Wednesday, October 31, 2018

All Saints Day - November 1


Tuesday, November 1, 2005


A Moment Frozen in Time - Michael Dubruiel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?

The Great Christian Feast-Halloween - by Michael Dubruiel



This is one of those thoughts that comes to you in a moment of clarity with such force that you wonder how it could be that everyone just doesn't see the truth of it.

Last night when I made one of my few trips to the door to hand out candy, it just hit me. There I was confronted with a skull painted white on the face of an African American, who was standing there holding open a bag, expecting something from me.

A home invasion? No.

Trick or Treat!

I gladly obliged his request with a handful of candy and he turned and went on his merry way to join the other hordes of beggars that flooded our streets.

I had just fulfilled the mandate of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I had just welcomed Him in the guise of the hungry, "When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat." Matthew 25!

"When did we see you Lord?"

"Whenever you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to me."

Is there anytime left in our year when Americans are so blatantly Christian, welcoming the strangers that come to their door? Is there anytime that we reward those who on purpose try to repulse us by their costumes?

Yet the thought that it is better to give than receive dominates this day and truly the day fulfills its purpose of being the eve of All Saints Day! For if we are ever to join the saints we must learn to make everyday Halloween!

So that today when we meet those we might otherwise demonize, we give what we have freely as though we were meeting Christ Himself in the streets (and if we believe the Gospel message we are in fact meeting him)!

I used to joke that strangers could in fact be demons, (this was when the angel rage was in full swing and I use to make the point that yes a stranger might be an angel but who is to say if it is a good one or a bad one--sort of a twist of the Glenda the Good Witch's question to Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?"), but I would ask you to reflect on Halloween a bit more with me.

If we give to the stranger, indeed we welcome them as Christ. But if we look at the stranger only as someone who has something to give and we judge them based on that we are apt to conclude that all strangers are demons!

For example if we start viewing every middle eastern looking Arab that we do not know personally as a terrorist we are forgoing an opportunity to see them as Christ (who happened to be of middle eastern descent). Abraham was visited by three strangers (one would presume of middle eastern descent) and he fed them--they turned out to be angels and they gave him a blessing! But let's suppose that we in fact do come across some terrorists in our daily activities. What if our interaction with them, seeing them as Christ and giving them whatever we have to give at that moment (even if it is only a smile of acceptance) led them to change their whole way of viewing Americans?

It is sad to think that a day that is the perfect example of what it means to be a Christian has been protested by so many Christians in this country. Do they read the Gospels?

No one is celebrating or worshipping demons on Halloween. The children who dress up in their costumes are playacting and giving the individual behind every door an opportunity to imitate Christ.

It is also sad that many miss the point in the other direction. They overdo it in the name of "everyone else is doing it" and light their houses up as though it is Christmas, rather than encountering the little masked Christs in the darkness the way it is intended to happen and does happen in daily lives. The vacuous nature of their souls demands making a show of their giving. Sadly they have already received their reward--the empty praise of their neighbors and friends.

There have been moves lately among some Catholics to have children dress up as saints-- this may be a fine thing to do on All Saints day but it totally misses the point of Halloween. We will never be saints, nor will we imitate them, until we open the door everyday and welcome the ghouls we encounter as though they are Christ.



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fr. Solanus Casey Beatification November 18, 2017

From 2004

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




by Michael Dubruiel


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, October 29, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God - 72 - by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous postings are found in the archives to the right. This is the 72nd Step:



(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.



We should always strive to remain at peace with everyone. One wonders how different life would be if everyone were to embrace this counsel and practice it in their daily life. Would there ever be another war? Would anyone have reason to live in fear anymore?



But such is not the case and I cannot live with my focus on what others are or are not doing. I can only put this counsel into practice myself. Do I allow the sun to set without making peace with those who I'm either angry with or those who are angry with me.



I have worked with people who practice this counsel and it can be rather tiresome when they come up to you to make peace and you weren't even aware that you were at "war" with them. But in the long run it is much better to have these summits of peace than to have people around you stewing about some slight that you have committed against them.



And what of us?



Are we aware of the control that others have over us by their actions and words?





Really this is a counsel to make sure that any time God is Lord over you. When we make someone an enemy we are in danger of making them an idol that we worship and serve. They and the actions that they commit against us are not all-powerful and do not deserve the time and emotion that we often waste on them. Making peace with our adversaries means making peace with God first, asking God to empower us to forgive and acknowledging that God is the judge over all. We let go and let God be God in our lives.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 71

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous steps are found in the archives. This is step 71:



71) To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ.



"Father, forgive for they know not what they do," are the words that come to mind when we reflect on this counsel to "pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ." Jesus not only preached this counsel of Benedict's but He also left us an example of how to do it. Yet it is pretty tough to do when we start putting faces to the word enemy.



We could start by those who personally affront us and pray for them. Do we believe that they really didn't know what they were doing when they hurt us? I'll be that if you share the incident with an objective person they would offer you some insight into the ignorance that probably was at work on the other end. Perhaps our enemies are insane, misled or plain stupid and this is the evil that we live with in the world that things are not quite what they could be or should be at any given time.



Even those who are moved by greed and dispense with poisons that injure and kill thousands daily (many of whom are quite respected in our communities) should be prayed for because could anyone really know what they are doing--and still do it if it had such horrible results. One can easily look at the insanity of a Hitler or Stalin but what of those who market items that kill (feel free to fill in the blanks with all known cancer and disease causing products that one can still buy at the local convenience store).



We are to pray for these people--those who hurt us and threaten us personally and the same for those who we fear in a more global way. In doing so we also are made aware of our own ignorance and how we too are responsible for the pain and hurt we cause others.





In praying for our enemies we change them into our brothers and sisters. We recognize their frailty. We bring them back down to earth where we are. We destroy our idols (albeit idols that we fear). In the process God almighty is restored to His rightful place in our lives as the Supreme Being who should be our one concern.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion - 70 - by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step #70:



(70) To love the younger.



Benedict's advice to love the junior monk is a counsel that may not mean as much to us in a culture that prizes youth. There was a real danger in a culture where wisdom and age are seen as equal to see youth as foolish and of little significance.



Of course in the Gospel Jesus had told his disciples that "out of the mouths of babes" comes wisdom. The Christian realizes that there is a wisdom that comes not from years and reflection but directly from God.



The idealism of youth often carries with it a wisdom that can be lost with age. The high ideals that we both strive for and expect from others when we are young can grow into disillusion and cynicism with age. Having youth around whether at home, in the work place or in the church can greatly enhance our lives.



What is lost on modern man is this exclusion of youth from its midst. Modern people do not love "youth" meaning "others" as much as they love the idea of '"youth" for themselves.



There are many applications to this counsel for non monks. We should welcome children into our lives. We should see them as having much to offer in helping us to understand the ways of God in this life.





It should also be added that the abuse of children shows why this counsel is so important. If we see children as precious beings who must be protected and cared for, i.e. truly loved, then we will stand up and defend them whenever they come under attack from those who would use their innocence to use them sexually or damage their young souls in any way.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Free Catholic Books

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:



"michael dubruiel"

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 69

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step # 69:



(69) To honor the aged.




Life that has been lived long has acquired wisdom that can not be learned in books. The idealism of youth often finds quick solutions to problems that the person with wisdom will merely smile at. They have seen it all and have grown to appreciate what is of the utmost importance and what is trivial in a way that those of us who are still learning have not.



There is nothing more valuable in a culture than those who have been around for a long time and can provide this perspective to life. I was blessed to live near my grandparents and to enjoy their wisdom as I was growing up. There is a perspective to life that they can give that younger parents can not.



Benedict's counsel encourages us to honor the gift of life that has been bestowed upon our elders; to hold them in high esteem, to seek their counsel. To learn from them when we disagree with them.



Our culture unfortunately has not followed this counsel of late. We present youth as the ideal. Older people are made to feel that their time is past. This is a tragedy and the lasting effects are yet to manifest themselves in our culture.





Honoring anyone is a sign that we recognize the value that they possess not only to us but also to all. Honor the older people you encounter today. Take time to say hello, take time to learn from them. Allow yourself to receive their blessing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 68

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are in the archives to the right. This is the 68th step:



(68) Not to love pride.



A direct translation of the Latin for this counsel would be to "flee" pride. Yet it would be fair to say that I think few people actually flee pride these days. There is a reason it is a vice and sadly there is nothing worst than a vice that is presented as a virtue.



"Looking out for #1" became something of a slogan starting in the 1970's and with it an explosion of the love of pride. Pride for many is no longer a sin but a sign of psychological maturity. This is sad because pride always mask a secret belief that deep down I really know that I'm not all that good and that is a tragedy!



We all can relate to a person who constantly is blowing their own horn and how tiresome this can be. But imagine for a moment that the person who is doing this is your child. I think if you asked yourself why they were doing it and tried to enter their skin you would see that sadly they really don't believe it and they are proclaiming it hoping that someone will affirm it.



Unfortunately such pride merely leads to people heaping scorn upon the individual in unsuccessful attempts to bring them back down to earth. And the sad individual becomes mired in an ever deepening pool of self-pity.



Contrast this individual with the saints. Although esteemed by others they hold themselves in low esteem. They realized their faults and they realize their gifts. Their gifts they realize are just that, presents from a God and they thank God continuously for them.





The saints are truly those who look out for #1, and they manifest this in their lives. They live in reality and know that God is number one and seek Him in the poor, in others and most of all constantly in prayer.

Monday, October 22, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 67

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are found in the archives to the right. This is step 67:



(67) Not to love strife.



Another way of translating this counsel of St. Benedict's is "not to love confrontation." There is not a counsel here to avoid it, but simply not to "love" it. There are some who literally love to pick a fight; who are entertained by creating an environment of unease.



The model must be Christ who was no stranger to confrontation or as our Lord say, "bringing the sword." His attitude is one of repairing the damage that has been inflicted or is in the process of being created by others. We should love the imitation of Christ at all times and seeking to do what Christ would do in any situation, mindful that we are in Christ.



This necessarily means confronting evil wherever we encounter it. But it does not mean loving that confrontation. There comes a point and it is a fine point where good people can become evil. Critics of Christianity often point out the damage done by "good" Christians. What they are highlighting is not the work of good Christians but rather the work of evil people who have allowed their love of strife to overtake their love of Christ.



The goal is never to destroy a person but rather to seek their salvation. Christ alone can save the person, not us. We can merely point out the way, most of the time painfully risking the loss of friendship from those who prefer darkness to light. This should grieve us too and move us to prayer.





Whether we live this counsel or not can be judged by our reaction to the way we deal with confrontation in our lives. Does it give us a feeling of satisfaction or sorrow? Our Lord was moved to tears when He approached Jerusalem because they did not know the time of their visitation. Is our response the same?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 66 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous postings are available in the archives to the right. This the 66th step:



(66) Not to be jealous; not to entertain envy.



Perhaps the saddest of sins both of these arise from a failure to acknowledge and give thanks for tall the ways in which God has blessed us. Our focus is not on our own giftedness but rather on someone else. God has blessed us, and we are blessed right now. Looking at someone else as more blessed or focusing on their gifts as something that we want for ourselves is a waste of time.



This is especially true in the quest for sanctity. We do not become holy by becoming someone else. We become holy by being fully who God created us to be. Saints are as varied in their gifts as are people.



Knowing ourselves is not always self-evident. Many times everyone around us seems to know who we are better than we know ourselves. And often we know others better too and are able to admire the gifts that others possess more than the ones that we do ourselves. This is the crux of the problem.



Jealousy and envy should be treated in the same way we would treat a rash on our body--as an indication of a problem. The answer to jealousy and envy is to thank God also for the gifts that He has given to others. We need to look upon others not as a threat but as a blessing.





We need to thank God for the gifts that he has given us. Like the steward who took the gifts left with him by the master and multiplied them a hundredfold we need to focus on what God has given us and how it might benefit others. Our one goal should be that we use our gifts in accordance with His will.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 65 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous entries are found in the archive to the right.



(65) To hate no one.



Christianity introduced a radical concept into the world that has seldom been lived out--to love everyone as God loves him or her. Our Lord counseled his disciples to "love their enemies" and to "love one's neighbor." When asked by one of His hearers who their neighbor was, Jesus used the example of what undoubtedly would have been the questioners idea of an enemy--a Samaritan as the good who was "neighbor" to the unfortunate fallen soul along the roadside.



Benedict's maxim almost takes this a step further in counseling us in the first place to "hate no one." This may seem impossible to do but only if we are convinced that we ourselves have been set up as the supreme judge over all people. Every person that we might "hate" is an invitation for us to turn to God again and to acknowledge that God alone knows what His designs have for both the person and us in question.



We should pray for those who abuse and mistreat us. We are to try to understand those who "hate" us. Hatred by its very nature is evil.



The example that usually drives the point home is to imagine that the person in question is your child. Could you hate your own flesh? Would you not wish for their salvation? If they are doing wrong would you not do everything in your power to help them to do right so that they might be saved?



In the Kingdom of God we are all brothers and sisters, God's children.





The genius of St. Benedict's counsel is that it does not play the game of saying that you can love someone but not like them--which I have always found rather ridiculous. We are to hate no one and to see "hate" as an obstacle to love.

Friday, October 19, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 64

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous entries are found in the archive to the right.



(64) To love chastity.



St. Benedict's counsel to "love" chastity applies to every Christian regardless of their state of life. The monk will be chaste in a way that is different than a married person but both are required to be chaste in their dealings with all people. Chastity is an attitude toward the other that sees the beauty of the person but does not wish to take or consume the other.



Being chaste means never making an object of anyone. While we think of this in sexual terms, sex is really just the tip of the iceberg. Seeing a person as a person and not making an object of them helps us to truly be reverent toward the person. Being chaste means being open to seeing others as God sees them. We desire to be in a good relationship with all people but we do not seek to enslave the other.



Some were shocked some years ago when Pope John Paul II stated that even a married man could commit a sin of lust with his own wife. What the Pope was pointing out was that even marriage does not give a man or woman the license to treat the their spouse like their property. In the same way we are called to treat all with respect.



In Latin this counsel is made up of two words, "love" and "chastity." In reality the two are equal. We are called to love all people chastely, in imitation of God who loves all of His creation.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 63



This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the right. This is the 63rd step:



(63) To fulfil daily the commandments of God by works.



Most of us think of the commandments as "something" not to do, but this is not Benedict's take. He sees them as something that requires action on our part daily. The type of action required is either to "fight" against the urges that keep us from fulfilling God's commands or to "flee" the devil as we run toward God.



Fighting or fleeing are the actions demanded of the disciple of Christ. Most of us may find that we are moved to do neither. It could be that in our complacent lifestyle that following God's commandments doesn't seem to ask much of us. We peer out of the windows of our house or car and see the world outside of our selves and are quite unmoved by the plight of those who live down the street or in another neighborhood. We somehow listen to the Gospels and confuse Jesus with someone who "didn't care" and wouldn't have lifted a finger to help anyone.



If this definition hits close to home, then you know what you must "fight" in order to fulfill God's commands daily--indifference. If on the other hand this definition makes you angry and you don't like the mean guy saying that perhaps you aren't a "good" Christian after all, then you need to flee the devil who has taken hold of your life (coming no doubt as an angel of light) and run to God who will empower you to fulfill His commands.



This counsel is against complacency. It is against thinking that we have ever arrived and now all we need to do is sit back and relax. It is a warning against the riches that can blind us to the truth of the Gospel which can neither be lost by the gnawing of a moth or the rot of rust. Works are demanded of us daily in order that God's will might be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God - 62

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the right. This is the 62nd step:



(62) Not to desire to be called holy before one is; but to be holy first, that one may be truly so called.



Holiness comes from God's grace. One's desire should be to be in a good relationship with God and not to be well thought of by others. In fact Our Lord declared that "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account," Matthew 5:11. It would matter little then, if people thought of us as vile and pagan if that were not the truth.



There was a group of holy men in Russia who sought to live this out quite literally, to no avail. They are know as the "holy fools of Russia" and would do everything humanly possible to be thought of us vile and "unholy" to the point of publicly fornicating with prostitutes, walking naked through the public squares and uttering every kind of vulgarity loudly. But the populace knew that this was all so that they would not be well thought of and so they revered them anyway!



We do not have to go to such lengths to avoid being well thought of by others but we shouldn't lose the point of their witness--that holiness is something to be rather than something that others think we are. Holiness is not an act but rather is the result of a relationship with God. Our motivation should always be to seek the Kingdom of God in our lives first and sometimes that will lead to others thinking poorly of us. But Jesus tells us that we are blessed and that is what matters.



The civil rights leaders of the late 1950's and early 1960's were religious people. They were motivated by their belief in God to reject the way black people were being treated in this country. They sang praise to God as they marched in front of State Capitals, sat at lunch counters or entered school buildings. Other so-called "Christians" reviled them declaring them to be atheists, troublemakers and Communists. But they were blessed and now we look upon them as saints and martyrs.





When we are gone from this earth, then we hope people will think of us as holy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God 61

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 61st step:



(61) To obey the commands of the Abbot in all things, even though he himself (which Heaven forbid) act otherwise, mindful of that precept of the Lord: "What they say, do ye; what they do, do ye not" (Mt 23:3).



The Abbot is the head of the monastery, and even though you and I may not be in a monastery we all have human authorities that we should respect and obey. Like the previous counsel where St. Benedict taught us to hate our own will, here we are taught to obey those whom God has placed over us even if the person in authority isn't the most God-like person.



Benedict quotes Our Lord injunction to obey the Pharisees who He says sat in the seat of Moses. A quick survey of the Gospels will find that Jesus often condemned the behavior of the Pharisees but in this passage says that they should be obeyed anyway because God had put them in their positions of authority.



We also have the example of Our Lord's journey to the cross where He is handed over by the High Priests and then made subject to Pilate. He tells Pilate that Pilate has no authority over Him unless it were given from above from God. So Our Lord accepts Pilate's authority to put Him to death.



This way of looking at authority should lead us to pray for those who God has placed over us that they too will seek to do God's will. The person who truly believes in God will trust that even a corrupt authority will unwittingly do the will of God. The Scriptures are filled with examples of evil kings doing the will of God even though they were unaware of it and might have had evil motives at the time.



The example of Joseph in Genesis, sold into slavery by his brothers who later bow before him imploring his mercy stands as the premier example of this trust that we all should have that God works through whoever He wills. Joseph faced with his brothers says, "what you did to me you meant for evil but God meant it for good to bring about the salvation of many."





Being obedient but without following the example of bad authority allows us to worship God alone.

Monday, October 15, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God 60

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



(60) To hate one's own will:



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



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



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





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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

St. Teresa of Avila 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, October 12, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God 59

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



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



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



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



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





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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God 58 by Michael Dubruiel

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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God 57

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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

St. Teresa of Avila Novena by Michael Dubruiel

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"

Monday, October 8, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God 56

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



(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.



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



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



Listening is a lost art. I often think of myself as a good listener (my wife would disagree and she is right about most things, so I will defer to her on this manner). Truly listening requires an effort on our part. Too often we are planning our response while someone speaks, like the Prodigal Son who rehearsed his lines on his way home to the Father. God's word cuts through our speeches and goes right for the heart.



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



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

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Feast of the Holy Rosary - October 7

October 7 is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  I wrote the introductory material. Click on the cover for more information.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Michael Dubruiel's Books

The first step to ridding ourselves of disordered attachments
is to realize what those attachments might be. Whenever we have
a tendency to rationalize that something is “holy,” “untouchable,”
or “indispensable”—it is a pretty good indication that a disordered
attachment is at the root. Only God is our holy and
untouchable source of life. Giving anything else such a high priority
is perpetuating a lie.

Friday, October 5, 2018

St. Faustina - October 5

The Cross of Christ Unites. . . Those Divided by Sin 


For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. 1 PETER 2:21–24 

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. LUKE 6:36

No doubt you have heard this verse before: “First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak.” These are the words of a German Lutheran pastor, Reverend Martin Niemoller.

 Initially a Nazi sympathizer, he was later declared an enemy of the party and imprisoned in several concentration camps. He only narrowly escaped with his life. In subsequent years he spoke frequently around the world, always ending his talks with a version of this verse.  The original version is the subject of some debate. Some argue that Niemoller spoke of “communists” rather than socialists; others contend that Niemoller said “Catholics.” It is likely that Pastor Niemoller changed it himself, to reflect the changing climate of the times, as the diversity of those who had been persecuted by the Nazis was gradually revealed to the world.

The cross of Christ set in motion a reversal of something that began in the Garden of Eden with the sin of our first parents. When God created Eve out of Adam, the man said, “ishnah”—another “me.” Then the two ate from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and they immediately noticed that they were naked. Their first impulse was to hide themselves behind fig leaves; the differences between them induced Adam and Eve to distance themselves from one another. Because of sin, this separation grew. As Genesis unfolds sin multiplies, until at the Tower of Babel God confuses the tongues of humans and the division of the people is complete. Complete, that is, until Christ.

Christ Reunites 


At the crucifixion, the people were unified in their will that Christ should die. The Romans, representing the civilized world of that time, put Jesus to death; the Chosen People, represented by their leaders, offered up the Son of God in sacrifice. But from the moment Jesus said to the disciple that he loved, “Behold your mother,” and to his Mother, “Behold your son,” the separation was over. The divisions that had existed since the time of Adam and Eve began to heal. The gospel of Christ was put in motion by the cross, under which every tribe and nation and people would one day be united. On the day of Pentecost, Babel was reversed. The people heard Peter preach, each in his own tongue. From that moment, the Church was sent throughout the whole world, to reconcile it all to Christ.

St. Paul spells out clearly this reconciliation that Christ has brought about when he says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek . . . there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). In Christ the sin of division between people comes to an end.


 Mercy to All


 Christians are to be forgiving and merciful; we are to live out the unity Christ died to restore. In the early church, outsiders marveled at the followers of Christ because of their love for one another. Sadly, the unity that was the hallmark of the early Church has been damaged, in some cases seemingly beyond repair. We who are called to be “merciful” stand idly by while our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are offered up as scapegoats. We who are to share the Good News huddle among our own, contented to preach to the choir.

The problem is this: Jesus died for all, so that all might be saved. We who follow Our Lord must live to accomplish his will. As St. Peter points out, Jesus himself is our example. The treatment that Jesus received on the cross was worse than most of us can even imagine but his message of forgiveness did not change. When Jesus rose from the dead, he did not declare a holy war against those who had put him to death. Instead he proclaimed, “Peace,” and sent his followers to the ends of the earth to preach the gospel, teaching all to believe and trust in him.  Unfortunately, the Church has not always been a sign of the unity willed by Jesus. Those who placed their own authority over that of Christ have perpetuated the suffering of Christ through his body the Church. Jesus foresaw this, and warned his disciples as well (see Matthew 13:24–30).

Perfect unity won’t come until the final harvest, but the “wheat” of the Church needs to embody Jesus’ radical message of mercy.


Jesus, I Trust in You! 


The Divine Mercy is one of the most popular devotions to arise in the modern church. Based on the written testimony in the famous Diary of St. Faustina, a Polish nun who lived in the early part of the twentieth century, Jesus told Faustina that his mercy was not being preached enough. Jesus asked her to have an image painted, showing rays of red and white light emanating from his heart. Underneath this image are printed five words that reveal the way to avail oneself of that great mercy: “Jesus, I trust in you.” Significantly, St. Faustina’s visions occurred shortly before the horrific outrage of the Holocaust, not far from one of the worst concentration camps: Auschwitz. Even then, God was showing his children how to overcome the differences that original sin planted within us. Even then, Our Lord made it clear that the mercy of God is not something we hoard for ourselves, but something we need to extend to others. How many lives might have been saved the horrors of the camps if Jesus’ message of mercy had been heard sooner? Whom might we save today?


The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel 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"

Thursday, October 4, 2018

St. Francis of Assisi - October 4


St. Francis of Assisi taught his followers to reverence Christ and
his cross wherever they might find themselves. The prayer attributed
to St. Francis that begins, “Lord, make me a channel of your
peace,” was in fact not composed by St. Francis; it was misapplied
to him in a prayer book. The true prayer of St. Francis was one
he taught his friars to pray whenever they would pass a Church
or the sign of the cross made by two branches in a tree. They were
to prostrate themselves toward the church or the cross and pray,
“We adore you Christ and we praise you present here and in all
the Churches throughout the world, because by your holy cross
you have redeemed the world.”
The cross reminds us of the true Christ, the one in the
Gospels who was constantly misjudged by the religious figures
of his day. If we are not careful, he will be misjudged by us as well.
We need to worship him alone.

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



"michael dubruiel"

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God - 55

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October is Rosary Month by Michael Dubruiel

Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

"Michael Dubruiel"


The Gospels show that the gaze of Mary varied depending upon the circumstances of life. So it will be with us. Each time we pick up the holy beads to recite the Rosary, our gaze at the mystery of Christ will differ depending on where we find ourselves at that moment.

Thereafter Mary’s gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14) [Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 10].


As we pray the Rosary, then, we join with Mary in contemplating Christ. With her, we remember Christ, we proclaim Him, we learn from Him, and, most importantly, as we raise our voices in prayer and our hearts in contemplation of the holy mysteries, this “compendium of the Gospel” itself, we are conformed to Him.


Monday, October 1, 2018

October 1- St. Therese



Therese imagined that in the spiritual life we are all like infants at the foot of the stairs being summoned by our Heavenly Father to climb the heights--which try as we might we cannot do. Finally the Heavenly Father will come down the stairs and pick us up and carry us up the stairs. Which of course is a beautiful child like summary of what the Trinity has done in the incarnation of Jesus.
Are you and I trying to climb the stairs? Is our Faith in Him? Abandon yourself to the God as a child abandons oneself to their parents.
St. Therese, pray for us!