituality, I could not help but be struck by the apparent failure. What had been tamed here and once again become wild.


It struck me as an apt symbol for the state of Catholicism in the United States at the beginning of the Twenty-first century. The in-roads that the Church had made in converting and bringing Catholic Christianity to this country seemed to have reverted back to its wild state. Those who call themselves Catholic pick and choose what they believe and how they practice their faith. In many ways they mirror the environment they live in with very little to distinguish them from their non-Catholic neighbors.


Of course it also struck me that I suffered from this as much as anyone.


Picking up the wild strawberry, I saw how immature it was. No doubt Solanus' taming of the "wild" strawberries had resulted in them growing into substantial fruit that was enjoyed by the Huntington Capuchins. Now without that taming, the wild strawberry had once again returned to a small pitiful caricature of what it might have been.


Sadly this is what we also have become. Our influence in our culture is weak and we risk giving scandal to those who look to us as representatives of all that is Catholic. We are "wild" Cathlolics, in great need of being tamed by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Free Catholic Book by Michael Dubruiel

If we want to learn anything about the Paschal mystery of Jesus’
Passion, death, and resurrection here on the mountain of the
Transfiguration, we must approach these mysteries on our knees.
It all begins with prayer.

Jesus climbed the mountain to be alone with the three disciples,
to pray with them. Every effort of prayer begins with an
invitation to “come aside.” Just as Our Lord called Peter, James,
and John to come with him up the mountain, he beckons to us
today. When we feel that inner nudge, that desire to pray, we
must pay attention to God’s call.

It may be difficult to respond to the invitation at times. We
need not climb a mountain, at least not literally. However, we do
need a place to “come aside.” It may be a special corner of our
room, or a nearby chapel; no matter where it is, the trip to put
oneself into God’s presence may seem like scaling the side of a
precipice at times. This is to be expected: We are entering a different
realm. As Peter, James, and John discovered, in leading
them up the mountain Jesus had taken them higher than the geological
summit; he had transported them to heaven itself. They
were able to witness Moses and Elijah, conversing with Jesus in
prayer and blinding light!

-The Power of the Cross  by Michael Dubruiel


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Monday, November 13, 2017

November 13- St. Francis Cabrini


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

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


A novena to Mother Cabrini is included in

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"










Friday, November 10, 2017

St. Leo the Great - November 10

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

St. Leo, pray for us!

From the Office of Readings:

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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

St. John Lateran - November 9


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


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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Free Catholic Book by Michael Dubruiel

How do we die to ourselves? The cross extends the invitation
again and again. We nail our failures and our successes, we make
no judgments—like Christ, we abandon ourselves in trust to the
Father. We keep “watch” with Christ and live in the expectation
of his coming at every moment. Our death on the cross with
Christ—something that our Baptism signified but we must daily
reclaim—gives us the power to love as Christ did because Christ
is within us, when we allow him to be all in all.



-The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel - Free book available at the link.



"michael dubruiel"

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

How to Pray

The letter to the Hebrews draws a strong connection
between the cross and prayer. Because every moment of our
earthly existence is threatened by death, and we know neither the
day nor the hour when that existence will come to an end, we,
too, need to cry out to the God who can save us. Like Moses, we
need the help of our fellow Christians to hold up our arms when
they grow tired. We, too, need the help of the Holy Spirit to
make up for what is lacking in our prayer. 


-The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel 



"michael dubruiel"

Monday, November 6, 2017

Free Catholic Book by Michael Dubruiel

“Hosanna!” the people cried as Jesus entered the city. This is
one of the few words in Scripture that is not translated into English
(like Alleluia; Amen; and talitha, koum). How does
“Hosanna” translate into English? In most English translations
of Psalm 118:25, this word is translated “Save us!” It seems that
it may have been this psalm that the people of Jerusalem were
proclaiming as Jesus entered the city: “Save us, we beseech thee,
O LORD! O LORD, we beseech thee, give us success! Blessed be
he who enters in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the
house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the
altar!” (Psalm 118:25–27). They were crying out to be saved by
God and his Christ.

Ironically, a few days later they cried out, “Crucify him,”
bringing about that very act of salvation. At times we lose sight
of how this mirrors the actions of their ancestors, the patriarchs
of the original twelve tribes, who sold one of their brothers into
slavery—and God used that act of treachery for his own end.
Thus at the end of Genesis we hear Joseph proclaim, “As for you,
you meant evil against me; but God meant if for good, to bring
it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are
today”(Genesis 50:20).
-The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel

"michael dubruiel"

Sunday, November 5, 2017

How to Pray a 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"

Friday, November 3, 2017

Catholic Meditation by Michael Dubruiel


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, not here anyway.

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

-Michael Dubruiel

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All Saints' Day


Tuesday, November 1, 2005


A Moment Frozen in Time - Michael Dubruiel

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

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

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

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

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

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